But what happens when you try to reach out, to make plans, and people don't return calls? Or when people reach out to you, but you're unable to go, because their plans are too ambitious for you? I'd love to see people for coffee, but they always want to combine it with shopping followed by dinner and drinks afterwards, and that's too much of a day for me. Lunch and shopping, I can do that on a good day, but then I want to go home. And if it's a bad day, then I have to say no right from the start. And what happens if I start having too many bad days when friends want to get together? They stop calling, period. I am "too sick all the time" and no longer any fun to be with. It's easy to get depressed when this happens.
There's also the other side of the coin though. What if your friends continue to invite you out, but you keep turning them down? Your reasons seem valid; you're in pain, it's too much of a hassle, the weather is too difficult, you're tired, or you just don't feel like it. It's easy to make excuses, but you also need to search the real reasons for saying no. Are the reasons you're giving valid? Or are you turning down invitations because of depression?
Signs to Watch Out For
How do you know if you're becoming depressed or socially isolated? Here are some signs to watch for:
- Being less motivated to leave your home
- Feeling more anxious or worried when leaving the house
- Declining invitations from friends or family to meet or attend gatherings
- Planning fewer social opportunities for yourself
- Ignoring supports when they reach out to you
- Seeing only negatives associated with social connections
If you recognize any of these symptoms, please see a doctor in order to be treated appropriately. If you want to be more socially active, but find your friends are not as available as they've been in the past, the following suggestions might be helpful for you:
- Volunteer with like-minded people
- Help out in an animal shelter
- Take up a new hobby
- Join a support group (in person or online)
- Join a Social Group in your City (look on Craigslist)
- Keep a journal - it can help put things in perspective
Loneliness can be hard to deal with, but with the right understanding and support, you can overcome it. Make sure you're staying in touch with people and not isolating yourself, and reach out to others if your friends have stopped reaching out to you. It's okay to move forward and make new friends. Listen to your body and do what's right for you. If you're feeling up to it, go out and make new friendships through volunteer work or so social groups. If you need to take a break from socializing, that's fine. Just don't fade into the woodwork. Remember, your presence is valued no matter how much of it you are able to give at any time. You are loved. And as I always say...
There Is Always Hope!
Pamela Jessen lives in Langford, BC, just outside of Victoria. She is happily married to her amazing husband Ray and they are proud parents of 2 grown kids and three wonderful grandsons. She is a blogger who writes about Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Invisible Illness at pamelajessen.com She also writes for The Mighty, The UnChargeables and various independent publications.
In addition to blogging, Pamela is an active volunteer with the Patient Voices Network in BC. Outside of PVN, she has also done volunteer work for Island Health as a Patient Advisor, was on the Advisory Committee for Opioid Guidelines in Canada, and was a summer volunteer with the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s Busker Festival.
Pamela currently sits on 4 different committees:
- The Clinical Resource Committee for the BC Emergency Physician’s Network,
- The Laboratory Quality Council for Vancouver Island, BC
- The Oversight & Advisory Council for Patient Voices Network
- The Surgical Care Quality Measurement Group
Additionally, she is a member of the BC Patient-Centred Measurement Blended Survey Consultation Group. She is passionate about Quality Improvement and seeks out continual educational opportunities to learn and grow.