The difference between “I like being alone” and actually being alone.

I am writing this from MY perspective and MY experience. Everyone has their own experience with the topic. For example, you can be in a relationship and feel lonely, even though you are not physically alone. You can be in a group of people and feel alone, because you just don’t feel connected to anyone around you or feel left out for whatever reason.

I wrote a blog post about loneliness during lockdown last year already, when Scotland was in the first full lockdown which was even more stricter than what we have now:

Why am I writing about it again? Because no one really talks about the affects the lockdown restrictions have on people who are single, who do not have close family around, who’s friends live further away to just meet for a walk, who do not have a pet as company. I know there are quite a few in my community on Instagram who experience the same problematic with this and STILL, they stick to the rules, do not go all over the place and use their mental health as an excuse to break lockdown rules. Who do not go up the Munros in snow, bragging about it on Instagram what an awesome day they had.

Everyone is suffering in their own way at the moment. People lost their jobs, their life’s, a relative, a friend. We all lost our freedom. It is not only one who is suffering and yet so many act like if they are the only ones on the planet suffering from the restrictions.

If you still have a job, a house/flat, means to pay your bills and people who care about you, you are already better off than many. But this is not the point here – because we all have the right to feel frustrated about the whole situation, no matter how fortunate we may have ended up in terms of the former mentioned.

Mental health – I don’t know how many times I have read the phrase now: But I need to go outside for my mental health. You have to do what is best for you, what makes you happy. You need to be selfish at times.
I am certainly not diminishing anyone’s struggle with mental health. And I am not surprised that it is a huge problem in the current situation. However, there are outdoor places closer to home. You do not need to drive from Glasgow to Glencoe or South England to the Peak District.
Sorry – but that is my opinion.

First of all, no one ever said you cannot go outside. We are just asked not to drive hundreds of miles to get to an outdoor place. How hard can that be? Honestly, I do not get it? I did not leave Dunfermline city for 2 whole months last year and then only for a few miles outside in June. And my mental health has been suffering big times for almost 12 months as well now. The point is not that you do not harm anyone by being in the middle of nowhere – the point is, if we all think like that, restrictions make no sense anymore at all and we could just all live normally again. The point is, we endanger people who live in the rural areas, we are adding to the risk of needing help if we had a car accident on the way or an accident on the hill.

No one wants to be locked up at home. We all want to travel. We all want to go back to normal. Sit in a café or restaurant, not wearing masks, see friends and family, go on dates, drive wherever we want. But if people keep thinking they stand above everyone else, this is having a huge impact on the overall peace within our society. And actually, that is what I am more afraid of by now. The virus is there and it is transmitting fast. I do not understand how people can still deny it. It is an absolute riddle to me. But if we start acting more and more selfish we only make things worse for everyone.

Back to my actual topic. I had conversations and I listened to podcasts, where people said: I like being alone. I need to be alone from time to time.
I like being alone, too. I enjoy being alone. I love my solo adventures. I love the peace and quiet around me. I don’t need to talk to anyone and just chill with myself.
I understand there are many who find that strange. There are people who have never really been alone in their life. For them, this situation now must be a complete nightmare! It is already a nightmare for me – normally being happy on my own!

There is a HUGE difference if you decide for yourself to be alone and being FORCED to be alone. If you have a partner, family to see and even a pet – you are not actually alone and you can still decide when you want to be alone. When you do not have any of that AND you are asked to stay away from meeting friends, to go on dates – then it becomes a real issue. You are physically alone the whole time and no social media and no digital technology can replace physical interaction. It cannot replace a hug, a touch, a direct smile and laughing together, just feeling close to someone physically. You do not have the security that someone is there if you need help, especially if you might get sick.

You may not necessarily feel lonely instantly but it definitely contributes to it. And loneliness is actually pretty dangerous for your mental and physical health:

  • Loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of cognitive decline and dementia
  • Lonely individuals are more prone to depression
  • Loneliness and low social interaction are predictive of suicide in older age
  • Loneliness and isolation are associated with poorer cognitive function among older adult
  • Have a direct influence on health related physiology such as blood pressure and reduced immune functioning
  • People reporting loneliness have poorer sleep quality
  • Both social isolation and loneliness were associated with a greater risk of being inactive, smoking, as well as reporting multiple health-risk behaviours including physical inactivity and smoking
  • Loneliness is associated with lower self-esteem and limited use of active coping mechanisms

My biggest fear is always that something happens to me and no one notices it in time. This is creating massive anxieties for me. And the overall situation makes you feel more single than you already are – when you are single for a while. It just totally sucks. When you do not even have someone you may not be able to see at the moment, but at least you know they are out there, always available when you need to talk or would actually jump into the car to help you if needed.

I really wish society would look out for people being all alone. I have seen so many posts about organisations and numbers to call, when you feel alone or suffer mentally – but actually we all need to look closer to home, of who is struggling right in front of us and might only need a word of support or a little gesture to lift their mood.

And just all be less selfish 😉😊❤

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