Fighting loneliness, an NCS grad’s experience

ncs 17/06/2019

Loneliness. A ten-letter word that everyone is familiar with, albeit to differing degrees of severity. So if everyone experiences it, why is it so taboo? Why isn’t it talked about more and what can we do to help how we feel?

Now I’m no expert, but loneliness is something that I have battled with for a long time and even though it is sometimes still there when I close the door and sit on my bed, I’ve worked hard to surround myself with people I love and to not push them away, and now I want to use my story to help others.

A little context to help you understand where I’m coming from... Since starting high school I gradually started to isolate myself from my friends and family due to stress and other emerging mental health issues. I had no friends. No one to hang out with at lunch and no one who seemed interested in how I was or what I was up to. This all changed when my best friend walked into my life. Although I was struggling, she was there through everything and made me feel wanted. We would hang out all day, every day. I started spending more time at her house than I did my own. 

Now comes the moment where she told me she was moving abroad. I was happy for her, I truly was, and I wanted to support her in every way I possibly could as I knew the next couple of months would be incredibly hard for her, especially with GCSEs just around the corner – but it broke me. 

The idea of being alone again scared me and I didn’t know how I was going to cope, but I couldn’t tell her that. I didn’t want her thinking I was trying to make her stay for my own selfish needs, so I supported her. I still do, and I am so happy she has the chance to see another part of the world and get out of the town we live in, but I miss her. We were inseparable. 

I was mentally alone, because I didn’t want to burden anyone else with my problems even though they were willing to help (a concept I am still trying to grasp now). Keeping my feelings and emotions, my struggles and issues all to myself left me feeling very isolated, like I had no one to talk to and no one who would understand, and it is one of the darkest places I’ve ever been in. 

GCSEs came and went. I completed my NCS summer programme and the next thing I knew it was results day. Everything came around so fast that I almost forgot what was waiting around the corner – our last goodbyes. The last time I would see my best friend for four months. I went from having her right beside me every day to talking to her whenever we got the chance. We never were ones for texting. 

I started a new college and found it hard making new friends, despite the fact that I came home from NCS with the most self-esteem and confidence than I’d had in a long while. I hit rock bottom. I didn’t see how I was going to crawl out of the pit I had found myself in.

So, how do you bring yourself back? 

  • Surround yourself with friends and family, no matter how isolated you feel there will always be people who are willing to support you
  • Don’t bottle up your emotions (this will only lead to negative consequences)
  • Return to hobbies and team sports you once loved. Not only will the exercise lead to a healthier mind, it also means you are surrounded by others that share your interests

Thanks to these three little things (some of which are still hard to fulfil) I have managed to help myself and I can finally say that, for the most part, I’m not lonely anymore. I have friends that are always there when I need them, physically and emotionally. I haven’t pushed them away and that’s because I’ve addressed the loneliness I was feeling head on.

It’s not easy and it is a fight, but if there is one thing to take away from this, it’s that this fight is worth having, as everyone deserves a shoulder to cry on and friends to laugh alongside.

Loneliness is debilitating, but little by little you can fight it, and remember, you don’t have to fight it alone.

If you are battling with loneliness, we recommend you seek support from Mind, Childline or The Mix.