What are the Consequences of Loneliness?
On reflection, I have had many periods of loneliness in my life. I came from a small family – my parents, a sister (four years younger than me), and me. As I started school she was just a toddler, and though I loved and played with her, those 4 years made a big difference.
Most of my interaction with her was after school, weekends and holidays. We had good neighbours, where the two girls were of similar age to us. But we had a problem then. They were Catholic and we were not. I recall that at their school, they were educated about the people who did not belong to their faith. I recall some of the words of a ditty they sang to us.
I didn’t have a really close friend in primary school, for I was very involved in the Brownie and then Girl Guide program and there were no very good friends then. They were all my friends, and no one was a special friend.
It’s me I know, and I don’t understand why, but in high school I didn’t have a close friend. In some ways, it was because of the school I attended – where I had to ride my bike (always alone) for quite some distance. I left my first high school after three years, and went to a school in the city – again well away from the local girls.
My early working life was somewhat lonely – in one place I was the junior, treated rather badly by the older ladies in charge, and then later, I worked alone. When I went nursing I did have close girlfriends – living in a nurses home with so many other single young ladies was great and we did have a great social life and there was always someone to talk with.
After I married I moved interstate and it did take me a while to make new friendships. My husband was a sales representative and travelled most weeks, leaving me along to manage life on my own, well not exactly on my own. Two babies and a dog took up most of my time, and at one stage I also worked at a local hospital.
We moved again to Melbourne, and again I had to find new friends, not easy while the children grew up, and as was often the case, my husband would be transferred and we would be on the move again.
I manage well on my own. I have had to. We have moved house more than a dozen times. I’ve lost count. Each time, for me it was hard. The children went to school and I often had a short-term friendship with other mothers, but I also worked too, and a few of the positions I had I made friends but they were not lasting. Some of my friends moved away too.
As a registered nurse, I was often on night duty – which was never a great circumstance to make friends. I had other positions too, and though I made acquaintances often I’ve never really had a good buddy. Well, except for one friend – who oddly lives on the west coast of Australia and I live on the east coast. We communicate often and do spend time together too, as often as we can.
After nearly 44 years of marriage I left. A long story which I don’t intend to tell here. For the next few years I went back to study and lived alone house sitting – again mostly in areas that I was not familiar with, and had no close friends.
It has been 10 years that I have been on my own, and though I have friends, I have issues with loneliness. I have many friends, but most days I am on my own, nights I am on my own and often weekends. I do belong to a few organisations and I have a list of friends (many on Facebook), but I still feel lonely.
What are the Consequences of Loneliness? One of the major ones for some people is health and mental health issues. Some people feel the issues so overwhelming that they see the only way out as suicide.
Just health issues – if you are feeling unwell you often need someone to assist – physically and mentally. And what if you are too sick/injured to call for help. Even in these days of much technology, some people are dying alone – often after being unconscious for a long period. (One lady who lived in the same housing block as me, was dead for 6 weeks before anyone noticed!)
Memory issues – I think this is an important issue that is not mentioned very much – but just having regular conversations with friends or family keeps your mind and memory active. So many times I am reminded of an event or a person, just from chatting with someone.
Learning – just chatting with someone may “teach” you things e.g. new local shop, event, computer/phone skill and much more.
There is plenty of research being undertaken at the moment. But there are many things that people can do to reduce their loneliness, which I will address in a future post.
Are you lonely? Sometimes? Always?