This morning I heard on the radio that the charity Lifeline ( dealing with mental health, suicide prevention, crisis support) had conducted a poll of adults in Australia. 80% of respondents admitted that they felt lonely. This really struck a chord with me and I just wanted to do a quick post about it. 80% of the population is an incredible amount and it is very surprising.
After moving to Australia from England and not finding a big support network it is something I have struggled with a lot over the last eight years but I have tried to repeatedly block it out of my mind. I have always said "things will be better when I get a job and meet people", "things will be better when I study and meet like minded people", " things will be better when I have a baby and can meet other mums"... It just so happens that none of these things have made much of a difference.
My work colleagues (in the main, I have had some nice ones here) have been horrible. I worked in a toxic environment for many years, where I could have been almost invisible. I did study for a Masters degree but I did it online alongside my job and didn't actually get to meet people face to face. I have been to many mother's groups, music classes etc and have found them to be very cliquey. If you are not already in 'the crowd' it can be impossible to join in, particularly if you are introverted.
It is hard to explain how a world which is all about social media and attempting to make connections can make people feel so lonely. I think a lot of the reason is because everyone 'pretends'. We only show the good, happy moments of our lives, where we are surrounded by people and are having fun. We don't take a photo of us crying because the baby won't stop screaming and we haven't slept properly in weeks or because we have had a fight with a partner or because we feel really down about our weight. We don't reach out to people and say we are struggling or if we do, we only give limited details because we are scared, embarrassed and worried about being judged.
Some people really do have great connections with lots of people they can be totally honest with and who feel very secure and supported in their relationships and that is great for them. What about the rest of us? Many people seek solace online, under a false identity, in a forum, on a dating site, reading and commenting on blogs, facebook groups, Instagram communities. Real connections can be made this way and this can be enough for some people. It seems to me that most people need more but have no idea where to start.
As an adult you are expected to have gone through life picking up a group of friends, whether they are the ones you went to school with, university with, work colleagues or people you know from hobbies. If you do not have such a group people may see it as weird and you might be ashamed to admit this is the case. There are not many places that advertise... 'come here if you are lonely and make some new friends'. They exist for children but not adults.
Loneliness can lead to sadness, which can then lead to mental illness and potentially suicide. It is a serious problem in our society and there doesn't seem to be much of an effort to tackle it. I do not have the answer but I know I need to make some changes in my own life to try and seek better relationships. If you are feeling lonely then maybe you need to do the same. One of the quotes I hear these days is 'Find your tribe and love them hard'. Many of us have the love to give but don't know where to find the tribe. Start looking for yours today and so will I!