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What Being Sick Made Me Realize About Being Lonely

Desiree Roundtree
A woman on a rooftop

Being lonely is never something I strived to be. I always wanted to be the kind of woman who needed no one, nothing, not a cent, not a look — nothing. That has nothing to do with being lonely. Being alone and being lonely are two different things.

There is a very real change when you have chronic pain and mental illness. It is something you deal with every single day, every minute with every breath you take.

Sometimes deciding to take that breath is even hard. It is hard to understand that need for help if you don’t experience it yourself. Help is such a wide net to cast but to be honest, that’s why people with chronic pain and mental illness cast it wide. We understand that sometimes it isn’t a one person job and many people are needed to bring clarity back to your life, to your heart and your spirit. Asking for that help is hard.

Related:The Question I Hate Being Asked as a Chronically Ill Person

Sometimes it is the hardest thing you have to do, but when it is a must, it is. Help comes in many forms — from a text message, an email, a lunch or just a hi. All of this helps when things are bad and it is darker than it should be on a sunny day.

Unfortunately for me, a lot of those days are dark — loneliness has crept into my illness, settling in like it was here from the very beginning with fresh tears on my eyelashes. The hardest times are when those tears don’t fall, as if they are absorbed back into my body to taint my mind with different sadness, different failures, different loneliness.

I know I hear the echoes of what once was because nothing new fills that space. I know this is what being lonely feels like. It’s this ache, like words trapped in your mouth during an argument or hugs never given to a loved one who is gone. It is a choice for some, but not for others. We can’t snap out of it, and sometimes we don’t know what happened or what’s wrong. There are days when just being anywhere can make me cry or anxious, just because. Memories trigger feelings of anger that lead to sadness that at this time seems completely unavoidable. Dealing with things has become harder than expected, and more tedious then I think I will ever be ready for.

Related:What It's Like to (Not) Sleep With a Chronic Illness

It is hard, I guess that’s what I am saying. It’s a battle, and I know there is a portion of it I have to fight by myself, for myself. I totally get that concept. But the battle is hard to fight alone when there is support from afar but the trenches feel empty. It’s hard to understand or accept. Everything has changed for me, from my daily routine and expectations to how I can celebrate and party — it has all changed. So walking a fine line must be hard for the people who love me. There are days when I hold it together and days I can’t consider a conversation that would make sense, but something in me will always feel like that conversation needs to be had.

Missing your old life takes on a lot of different meanings. For me, I think I miss not being in a perpetual state of loneliness. I miss being able to make and keep plans. I miss nights I can’t remember for all the right reasons.

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It’s hard to give it all up, no matter how hard we try to say it’s not. It’s hard to have it taken away. It’s really hard to understand what happened, but it’s even harder to pretend to accept it.

Can you relate? Tell Desiree in the comments below.

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