Skip to main content

Mental Health

Loneliness

A dark abyss

Jane

Visions Journal, 2019, 14 (3), pp. 14-15

The loneliness eats at my soul. The dark abyss surrounds my every waking moment. I am all alone, no family and no friends. Just me and the deafening sound of silence.

I didn't always feel like this, but now I feel this kind of crushing loneliness almost all of the time.

I was adopted as a baby. My adopted parents both died before I was 15. At the time, I wasn't close to my two siblings, who were much older than me, so when my parents died, I started living on my own.

For the next several years, I didn't live a very stable life. I moved around, supporting myself through various jobs, like waitressing, office work—whatever I could find. I lived a life of wild abandonment, drinking heavily and sleeping around. I went through many jobs and numerous relationships, trying to bury the pain of my loneliness.

When I was in my early 30s, in misery and alone, I was hospitalized for an attempted suicide by overdose. I was admitted to Eric Martin Pavilion, the psychiatric unit of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, and that’s when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder 2 and borderline personality disorder.

I was in the hospital for a few months and began a long treatment process, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and medication. After struggling for years, I finally became somewhat more emotionally stable. I was able to go back to school and then get steady work again. But I still felt alone; loneliness was always a shadow in the background.

In my early 40s, I thought I had finally found a strong and loving relationship. My partner worked full-time and was a great person. But after we'd been living together for just over a year, he asked me to move out because he said he couldn't handle my moods. He said he never knew what sort of mood I would be in when he came home. He decided he didn't want to live with this uncertainty. This failed relationship really hurt; I truly loved him and I had finally felt "normal." Losing him made me feel lonelier than ever.

Some time later, I moved in with my sister, who is older than me by almost 20 years. I lived with her for about five years until she, too, told me she couldn't live with me anymore because she couldn't handle my moods. Unlike my partner, whom I had never told about my illness, my sister knew about my mental health challenges. Yet she still felt the same way, and I had to move out. Again, my illness had pushed someone away.

For a long time after this, although I drank alcohol daily and still had mood fluctuations, I held a full-time job and was able to create a somewhat stable life for myself. Then, within a few months, another romantic relationship ended, I received notice that I had to move out of my apartment and I lost my job. I became emotionally unstable pretty quickly after that. I went through numerous short-term jobs and numerous short-term relationships over the next couple of years.

I had learned over time not to show others the real me: experience had taught me that people tended to leave when they saw the real me. But the more time I spent alone, the lonelier I became. Soon, loneliness was the primary feeling I had, all the time.

Not only did I continue to lose jobs, but the constant stress of having to look for work all the time took a toll on me. Add to that the fact that I couldn't find a decent apartment to rent, I didn't have friends, I didn't have a supportive and loving romantic partner, and my relationship with both my older siblings had become distant and strained: it all amounted to a recipe for disaster.

My ongoing despair and loneliness led to my second suicide attempt. I spent one night in the hospital and was then released, but a few weeks later, I took myself back to the hospital and was admitted. I was there for two weeks and, after some changes to my medication regime, my mood stabilized again.

But while today I am emotionally stable and physically safe, the new combination of medications leaves me feeling blah. I have no emotions; I feel like I am in neutral all the time. I have all but lost contact with all of my acquaintances. I am on Canada Pension Plan disability and unable to work. I had to give up my apartment since I couldn't afford it anymore, and now I rent a room in a private home but I have almost no interaction with the family I live with. I have no family of my own to reach out to. My relationship with my sister has deteriorated. My brother and I have almost no contact.

I don't have a regular doctor. I renew my prescriptions at walk-in clinics. I don't have the energy to seek out friends or relationships. The past pain of people leaving me because of my illness is always there. I have not told many people about my illness because of the stigma attached to it. The few people I have told did not react well. I have experienced first-hand how mental illness can cause isolation and loneliness.

My days are filled with nothing. I sleep 12 hours a day and then watch TV for the other 12 hours. I can go days without talking to anyone, days without leaving the house. I wage a constant battle with depression, along with my loneliness. This is not how I envisioned spending my "retirement" years.

The dark abyss of loneliness is now my life.

Addendum

Soon after I finished writing this article, I was referred to a mental health resource centre that provides options for people who are facing mental health challenges. I am feeling a bit more hopeful in anticipation of that meeting. Maybe there is hope.

 
About the author

Jane is 56 years old and lives in Victoria

Stay Connected

Sign up for our various e-newsletters featuring mental health and substance use resources.