Hi, My Name is Lonely

TW: depressing AF, a little hopeless, definitely whiny

I won’t for a second pretend that I have it harder than anybody else. For years, I was the queen of woe. I was depressed. I was anxious. I had trauma. I had the early stages of an alcohol problem. I was poor. I was lonely.

I’m sitting back, looking at the past tense that I use to describe my struggles, but most of them I’m still dealing with today.

I am depressed. I am anxious. I have trauma. I struggle with money. I am lonely.

Loneliness, I believe, is the biggest mental health crisis of 2020. We are all lonely, because for awhile, we need to stay alone as much as we can.

We cover half our face, but you can see it in our eyes. This is really fucking hard. I sleep in the same bed as my girlfriend every night, and while I’m asleep I know I’m not alone.

But when I have to wake up, I’m by myself.

By myself, I have to get out of bed.

By myself, I have to take a shower even when I can’t even imagine doing so.

By myself, I go to work and take on the burden of others even though I too am struggling.

By myself, I prepare dinner and force myself to eat something besides cereal, as that had been the meal for the past several days.

By myself, I go to the pharmacy to pick up my antidepressants, only to find out they hadn’t been filled. A blessing, really, compared to going the following day and my card getting declined and not being able to take my Zoloft in 5 days because I couldn’t afford it.

By myself, I pick my scabs off my skin, layer after layer until it gets infected or I find the will to stop.

So if I’m struggling and feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders but I can’t hold it because we’re supposed to be six feet apart, what the hell am I supposed to do?

How do I get others through this if I can’t get myself through this?

I don’t know how much loner I can do this. I am so lonely, even in a crowded room I feel so fucking alone. Everyone is so far away, both geographically and mentally.

It’s just me. And if I feel like I’m slowly dying while trying to get through every day, I cannot imagine what others are going through.

Nothing is more important than community, and despite efforts to make us feel connected through technology and letters and masked hang outs, it’s not the same.

My family lives really far away. I wasn’t ready for any of them to move away but they all kept leaving. At 21 my parents moved to Tennessee and by the time I was 22 my sister had moved to Pennsylvania (now North Carolina).

I feel like I lost my family. Today, I FaceTimed with my sister as she and her husband went to visit my parents for the long weekend, because its only a 5 hour drive and restrictions are much looser down south than Massachusetts. My family members that live closest to us don’t reach out because they have their own lives, but today went out to western Massachusetts to visit more family. My baby cousin turned 2, and I wasn’t invited to her birthday party.

Even my mother, who lives an hour away in Massachusetts refuses to visit, but went up to New Hampshire with my brother to spend Labor Day Weekend with my brother’s family.

I don’t know why I am constantly excluded from everything, but my dad and stepmom used to make sure we were together for the big stuff. At 24, they didn’t live thousands of miles away from their families. They lived near the siblings and their parents. They were grown up but they weren’t alone.

I finished college and I knew this was coming. There was no home to go back to. I had to make my own home, my own family, my own support system. Still, I begged everyone to still include me during the holidays, to go out to lunch, to go for hikes, hell, even to let me babysit so I could be with family.

There’s a pandemic, so why would I feel like I can take this personally?

I work with at risk individuals and have been closely exposed to coronavirus several times, I can’t blame my family for not reaching out so often. I’m struggling, I know they are too.

I’m just so lonely. I know I will be fine and am learning to embrace being alone. It just sucks.

I don’t have it harder than everyone else, but it’s still hard and I am still struggling. I’m not pushing my feelings aside and just going through the motions anymore.

I am feeling all the feelings, even the ones I’d rather not. I’m in less of a fog, I’m remembering my dreams, I am making progress and killing it in life. Even though I’m sensitive.

I’m okay today and I will be okay tomorrow. Life will keep getting harder but I believe I will keep getting stronger.

6 Simple Tips For Dealing With Anger

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I have been working through my anger for a long time. A LONG time. Angry at my parents, angry at my peers, angry at my bosses, angry at the world, and most of all, the systems that keep people marginalized/impoverished/down.

I had a tendency to react quickly and dramatically. At times, I would be in a full meltdown over a minor inconvenience, and if someone wronged me I would hold a grudge. I was angry at myself and at the life I lived. It just kept getting projected onto others.

So yeah- I know plenty about being angry, but I have learned so much about working through my anger, channeling my anger into something positive, and sometimes just letting things go.

Here are my top 5 alternatives to getting angry, brought to you by psychiatric medications, lots of therapy, and slow but steady self-growth.

1. Wait 24 hours, then react if you are still angry.

It’s important that you give yourself time before you react, especially in a serious situation. My standard is to wait 24 hours if I feel alright doing so, and if it still bothers me in 24 hours I will speak up. After 24 hours, I use my voice in a calm way to clearly state what I am angry about and what I would like done.

2. Find the root of your anger, and deal with that.

Anger is often simply anxiety in disguise. Not always, of course. Sometimes an individual’s action can anger you, or another direct scenario that led to an angry response.

Are you angry at the amount of traffic there is at rush hour, or are you upset at yourself for pressing snooze one too many times and running late?

Are you angry at your partner for not doing the dishes, or are you feeling overwhelmed about how much you have on your plate?

I believe that more often then not, anxiety manifests itself as anger as an “easy” coping mechanism. By deflecting an anxious situation by simply getting angry, you are denying yourself the opportunity to recognize your triggers and work through them.

3. Practice deep breathing.

The key to successfully utilizing calming breaths in situations when you are angry is to practice when you are not. Being able to turn to a healthy alternative to anger must be practiced and its unlikely that you will be able to adequately calm yourself down with deep breathing if you are in the middle of an angry episode.

Meditation, a sister of practicing controlled breath, is also a great option if you’re looking for something more intense. I’m a huge fan of guided meditations on Spotify or Headspace.

I underestimated the power of stress balls for the longest time, until a friend of mine got me one. I LOVE these ones from Amazon. Squeeze while you breathe in, release as you breathe out. I keep one in my office, one by my bed, and one in my bag! It’s a must have.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe.

4. Move your body.

It might be the last thing you want to do, but getting up and physically removing yourself from a situation that is causing you to be angry is an easy immediate solution. It could be as simple as going for a walk or as intense as going to an exercise class.

You know yourself best, and might need to try a few options until you figure out what works best for you to keep your cool.

5. Check in with yourself and see what you need.

9 times out of 10 I’m hangry, not actually angry. By pausing for a moment and seeing what you actually need, you can address that before and then see if the response is necessary. Have a drink of water, have a snack, take a quick walk, put on some music, talk to a friend.

Give yourself permission something that makes you feel just a little bit better in the next few moments. By tending to one or more of your needs, you’ll be able to get yourself in the right mindset to properly tune into yourself and figure out what you’re angry at and why- and most of all, if it’s worth being angry about.

6. Be angry. Let yourself feel how you feel, then let that sh*t go!

If you’re angry, you’re angry. Let yourself feel anger for a moment or two, but don’t hold onto it. Life is too short to be angry, and you won’t feel any better for staying angry. Very little is worth your anger, channel it into something better, make a change, or let it go!

Becca