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Hi Steph,

I’ve been feeling really lonely lately. I have a few friends that live near me but with lockdown again, I only get to see them at school. I have them on Snapchat but I still feel lonely. I’m in 4th year and I’m 16. I live at home with my mam. I’m an only child and I don’t see my dad anymore. We can’t have pets because we’re in a rented house and my grandparents live about 4 hours away. So it really is just me and my mam – she’s really tired in the evenings because she works all day in the hospital…anyway, I’m not sure what to do but I’d like to feel better. Thanks.

 

Hello there and thank you so much for your email – I reckon you’re the voice of many, many young people out there right now so thank you for sharing your story with us, this one will help a lot of others too 😊

Let’s look at loneliness for a minute…it’s a heavy feeling, isn’t it? It can leave us feeling quite sad, empty, and lost. So, how does that happen? How do we end up feeling lonely?

You might have heard before that feeling lonely is different from spending time on our own. It’s ok (and actually quite nice!) to spend time on our own every now and then to chill, or journal, or read, or listen to music. And we don’t always feel lonely when we do those things, right? So where does the feeling of loneliness creep in?

We can feel lonely when we miss people of course, but what it’s really about is missing the feeling of the three C’s – connection, comfort, and craic. Yes, the mighty craic has a part to play.

Think of some of your favourite moments. Think of a time when you laughed the hardest – maybe it was with a handful of really close friends and you were laughing at some hilarious inside joke, or maybe it was with your mam at home in the kitchen after one of you said something silly – that feeling of pure craic and laughter. Think of a time when you felt really connected – maybe you were at a music concert, or a match, or watching your favourite movie with friends or family – that comforting feeling that you were all “on the same wavelength” or rooting for the same result. Think of a time when you felt needed – maybe a friend reached out to you for advice, maybe you helped a neighbour with something, maybe you donated to a good cause – that really good feeling that you helped someone or made an impact.

When we’re physically around others, like you might be when you go to school, you might still feel lonely, right? Or you might be in the middle of a supermarket with lots of people, but you could still feel lonely. So it’s not about the crowd, it’s not about the number of people, it’s about our connection, comfort, and craic. Which we don’t have a lot of at the moment 😔

There is no opposite of loneliness – isn’t that interesting? There is no defined word in the English language that describes what it feels like when we’re feeling…well, the opposite of lonely! Which to me means that it’s more powerful than words can even say. It’s a feeling that we’re connected, protected, wanted, needed, loved, inspired, and excited, all at the same time.

So what can you do? Well, I’ve put a few ideas together that you can choose from to get you started. If you pick one and really give it your all, I bet it will help you feel a little better 😁

Here’s a few ideas for each of the 3 C’s:

Connection:

  • Pick one person and send them a really nice message every day for a week
  • Make a handmade card and post it to your Grandparents
  • Sign up for a free workshop or course online – there are some lovely virtual communities out there

Comfort:

  • Create a memory book or board – write down and add photos of all your favourites
  • Arrange a virtual movie night with your friends – PJ’s, slippers, and popcorn are essential!
  • Make a list or vision board of all the things you want to do next year, and the year after that, and the year after that

Craic:

  • See if you can write a funny poem or story, just for the craic
  • Set a challenge with your friends to bake some silly Halloween or Christmas cookies and share photos
  • Fancy dress – get some old clothes, face paints, make up, and get creative!

 

And just a little note on our new friend Corona – usually we get to choose when we want to be on our own. With this nasty global pandemic at the moment, it hasn’t been our choice. We’re being forced to be alone by staying apart and that really sucks. We’re so used to rallying together on stuff, TOGETHER and it’s something we do really well – we play sports and we bring home trophies together, we have community events and we raise funds for great causes, all together in person, because we love and need that sense of togetherness. But this one is different. It’s asking us to rally together but not actually get together and that’s hard, and it’s taking us some time to get used to. But we gotta do what we gotta do, and we WILL get through it.

I hope this helps and I hope the feeling of loneliness shifts for you. Keep us posted – and remember, you’re really not alone, everyone here at Shona is here for you! 😊

 

Here are some helpful supports in case you need to reach out ❤

TURN2ME: Support for anyone feeling anxious, sad or lonely.

SPUN OUT:  This is a one-stop shop for all mental health issues. The articles are very matter of fact, helpful and all bases are covered.

SAMARITANS: This helpline is open 24 hours a day and completely confidential. Call 116 123.

CHILDLINE: Helpline and online support, offering advice and support to young people under 18.

YOURMENTALHEALTH: Lots of information about Mental Health in Ireland.