The four personal stories featured in our new podcast are all about experiencing loneliness and the different ways it can impact you. But it also offers some tops tips for how you can help yourself and others.
For top tips, advice and inspiring stories visit www.letstalkloneliness.co.uk and join the conversation on social media using #LetsTalkLoneliness.
Full transcript of this episode is available at www.dcms-podcasts.simplecast.com.
With thanks to Josie, Kevin, Peter and Sara, the Co-Op Foundation, Alzheimer's Society and Independent Age.
FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)
00:00:02:19 - 00:00:13:25
It was a very dark and lonely place, and when the Alzheimer's Society got in touch with me, I saw light at the end of the tunnel.
00:00:14:07 - 00:00:21:27
I felt lonely when I moved from my family house into a hostel because my life got really changed at that point.
00:00:21:29 - 00:00:30:21
I think just sort of having someone on the other side of the phone or someone that's actually responding in such a powerful thing, be honest and tell people that you're lonely.
00:00:30:26 - 00:00:35:18
It's not nothing to be ashamed of. It's just that it's just something that happens to everybody.
00:00:39:17 - 00:01:00:03
Now, more than ever, loneliness is part of the public conversation, we want to use this opportunity to talk more openly about the impact of loneliness on people's lives and encourage everyone to take simple actions that can help you or those around you feel more connected. We can all help each other to alleviate loneliness, even at a distance.
00:01:07:10 - 00:01:27:00
20 year old Josie worked with more than 50 other young people to create the Co-Op Foundation's lonely, not alone campaign aimed at supporting young people through loneliness and helping understand that you are not alone in facing it. This is her story of facing up to loneliness and the little things you can do to support someone who may be struggling.
00:01:34:18 - 00:01:40:15
There's always steps you can take, but I don't think they always necessarily going to work for me personally.
00:01:40:21 - 00:02:00:16
I've been trying to sort of keep in contact with my friends as much as I possibly can by massaging them, checking in, whether it's just some stupid memes or whatever to them, just always trying to keep that contact going. And it's definitely not the same. And sometimes the loneliness is still there.
00:02:01:05 - 00:02:24:28
But that's kind of inevitable. It's not always going to be one of those things that you can just push to the back of your mind. I think just sort of having someone on the other side of the phone or someone that's actually responding is such a powerful thing, like I mean, there's been days where I've just felt like absolutely horrific
00:02:26:16 - 00:03:04:02
and then just sort of having my best mate just checking in. It has made a massive difference. And whilst it's not really been in-person contact, I would have preferred it's something, I guess, and I think just trying to join all of these online communities especially. So there's a lot of Facebook groups or whatnot. And it's like if you've got a common interest, whether it's common or like arts and crafts, but it's really lovely just to sort of go on there, share what you've been up to and then sort of have the engagement and just sort of get to know other people.
00:03:04:04 - 00:03:42:20
And then it's like it's never going to be the same as in-person communication. But I mean, it's something different. And I suppose it's something that you can't really speak to people with. Having that connection, even if it is to a complete stranger, it's one of those things, it's like, well, there is goodness kind of out there is positivity and there is like a lot of positive things going on. And so I think the loneliness side of things actively encourage people to join these groups, to join maybe these Instagram groups or what have you.
00:03:42:22 - 00:04:01:21
And then I think we'll say, like unfollowing things that touch on positively impacting your mental health. If you're feeling like, oh, I don't know if I should be following this page, don't follow them. And sometimes it can be more difficult than just simply clicking un follow
00:04:03:13 - 00:04:38:14
the reward from it. You're not going to have to worry. You're not going to have the concern. And I think sometimes there's a lot of why am I following this page? Like, even if it's perhaps a friend or a contact that, you know, if they're not posting the stuff that sort of makes you feel good about yourself, I think that sometimes can be so, so important. And it's sort of evaluating, is this the right thing? I think that's kind of one of the key things for me at the moment, like just making sure if it's not make me feel good about myself.
00:04:39:04 - 00:04:47:01
Why am I actually like listening to this? Why am I sort of going along with it right now?
00:04:47:03 - 00:05:03:15
More than ever is very much focused on the positives, focus on the business and just as cliche as it sounds, just go for the like, happy stuff rather than focusing on the dark and all of this, like not so positive new.
00:05:09:07 - 00:05:40:23
Kevin has been with his partner Gene for 30 years. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with dementia and because of the progressive nature of the condition, has been in a care home since. Kevin went to see her without fail every day. But because of the lockdown last year, he wasn't allowed to see her at all for four months, and now he only gets to see her once a week. The Alzheimer's Society organized a companion call for Kevin, who was struggling with loneliness. And this has provided light at the end of the tunnel.
00:05:48:27 - 00:05:53:04
Prior to the Alzheimer's Society getting in touch with me.
00:05:54:06 - 00:06:01:26
I was lost, I was unsupported, I was very, very lonely,
00:06:03:15 - 00:06:29:07
and I just didn't know what to do with myself, I didn't know where to turn literally. I had no one that really understood what I was going through. And it was horrible. It was a very dark and lonely place. And when the Alzheimer's Society got in touch with me.
00:06:31:06 - 00:07:13:18
I saw light at the end of the tunnel, the Alzheimer's Society knew what I was going through and I felt that at last someone is out there that understands what it's like to have someone like. Jean, who's suffering from dementia and I. I'm apart from her and not being able to see her, and when I was offered the companion call from the Alzheimer's Society.
00:07:14:20 - 00:07:47:27
I was so thankful because I knew that there was someone out there that would support me, that would help me, someone I could talk to, and once the call was set up by the Alzheimer's Society, it's the best thing that happened to me, particularly in those dark, dark, early days of the coronavirus lockdown.
00:07:48:12 - 00:08:22:03
It was horrible. It was horrible. And now I am still receiving the companion call and I am still thankful for that companion call because I know. The Alzheimer's Society are still there for me. They are still supporting me, which I will always be grateful for.
00:08:22:05 - 00:08:30:03
Sara from Yorkshire currently lives with her young son , but it was the previous period in her life which caused her to struggle with feelings of loneliness.
00:08:35:05 - 00:08:51:16
About five years ago when I moved into a hostel from my house, because things got really changed for me, I was living in a house like as a family and then in a hostel where I didn't know anyone.
00:08:51:24 - 00:09:01:27
It was only a little like a few weeks old baby with me. And that that part of my life was obviously that was not normal circumstances.
00:09:02:05 - 00:09:11:04
And I because of my ex-husband, I was I had to stay, like, really private.
00:09:11:15 - 00:09:18:21
I felt lonely when I moved from my family house into a hostel because my life got really changed.
00:09:18:23 - 00:09:34:08
At that point. I, I talked to my key worker there and I made some friends and I started taking my son to different playgroups. So these things really helped me and made a big difference.
00:09:35:15 - 00:09:46:13
If I come across someone who is feeling lonely, I would ask them to speak to maybe their family and friends. There are many charity organisations? I think they can help a lot.
00:09:53:10 - 00:10:01:23
Peter is an Alzheimer's Society dementia voice volunteer who helped others struggling with loneliness like him by reaching out online.
00:10:06:12 - 00:10:22:04
All of a sudden, the world changed and there were a whole new set of rules, a whole new etiquette, a whole new protocol, all of the groups that I used to attend as a volunteer stopped overnight.
00:10:22:24 - 00:10:28:03
I felt useful before lockdown. After I locked down, I felt useless.
00:10:29:13 - 00:10:36:09
I didn't have a purpose. I didn't have a rudder. I just used to sit staring at things
00:10:38:08 - 00:10:43:06
and my dementia made it worse. And I started to feel quite sorry for myself.
00:10:43:28 - 00:10:51:00
When I'm on my own for a long time, I find that I lose the power to communicate properly.
00:10:52:10 - 00:11:23:01
But I'm not the sort of person that stays like that for long. Luckily, I find myself something to do and I know that there are many people like me out there in the same boat. And so I thought, well, I've got to find them. So I got myself connected on the Internet to as many groups as I could with doing things online, and I just knocked on the virtual conference room doors and asked to come in and people were very kind.
00:11:23:03 - 00:11:36:01
And I started meeting people online. I'd never have met otherwise. People from all over the world and finding a lot in common. And for me, the best thing was I was finding people who were on the same journey as me, other people living with dementia.
00:11:36:25 - 00:12:11:26
And it was great to speak to them and get their experiences and their instant tips and swap some of mine. And and, you know, since I discovered those other people, the things have been fantastic. But I had to reach out to. And that's the key thing for me, if you reach out, you'll find those people and people like me are going to be other people who are reaching out to and I'm waiting for them to get in touch. You just got to look around and find those people and and that will solve a lot of these problems.
00:12:18:14 - 00:12:30:25
And again, to Josie, who says that while there isn't a simple fix for loneliness as such, just talking about it and understanding it can have a real tangible impact on those struggling under the weight of feeling lonely.
00:12:36:15 - 00:12:44:26
From what we've seen working within the group, loneliness can have such a massive impact on things like your confidence and your self-esteem.
00:12:45:12 - 00:13:20:15
And I think young people, especially this is really going to hit home like you shouldn't have these things all negatively impacting your confidence and your self-esteem because it does impact you later on in life, in so many different areas, things like personal relationships or work life, even going out and enjoying your hobbies kind of thing. If you're not moving much towards self belief and the confidence to be who you actually are, then it's never going to come out with a positive outcome.
00:13:20:20 - 00:13:54:13
It can turn you into a shell of who you actually are is the thing, I think that you put so much doubt in your mind, like because obviously when you're feeling lonely, it's not a positive emotion per say. And I think it just kind of leads to you stewing in your own thoughts on literally the most sort of resourceful, like it's not the most happy place to be in. And I think it's just really important to kind of show to people the.
00:13:55:12 - 00:14:30:19
With the impact that loneliness has, it is something that we should be educating people about. It is something that we should be actively trying to change and just put more help out there for people who are feeling lonely, more resources and that sort of thing. Because if you're impacted at a younger age, I think it's one of those things that you can survive. And for a lot of people, you can sort of work through this. But then I think there's also another set of people where it's high, but it does stay with you for the rest of your life.
00:14:30:21 - 00:15:04:06
It's not something that can be forgotten, like loneliness is always going to be there. But I think from some of the impacts that it can have on a person, it's just it can be so detrimental. And I think it's we need to be fighting against it. We need to show people why that isn't the simple way forward, and I know that sounds kind of counterintuitive, but it's just. There isn't just a simple fix for everyone, and I think that's kind of like the most important thing about it.
00:15:04:10 - 00:15:42:20
There's always going to need to be like plan A, B, C and D for this. And I think it's just sort of opening up to people and showing people that it isn't just a simple fix, that sometimes we are going to need to try so many different things to overcome it. But you're not alone in that. And you're not going to be alone at any point in this because there are people out there who care and who are willing to listen and who are willing to be there for you through it. So it's like you're not ever going to be alone even if it's like physically, there's always someone there for you, whether you know it or not.
00:15:48:21 - 00:15:58:20
Looking after a young son as a single mother is an added challenge for Sara during lockdown, but for her, this also offers a positive respite from thoughts of loneliness.
00:16:03:09 - 00:16:13:18
I had to study as well and give him extra quality time to my son and play with him and actually he loves to dance.
00:16:13:20 - 00:16:43:19
So definitely like an hour or two we would sing and dance on the daily basis. So I was really busy. And I think that was a really good point then. You don't think about other things that or you don't feel helpless and you don't feel pity for yourself. So anyone it's actually it could be an extra advice from me. Well, I can I can think that people living in the big houses can feel lonely if they don't occupy themselves in some constructive thing.
00:16:43:26 - 00:17:22:01
So either you're only like family, like us, two, or you're living in a big household. It's very important to keep yourself busy that you feel like you are really doing some constructive thing and you don't give thoughts like, oh, no, I'm not feeling good, I'm being solo. But if you do speak, speak to someone. I think if we don't talk about any issue to someone like who can help in the real sense, then it will build up and it can lead to maybe serious health issues, serious mental health issues if we don't address any issue and if we don't seek help for that, it's like a disease.
00:17:22:08 - 00:17:26:07
If you don't see your doctor for something, it won't help anyway. Yeah.
00:17:31:09 - 00:17:39:16
It's OK to feel lonely, particularly at a time like this, don't suffer in silence. We can all help each other stay connected.
00:17:45:10 - 00:17:53:16
Be honest and tell people that you're lonely. It's not nothing to be ashamed of. It is just it's just something that happens to everybody.
00:17:54:18 - 00:17:56:19
And perhaps people don't realize that you're lonely.
00:17:57:16 - 00:18:21:26
I worked as a police community support officer for a decade before I retired. And in the course of my work, I sought out lonely people. I made it part of my job to try and be aware of lonely people on my beat. Because I could sign post them to people who could help them if you find someone and you think they're lonely ask them. What's the worst that can happen?
00:18:24:04 - 00:18:36:23
The worst that can happen is if you don't ask them and if a crisis comes, then you'll regret it for the rest of your life. But if you ask someone and they tell you that they don't need help. Well, you've done everything you can.
00:18:38:24 - 00:18:39:28
00:18:41:23 - 00:18:44:23
someone who's lonely, if you're not sure, ask.
00:18:50:28 - 00:19:07:26
For guidance, top tips, inspiring stories and pathways to support. Visit the Let's Talk Loneliness website at www.LetsTalkLoneliness.Co.Uk and join the conversation on social media using hashtag. Let's talk loneliness. Thank you.