Feeling alone when surrounded by people?

I know a key part of dealing with chronic pain is managing feelings of isolation / alienation.

Knowing this does not however assuage feelings of aloneness, if anything it seems to compound the issue(s).

I can massage my emotions to fit with others’ but only for a time. When the necessity comes to an end and I’m alone I have to deal with every word I’ve said and the echoes that won’t leave me be.

Why have I placed everyone else’s needs above my own?

Why didn’t I take the opportunity to speak about myself?

Why did I try so desperately to ingratiate myself to that particular person?

Why do I see every new person as a potential for being understood?

That’s a lot to put on another person and in reality they’re unlikely to understand, I will be forced to justify my position in life to them, to fight my own corner.

I can’t reconcile my own needs with other people’s vulnerabilities, wants and needs.

I feel I AM causing all of my own problems. Internalised oppression?


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,782

    As I see it, people fall into two categories - the fillers and the drainers ie you come away from them feeling energised and happy or exhausted and brassed off. Fortunately, though, most relationships are a mixture and there is plenty of give and take. 

    Having arthritis certainly makes things a bit different and can make them more difficult As a young Mum I missed out on quite a lot as I was exhausted most of the time My kids came first and my pain had to stand in line behind them. Pain can definitely isolate but I see no point in dwelling on that. Yes, it can take a great deal of effort not to but will-power is a muscle like any other - use it or lose it.

    My take, on mixing with strangers, is that arthritis and pain are excruciatingly boring subjects so I steer clear of them unless someone asks a question in which case I'll try to answer honestly and succinctly before moving on to something more interesting. I feel no need to be understood by strangers. They may take me or leave me. My friends and family love / like me for reasons wholly unconnected with arthritis. The arthritis is a part of me but there are many other parts and I'm sure the same holds for you too. What do you love doing? What takes you out of yourself and makes you forget about pain? What energises you? Concentrate on these. 

  • SPN97
    SPN97 Member Posts: 17

    I appreciate the alternate perspective @stickywicket, I would like to reach a point with myself where I’m not so concerned about other people but I can’t be sure that this isn’t to do with my anxiety?

    I missed out on years of secondary school due to injury and received no support from my school. The same applies to University. I think I understand that this treatment wasn’t a personal attack but it’s happened so often that my brain has clearly become used to / habituated to this type of treatment.

    I didn’t form as many close relationships or even casual ones as other people and now I feel I’ve no place and no one to turn to. The people I am close with have heard so much about this stuff that I feel guilty for keeping on about it. They reassure me but maybe I’m determined not to be reassured?

    I haven’t had the space from this to gain any real perspective but I am trying x

  • SPN97
    SPN97 Member Posts: 17

    @stickywicket as if to prove my own point I have just avoided telling you what I love doing!

    I love speaking, connecting, communicating, reading, introspection in short 🤣. Maybe this isn’t helpful? But that’s also where my creativity lies. In the pain. I’m confused and scared by this!

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,782

    You must be very bright indeed to get to uni despite missing a lot of education. Well done!

    The interests you mention don't sound introspective to me. With those interests you can do so much. I used to write cricket reports for my local club to be posted in the local newspaper. That necessarily involved finding out who was who, where the new player had come from etc etc ie talking to other members and spectators.

    I did Riding for the Disabled for several years but soon found myself on the group, and later regional too, committees writing publicity reports and sending out newsletters. Again, this involved finding out who was who and who had done what and, of course, making friends with other committee members - some also disabled by different diseases.

    All voluntary organisations tend to be desperate for volunteers. This often involves reading and communication and generally mixing with other interesting people.

    Why not give it a try?

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,782

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,544

    I think that sense of feeling alone in a crowded room is very common, one thing I’ve learnt over the years is that all those insecurities you think are exclusive to yourself are actually hobbling very many other people around you, even the loud ones, it’s just that some hide it better than others. Keep speaking, reading, communicating, connecting. Like most things, the more you do it the easier it becomes, even meeting new people. And you never know what avenues it will open up. It sometimes helps to bear in mind they’re probably as anxious as you are, and grateful for someone making the first move and being a good listener. What you describe in your first post sounds like pretty standard “getting to know new people “ stuff, and the recipient of your attention was probably grateful for someone who was happy to listen to them and put their needs and interests first. In brief encounters it can sometimes be a one way street, but next time you meet them, the familiarity will make things easier. It is hard going sometimes, and you won’t click with everyone, but this is often how friendships start.

    And yes, you will make a few gaffs and torture yourself about it afterwards, we ALL do that, even the rich and famous, who occasionally own up to some toe curling encounters that they have fluffed. Some of mine try to torture me late at night (and believe me in 61 years you can accumulate a lot of them - I’ve got some absolute foot-in-mouth howlers 😅), and I have to remind myself the target of my gaff probably forgot about it as soon as they got home and I should just let it go too. Or they thought I was an idiot, which is probably true, but it doesn’t define me. If I see them again maybe I can apologise if it was really bad, and if I never meet them again... problem solved.

    As for the sense of aloneness you feel around your pain, try not to let it define you as a person. It may limit what you can physically do, but the sum total of you is far more than your grumbling leg. Allow your life to go in different directions where your leg becomes less relevant. Losing yourself in new interests is a great way to make pain recede into the background.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    I feel alone because I am alone except for a couple of hours once a week when my Home Help comes!

  • bosh
    bosh Member Posts: 1,322

    I often feel alone with my psoriatic arthritis and various other problems. It was worse when I was first diagnosed, but at the end of the day, I think everyone feels alone to some extent or other. Talking to someone else doesn’t necessarily improve things. Sometimes friends have their own agendas for conversations. I agree that trying to keep busy is important and focussing on things you can do, though i know it’s not easy, especially initially. Good luck.

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