On a personal note, I have definitely experienced loneliness. Most recently, it was as I was making the transition into parenthood. It was a more substantial feeling than the pain of sleep deprivation that accompanies becoming a parent. I felt isolated at home and away from my normal working life. There was also an identity shift that occurred in the early days, which was compounded when my husband went off to work each morning to pursue his professional goals and interact socially with others.
It was a rapid change to my life, and I felt lost in that. There was a disconnect between the idea that having a child is the greatest joy of your life, and realising that full-time parenting can actually be more tiresome than you expect it to be. While I wasn’t able to recognise it at the time – I was grieving the change to my social life. I missed the social connections that had brought me mental stimulation, joy and regular personal contact.
When I spoke to my GP about how I was feeling, she encouraged me to foster connections with others who were going (or had been) through similar experiences. In my case, that meant getting involved with a local mothers group, talking more honestly with working mothers that I knew, and spending time with my own mum. It also helped me to understand the fact that sometimes you become lonely at a particular point in your life for a period of time, but that stage won’t last forever. It’s important that you try and avoid being ashamed of feeling lonely.