The results of the health report I completed on Health Unlocked made this suggestion:
"63% of other users in Weight Loss NHS identified feeling lonely as an area of concern. Why not talk to them about it".
So I thought I would. I feel lonely because I've not been working for a year, so see few people. I've just started part-time work again this week so things may change, but it's been just me and the dog for most of the day for months. It's not just that there aren't people around, it's also that I've not made much of an effort recently to see friends. I have gained weight and have become quite isolated. I've let friends go on purpose, and I'm going to be completely honest about the reasons for this.
Perhaps as there are 63% of you saying you're lonely too, there'll be one or two of you who may be able to identify with some of what I'm about to say.
A few years ago I began to question a lot of things about myself, and to be quite critical of past mistakes I felt I'd made. I became really caught-up in these feelings of self-doubt. You could call it a 'mid-life crisis' and it probably was, but in my case, some other factors happened around then that made things worse and I became more lonely as a result.
The menopause can be a dreadful time of: self-doubt, hot-flushes, weight-gain, losing confidence in ones looks; losing the ability to do and enjoy things; losing sleep - I only slept for about 3 hours a night and had all of the above. I was also going through intense period of overwork as a teacher, completing many hours of unpaid overtime, and I begun to be very worn-out and was anxious all the time. Then, I witnessed a serious crime on holiday abroad. I spent an hour trying to help the victim who was eventually taken away in an ambulance and I don't know if he survived or not.
This incident left me very shaken, and when I returned to work after the summer break, I was not at all rested and my insomnia had got much worse. I begun to have panic attacks in the car and felt totally and utterly overwhelmed in all areas of my life. I felt I was letting everyone down which became worse when I was signed-off work by my GP. I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD and got the help I needed. I was also offered meds which helped me to sleep for the first time in many months.
Then around this time, our teenage daughter developed an eating disorder and so we as a family went through many more months of treatment with her. It has been a very difficult time. Luckily our daughter's well now, and thankfully and I managed to keep well myself during her recovery.
The very sad thing is that some good friends drifted away when I mentioned the panic attacks and taking time off work for mental-health issues. A few other friends with teenagers also drifted away due to my daughter's illness. So, I focussed on the friends who stuck around when the going got tough. it says on Facebook that I have over 130 friends, but I know I have about 4 really good friends. One of those is my husband who's put up with a hell of lot from the women in his life and has been fantastic The people I am chose to now share a wicked sense of humour and we're been able to laugh at the madness that is 'The Change', as we go through it.
I'm 50 now and those years of worry and self-doubt I hope are behind me. It's been a very lonely time, but I'm hoping my own recovery and that of my daughter, remains a source of strength. I treasure the friends I have who are truly precious to me. I have a new job which will 'keep me off the streets' and give me back a sense of belonging. I can tackle the steady weight-gain made during this black time in my life. I know things are looking up because I don't dwell on the past in the way that I did; I'm much kinder to myself now. It is in this spirit that I feel able to tackle the final obstacle to feeling better about myself and it makes saying 'no' to cakes and crisps a little easier too.