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Jane Doe

Emotional Isolation

Every day leads to more suffering. I would have thought by now I would have run out of analogies to describe this suffering, the trajectory and the whys and wherefores of it. A desert of pain. The occasional day when I feel something between hope and mild discomfort are features within the desert landscape which only just allow me to avoid dying of thirst. The occasional small cactus, for example, which I split open and drink from. That is the trajectory now. I live with a perpetual thirst and hunger, for joy, well-being, peace, contentment. Even acceptance would be a welcome break.

The circumstances of my life have become irrelevant, because I know that in theory, anyone can accept anything, but the truth of the matter is, that perceptually and emotionally, I am alone. To describe how alone, and how fearful this feels, I will draw another analogy. Imagine the most remote place on earth. For the sake of the analogy, we shall use the example of Pitcairn Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, although other places have been cited as being more remote. Pitcairn Island is thousands and thousands of miles from the nearest civilized lands, in this case, New Zealand, thousands of miles to the West, and Argentina, thousands of miles to the East. In this analogy, also imagine that Pitcairn Island is unpopulated, and that only one person resides there. This is me.

The only person I speak to on planet earth about my feelings is a psychologist I see approximately once every 2-3 weeks, and by this point, I am terrified of talking to any of the three members of my immediate family about my feelings. The closest I got to this was around two months ago when I mentioned to my Sister that I was severely depressed and seeing a psychologist. She minimized my feelings and the subject was never raised by her again. Having learned well from both of my parents, she shames a variety of emotions, but most of all anger and hate. My Sister is of a level of consciousness whereby she does not understand that shaming an emotion can, in some people, intensify that emotion. In most people, it suppresses it, but in some, it causes the emotion to become even more powerful.

I cannot tell my Father, because he also likes to shame emotions, or, if he is having a particularly good day, ‘just’ minimize them, or advocate for suppression and distraction. My Mother too advocates for suppression, and likes to shame emotions, particularly anger and hate. These are just feelings, they are not destructive in and of themselves – it is the way that people often choose to react to these emotions which is destructive.

In addition to this, I have one friend who attempted to draw a correlation between me living alone and being depressed. He thinks physical loneliness is the issue. This is a common mistake. I was depressed when I lived with my Mother, and years before that, I was depressed when I lived with my Mother, Father and Sister. The issue is not physical loneliness, it is emotional loneliness.

As the days, weeks and months pass, with all of these severe feelings inside of me, being unseen and unheard, they intensify. Also, as they intensify, the thought of the invalidation I know my family will offer me becomes more terrifying, which is why I cannot talk to them. I cannot tell my family I often want to die, because the invalidation they will offer in response to this will drive me deeper into that ideation. This is the logic which most people do not understand, and which I will impart here in the simplest terms imaginable: if you want to help a person who feels as though they want to die, DON’T tell them that they aren’t meant to be feeling that way, tell them that you accept how they feel. This makes their reality feel more real, and ironically puts space between them and the actual suicidal desire itself.

My family would not understand this, because they have no idea whatsoever that their attitude towards emotions is destructive. They think that if a person admits to being suicidal, then telling that person that they have something wrong with them is useful. They think that if a suicidal person has enough shame dumped on them, it will incentivise them to change how they feel, through basic suppression. However, if a suicidal person were able to suppress those feelings, they would not be suicidal in the first place.

Thus, the only way to help someone who is suicidal is to affirm their current reality, and remain unconditionally present with them whilst they are experiencing those feelings. When enough presence has been applied to those feelings, the feelings will disperse, and the person will move on to another feeling state.

But, like I said, this is what I do not have. And this is what suicidal people everywhere do not have, because the people in a position to help them are not listening. Suicidal people do not need to be told how ‘broken’, ‘damaged’, ‘ill’ or ‘dangerous’ they are. They need to hear from someone else that what they are going through is a human experience, and a natural response to ‘x’ trauma/experience.

The people who deny them this are afraid to give this to them in case it gives rise to similar feelings within themselves. However, by denying them it, sadly, they increase the chances of either suicide or physical illness within that person.

Eventually, I wonder if this level of emotional aloneness may not have to warrant having myself committed, not because I feel it would help me to any great extent, but to get the message to my family: I am suffering.

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