Loneliness is a Virtue
I’m a dry stale bagel who
longs for rich cream cheese
to slather my sides.
Recently, I admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital for a mixed bipolar episode. I stayed a week within the confines of a locked facility among peers with similar and not so similar diagnoses. It was my fourth such visit in my lifetime, so I knew what to expect and how to structure my days to get the most out of them. On seeing my therapist, I mentioned that I had a good time there. She laughed and said that’s not usually the response she gets from people coming out of hospital stays.
Part of it is my naturally upbeat attitude but another thing that always hits me in the hospital is how comforting it is to be surrounded by people who really get it. Even if they have eating disorders and substance abuse problems, they still carry a load of suffering that marks them. Granted, everyone in life has problems but it’s all in how you face them and what tools you have to fight them. Part of the hospital experience is gaining coping skills.
Outside of the hospital, I find that my mood is even and I am able to manage self-care (bathing, dressing, getting my hair cut), engage in hobbies (writing, journaling, jewelry making), and chat with family and friends. And yet the days are slightly empty without physical companionship. I long for the friends I made in the hospital. My “lunch buddy” in particular from Kentucky comes to mind. Her bright conversation always made me smile.
How do you manage loneliness? Is it a matter of filling up your day with meaningful activities? Or do you have regular friend dates? Does music help? If you’re feeling particularly lonely today, I send you positive thoughts. My secret is that I have always hated Fridays—the day of the week when everyone gets ready to party for the weekend.