You could be in a crowded room, and still feel lonely. You could be performing on a stage in front of thousands of people who worship you, and you could still feel lonely. You could be anywhere in the world with the people who mean the most to you, and that wouldn’t stop you from feeling… lonely.
There are so many things that make us feel isolated and out of sync with our peers, that they too are experiencing. There is so much mental pollution that we all experience, but there are many moments when individually, we feel like we’re the only people drowning in that intensity.
According to Campaign To End Loneliness, loneliness is likely to increase your risk of death by 26% and that it’s as bad for your health as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. It’s said that loneliness also increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and even Dementia. It can also impair your cognitive abilities and lead to a decline in mental health.
It’s not just that feeling lonely can affect you emotionally and mentally. It can do more harm than good, physically.
I feel called to write about this because of how I have been feeling, and because of my reluctancy to address my feelings. That is partly because, verbally, I can’t always communicate the words, and by writing about my experience as I’m doing now, it will mean that I’m going to have to face it.
I’ve always had this chip on my shoulder; this feeling of alienation that isn’t shy to remind me that it’s always there. Since childhood, I have always felt like an outsider looking in. I have fooled people who have described me as calm and confident, when really, it feels like there is a constant storm inside of me. I have learned, over time, that part of why I feel this way is because my brain just doesn’t function the way some people’s do, and I experience things very intensely. It’s overwhelming. I have been labelled a cry baby, too sensitive, too intense, emotional and attention seeking. One of the hardest parts about being labelled those things is that I can’t really discern my emotions all of the time, and that has led to meltdowns. It's been a main factor in negative feelings I have held about myself. You can read more about that here.
As I’ve come to understand my experiences more and that there is reasoning behind why things can be more overwhelming and overstimulating for me, I have started to feel even more isolated than ever. Strangely, it was easier for me to think of myself as a bad person, rather than an autistic person. When I thought of myself as a bad person, I was convinced that I could change and that I was just indescribably stubborn, and a nuisance. However, when I had my true autistic epiphany, as I’ll describe it today, I realised that there was more to my experiences than what I previously thought. That is something that you can also read about here.
Getting back on track, my feelings of loneliness have increased tenfold. I preach about self-acceptance and letting emotions and feelings naturally move through you, which I still stand by, but this is one feeling that I just haven’t been able to shake… yet. I’m hopeful that I will find a sense of interconnectedness that will help me feel less alone. For now, though, I’m going to express how it makes me feel, presently.
In the past, when there were changes to my routine or if I was overwhelmed by something which, growing up, was typically my emotions that I couldn’t understand alongside what was labelled as my “fussiness” with food by most people who ate with me, I automatically jumped on the “I’m a bad person” train. In no way did I realise that what I experienced throughout my life were autistic traits and experiences, because that is not what doctors looked out for or what the media portrayed, as they favoured a more cliché, and more damaging image of autistic people.
So, fast forward all these years later when I’m now able to identify my challenges, I have been so overcome with the feeling of loneliness. When I can’t eat a certain food that I wish I could because of the texture, when my empathy for animals overwhelms me but also so does my need to be around them, when anything changes in my routine that throws me off, when my feelings change like the weather and I don’t know why, and without adequate mental health support for somebody going through a bumpy, uncertain autism assessment period, I just feel really lonely.
When I am able to express how I feel, however little or however much I do, I don’t feel met by the understanding that would make me feel less alone. I can wholeheartedly appreciate that, because my peers don’t express that they experience the same challenges, and while they say so innocently, it’s something else that strengthens that feeling within me. You can’t make yourself resonate with something just to make someone else feel better.
There are so many factors that make us feel this way, and this is what I currently feel like I’m drowning in… loneliness.
I want to take this opportunity to reach out to anybody who has read this far, and I want to express to you how important it is to speak to somebody about your feelings. Whether you verbalise them, write them or communicate in your own special way. While you might feel just as lonely or even more so, I hope that you can honour that you have at least spoken to somebody. Somebody knows, and that is important. You can speak to your GP and ask to be referred to a mental health specialist, which there is absolutely no shame in. Yes, it could take weeks or months to actually see somebody, but I believe that if you’re putting the intention out into the universe to break this cycle, that you will be heard. We will be heard. As I said, I have hope.
Keep fighting the fight and winning battles that some people might not even know you’re conquering. I’ve attached details for you to refer to if you ever feel like you might want to reach out to somebody. I can appreciate that for some people, friends and family might make matters worse, so think of the following, if you do want to try and open up…
If any of the links provided don’t match what you’re looking for or who you feel comfortable reaching out to, then please use a search engine and find an organization who you feel is best suited to your needs.