I believe I might be suffering from extreme loneliness. Is that a diagnosis?

Today I worked from home. There’s not a lot of work, and it has to last me till January, so there is lots of time. In the morning I went for a walk to absorb what light there is. The sun peeked out a couple of times. Getting out before noon makes a big difference to the available light. It still seems like regular daylight before noon. I swear, by 2:30, the clouds on the horizon were end of day pinkish, and the sky light grey.

I lost my hat. Once I discovered this, I promptly dropped my camera. It may be OK, but I’m scared to investigate. It’s sitting on my kitchen table, waiting. And then I found my hat. I’d lost it in the park, and some helpful soul had perched it on a fence post. Thank you whoever you are!

By afternoon I became horribly anxious. I had to dial in to a work meeting. You can’t really hear what’s going on when you try to phone in to meetings, but it looks like you care if you do, so I do. I started to feel better, just trying to follow the conversation which was fading in and out. I think just hearing voices I know helps. Yes there is a world out there with people talking.

After the call I walked to the grocery store. Again felt better. I started to feel melancholy, but that is a feeling which I’ll take over anxiety. I don’t consider anxiety a real feeling. I wonder if it’s a suppression of feelings in fact.

I am entirely alone, and more than half my life has passed. I’ll be fifty in a few months with almost no people in my life. How did this happen?

I’ve carried around unprocessed trauma all of my life. OK, but others have also and they still marry or have boyfriends.

For me, the effects of being treated harshly as a child equated to not trusting people to the extent of being afraid of them. Others react differently. That’s how I reacted.

Plus, I couldn’t distinguish who was a good person and who was not. Good for me I mean. So I spent over a decade with a man who frightened me and was not able to be a decent partner. That was my thirties – really a completely lost decade.

My forties have been a struggle to get myself back on my feet – able to support myself, and getting into therapy. I really didn’t have the money for therapy until the last few years.

How have I ended up alone? I have two friends, not best friends, but good to do things with, whom I am afraid to lose. I have a few more friendly acquaintances. One son, with whom I have a rocky relationship. One ex-husband, who helps me do practical things, but whom I can’t forgive for how he treated me. Casual work relationships from my contract work, but no one I even go for coffee with.

My deepest relationship is with my therapist, and that is one-way, in a sense. He gives, I take.  Limited to fifty minutes a week.

Often, I plan to do this or that social event, and then I can’t because the PTSD is too bad at the time. I’m spending an awful lot of time just dealing with symptoms, and processing therapy sessions. Not a lot of time left over for making friends.

Sometimes, I just long for someone to say some casual things to – like you would if you were not living alone. Just the sheer silence and lack of any kind of contact can be brutal.

  1. Sorry you feel that you're in a crappy place right now, and maybe we don't have quite a 'real relationship', but I do care about your well being.You really are doing good work.

  2. oh i can so relate to what you wrote about loneliness. i've talked about it a lot with sharon, my therapist. she says some of it is left over loneliness from my childhood, where i was isolated and abused. that's what makes my current day loneliness so much more intense. it's both old and new. this makes a lot of sense to me.i am doing some volunteering over the holidays to combat my seasonal loneliness. the website has short term opportunities. this weekend i'm going to loblaws dressed as a turkey as part of the second harvest turkey drive. maybe there is something there that appeals to you?if you would like to go for coffee just ask… i will understand if you are not feeling well enough and have to cancel, i've done the same many times. but if you are up to it i think we are not far from each other. i'm at bloor/lansdowne.if not… keep me in mind for the future. you already know all my secrets (they are on my blog!!!) but it would be nice to have a new friend. c

  3. gniz said:

    Hi Ellen, That is difficult, being alone as much as you are. I think the key is to be open to things changing. You'd be surprised how much life circumstances can change if you just open up to it. Life has far more variety and possibility than most of us realize. Unfortunately some of the variety of experience is very painful and difficult. But I've found, particularly over the last five years (I am 37 BTW), that life can also be incredibly joyful and fulfilling too. So even though the majority of my life was spent feeling bad, inadequate, painful, angry, disgruntled, etc. I have been lucky enough to have experienced a 180 turn and now I'm living what feels like a very pleasant dream (with the occasionally brief nightmare thrown in to keep things interesting).My point is simply that even if you feel in a rut or that your path is the only path you might ever know–remember that things can change in an instant, particularly if you learn to open to new experiences and feelings.Try to relax as you've been doing, start watching the world around you with a little smile (even if you don't particularly feel like smiling), feel the breath in your body, sit up straight and feel the posture. Let the feelings come and go. Look people in the eyes and smile, try to stay open.I bet things will continue to change for the better. These little changes can lead to very dramatic differences…

  4. Ruth said:

    Sorry to hear you are feeling alone. I joked when I was going through therapy I wanted to be in a cocoon. Then I got my wish, I was laid off from my work. I noticed that I isolated myself more and more. I learned from my sister that my 'internet friends' really do count as friends. PTSD sucked the life out of me. My relationship with my therapist eased the strangle hold PTSD had on my life. I am starting to meet with other people and do things that just a few years ago I would have thought impossible. Keep going. Just drop by my blog any time and leave a message. I am willing to email if you think that would help.

  5. Candycan said:

    I know how you mean because my life is very similar. Sometimes I wonder what on earth I am going to do when I don't have other people in my head to converse with anymore! It could be a lonely place. I think the world can be lonely nowadays more than it was in the past. It's sad that so many of us feel the same way. I know it may not help any, but you have made so much progress in your therapy in recent months. You are moving forward and that change can only help in the long run with keeping stable relationships. It's tough going at the moment but you will get there and 50 is still young. Yet I know how you feel and am sorry for your pain. I hope things look brighter for you soon, inside and out.

  6. Harriet said:

    I spent a good part of the last three years isolating myself. Things changed this past spring, and I think they are getting better. It took a lot of effort, therapy, medication, etc. Turning 50 was very difficult for me for a variety of reasons. I am sorry that you and your son have a rocky relationship, that must be very difficult. I think you are working very hard in group and in therapy, and I believe that change can happen. It can take a long time and get frustrating, and sometimes it feels like it is going backwards. I wish the best for you because you are a very kind, intelligent, giving person.

  7. Ellen said:

    Thanks everyone. You guys and gals are so nice.@ NWNMG – We're internet buddies – which is a good thing. It counts. Thanks for the kind words.@ brave – That does make sense, that it's both present and past together…it may be the same for me, as it is an intense feeling. I'll check out that link, thanks, that's a good idea. The turkey volunteering is funny! Coffee (tea) would be very nice. Amazing coincidence we live so close! What are the chances? I have two weeks off over Xmas so some time then? We could email – take care@ gniz – Inspiring to hear that you've been able to turn your life around like this Aaron. I have noticed a difference with making eye contact sometimes. The other day someone on the subway looked right back at me, as I was leaving the train, and it was kind of a nice feeling. I feel as if I'm getting the benefit of your guru also, with what you share with me. Thanks!

  8. Ellen said:

    @ Ruth – I find PTSD a very isolating experience. First of all it's impossible to explain, second the symptoms can be disabling so I can't go out. Great you have made so much progress, and yes, internet friends count, I think so. This blog helps me enormously. Thanks for the offer of emailing – maybe I will do that. take care@ Harriet – I'm glad things changed for you in the past year, that's excellent. @ Candycan- Thanks for the kind words. Though you are married, to someone who seems nice! But still….we all need more than one person in our lives. I know what you mean about parts being company – lol. Who needs other people?I'm glad you're seeing progress, thanks Candy. Hope things are a little better for you also. take care

  9. Ellen said:

    @ Harriet – Sorry, I messed up my reply. So I'm glad things changed for you for the better….The son thing is difficult but I work on it. Thanks for the kind words Harriet.

  10. di345 said:

    Ellen,I'm sorry that you feel alone. I think PTSD and therapy are very isolating. I wish I could hide away more but I have three kids who force me out but I'm not always very present to it or their needs.I think I live near you as well relatively and would love to meet for coffee or processing of therapy. My email is attachdi@gmail.comdi

  11. Ellen said:

    Hi Di, I found parenting really really tough personally, because kids don't understand when you can't be there for them because of issues. Kids do keep you in touch with the world though.You live in Toronto? That's amazing. I basically hide my blog and don't give out my location, and now two blog buds are from my city. I'd love to meet for coffee. I'll email you then. take care

  12. Ellen so very sorry that you are suffering this way. I can understand as well. Here listening and safe hugs to you.

  13. Ellen said:

    JBR, I know you've talked about similar issues on your blog. thanks for listening to me. hugs

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