On the subject of loneliness

Being lonely is not something I am a stranger to. It comes with the territory of a breakup and is often a symptom of depression. But everyone experiences loneliness from time to time and that makes it a universal experience. Being lonely is not necessarily a bad thing, though it almost always feels like it is. Loneliness is an emotion, and emotions eventually pass.

In my personal experience I’ve found there are at least three types of loneliness: “I wish I was with someone,” “I miss this particular person/group of people,” and “I’m so alone.” You can’t necessarily categorize all loneliness so neatly into groups, but each of these types of loneliness feels significantly different.

“I wish I was with someone” is the most general type of loneliness. This is the basic definition, sadness from being alone. You might desire any sort of connection with a person, be it simply a phone call or text message or something in person, like hanging out or cuddling. Loneliness can be both emotional and physical – you can wish you were connected to someone emotionally or physically. All this falls under this category.

“I miss this particular person/group of people” is similar to the above “I wish I was with someone” but it is much more personal. You are lonely because you do not have a particular someone in your life, be it temporarily (like a friend you haven’t seen in a week) or permanently (like an ex-partner). This kind of loneliness hurts a lot – in part because it seems like it can be resolved so easily. You just need to see the person you’re missing. But in reality it’s not that easy. There’s a reason why you haven’t seen that person in the first place. Sometimes missing a person cuts deeply, and it can be hard to recover from this type of loneliness.

“I’m so alone” is the most dangerous type of loneliness because it comes entirely from within. This can mean you are physically isolated from people, unable to see or communicate with them, but more likely you have cut yourself off from people, or are cut off from them, and you suddenly feel overwhelmed by loneliness. This can lead to depressive or self-hatred spirals. “I’m so alone” becomes “Nobody wants to be with me” becomes “Nobody likes me” becomes “Everybody hates me.” You get sucked down into a pit of despair, and that can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions at its most extreme. At the very least you then further isolate yourself from the people who care about you which makes you feel more lonely which continues to spiral on and on.

I’ve felt incredibly lonely these last few years. The easiest to deal with is when I miss my college friends – that’s more a sadness from nostalgia of what we can never have again, and so it’s bittersweet more than sad. It’s harder when I miss my ex – he’s still in my life, but we will never be more than just friends, and that really hurts to think about. But the worst is when I felt alone and isolated.

I felt like nobody understood me and what I was going through – even when I was talking with other people of all ages who also experienced depression. It just made me feel hopeless, like I would never get any better. I didn’t feel a sense of community. I just felt lonely. I also felt like I was pushing all my friends away with my constant sadness and misery – that they all actually hated me. This was “proved” by when they couldn’t hang out with me, or didn’t want to, or they took too long responding to my texts, or they hadn’t talked to me in a while. No matter how much I told myself that people still cared about me, I couldn’t convince my heart to go along with my brain. This hurt so much. I wanted people to come to me and make my loneliness go away, even though I would tell them I was fine when they did come and ask me if I was okay. People aren’t mind readers, but I wanted them to be. I would spend nights sobbing over my presumed friendlessness and nothing could convince me otherwise.

I’m still struggling with the feeling of “people are just pretending to like me,” even though in general I am doing much better. I’m still afraid I am bothering them by talking to them, and that I am pushing them away. I still feel incredibly lonely when they’re doing something without me, and I have no plans. But I’m doing better at not isolating myself completely. I’m doing better at talking myself out of those spirals, and just sitting with the feeling of being lonely until it passes. I can experience the emotion without letting it control me. As the song ‘Stronger’ says, “My loneliness ain’t killing me no more…” And it’s true. I am stronger. I am no less lonely for the most part, but that loneliness is not destroying me from the inside.


Figuring it Out

Figuring out my sexuality was one of the most complicated things I ever had to figure out, and one of the things that caused me the most angst. Up until my freshman year of college, I just assumed that I was straight. I had never been given reason to believe otherwise, but that still didn’t feel right. I knew I wasn’t gay either, but I didn’t know how to define myself. A friend of mine once told me that “labels are for soup cans” and that’s fine for some people. Some people don’t want to be defined but their sexuality, and so they don’t want to put a label on it. But for me, I needed that label. I felt so othered I knew I needed to find a group and a label that fit me so I could feel normal. Freshman year in college is when I slowly began to figure that out.

I am a biromantic asexual. What that means is that I am romantically interested in at least two genders, and I am sexually interested/attracted to no one. These are not contradictory terms. I can want a relationship and love and affection without desiring sex. I can be interested in guys and girls, and find them aesthetically pleasing, but not want to bang anybody. I’ll break it into pieces.

Figuring out I was biromantic was the easy part. I had begun questioning whether I was into girls freshman year, and then suddenly sophomore year I fell hard for one. That made me realize that if I thought about it, I had had crushes on girls since elementary school. I also had crushes on boys. At first I thought it was that simple. I was bisexual. But that still didn’t feel right. Then someone introduced me to the concept of asexuality and something clicked inside my head. It still wasn’t easy, I went back and forth for a while (asexual? Demisexual? Gray-ace?) but eventually I knew I was asexual. Asexuality simply means not being sexually attracted to anyone. (For the record, demisexuality means only being attracted to someone once you develop a strong emotional bond with them, and gray-ace is a spectrum of feeling sexual attraction sometimes, but not others. They all fall under the asexuality spectrum. I am by no means an expert, but this is how I understand it.) Suddenly the world made perfect sense to me. I had no sexual desire, I wasn’t sexually attracted to anybody, it was a perfect match. I was asexual.

When I figured out I was biromantic asexual, a lot of things cleared up for me. I stopped hating myself as much. My depression went away for a little while. I finally felt that something was right. It felt good. So don’t worry. Whether you think labels are for soup cans, or you’re desperately searching for the right words to define you, to feel like home, it’s out there. There are lots of places and groups you can go if you’re questioning your sexuality, and lots of people who can help. You will figure it out, even if it takes a while. We’re here for you.

Put on your Armor Part 3: Stronger than Yesterday

This is part 3 of a three part series on depression. You can find the other two parts here:

Part 1
Part 2

The worst part of getting better is it makes you feel like you made the whole thing up. I was diagnosed with severe major depressive disorder, potentially bipolar II and anxiety. That has not changed. But my mood has. I’m feeling better, so I must have been faking the whole depression thing. Because how can there be such a difference in mood? How can I go from non-functioning, curling up on the shower floor sobbing to functional applying for jobs and taking care of myself daily? It must have been fake. Even though I remember the feeling of wanting to kill myself. Even though I know my family has been through so much with me, and they have actively seen a change, not of someone making something up, but of someone getting better. It’s bizarre, and almost self-deprecating. But I have to believe I’m getting better.

I am stronger than I was yesterday. I don’t break down over minor frustrating things anymore. The other day my car was stuck in a snow bank. I called my dad and he talked me through getting out. But what I didn’t do was start crying, screaming, and freaking out so hard that I would have been unable to do it, like I would have done just three or four months ago. It’s a major improvement.

I’m lucky. I had access to therapy and medication, a family that could support me when I didn’t have a job, and a very strong support group. I know not everyone has that, or even can afford that. Some people can’t afford medication or therapy, they can’t afford to not have a job, even when the thought of going makes them so sick they want to die. The state of mental healthcare in this country is pretty atrocious. When it works, it really works, but we fail so many people daily, and treat mental illness like it’s not a big deal. “Just get over it.” “Be happy instead. Go outside. Take a walk. Do yoga. It will make you feel better.” But it doesn’t work like that. When you’re depressed, you can’t just “get over it” and sometimes you can barely bring yourself to get up in the morning, let alone go out and do something. Yes, doing things does make you feel better for most people – but the point is you literally can’t do them. And it kills you, both literally and figuratively.

Something has got to change. And it’s up to us to fix it. Mental illness is real, and it’s a disorder you can recover from. We just need to put more effort into helping people recover.

Put on your Armor Part 2: She gets so sick of crying

This is part 2 of a three part series on depression. You can find the other parts here:

Part 1
Part 3

Getting help is hard. I didn’t want it at first. But also I did. I didn’t want to say that I wanted help. What I really wanted was my doctor and my parents to make the decision for me, to force me into getting help. I was under 18 – they could have done it. But they deferred to me and when I said I was okay, they believed me. I wasn’t okay. But I didn’t want to tell them that. So I didn’t get help until I was almost 18, and even then I stopped after three months and didn’t pick up again until I was 19. Then I stopped again until I was 21, and I’ve been continuously getting help since. But what happened in the meantime was my depression got worse.

Continue reading “Put on your Armor Part 2: She gets so sick of crying”

Put on your Armor Part 1: You don’t know what it’s like to be like me

This will be part of a three part series on depression. You can find the other parts here:

Part 2
Part 3

What’s the difference between typical teen angst and signs of depression? I can’t say I knew when I was a teenager, but the adults around me didn’t know any better either. In hindsight, I can clearly see the beginnings of what would become serious problems in my life, but at the time, even my doctor couldn’t tell me I was depressed. I was always “borderline”. I still don’t know what that means. Maybe I was borderline depressed, and it only got worse as time went on. Maybe this was typical teen angst just taken to an extreme. But no matter what it was at the time, I should have gotten more help than I did, and no one knew to give me that.

Continue reading “Put on your Armor Part 1: You don’t know what it’s like to be like me”

It’ll leave you breathless

When my second boyfriend broke up with me I was absolutely devastated. I had experienced heartbreak before, when my first boyfriend broke up with me, but it hadn’t been so bad. That first experience I cried, I was sad for a month, bitter for a month, and then over it. But I hadn’t loved him. I fell fast and hard for my second boyfriend, and when he left me I just shattered into pieces. It took me over a year and a half to even really start getting over it. As of this writing, I’ve been “over it” for maybe two or three months. It was one of the worst years of my life, for many reasons. I didn’t eat or drink anything for three days after the break up. My friends, luckily, hospitalized me. Part of the reason I reacted so hard was that I had severe, mostly untreated major depressive disorder. But one of the things this taught me was that there were different levels of heartbreak, and nothing could have prepared me for how I would feel.

As I said, when my first boyfriend broke up with me, it wasn’t that bad, comparatively. Oh, at the time it felt like the world was ending. I blamed myself. What was wrong with me that he didn’t want me? He broke up with me because the semester was ending and he didn’t want to do a long distance relationship over the summer. An understandable, if stupid (in my opinion) reason. But still, I thought that there must have been something wrong with me if he didn’t even want to try. I cried for several days. My friends were all there to support me, we watched Star Trek and they introduced me to Doctor Who. We had a pizza part without him. And then I went home for the summer. I was sad for a while.I was so sad and confused that I talked to a stranger on the internet about the situation, something I had never done before. Then I got scared about talking to strangers on the internet and deleted him from my steam contacts and ignored him every time he messaged me until he went away. Not the best way to deal with things, but I was 18 and dumb. Then my ex reached out to a friend of mine and asked if I was okay, and wanted her to reassure me that it was all right and completely understandable if I was still sad. Now, I assume he meant well by that, but to me, it seemed like he was insulting me, belittling our relationship by telling me that it was okay if /I/ was sad, but he clearly wasn’t. He had already moved on (according to Facebook). That he had the audacity to do this made me angry, and I was bitter and angry at him for about another month. I was frustrated with myself that I had even been with him. And then, one day, I just stopped caring. Just like that, it was over, and I was indifferent towards the whole situation. I would still call myself heartbroken, because at the time, I was. But it felt like something everyone had gone through. I was unprepared for it then, because I had never been through it before. But now I would know better for next time, right?

Wrong. My breakup with my second boyfriend nearly killed me. I don’t know if I’m exaggerating or not there. But I related a lot to Bella in New Moon. Not the whole ignoring-my-friends-and-putting-myself-in-danger part, but the near-catatonic depression part. Fortunately, as I said, my friends hospitalized me, and then, while I was not over him, and it took me a long while to get better, I was no longer catatonic. I still cried nearly every night, sometimes quietly into my pillow, sometimes wailing and howling and unable to stop myself. Around then, Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space” came out, and I related heavily to the lines, “So it’s gonna be forever, or it’s gonna go down in flames. You can tell me when it’s over if the high was worth the pain…cuz we’re young and we’re reckless we’ll take this way too far. It’ll leave you breathless or with a nasty scar…” For a long time, I didn’t know if the high was worth the pain. I was in so much pain. People kept telling me it was going to get better, that I was going to get over him, but I had no way of knowing that was true. I tried to compare it back to my first boyfriend, but that didn’t work. My second boyfriend and I were in love, we had dated for longer than I had before, and he was my rock during my depressive episodes. That was why he broke up with me – he could no longer handle my depression, and that hurt more than anything. One of my greatest fears was that my depression would push away the people that I loved, and he always promised me that that would never happen. But then it did. My depression pushed him away and it destroyed me. I have no idea how I would have reacted if I hadn’t been severely depressed, and mostly untreated. Over the next year and a half I worked to get over him, and worked on treating my depression. As of this writing, my depression has been well treated for about four months, and I’ve been over my ex for two or maybe three. I couldn’t get over him while I was still depressed. And I know there’s a part of me that will never get over him. I still miss him, but it’s not devastating anymore. A part of me will always love him, and I don’t think I want to lose that, as painful as it is.

I was not prepared to deal with heartbreak. But I’m glad it happened. It brought me down to my lowest point (or one of them) and I climbed my way back up again, slowly, but surely. At this point I am sure that the high was worth the pain. I loved being in love, and I would do anything to be in love again. I’m lonely. But that doesn’t mean I’m less of a person for not having a significant other, and I do not /need/ one. I’m not a hopeless romantic. But I know I can be okay, I can survive, and I will be okay if it happens again.

A first post

This is just a first post to say I’m here. Right now I’m shouting into the void of the internet, with no one to follow, and no one following me.