“Just go and say hi.”
“It’s not that hard.”
“They won’t bite.”
Oh the joys that come when you have to explain to a person why you have no friends, or few friends, and why it is so hard for you to socialize.
I have always found it hard to be around people. I find that I don’t understand social cues and I can ramble on too much. I feel like I get too attached to people and it scares them away, so I instead will avoid starting conversations and then get upset that I’m so lonely.
It wasn’t always this way. There have been short periods of my life where I have made lots of friends, usually when drunk, yet none of these friendships lasted. It’s left me insecure.
Despite all the countless friends I have had in my life, only one remains in contact and cares for me and the other is my husband. Can we count my dog too?
Now it’s stressful for me because I want to talk to people other than my husband, have days out with friends, and I also feel bad for relying on my only one friend, who is a gem but busy, so I tend to keep a distance as I don’t want to be a bother.
People tell me it’s easy to start a conversation, but it makes me feel so sick that if I try to talk, my voice will disappear. I can’t even type because my fingers will freeze. If someone tries to talk to me I get so caught off guard that I say something so wrong that it gives them a bad impression.
I tend to blame myself for my loneliness. I have a high expectation of what a friend should be — that they will put in as much effort as I do and will not force me to have to make all plans and conversations.
If a person never makes time for me then I can’t class them as a friend, yet I get given the whole ‘busy’ adult excuse, which I understand but if you really care about someone, you’d make an effort at least once a month to see or talk to them surely?
For me, I could move countries and it wouldn’t be noticed. I never get texts outside from family and only a message once in a while from that one friend. I’m pretty sure if I died not many people would notice, as sad as that sounds, this is how little I am checked on or seen by people in my real life.
It makes me feel so immature to let it bother me because I feel like there seriously has to be a problem with me, like I am a built-in person repeller. Why is it so hard for me to make and maintain friendships? Am I not kind, am I really strange?
Whatever it is, adult loneliness is a serious thing and it isn’t just the disabled or elderly, it’s those with mental health as well who can’t start friendships or join groups.
To me, it’s a big thing to even say hi, usually in a squeaky voice, because I’ll be too busy analyzing the person and overthinking. I can’t even go out and make friends because I struggle to leave the house and I would struggle to commit to a group as a hobby.
For me to start a conversation, I have to think about everything. What are their intentions? What is their story? Who are they? What will the conversation be like? How will I talk? What will I say?
It’s very overwhelming because I can’t just see someone and run up and introduce myself. There is like an invisible barrier that stops me.
There are times when this loneliness has made me suicidal. I can’t imagine how I’d cope without my husband or that one friend. It makes me think, if this is so bad for me, what about those worse off? Are they ok? We need to do more to help the lonely.
I ask that you make an extra effort for your friends with a mental illness, take them for coffee or watch a movie at their house, that’d make my day for sure. If they are bad at conversation then don’t take it personally.