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  • Susan Mader, MSSW, CPS

Feeling Empty, Isolated, and Alone

Break the Cycle. Discover social connections at The Gathering Place

Breaking the cycle of loneliness can be challenging. It takes effort and perseverance. You may have a safe comfort zone where you spend most of your time, the place you call home. Having a comfort zone is good, but it makes it very challenging to venture outside. Being isolated can lead to emptiness, partly due to the lack of social connection with others.


"You are completely disconnected from others and the world. No one understands you, and you don't care about trying to understand others or even meeting other people."

Anonymous quote


Human beings are social creatures by nature and cannot thrive without social interaction. Socialization is crucial for mental health. It promotes a sense of safety, belonging, and security. 


For those challenged with mental health conditions, the feeling of loneliness becomes magnified. Being alone with your thoughts may not be a good thing. It can lead to a disconnect between people and reality. Individuals may avoid situations where they may be judged by others. All in all, feeling out of place and as if you "don't fit in." 


Individuals experiencing loneliness often feel on the "outside looking in," which can evoke a complex mix of emotions. It's like pressing your nose against the glass that separates you from society, watching others navigate life, and wondering how they do it. On the other hand, feeling that you are an "outsider" doesn't diminish your worth; it simply means you experience the world differently. 


Two common reasons for failing to make friends are low trust and fear of rejection. This is understandable. It may take some time, but by affiliation with The Gathering Place, you may overcome fear and establish friendships. It is a safe and judgment-free environment. 


It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and come to a place like The Gathering Place. Once you do, you will thank yourself. Many of us have experienced similar struggles and challenges. We have found a way to cope with the symptoms, and many have reached recovery and an enhanced quality of life. We understand! 


There are no expectations at The Gathering Place. If you just want to come and "be," that is fine. Maybe you are not ready to say "hello" to someone. Making eye contact can be difficult. You may feel you need more time to engage in an activity. But once you do, that feeling of loneliness will begin to subside.


Many of us are feeling the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Science told us to stay in our homes, avoid going to places, and avoid other people. We were told to stay 6 feet apart and wear a mask. This was an extreme way to live. Distancing yourself from society in this way is detrimental to everybody's mental health. 


It is healthy to balance time alone with time spent with others. It is healthy to be among others who understand. It is healthy to engage in small talk. At The Gathering Place, you may establish connections, nurture relationships, and develop a support system of your peers.


—by Susan C. Mader, MSSW, CPS


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