Often the advice with dealing with loneliness/sadness is to communicate with friends. However, I have difficulty relating to people, even with those that share similar interests. I fled my country due to the nightmarish violence occurring; I am not financially stable, making it difficult to interact with others; there are aspects of the local culture that make me uncomfortable. Is there any advice you might have with dealing with this kind of loneliness/sadness?
You’re right, communicating with friends is an important part of managing loneliness, but sometimes there are obstacles that get in the way of doing this. It sounds like there are two important factors here, one is the culture differences you’re noticing, and the other is possible trauma you have experienced which can also act as a barrier to connecting with others.
When it comes to making new friends and connecting with people, a first start is to find people who have similar values, interests and lifestyles. It’s hard to connect with people who care a lot about money or who like to do things that are expensive if you are struggling financially. While being friends with people who are very different to you can be rewarding, it’s often easier to connect with people who are more similar to us, so we feel less isolated. Check out our upcoming workshop on Creating Social Connections, as well as the Clubs and Societies at University of Melbourne.
Research in the area of victims and witnesses of trauma suggests that persons affected can suffer from symptoms like the ones you describe (withdrawing from social contacts due to a lack of trust, leading to sadness/loneliness) for long periods of time if this is not addressed. For further information I recommend you look here and here.
Social anxiety and depression can also get in the way of relating to people, even without the experience of trauma. If you feel you are suffering from anxiety or depression, or trauma as a result of the violence you have left, my advice is to consult with a health practitioner such as a GP or a counsellor in order to assess your symptoms and your needs, and to recommend a suitable psychological treatment for your particular needs.