Isolation and Loneliness


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As a person there is nothing I love more than my own company, a little bit of peace and quiet, a long walk just contemplating things or encouraging what I call white space for the mind, so when loneliness and isolation hit me, it quite literally knocked me sideways.

Although it was 24 years ago I remember as though it were yesterday the day that family came to visit to ooh and ahh over our new baby and my feelings of great pride and inclusion at what we had achieved in producing this little bundle of joy. What I was not prepared for was the feeling of great loneliness and momentary resentment, yes resentment then hurt when everyone then decided to up and leave and do the necessary wetting of the babies head, leaving me behind quite literally holding the baby.

Parenthood is a very common form of loneliness, as in many cases you have gone from being surrounded by people, perhaps at work, or being able to suit yourself, who to see and when, to being just you and your baby.  It is a very strange form of loneliness as you are in actual fact never alone but this does not mean you won’t find it very difficult to cope. If you are lucky you will have friends and family around to pop in for a chat, but not everybody does and for those that don’t, I cannot stress enough the advantage of getting up, dragging yourself out and joining up for your local Mother and Baby group if you have one available, or if that is not for you just go for a walk, even just getting eye contact with others has a very positive affect on your mental well being, and the chances are you will be interacting with someone else who is feeling just as lonely,  you don’t need to stop and speak just say hello or smile.

One of the hardest forms of loneliness for people to understand is the feeling of being alone in a crowded room. This is very common in people who suffer from depression,  anxiety or even shyness. You’ve been invited to a social function, you’re first reaction is well I shan’t be going to that, but in the end you do, only to get there and realise you are drained, you’ve used up all your reserves of energy just getting there, so, you stand alone on the fringes, trying not to draw attention to yourself and wondering how long it can be before you  politely escape?

Another common form of loneliness is one we are probably more familiar with but perhaps in our busy lifestyles just don’t have time to think about. That is the loneliness of the elderly or the infirm. People who for whatever reason have no real contact or interaction with the outside world, apart from that which visits though their telly on a daily basis.

These are just a few examples of loneliness in our society which with just a little effort we can help. In the case of the young Mother, if you’ve been in the same situation and go to a Mother and Baby group, and are aware of someone local who may be struggling, why not pop by, introduce yourself and convince them to come along with you, reminding them that the first time is always the worst but if needed you will go with them for the first few weeks.

For the crowded room example, don’t assume the person is aloof or choosing to be on their own, imagine it were you, so if you are a person to whom chatting comes easily go over and say hello and try to encourage them to come over and join in with your group. A little gentle persuasion can go a long way to making people feel more included and less isolated.

The older or infirm person scenario, well that may be easier, imagine it’s your Grandparent or a family friend, go buy a bun and knock the door, after all who doesn’t enjoy coffee, cake and a chat and even if you don’t, the recipient likely shall.

These are just small ways in which we can make a difference.

The one thing that can be guaranteed in all of these examples is that the happiness and good feelings shall be a two way street, the recipient of your act of kindness shall be delighted and when you leave the situation, you too shall have a feeling of well being. The ability to bring cheer and help to people that find themselves marginalised in our society takes effort, it often takes for us that are able, to try and put ourselves in their position to give us the oompff needed, but we all know someone, someone whose day could be made much brighter if we were just to do something kind. Go on, you know you can.

One thing for sure is that loneliness takes many forms but in all its forms it can be crippling.

For people that find themselves in these situations there is professional help at hand here are a few links:

Homestart Orkney


CAMHS Scotland Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Community Mental Health services Orkney

The Silver Line Helpline is a free helpline for older people

The Samaritans Orkney

The Samaritans

Citizens Advice Bureau Orkney

Citizens Advice Bureau  (CAB)

In Orkney on the 27th February the Scottish Government are running a Social Isolation and Loneliness Strategy Consultation, which they would encourage people living in Orkney’s communities to come along and have their say. 


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3 replies »

  1. That’s just right, Helen. You say it all – what needs to be said. Really, very good.
    Talk with people, ‘keep an eye’.
    Even the gobby folk, can be lonely.
    Your piece speaks to me, Helen, as it will to many, many people.
    I get the feeling that people don’t want talkers, these days – too busy on their machines.
    I risk wittering, when there is no need to. Helen has put this together so well. The different kinds of loneliness, and the different forms it can take and the answer to them all is….kindness…contact……..the human touch.
    Thanks Helen.
    Jeez, I’m sitting here, nearly in tears.

    The Human Touch by Bruce Springsteen

    You and me we were the pretenders
    We let it all slip away
    In the end what you don’t surrender
    Well the world just strips away
    Girl, ain’t no kindness in the face of strangers
    Ain’t gonna find no miracles here
    Well you can wait on your blesses my darlin’
    But I got a deal for you right here
    I ain’t lookin’ for praise or pity
    I ain’t comin’ ’round searchin’ for a crutch
    I just want someone to talk to
    And a little of that Human Touch
    Just a little of that Human Touch
    Ain’t no mercy on the streets of this town
    Ain’t no bread from heavenly skies
    Ain’t nobody drawin’ wine from this blood
    It’s just you and me tonight
    Tell me, in a world without pity
    Do you think what I’m askin’s too much
    I just want something to hold on to
    And a little of that Human Touch
    Just a little of that Human Touch
    Oh girl that feeling of safety you prize
    Well it comes at a hard hard price
    You can’t shut off the risk and the pain
    Without losin’ the love that remains
    We’re all riders on this train
    So you’ve been broken and you’ve been hurt
    Show me somebody who ain’t
    Yeah, I know I ain’t nobody’s bargain
    But, hell, a little touchup
    and a little paint
    You might need somethin’ to hold on to
    When all the answers, they don’t amount to much
    Somebody that you could just to talk to
    And a little of that Human Touch
    Baby, in a world without pity
    Do you think what I’m askin’s too much
    I just want to feel you in my arms
    Share a little of that Human Touch
    Feel a little of that Human Touch
    Give me a little of that Human Touch

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