When you live with depression and anxiety, one isn’t the loneliest number.

Believe it or not, I like my own company. I enjoy being inside my own space. Thinking my own thoughts. Wondering about my own wonders. I find solace in isolation.

What I find interesting though, is that I don’t always believe this self-imposed seclusion is a healthy or sustainable way to do life. There seems too much time to ruminate about problems, worry about stuff and become too deeply embedded in my own feelings.

There’s a lot to loneliness that most people don’t understand. For a long time, I was of the belief that loneliness was a description of a number of people, and as a consequence, the smaller the crowd, the lonelier the person. However I’ve come to realise the number of people in the group does not measure a person’s loneliness. That in a room full of people, the most commonly felt malady is that of loneliness.

How can it be that loneliness is so widely felt, we live in a world of increasing communication? How is it that in our churches, sports teams, classrooms, work places and all manner of social gatherings we are left feeling… well… um… lonely?

When I posed the question on Facebook recently the answers were varied, but the problem was common. A sense of disconnection. Abandonment. Isolation.

I have a problem at the moment that I can’t share. (Because it’s not mine to share.) Even though I’ve been incredibly wounded by it’s effect and it has greatly disturbed my sense of equilibrium, I have no right to breach another’s privacy (especially here in such a public forum). The effect of this is, I feel like I’m carrying an impossibly heavy burden. Everywhere I go, I feel like I’m struggling to hold on to an impossibly awkward and immensely large weight. The effect of which is that behind it, I feel invisible.

The obvious cure to my invisibility is that I should simply ‘drop my bundle’! I should release this burden and be freed. But it’s just not that easy!

Dropping this bundle would mean breaching a promise. It would mean releasing something over which I could no longer have control and from which there would unquestioningly be negative fall out. And so, my only option is to seek professional help in order to work through the multitude of issues and to eventually find a place where it’s safe to release. In the meantime however, I must do life hidden behind a problem that eclipses me.

And so, I’m lonely!

It makes me wonder if it’s what we’re carrying that makes us feel lonely. The secrets? Uncertainty about who we are? The abuse we’ve endured? The failures we’ve experienced? Our unfaithfulness; or our partner’s? That we are unloved; or feel unlovable? That we harm ourselves; or others? That we don’t cope? That we can’t cope? That we’re not the perfection we think others want from us?

When we’re carrying burdens that cannot be released (and yes there is stuff that it’s inappropriate to share publically) we owe it to ourselves to find a safe place where it’s okay to practice stepping out from behind what hides us, stepping away from what keeps us lonely, and stepping into ourselves. Because it seems to me that until we’re able to look back at our ‘junk’ we’re not facing in the right direction.

From Mother Teresa: Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.

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If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.

(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)