Following the recent passing of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there’s been so much recognition and discussion surrounding the topic of suicide. Those two figures from such different fields of expertise touched a myriad of lives. Whether you follow fashion or not, you knew her name. Whether you watched food shows or not, you knew his snarky humor. But the unknown of it all was their depth of hurt. Loneliness knows no bounds; it makes no exceptions.
After the news of their suicides my dad and I got into conversation about satisfaction in correlation to success. Apparently Jeff Bezos’ net worth is now twice that of Bill Gates. Truly, that’s money I cannot even fathom. Because, at that point, dollars mean nothing. He can buy any business, any car or yacht, own all the artwork and diamonds this world has to offer. But, what then? Looking at it from that perspective brings to light the fact that even Bezos might have trouble answering the ‘whys’ of life. A man who could possess all the goods in sight may see them as meaningless.
So where are we looking for meaning? Where are we finding community aside from ‘things?’ How are we crafting real life in spite of social media? I can recall that the loneliest time in my life was during college. Clearly it wasn’t for a lack of people. Living in dorm rooms doesn’t conjure up visions of isolation. But it was my internal state. I was surrounded by people, by friends, yet felt hidden. Everyone wants to build fast, lifelong relationships starting with your orientation crew (yeah right). So you hold surface interactions, call them your BFFs, and run on adrenaline highs.
By junior year my eating disorder was crippling and I began therapy sessions. That was the beginning of my road to recovery—that was my journey out of darkest loneliness. It was a way to restore my balance and self-efficacy. It took a long time. Sometimes the sessions were painful. It’s uncomfortable to look those feelings in the face. But it’s worth the recognition that they exist.
And ‘loneliness’ looks different for everyone. But the weight of it feels the same. We live in a world of instant-sharing, on-the-minute news, and curated lifestyles. So often we look at another person’s feed and think THEY have the life. How did they get so lucky? Why can’t my house or car or family look like that? In reality we know nothing of them but what’s shown on a six inch screen. The assumption of another person’s happiness can be dangerous. Our focus needs to shift from quantity to quality. It’s not about the number of likes on our image. It IS about the genuine connections we’re forging face-to-face.
There’s no end-all cure for loneliness. The sentiment will come and go during a lifetime. But these are the important things to remember: you are not alone—there is always help to be found; and you do not need to stay silent—your voice is the first battle line of defense.
I’ve input a few resources below if you need a place to start or resonate with feelings of depression and suicide. I am also only an email away. xx
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America