I’m a 29-year-old nurse living in Los Angeles. On any given day off, you would probably find me hiking, walking at the beach, or eight hours deep into a Korean drama binge. I’m the proud mom to Achilles, the Aussie-St Bernard Good Boy.
When You Feel Unloved
The first time I felt like I needed to go see a doctor was when I was working in Dallas. It was my first year as a working professional and I was all alone on Christmas. I work as a nurse at a hospital and we had a very low census that day, so I got canceled from work and had Christmas all by myself. I remember waking up at 7pm because of my night shift and just crying because the feeling of loneliness just was so overwhelming. I eventually ended up seeing a movie by myself which was a whole different fiasco.
That day had me feeling the throes of loneliness, which sent me into a more acute depression. I felt constantly down, heavy, empty, depressed, and alone. I started to wonder why other people aren’t talking about this; I began to think that I was not normal for feeling these emotions.
I felt so alone, not only physically alone, but also alone in a way that made feel like an outsider – like I was the only one feeling this way. At 22, I felt like I should’ve been bright eyed and bushy tailed, happy and excited. I still had lots of things on my calendar – lots of fun, exciting adventures. Despite having adventure and friends and family who love me deeply, I still felt so sad.
To anyone struggling with loneliness: acknowledge what you feel and allow it to happen.
I do feel afraid. It feels like such a small action, but it really makes a difference to say: I do feel lonely, and oh, this is overwhelming. I do feel sad but I will allow myself to feel this way.
My Tips on Healing
Then there are little tips and tricks I do because we all know that we’re not really alone. I made an album in my phone of photos of birthday parties people have thrown for me or social events. The album is titled “When You Feel Unloved.”
I fill this album with times where I received love that felt undeserved and I snap a photo to remember that instance. One of the images in the album was when my friends planned a surprise birthday trip for me. Another image I included was when I broke up with my boyfriend and showed up to my friend’s place and they just listened and cried with me. There are times that a simple FaceTime call made me feel loved so I took a screenshot and added it to the album. Or even a time when one of my patients thanked me. This album has been a reminder to myself that I feel unloved and lonely, but I am loved.
Another thing I do when I’m going through bouts of depression is to make a list. There was a time when I got out of a tough relationship and I had this overwhelming presence of loneliness. I challenged myself to make a list of 25 things I love about myself. There are things that are more lighthearted, like I crack a silly joke every once in a while, and things that are more honest, like I face my sadness head on.
I sometimes get really down on myself because a lot of my weaknesses feel so loud. I feel like a failure or a failed person. But there’s no such thing as a failed person. There’s just people. We are just people in a conglomeration of all our lived experiences.
As scary as it is, I highly recommend reaching out. But, I also understand not wanting to reach out because you don’t want to burden someone. You feel as if you don’t have any happy-joy-lucky to bring to anybody. I recently reached out to my friends about my feelings of loneliness and they put together a calendar for me of fun events to look forward to. One friend would plan a simple FaceTime or somebody would come over and walk with me. I had friends that would send me lunch at the end of the week or go surfing on a Saturday with me.
Sometimes it feels like there’s no hope for the future, and those thoughts can get very overwhelming. This calendar helped me look forward to seeing someone or hearing from a friend.
How My Worldview Has Changed
Dealing with feelings of loneliness and depression has changed my worldview and my view of others as they endure through their own hardships. I used to be a pretty judgmental person, but now I’m like,dude, everybody’s got shit.
I had a mindset that was a lot more judgmental and I felt like I knew what was the right way to go about things.
And depression is very humbling sometimes.
I mean, sometimes I can’t even walk from my living room to my dining room because I’m so depressed so I just lay on the couch. The tiniest tasks, like doing laundry, were just way too overwhelming. Who the heck am I to judge how someone else should live their life when I have my own struggles to battle?
Also, be present with people. I have realized the value of that.
My friends that allowed me to be depressed were actually the most helpful. They gave me space and weren’t looking for ways to cheer me up. I felt like they were there for me whether I cheered up or not.
I had a friend who told me that the only way to get past depression is to go through it and face it.
Recognize what it is that you’re the most afraid of and face that. My counselor also says that feelings are sitting there waiting to be acknowledged and until they’re acknowledged, they’re just going to rear their head in another ugly way.Some of us are carrying feelings that we have not acknowledged even from childhood, and they’re just sitting around rearing their head in ugly ways.
Just feel the feels.