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  • Laura

Self-Imposed Loneliness

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

Self-imposed loneliness: a friend suggested this topic, and I couldn’t agree more with her – the loneliness those with mental illness feel is real, intangible, and oh-so-painful. I have said too many times to count that I am at my most alone in a crowd. I am enough of an introvert that I need time by myself to recharge, akin to charging a phone or computer. It is, however, the self-imposed loneliness that is so terribly hard to contend with.

Mental health exists on a continuum, and normal is merely a setting on a washing machine. However, if you exist on the “healthier” end of that continuum, you likely don’t quite grasp the loneliness that we impose on ourselves.

So, you ask why one would impose a sentence of self-imposed loneliness. Candidly, those of us on the not-so-healthy end of the spectrum don’t want to burden others (or are scared of being slapped with a diagnosis of mental illness). So, we fight the good fight and battle our demons. (In large part, we are fighting the Beast that is suicidality, and sadly, we do not always come out on top.)

Those of us who self-impose loneliness believe we are better off alone – when just the opposite is true – we exist in a space where positive thoughts and suicide resilience are lacking in spades. Those of us who believe our lives to be expendable often fail to reach out to others, believing we should suffer in silence, to be alone and separated from those we don’t want to burden with the weight we bear in silence.

The Beast is far less likely to win the war when you share your thoughts and feelings with someone you trust. And if you don’t have someone to talk to, run, do not walk, to a therapist. Even if you have a friend or family member you can trust, it can be, in some cases, easier to talk to someone who has no agenda and who is accustomed to discussing suicidal ideation. It’s important to recognize that humans have an innate drive to survive, and not everyone can discuss suicidality. (For one, they are concerned and can even be angry.)

I don’t think I have, as of yet, directly addressed the fact not all of us who battle mental illness survive. My closest friend at The Menninger Clinic was among others I have known who suicided. I hope those who read this will, at the very least, realize they have options apart from self-destruction.

The Beast is real, and it is vicious and vindictive. Remember that you always have a choice. Even when you fail to see it, it is there. The Beast doesn’t discriminate – everyone who suffers from a mental illness is at risk – so don’t let your guard down. Sometimes, it yfeels safer to hold onto the known; when the known is suicidal ideation, things can get serious – even lethal. I hope you recognize your level of suicidality, and get the help you need. The most important thing is to beat the Beast at his game – and emerge from the depths of suicidality like the phoenix rising from the ashes.

Ground zero is when you question every fiber of your being, every suicidal thought you have entertained, and every failure you have endured. Do yourself a favor and listen to me - I have been chronically suicidal since the sixth grade: you always have a choice.

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Liz O'Brien
Liz O'Brien
Nov 17, 2023

Thank you for sharing Laura, I always learn so much from you. It is refreshing to learn about your new perspectives! Hope you’re doing well, happy upcoming holidays to you!!!! Liz


Nov 15, 2023

Laura, Thank you for this. I call my self imposed loneliness going under. I have lost a grandfather, an aunt, a best friend, a lover to suicide and keep suicide as an option but choose life(not to be confused with pro life) and work on keeping my body strong and connected to the natural universe of the Southeastern Coast. My Dr is aware of the duality but knows I respect her enough to let her help me if I lose my footing

You brought all this up in me with your clear, concise, relatable, honest writing Here’s my number if you need to text or call someone. I’m usually up from 1am on 919 636-2942

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