The Cycle of Loneliness

All people know the feeling of loneliness and have experienced it from time to time. There are not many people who would say that they like the feeling of loneliness. In fact, most people try to run away from it as soon as possible in whatever way they can. Oftentimes, people begin to feel less lonely once they can acknowledge that there are others who feel similarly. At times this can be difficult for people who live with chronic physical illness. For example, they may not know anyone else who has the same or a similar illness, they may be of a certain age group where people do not typically have an illness, they may not have a particularly supportive family or social support system, or they may not know how, may feel ashamed or may find it difficult to open up about their feelings regarding living with illness.

Loneliness can be a painful experience. One can feel unseen or misunderstood. A person living with illness may feel burdened to carry the experience of certain physical and emotional ailments alone. Sometimes feeling as if nobody else understands, the experience of living with chronic illness can lead a person to want to isolate him or herself even more, which can then contribute to the person feeling even lonelier. A person with illness may worry about making someone else uncomfortable or bothered by sharing feelings about what it is like to live with the illness. One may struggle for a long time to break out of this powerful cycle and unfortunately some people never do.

It is important to find a way to speak about what it is like to live with the illness, and to find a person with whom one can trust to speak with. Perhaps most people will not naturally understand what the experience of living with illness is like, but that does not mean that they cannot understand if someone explains it to them. Oftentimes, loved ones really want to understand and need the person with the illness to be able to share these experiences with them. It takes a lot of strength and courage to break the cycle of loneliness but eventually doing so can come with many benefits.

One should keep in mind that the first, second, or even third attempt to break the cycle of loneliness may not always be successful. It can sometimes take some practice in most effectively communicating to others what it is like to live with illness. It may also take some adjusting for the loved one to really be able to understand. This process requires patience and at times one may feel hurt before s/he starts to feel understood and less lonely. This is one reason it takes courage to try to break the cycle. Sometimes it is helpful to consult with a psychologist for help with figuring out what you want to say to your loved ones and how it is most beneficial to say it. If after numerous attempts at trying to help loved ones understand and consultation with a psychologist on how to best communicate to your loved ones do not work, then one may need to find a support group with people who are going through the same experience. Support groups are great for combating loneliness regardless of how supportive ones friends and family are. In this case, it may still be important to continue to consult with  psychologist or psychotherapist as an additional means of understanding and support.

It may be challenging and at times very frustrating, but if a person really wants a way out of the loneliness s/he can find someone who will understand. Even then, there may be moments of loneliness and a desire to isolate. Even if one attends a support group filled with others going through the same experience, loneliness may rear its ugly head. However, with support, the person will be much better able to deal with the loneliness and will be more aware that it will pass, particularly by knowing that if s/he talks about what s/he is experiencing to someone who understands, the loneliness is likely to dissipate. Do not let yourself be alone. Ask for help when you need it. If a friend or family cannot provide you with the help you need, seek out a professional. You may be stuck with your physical illness but you do not have to be stuck with your loneliness.