27 November 2023
Loneliness is an experience that has left an indelible mark on me. As I gradually work to overcome feelings of isolation, I recognise that it has altered my very chemistry and has left a wound. Loneliness, for me, is akin to having a voice but feeling unheard, as if I’m trying to scream, yet no one seems to listen. It’s like the walls are closing in, suffocating me in a sense of isolation.
My childhood was traumatic. I was in survival mode the whole time. I couldn’t do things that other young children were able to do. I had single parents and moved between them both, and both had low income. School gave me focus and helped me get outside the home.
I made the decision to remove myself from my household when I was 18 – as I had that choice for the first time. But it wasn’t easy. I was meant to go to University, and I was on track, but I had a mental health crisis.
I became fully estranged from my parents aged 21. Even today, I’m still processing what happened and grieving. It felt like half of me had died because I had to live independently and grow up so quickly. I never knew I would face that. I never felt that I had been able to be my childhood self.
Even my once-safe haven, my bedroom, became haunting as I found it difficult to bear my own company. Loneliness manifests itself in eating meals alone, going days without speaking to anyone, and being too anxious to express my true emotions to those around me. It’s a sudden shift from being outgoing and extroverted to grappling with anxiety and self-doubt.
The experience of loneliness has been one of the most agonising feelings I’ve ever encountered, compounded by the fact that I initially didn’t even recognise it for what it was. When I finally mustered the courage to seek support, it was disheartening to be misdiagnosed, adding to the weight of my struggles.
Now I’m 23 years old, it feels really weird to want to go outside in the playground or to go trampolining because that’s something I’ve never done before or never had access to. It’s those small things that I am grateful for now. It’s only now that I’m able to do things that heal my inner child and do things that I wanted to do as a child.
For 21 years, I struggled to find an organisation that genuinely cared about my well-being, empowerment, and voice as someone who faced numerous barriers. UK Youth was the first organisation that enabled me to access youth work, and it profoundly transformed my life.
Youth work enabled me to overcome numerous challenges. As a result of their unwavering support, I discovered my passion for advocating for the power of youth work and ensuring that every young person has access to it when they need it.
My journey with UK Youth has been transformative, allowing me to contribute to meaningful projects, advocate for important causes, and find my voice as a young person. The organisation’s commitment to supporting and empowering youth is truly commendable, and I will continue to be an enthusiastic advocate for their work in the future.
By sharing my experience, I hope to shed light on this often silent and misunderstood struggle, helping others who may be going through similar challenges. With greater awareness and compassion, we can foster a more understanding and supportive environment for those facing loneliness and mental health issues.
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