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Recovery isn’t easy. In fact, for me, it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. What often made it worse was my tendency to isolate and withdraw whenever I relapsed into my bad habits. This meant I lost a lot of friends during the process who couldn’t understand my behaviors.
While taking time for yourself and focusing on bettering yourself during recovery is key, there’s a difference between alone time and just being completely alone.
The latter can make recovery more difficult and foster depression and other related issues. Choosing to isolate yourself is often a sign you are sliding backward instead of making progress.
It’s important to build a strong base of people who love and support you through recovery. They will be the ones who pick you up when you’re falling, who lend a shoulder to cry on, and who praise you when you face fears or achieve new goals in your journey. These people may be your therapist or counselor, your mom, your boyfriend, your aunt, your next-door neighbor, anyone who you can trust and depend on for honesty and care.
But, even if you cultivate the best support system in the world, and even if you have been blessed with amazing family and friends, there will still be moments when you feel alone.
There will be moments when you feel like no one understands you or what you’re going through. Those moments can make or break your recovery, and they will test your inner strength. Unfortunately, they are unavoidable.
There are ways to cope when you think you’re the only one struggling, however.
Here’s how to stay strong when the loneliness creeps in:
1. Distract yourself.
Occupying your mind (or hands) with something else can get rid of the negative thoughts. Do an activity you love, like reading, painting, knitting, light yoga, baking, enjoying a cup of coffee, taking a hot bath, etc.
It will calm you down and take your mind off of feeling alone.
2. Sit with your feelings.
Sometimes you just need to cry it out, to feel the sadness. Turn on some music, curl up in bed, and let it out. Just make sure this doesn’t become an everyday thing, or it could worsen your depression.
I’d recommend allotting a certain amount of time, like 30 minutes or an hour, for you to wallow. Once the time is up, get dressed in pretty clothes, brush yourself off, and move on.
3. Join a support group.
A big part of my recovery was group therapy. At first, I was very resistant to it. I didn’t want to share my experiences with other people, and I didn’t think their experiences would help me at all. I was wrong.
Group therapy is a great way to overcome loneliness in recovery because it reminds you there are other people dealing with the same issues. It’s also highly rewarding when your story can make a difference in someone else’s journey. You can usually find free support groups focused on specific issues, through your hospital or counseling center.
Another option for support is social media when used in the right way. Instagram has been extremely helpful in my personal recovery. There’s a whole community of people going through the exact same struggles as me. Being able to see their progress and learn what works for them has helped me more than I could have expected. I’ve made incredible lasting friendships on social media, with girls who support and encourage me every single day.
It sounds cliche, but I truly believe giving back to your community can do wonders for both your recovery and your mental health in the long run.
Not only is it a chance to get out of the house, distract yourself, and meet new people, but it gives you perspective on hardship and true suffering. It’s a great thing to turn your attention from yourself to others in a positive way and help those who need it.
5. Lastly, remember it is not forever.
This is the most important. No matter how bad you feel, no matter how much you’re struggling, no matter how much it hurts, know it will get better.
Nothing is permanent, especially when it comes to feelings in recovery. You may be down for a minute, a day, a week, maybe even a month, but it will change. It won’t last forever. There will be brighter days in your future.
They say hope is the only thing greater than fear, and to me, those words are absolutely true. I believe holding onto the hope of happier tomorrows is the best way to cope with loneliness. Believing things will improve, believing you are worth it, believing there are people out there who love and cherish you, will keep you moving forward in your recovery.
Our thoughts often have a bigger impact on our progress than any physical actions we take.
Don’t let moments of feeling alone ruin how far you’ve come.
Because you are never alone. Somewhere, there is someone else going through the same process, someone else dealing with the same painful emotions, and someone else wondering if they’re the only one.
Everyone’s recovery may be different and unique but we are all in it together.
You are never alone, you are never completely lost. You will make it through, we all will.
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Amanda Tarlton is a writer and anorexia survivor who is passionate about raising awareness for eating disorders and mental health through sharing her story and personal struggles. Her number one hope and dream is that she is able to inspire other women going through similar issues and help them find recovery. Amanda believes that we should measure our worth in the size of hearts, not the size of our clothes and that loving ourselves and others is what makes us beautiful. When she isn't writing, Amanda enjoys yoga, reading, playing guitar and watching Gilmore Girls.
SITE DISCLAIMER: The opinions and information shared in this article or any other Content on our site may not represent that of Libero Network Society. We hold no liability for any harm that may incur from reading content on our site. Please always consult your own medical professionals before making any changes to your medication, activities, or recovery process. Libero does not provide emergency support. If you are in crisis, please call 1-800-784-2433 or another helpline or 911.