Discussion Starter on Loneliness as the New Social Epidemic
Recently we received The Women’s Centre & Co newsletter and it featured a story on loneliness as the new social epidemic (thank you Women’s Centre & Co for this link!). Keen to read more, I followed the link to the original article. It was written by an interesting women’s feminist organisation I hadn’t heard about yet: her platform. https://herplatform.com.au
Here is a quick insight into what they do and we welcome them into the realm of women’s business and issues affecting women, please do check out their website:
“We lift one another through connection and collaboration
This is a platform to have your say and to be heard. It’s a platform of hope, empowerment and respect.
With no topic too small for exploration: from self care to self harm, from depression to gratitude, from eating disorder to self love, from loneliness to connection, Her Platform is a place where all women can share snippets of our lives, from which we can all learn, adapt and evolve.”
Here is a link to the article on loneliness:
The article by wellness blogger and advocate Lea Schodel has some great suggestions for ways we learn to be comfortable with our own company and to choose not to feel lonely when there are creative ways to learn to love and embrace being in your own company and cherish the time you get to do the things you most value and love.
But I was expecting the article to expand upon its introduction, which mentions how temporary loneliness can turn into chronic loneliness, which Lea Schodel describes as “a continual state of feeling lonely with no end in sight, manifesting through a lack of real connection and emotional bonding with anyone that you can trust and confide in.” She goes on to say it can make us afraid to reach out because we don’t want to set ourselves up for rejection and heartache, when our heart is already aching and that this type of loneliness can have a lasting impact on our mental and physical health”.
A woman in her 60’s some time ago rang our office, feeling utterly desperate about her lack of social connection and loneliness which had been caused a lot by circumstances beyond her control including ill health, domestic violence, divorce and resulting loss of family connections, poverty, exploitation of her few remaining finances by people she should have been able to trust. She had barricaded herself in for self-preservation and subsequently lost contact with virtually everyone, and now felt extremely lost and alone. To my view, she was experiencing the deep-seated social isolation and loneliness that Lea Schodel described initially in her article.
I’m not sure how older women who really have got to that point of deep loneliness would feel after reading Lea Schodel’s suggestions, which in my view are suitable for those experiencing only mild loneliness. We’ve heard from women who, due to life circumstances, don’t have friends or family. They may have been used or abused and don’t have anything to be passionate about anymore. They don’t feel like they belong anywhere and have zero confidence about themselves. They can’t say yes to new things because no new things are coming their way and they don’t have ideas about where to start looking.
What they need most of all is to become socially connected again, to feel like they belong and that someone cares about them. They need help and support to get to a point where they could implement some of the strategies suggested in Schodel’s article, and to hear where they may go to receive a warm welcome and fulfil their natural human need for company and belonging after being socially isolated for a long time. The woman who had called for help was so thankful that OWNQ had a branch close enough to her that she could take those first little steps to reintroducing herself to a new world of contact and friendship with other women of a similar age.
Invisibility also can be a problem especially for many older women but that’s another story for another time! Some of the questions raised by this discussion include:
- What really is a loneliness social epidemic?
- What can we do to help keep our communities connected?
- How can we support each other as individuals and especially as women in order to prevent any epidemic in loneliness?
It’s something to think about and perhaps discuss amongst friends.