Feeling Hopeless and Alone

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Reader’s Question

I am a 36-year-old male. I have suffered from depression all of my adult life and I have been on anti-depressants and sleeping pills for more than ten years. I have reached a point in my life where I feel I simply can’t go on.

I don’t believe I would ever commit suicide since I think that would be cruel and unfair to my family.

I am gay but have never felt comfortable with that fact and so have never had a single homosexual relationship in my life. In fact, I’ve only ever had one physical encounter and that was something of a disaster. I never made any gay friends and in recent years all the friends I did have got married and had children, or moved away. The result is that I now have no friends. I work from home and live alone, which has exacerbated my loneliness. A couple of months ago I decided to move back home to my mother’s house simply to have some form of human interaction — I could go for weeks living on my own without seeing another soul. So now here I am at home in the house I grew up in. I feel like I have failed at life.

My depression is too much. I honestly and profoundly wish I were no longer alive. I have felt like this for years so it’s not even really a reflection of my current circumstances. When I was younger I at least had some hope for the future.

Psychologist’s Reply

Your thoughts of suicide and hopelessness are very worrisome. Although you say that you’ve had these feelings for much of your life and that you wouldn’t act on them, please reach out to a licensed mental health care provider or a suicide hotline as soon as possible. (In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is just one option. Other options include Befrienders International and The Samaritans in the UK.)

I applaud your ability to recognize the impact of loneliness on your emotional well-being, and your ability to take steps (moving in with your mother) to ease some of that loneliness. It sounds like your loneliness has two components: a need for more interpersonal connection in general, as well as a need to make a romantic connection in an authentic way.

Taking steps to decrease your day-to-day loneliness may help you feel better overall, which may then make it easier for you to connect with new friends and eventually, potential romantic partners. One small way to decrease your day-to-day loneliness might be to just get out of the house more often — does the nature of your work allow you to work from a public place, such as a coffee shop or library?

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You also mentioned having lost touch with friends who have moved away or have transitioned to a different phase of life. Although it may not be possible to connect with them in the way you used to, you might consider reaching out and trying to reconnect with them via email, Facebook or Skype.

If these steps feel too overwhelming, please consider reaching out to a licensed mental health care provider in your area. If you are able to find someone who specializes in working with members of the LGBTQ community, they may be especially well-equipped to also help you connect with your sexuality and support you as you seek potential relationship partners.

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