Colleagues and family members of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox have launched a campaign to tackle loneliness.Mrs Cox had started work on the cross-party campaign before she was killed in her constituency last year.The commission, in her memory, will work with 13 charities including Age UK and Action for Children to come up with ideas for change.They will provide findings as part of monthly campaigns on people such as new mums, carers and the elderly.
I think this is a good thing but I wonder how much mental health issues are taken into account when taking about loneliness. Of course social anxiety is probably one the most serious conditions and combined with depression can be devastating. I often don’t have meaningful conversations for weeks but the social anxiety creates intense doubt and lack of confidence so just being in the presence of other people has always been quite unsuccessful. If you are socially awkward, have no job, no relationship and are as miserable as shit I think it’s a bit far fetched to imagine going to some club or meeting every week and assume that you will learn social skills or will make many friends. In reality being anxious not only makes its hard to make friends or even have conversations but also it was patently obvious that people disliked me and so avoided me in future. This of course creates even greater paranoia and avoidance so demanding you just keep doing the same thing despite anxiety and depression is not always accurate. I always wonder if much social anxiety advice is simply for people with moderate shyness and assumes they do great once they start talking.
Searching for the news article on loneliness today I came across yet another self help forum offering help but despite the urge to join I know there is little point as almost all forums actually make me feel more lonely and even more depressed as I almost always never get on with anyone. This is of course even worse now that I am older and most forums are used by much younger people. Its also because the people advising using forums always seem utterly amazed that a depressed lonely person with paranoia and no confidence doesn’t make witty banter and make friends or that this mad behaviour repels normal people. It’s like the idea of going to meet ups. Experience has taught me that my anxiety makes other people feel awkward and avoid me so the quite stupid and false idea that I am just overreacting is utterly wrong. After so many years and so many failures I think it’s also quite natural to assume people don’t like my personality at all so the paranoia and negativity just get worse. Therefore getting angry at someone for being negative is quite ignorant and stupid and makes them feel even worse.Working in the same company for 20 years where I got on with so few people and at times felt hated just confirmed all this.