This is becoming an "Epidemic"
This is not the first time I've talked about this subject "Loneliness" but I have recently read 2 stories about loneliness and the effect and impact it has. Firstly I just want to talk about loneliness a while as I do believe it affects people in different ways.
However, I do think that loneliness is an illness in itself and its effects can trigger off other conditions. So how does loneliness begin for someone who has not experienced it before. Well I'm not sure of how it starts for others but for me it was the loss of my partner. And I do think that a lot of people out there have also suffered loneliness from the loss of someone close to them.
For some reason that I have not been able to fathom is, before my wife passed away we had a huge amount of friends and family. That we considered part of our relationship network, if we didn't meet up with them, then we talked on the phone, or we sent text messages, our we used facebook or the net to have a chat. And we talked about a huge and varied topic list, from our pets, life, love life, friends, family, to daily events and life in general. So we had quite a large source of topics to talk about.
So, I was more than shocked, I was actually disgusted at the turnout for her funeral, now the fact we had moved from Yorkshire in England to Lockerbie in Scotland. For me this should not have had any effect on all the friends/family and people we knew from paying their respects. But from what I thought was a large number, actually turned out to be just a handful. This was in my mind was not only disrespectful but degraded what I thought was a bond that we had built together. So looking back at this it should have come as no surprise, to how I have been treated to date.
For some reason when you lose somebody close to you, and I'm not saying this is the case for everyone. You become infected, with an invisible unknown disease. But this disease causes everyone you know to keep away from you, and to start to not having any contact at all. I can only describe the feeling as becoming a social outcast, a modern day leper. And this is the start to the illness of loneliness, the thing that I find hard to understand is I've done nothing wrong. I've done nothing to deserve this outcast feeling, except love someone.
So, why are we treated in this way, some of these people that no longer have contact. Have been associated with my wife from birth, family are the so called, groupe that you feel you should be able to depend on. But, again speaking from experience of coming from a dysfunctional family myself, it has not come as such a shock for me that my late wifes family have just lost contact. In fact to be really honest when we moved to Scotland, things started to change dramatically, to the point that if my wife did not contact her family, then she would not hear from them. This for me again is sad, why was she treated this way just because she moved to a place she loved.
I've not been able to get my head around this, and as for those so called friends and that bond of friendship, it just dissolves before your eyes. I now understand where the term Fairweather friends comes from and who it applies to. So when you lose somebody, you become an outcast, and this is the start of your loneliness. And as time slips by your grieving and solitude becomes your lifestyle, and this is not through choice. Sadly the longer this goes on the more it starts to affect the individual, and this is when the illness takes hold. Mental issues start to develope, like depression which is the start. Then you begin talking to yourself, firstly what you think is in your mind. Then becomes more open and more regular. I know that I will get some people saying that you need to get out more, or join some group or club. Get involved, it's the only way you can start to move forward.
However, it is easily said than done, not all of us have the strength to do what might sound simple to others. Not everyone can deal with things in the same way, some people will remain alone. Recently there has been a number of news reports about loneliness and the elderly. But some experts have said it's not just mainly the elderly that are linked to being lonely. A certain number of individuals seem to slip through the net on a regular basis. The NHS just seems to be quite content to ignore, what certain specialists are now saying is becoming an epidemic, loneliness is being ignored at ground level and the care that should be in place is none existent. Again, speaking from experience. When my wife passed away my GP came to see me within a couple of days, he sat and talked and listened to what I said. He had been GP to the both of us, and knew my wife's history, and obviously mine as well. So the both of us agreed I should have some bereavement counseling and he would arrange it. He did explain that It would be only after a certain length of time had passed, that they would get in touch. He explained that because the grief was so raw they had to let some time pass, but he did say I would hear something after 6 weeks had passed.
Well time passed by and after 3 months had gone by I contacted the surgery and asked about my bereavement counseling, the receptionist was surprised I had not heard anything. She said she would drop them a line and chase it up for me. We are now 18 months down the line and I've not heard from the bereavement counselor or from my GP's surgery. So neither have checked to see if I'm managing or even how I'm doing in general. Now I'm on repeat medication, and I have to call to the surgery every so often for replacement batteries for my hearing aids. But I've not been asked to make an appointment to see my GP. And I know that some of you are going to say that why don't I make contact, but I mentioned earlier that I called in to ask why I hadn't heard anything, so I had tried to make contact. This is why people slip through the net, because there seems to be no back up service to find out, how my counseling went, and am I still having it. And from the counseling side, why have they got a referral that they have not seen. Questions that you would think would be asked.
One of the other stories that I read in the news that was linked to the illness that is loneliness. A man in the USA who was believed to be what they termed as a loner, had lived alone for quite a number of years. So it came as a big surprise when he went out and committed a crime, not only to get arrested, but a crime that would include prison time. The man pleaded guilty, against his defence counsels advice, after the defence team had him medically checked out, it came back that he was depressed and also suffering from being bipolar. The psychiatrist who examined the man said he was from a number of metal conditions, and he said that when he asked the man why he had committed the crime, the man replied, "I don't want to be alone anymore". The psychiatrist believed that the man had deliberately committed the crime so that he would go to prison to be with others.
The judge listened, and read the psychiatric reports and the man was sent to mental institute for the treatment of his conditions. In his summing up the judge did say that loneliness is a serious issue that needed to be addressed, and that communities needed to take on more involvement with those living in their community on their own, he said it needed more than just a knock on the door, but that, was a good place to start. He said that we all need to make changes before this becomes an epidemic, loneliness should not be a way of life. We used to use loneliness (solitary confinement ) as a form of punishment and it is still used today, so if we use it as a punishment can we not see and try understand how it is affecting those who are or have been found to be on their own. surely these people need help and support and not from a distance, we all need to be more hands on. And yes some people might not like having their life intruded on, but it surely must be better to intrude that to die all alone. To know that as you take your final breath there is nobody there to hold your hand and bring you comfort and reassurance that you are in fact not "ALONE". Thank you for reading this, it is my view of something that is being ignored by everyone, so lets try making a change.