Connected Loneliness

By: Christina Bein   

Have you grown up observing that talking about feelings are reserved for a certain range of emotions? Humans are born with the ability to express a set of primary emotions in their early life. This includes joy, sadness, fear, surprise, anger, and disgust. All emotions can be linked back to these primary ones (see emotions wheel). In a lot of societies, it’s appropriate and easier to talk about feelings linked to joy, surprise, and disgust. It’s acceptable to share happiness and celebrate with someone. It’s OK to feel surprised about something unexpected. It’s also somewhat more normalized to say when something is displeasing. 

These are surface level experiences that society is comfortable acknowledging. When it comes to the other primary emotions, it becomes harder to share. This makes it more difficult to be authentic. It also makes it challenging for people to learn to understand, how to be empathetic, and hold space for what is perceived as “uncomfortable” emotions.

In many cultures the feelings of fear, sadness, and anger are taught to be repressed. This makes it harder to be connected to one’s genuine and vast range of responses to life. 

Generally viewing history, the aforementioned repressed feelings were associated with weakness (not valued to help with survival) and has generationally been pervasive as teachings through the greater expanse of lineages. The following generations interpret how they are not welcomed or given a safe space to talk about what they are struggling with, or that their feelings are just “too much.” This creates disconnect and loneliness.

The feeling of loneliness coupled with negative thoughts builds the idea that no one can understand that we do not want to burden others with this struggle. It leads to isolation. 

When a person is alone with a persistent negative narrative it can start to seem like no one can help. This negative thought loop is like running in a hamster wheel. It goes nowhere productive, just stuck and suspended in one place that feels terrible. The way through loneliness and despair is to get unstuck from that hamster wheel, to reach out for a lifeline. Talking to someone else that is trustworthy and can kindly hold space for feelings is a great resource to interrupt the negative thought loop. 

Effort is a required initiative in making social connections, and positive relationships are an effective aspect of overcoming depression.

It’s OK to Ask for Help

Not everyone may be well equipped to hold space for the myriad of human experiences, but there are trained people who can be helpful. Here’s a start on where to find them. Explore options to seek support from a mental health therapist. It’s great to start with your insurance provider to find in-network providers. Or explore local agencies and practices to see if they are accepting new clients or sign up to be on their waitlist.

Call or Text 988 to reach the Suicide Prevention Hotline

It’s a 24/7 service with trained crisis counselors to provide compassionate support.

Walk-in Crisis Clinics

Portland, OR: Cascadia Urgent Walk-In Clinic. It’s open 7 days a week, Monday-Friday

from 7am to 9pm. Saturday-Sunday from 9am-9pm.

Located at 4212 SE Division, Suite 100, Portland, OR 97206. Call at (503) 963-2575.

Eugene, OR: Hourglass Community Crisis Center. It’s open 24 hours a day from Monday-

Friday and 8am-12am from Saturday-Sunday.

Located at 2443, 71 Centennial Loop suite a, Eugene, OR 97401. Call at (541) 505-8426.

Both offer mental health crisis care from trained professionals that can also connect people with further needed supportive services.

Become familiar with your local mental health Mobile Crisis Services like:

Portland, OR: Project Respond | 503-988-4888

Eugene, OR: CAHOOTS | (541) 682-5111

Trained crisis mental health professionals go out into the community, to the location of the distressed person in need of supportive mental health services. This is also a service that people can call to support someone they care about.

Inpatient hospitalization for mental or behavioral health:

Portland, OR: Unity Behavioral Health. Open 24/7.

Located at 1225 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232. Call at (503) 944-8000.

Eugene, OR: Inpatient Behavioral Health at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center

University District. Open 24/7.

Located at 770 E 11th Avenue Eugene, OR 97401. Call at (458) 205-7013.

Voluntary inpatient hospitalization for mental health crisis, especially when one is at risk of hurting oneself.

Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP):

Is a short-term and therapeutic psychiatric treatment program that functions within a group setting to support safety, stability, and helpful coping.

Several hospitals provide IOP services. It would be beneficial to check with your insurance provider to see which program location would be in-network. Otherwise, contact your local hospital or medical clinic for program inquiry.

You don’t have to be alone. Explore how you can get connected.