Archives for Loneliness
Skype, email, text, IM, cell phone call, face time, gchat, Tweet, Facebook message…we have so many means of communication now that we didn’t have even a few years ago. And yet, communicating with our partners, especially when we’re at a long distance, has never been so challenging. Deciding whether or not to pursue or stay in a long distance relationship has only become more and more complex. Many of you have been pondering whether or not to stay in your relationship over the summer. You’ve also wondered whether or not to go abroad or stay at school and be with your significant other. These are not easy decisions. After all, true love, and/or a great relationship, can be hard to come by and build. Yet, some of us still have so many adventures ahead of us!
Since this May is mental health awareness month, I want to talk about mental health and the impact it has in our lives. For those of us who have ever struggled with mental health issues, it’s important to understand that we are actually a part of the majority of people living in the United States. In fact, one in four adults in the US will suffer from some form of a mental health issue in his or her lifetime. We are not alone. It’s important to engage in supporting others with mental health issues, like our responders do at Spill. Peer responders provide confidential support for their peers by empathizing with their struggles and writing responses to them with feedback. We can engage in conversations with people and educate them in order to eliminate the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues. While it can be very empowering to acknowledge that depression or anxiety or whatever it is that ails us is a part of who we are, it can also be very powerful to recognize that any one part of who we are does not make up all of who we are. In other words, you are not your _____________________. Fill in the blank (with depression, anxiety, stress, anger, distress, sadness, etc.)
You know the feeling: you lay in bed, wide awake, tossing and turning, and wishing you could sleep. Instead, your mind drifts to the one. You know the one: that person you cannot shake from your mind, no matter how hard you try. Nothing steals a good night’s sleep from you like falling in love. One of the top five issues that get the most Spill ink is romantic relationships. It’s also one of the conversations that come up quite frequently amongst my girlfriends when we’re gathered together. And it has been since before college.
“Man Cannot Discover New Oceans Unless He Has the Courage To Lose Sight of the Shore.” – Andre Gide Loneliness can be a crippling cycle: students feel alone and isolated so they withdraw from their social lives, making them feel more alone and isolated. As of last February, loneliness accounted for nearly 5% of all spills…Loneliness can feel very isolating. Most anyone can and does experience loneliness, and we have found that it is often accompanied by difficulty making friends, homesickness, feeling alone around others, or having too few meaningful acquaintances. It is no wonder then that many first years in particular feel a sense of loneliness. During my first few weeks of college, I remember calling my parents to tell them that I would never possibly make the quality or extent of friendships that I’d had back at home. I was crying and very upset (they often remind me of this in a teasing manner to remind me of how quickly things that seem negative can turn around and become a positive experience. For the record, I did make many meaningful friendships in college, and I still keep in touch with many of those people today.)
One of our readers recently posted a poignant comment after reading “Stress Tends to Spill” last week in which she stated that “students should strongly consider seeking out their counseling center on campus. They don’t need to be going through a crisis before they seek this help; they can just go to have someone to talk with.” Here at Spill, we couldn’t agree with her more. In fact, most therapists and counselors would agree that no problem is too small for a visit to see a counselor. And yet, we have found that a huge chunk of student spillers feel as though their problem wasn’t serious enough to visit the counseling center. There is still a huge stigma around mental health issues, and college students are not immune to that stigma. Stigma can come in many forms, not the least of which is most damaging is when it creates self doubt or shame. This can be shame around one’s feelings, or around admitting to what we’re struggling with, and it can also mean shame around asking for help. But it doesn’t have to!
Have you ever noticed that when one aspect of your life becomes stressful, other things follow suit? Maybe finals are coming up, and you had an argument with your significant other. Then you find out that a bunch of your friends are going abroad in a different semester than you, so you start to feel lonely. It could be any combination of things, but sometimes it feels like stress breeds stress, and next thing you know, your stress has spilled over into many facets of your life... Or so it might seem. Because then one thing lifts, and then another…and then something really positive and great happens, and then another. And before you know it, you’re on an upswing. So bear in mind that for every rough hour, day, week or more when it feels like things are never going to get better, joy may be just around the corner. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to manage your stress better in the moment: