Thursday, 4 January 2018

Lonely | Why I find friendships hard

You may have noticed that one of my New Year's resolutions is to make more of an effort with friends.

I also have a daily tracker to keep a record of how many days I am doing this and accomplishing my goal. It's basically my way of forcing myself to message, talk to or visit a friend. If I learned anything from 2017 it's that I need to make more of an effort with the people in, and who I want to be in, my life.

There were too many times last year where I felt truly, deeply lonely. I felt left out, like I had no social life, like I was failing at this one huge aspect of my life.

During one particularly hard and lonely point of the year, I felt that there was a gap inside of me preventing me from being anyone's friend. I felt like it had always been there, and that I was socially inadequate.

Why I find friendships hard

I'm the person who doesn't reply to your WhatsApp message. I'm the person who doesn't have Facebook Messenger because I found group chats and messages there overwhelming. I uninstalled it and I have zero regrets. I'm the person who stops replying to Twitter DMs when you ask 'how are you?'. I'm the person who only sees their best friend once a month. I'm the person who drops off the face of the planet for four months, only to pop up in your notifications again.

My ability to make and keep friends, or rather how I feel about my ability to make and keep friends, is dictated by my mental health. If I'm enjoying good mental health, I am replying to friends, arranging coffee dates, getting the bus out to see you. However, when I feel overwhelmed, down and depressed (THE VERY TIMES I NEED SOCIAL CONTACT) I cut people out.

When my depression hits, I isolate myself. I push people away. I don't want to talk or make an effort.

I tell myself that people don't like me. I tell myself that there's no point messaging someone; I find a multitude of reasons not to. I tell myself that they'll only reply out of pity.

Sometimes the habit sticks, and even when my mental health is good I lose contact. Sometimes I find it hard to make and keep friends. Other times, it's the keeping in touch that I neglect, letting amazing friends drift away. And with working two jobs, I can always turn to 'time' as an excuse to not make an effort with friends. And I do. A lot.

The reasons I feel lonely are me

Yes, the reasons I feel lonely are because I find friendships and contact and communicating hard. But all these reasons are something I am responsible for. I can't blame anyone else. And I also can't expect it to ever change or improve if I don't take action.

So it's time to tackle it.

My daily tracker has already been encouraging me to reach out to friends I haven't spoken to in a while and to keep in regular contact with others. I'm even replying to Snapchats and Instragram stories like I never have before. I know that this is only one tool to help me be a better friend. And I expect that when my mental health takes a knock, I'll still struggle. But that's okay. Because change starts with the small steps. And change starts here.

Until next time,

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