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Scared to be alone

The pandemic has amplified a fear that I've always had: being alone. I've almost always dreaded having time to myself and always been happier when someone is around. Before the pandemic, my life was very busy: I worked in events journalism (so a lot of late nights), I would see my friends often and I would date around.

 

Now I live alone (my flatmates moved back interstate), I'm in a stable (amazing) relationship, but whenever I'm about to be alone (he's leaving to go back home or I'm going back to mine) I get so sad and anxious. Even if I want time to myself to do my own tasks, I don't want to be alone. I dread having big empty days ahead of me but get anxious doing tasks too. I used to be a big reader but now the idea of picking up a book just exhausts me. The smallest things frustrate me too, and if anything even slightly bad happens, I get super overwhelmed and just want to hide. I had a breakdown the other day because my Centrelink payments got cancelled. In the past, I wouldn't have reacted like that at all, I would've been so calm and collected, but I couldn't stop crying. Even when I tried to pull myself out of it, I felt so helpless and sad.

 

I live in Melbourne so I can't really see any of my friends face-to-face. I call them but it's really draining. My psych tells me to try and enjoy the time I have on my own but there's so much of it, although I do usually feel better if I have a few things planned.

 

I'm a really extroverted person but I'm wondering if that's just because I don't know how to be alone?

 

I would love some concrete tips on managing this anxiety, maybe some sentences I could remind myself of when I know I'm going to be alone. It's getting really out of hand and I don't want to feel so anxious/sad all the time - I know that I could treasure this time if I got the right help, or at least not feel so terrible so often.

 

Thank you,

A Melburnian

 

TLDR: Being alone makes me anxious and sad. But I live in Melbourne so am alone 80% of the time. Tips on how to feel better when alone, not reliant on talking to friends/bf?

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hey @greenbookshelf,

Welcome to our forums! I can understand why you're having such a hard time because of pandemic restrictions right now, and I'm sure that there's a lot of people who can relate to your experiences as well Smiley Sad

 

I can hear that the isolation has really been putting a big strain on your mental health, and that you're doing your best to stay on top of things but that it's getting to be a struggle without being able to recharge by being with other people the way you usually do.

 

I'm glad that hear that you have a psych at the moment, greenbookshelf, and I hope that you can keep working with them to find different ways of dealing with this anxiety. It sounds like that in a lot of ways this process is about having to learn to enjoy spending time alone and that can be a really hard thing to do, especially when we already have so much anxiety around it.

 

I'm sure that other people will chime in with help once they've had a chance to see it, but in the meantime maybe something that might be helpful is trying to do a self-compassion meditation when the anxiety gets really bad? Self-compassion can be really helpful sometimes because it's about strengthening our connections to ourselves, and that could be one way of looking at things...that no matter what happens, you're not always alone and that you can always be there to take care of yourself Heart

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hi @greenbookshelf, I'm in Melbourne too! We've been hit with some heavy blues lately, haven't we?

 

I'm having quite a few of the same feelings. I want to see my friends face to face, I want to hug them, hold their hands, etc etc and it's so frustrating that I can't at the moment!! I'm lucky to have housemates to keep me company, even though I'm not the closest with all of them one of them gives me hugs when I ask. The rest of the hugs I feel like I'm missing out on I get from my teddy bear Smiley LOL

 

With the restrictions we have at the moment you can socialize with people outside your household for up to two hours a day, as long as it's outdoors, you're staying 1.5m away from each other and you're wearing masks. Maybe you could arrange some outings with your friends within those limits? I went to the park the other day and saw lots of people having picnics, which looked really nice!

 

As for being alone, if it usually starts when you're finishing up seeing your partner then I think that's a key time to deal with those feelings. Especially because you've still got someone there who can help you with it! Maybe you're already doing this, but in case you aren't I think it'd be a good idea to tell your partner how you're feeling about being alone before you part ways. You might feel better just having the chance to talk about your feelings, and you can ask for reassurances from your partner to keep in your mind when you're alone. Eg. that you'll be okay, you can manage the things in your life, things won't be this hard forever.

 

Another idea I just had, perhaps you could trade charms with your friends! Little things like friendship bracelets or something. Then even when you're on your own, you can have something that reminds you of them with you.

 

I hope you're doing okay with it all and that any of this helps! Heart

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hey @greenbookshelf  Smiley Very Happy

 

It sounds like the restrictions have really impacted you, because you're normally quite a busy, extroverted person. I'm sorry to hear it's been tough. Smiley Sad I'm really glad you have a psych who you can speak to about this.

 

Sometimes we can find it hard to trust ourselves to be OK when we are alone or we're scared about what we might feel when we're alone. Hopefully as you learn more about yourself and find some things that work for you, you'll be able to feel confident that you will be alright when you are alone. Smiley Happy

 

 

There have been some great ideas here already, but I have a couple for you if they sound appealing. There is something called a sensory kit/box that you can make which will have things that help you calm down or stay in the present moment when you are alone and upset. Here's a post on the forums you can take a look at if you like:

 

https://forums.au.reachout.com/t5/Everyday-life-stuff/Sensory-Kits/m-p/203749

 

 

Another idea is to make somewhat of a self care plan. (You may have done this with your psych already). This is where you take time to consider what strategies/activities work for you and write them down. Once you have identified what you like to do for your self-care, you could then plan ahead for when you know you will be alone. Seeing as you said you feel better having things planned, maybe having a self-care plan and preparing will make you feel more at ease about being alone? Here is a link where you can make a self care plan if it sounds like it would be a good idea for you:

 

https://schools.au.reachout.com/articles/developing-a-self-care-plan

 

I hope you'll find something on this thread that works for you and makes you feel better. Please keep us posted with how you're going. Smiley Happy

 

 

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hey @greenbookshelf ! I’m in Melbourne too and I can definitely relate to these feelings. I’m someone who always needs to keep busy and always needs to be around people so stage 4 lockdown has definitely hit hard. I think it’s super important to not be too hard on yourself when you feel like you haven’t had a productive day or don’t feel like doing anything at all. Some days I feel really lethargic and unmotivated and I think this is a completely normal response to the harsh restrictions we’ve been under for so long. I find it really helpful to talk to my partner when I’m feeling a bit down. I also just try to remind myself that the case numbers are going down, the weather is getting better and restrictions are being eased- there’s light at the end of the tunnel. I totally agree with you when you said it can be exhausting chatting to friends on the phone. I’m so sick of zooming/ calling people as well because it just doesn’t feel authentic at all. I had a picnic in the park with my friend on the weekend and that made me feel a lot happier. Maybe this is something that you could consider doing too? And most important of all just try to be kind to yourself during these tough times!

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hi @greenbookshelf! Welcome to the forums!
I can understand your fears about being alone. I feel that when something big or stressful happens, it can bring to surface our fears and insecurities. It's also been tough to adjust to such a huge disruption, especially as it involves us having to learn new ways of socialising.
Would you be open to making new friends through virtual groups, pen pals and other means?
I think all of the suggestions on this thread are great. Smiley Happy We also have a thread about coping strategies and distractions you might find helpful.

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hi @greenbookshelf,
I'm in Melbourne too and I can totally understand your feelings. I used to think I am an introverted person and I enjoy spending on my own, but covid just makes me so frustrated. I live alone with my cat and I haven't talked to a person face-to-face since lockdown happened. I mean, it even makes an introverted person like me feels depressed, I can understand how bad you feel.
I tried to make myself feel better by doing things that can distract me from being alone, and maybe you can try something that make you relaxed. I also have some friends having Zoom video when they are studying or doing their work and they can at least see some human faces during a whole day.
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Re: Scared to be alone

Really lovely to read through all the support being given on this thread Heart 

 

@Macaria sending strength to you as you get through such a difficult time. It's nice to read that you are doing what you can to stay relaxed and social. Know that we are here for you whenever things get especially tough! 

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Re: Scared to be alone

Hey @Macaria , I have to say that my heart absolutely goes out to you guys in Melbourne, losing that face to face connection for so long must be so hard to cope with - thank goodness for cats though! Are there any activities that you've been finding especially helpful? I really like the idea of having a zoom video open while you're doing other stuff, we have been having dinner zooms with some family members in melbourne sometimes where we all eat/ cook, and somehow it seems much more natural than the usual face to face zoom chats. I hope things start to ease up for you soon Heart 

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