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Loneliness

What to Do When You Feel All Alone

Loneliness kills, so we need ideas and people to help us end social isolation.

Have you ever felt so lonely that you thought your heart was breaking and you couldn’t make it through the night? Have you ever looked at your life and wondered where you went wrong and why you deserve to be and feel so alone?

Mother Teresa once said, "The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for." Meta-analyses conducted at Brigham Young University reveal that loneliness and social isolation may increase one's risk of premature death by up to 50 percent. Also a Harvard study that's been ongoing for almost 80 years old, has proven that embracing community helps us live longer and be happier. Its lessons are still being used today. And there is much more research on the subject.

Sometimes unfortunate circumstances, or our own decisions, put us in positions where we have no one to turn to. Even if your lifestyle is a comfortable one, the pain of feeling unloved can be so overwhelming that you can start to think about not wanting to be here. That’s a signal that you need to talk to someone.

Emotional pain seems to become more intense for some people at this time of year, as the days get shorter and colder. If you are having suicidal thoughts, your mental state could be more fragile than you know. Pay attention to it, and if you are feeling sad and alone, the answer is to reach out to others.

Connecting with people who care for you and whom you trust and like can be crtucial. Isolating yourself will likely only make you feel worse. I know people who have gotten roommates just to have another human being in the house, and it helped. Others who felt alone have gotten involved in community events or even gone back to school. The idea is to spend time with other people so you can feel their warmth and let it help you out of your pain. Just a warm smile from a good friend can make the difference between wanting to hide under the covers and getting out into the world to see what it has to offer. Many people find it far easier to go out with someone else than on their own.

Texts and e-mails are helpful, but they can never take the place of a conversation with someone in the same room or outdoors. There are people who text each other all day long, and they say it makes them feel connected, but to what? Don’t get me wrong: I love getting messages from my sweetheart, but it will never take the place of hearing her reassuring voice and feeling her touch. Real human contact can make the difference between having a healthy life and one that isn't.

So, talk with those people who care most about you, and consider making an appointment with a licensed professional. This may be just a momentary depressive episode or something more serious, and you don’t want to take any chances.

By taking care of yourself, you are also taking care of the people who love you. They feel your pain and want you to live a full life with all the love and joy you can find. Remember, it is the people in our lives who make it wonderful. No amount of money or success will ever match the warmth of human kindness.

If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, seek help immediately. For help 24/7 dial 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or reach out to the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.

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