This year has been really tough for me mentally and I experience waves of sadness from time to time. But past few weeks have been worse. My parents came from an environment where mental health discussions are still taboo and my boyfriend is on exchange. I don’t feel comfortable sharing this with my friend because they seemed to be disinterested and dealing with their own stresses. I am feeling so lonely. What should I do?
Thanks for your question, I’m really glad you took the time to post this. University life can certainly come with its challenges and sadness and loneliness can emerge at any time for students for a range of reasons, so you’re not alone. It’s great that you’ve been able to identify a change in your feelings, I wonder if anything has happened to bring about this change?
Loneliness can be a sign that some important emotional needs are not being met, such as feeling a lack of connection with others, and opportunities to share feelings and important experiences with someone.
While it can be difficult opening to others about the challenges we are facing, sharing your experiences with someone you trust can significantly ease the feelings of loneliness. Others may not be able to resolve your problem, but they can offer their presence, emotional validation and support. I know you said your friends seem to be disinterested or dealing with their own stressors, and your boyfriend is on exchange, but I wonder what would happen if you told them how you were feeling? Often, if others are unaware of how we are feeling, they will not know what it is that we need from them.
Of course, at first this can feel uncomfortable or intimidating if we are not used to discussing these kinds of topics, however there are ways to help this. This includes increasing the frequency of contact we have with somebody, sharing an activity or experience together which opens new avenues for conversation, interacting with others in new contexts, and talking about deeper topics and emotions with them instead of superficial topics.
• Saneforums is a great place for individuals to discuss any mental health challenges in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment. SANE forums are anonymous and free to access and are moderated 24/7 by trained professionals. These forums are also a great way to connect with others, ask questions and seek advice.
• ReachOut have some great suggestions on what to do if you’re feeling lonely.
• UOM has lots of great clubs and societies running across the campus. Getting involved in ones that interest you is a great way to connect with others, make new friends and help regain a sense of connectedness to university life.
• UOM Counselling and Psychological Services run workshops on creating social connections each semester, check out our website for information.
• Or, if you’d like to talk to someone face-to-face about this in a confidential setting, feel free to make an appointment at Counselling and Psychological Services.