Sometimes we have been suffering for so long, we can’t tell up from down. The exhaustion from depression can make us feel motionless, which causes guilt then self hatred. We hate our inability to move ourselves out of the state we’ve been in, and….we isolate.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Connecting means opening up. And while we love our friends and family, they might ask how we are doing. It has become too much effort to lie, but we don’t want to burden them with the truth, so we keep our distance.
We hate ourselves, feeling depressed and desperately lonely, but we fear that our pain will not be welcomed – or worse, that it will hurt others. So we swallow our depression and accept our loneliness, to avoid feeling like a burden. And the cycle continues.
Why You Can’t Feel Less Depressed While Staying Lonely
As mentioned by author and YouTuber Teal Swan, human beings are interrelational creatures. Above all else, humans need other people to feel fully healthy. This is why babies perish without physical touch, and adults lose their appetite during breakups.
As much as many of us say we are not a fan of people, we need them. But unfortunately, as a society, we have very poor boundaries, empathy, and acceptance of others. Most of us aren’t taught these necessary skills, which contributes to the cycle of loneliness, self-hatred, and depression. We struggle to find healthy, happy connections.
Breaking The Cycle: Temporary Discomfort
In my experience, the best first step to take to break this cycle is to begin practicing brutal honesty with oneself.
The path to healing cannot be comfortable, because it requires a person to admit that they’ve become accustomed to suffering. Misery and pain have become familiar. So all movement towards the opposite will feel bizarre, forced, and even scary.
Depression, self-hatred, and loneliness involve a lot of pain in the present. But we often reject the beginnings of a better but unfamiliar life. It may feel uncomfortable to adjust to a better reality, but pushing through means being rewarded — with the new energy of connection, self-love, and happiness.
Healing is not linear, and nobody can tell you where you are in the process. So please read through the next suggestions from your own perspective. Honor where you are presently at in this cycle.
Start With Depression: Honesty, Patience, and Baby Steps
It is critical that we are honest about what our boundaries and needs are. At the same time we must be mindful that not each person we connect with is capable of fulfilling all of our needs or respecting all of our boundaries. Skipping these two steps keeps many of us stuck in depression.
Often when we are hurting, we fear rejection so much that we make no attempt to connect! This only furthers the cycle of pain.
Depression is a sickness, and you can only expect to heal in baby steps. Don’t expect to find a BFF you can spend 24/7 with overnight. Just finding a friend who is willing to sit in silence with you on your phones is a noble improvement from sitting alone.
So to beat the loneliness depression self-hatred cycle, figure out what you are capable of doing, socially, and be clear and direct with your friends. Good friends understand that depression is not your fault, and that you’re still important.
See who is willing to hangout with you in a way that you are most comfortable. Be clear if you do not want to talk much, be clear if you would like to eat or not to, and proudly say when you feel it’s time to go home.
Seeing that your boundaries are respected will help you feel safe and understood. This will, in turn, strengthen your connection.
If you do not have friends nearby try to go somewhere public, find someone to chat safely with online, or even find an animal to connect with.
Address The Roots of Self Hatred
Self-hatred is complicated, but also can be helped tremendously by finding people whom you trust. You have to slowly open yourself up to believing the kind things they say about you!
It was not safe for you to like yourself, so this became your normal.
Sometimes we cannot escape the revolving door of self hating thoughts, and the words of people who set off your self hatred. But we can start by adding in positive statements.
Again, this may take some agency and initial discomfort on your part. So start small: practice saying “thank you” to compliments or ask your friends or family to tell you something that they like about you (try doing the same for them, too!).
If five people tell you that you are kind and very good at drawing, will you continue to deny them?
What if you are not as terrible as you thought? Remember, your self-hatred served you well at some point. That’s why it has stuck around. At one time or another (often in childhood or an abusive relationship), it was not safe for you to like yourself, so this became your normal. You have nothing to be ashamed of, people of all privileges hate themselves too at times.
Again, if you do not have a friend to call on, connect with an animal, go somewhere public if you can muster it, connect with someone safe online, and open yourself up to believing that perhaps your self-hating thoughts are not the only truth that exists.
As the poet Rumi once said “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all of the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Build Understanding Connections To Break The Cycle
Depression is an illness that strips us from the ability to feel control over our moods, emotions, energy, and life. As noted in the previous suggestions, taking control over what we can contradicts the overbearing pain of depression.
If we can change our mood by getting to see a friend on our terms, the confines of depression begin to crumble. So loneliness is a key point of action.
I would argue that while in a depression, the number one thing we need is to be surrounded by people who accept us in the totality of our depression. Otherwise we get stuck in shame, guilt, and self-hatred!
We need people who do not care that we have worn the same pajamas for six days and do not mind if we say bad things about ourselves. To break the cycle, we need people who can encourage us despite our present negativity.
This is why it is critical that we connect with friends that understand that we are hurting. Understanding friends allow us to believe that we are still valuable, even if we feel terrible and worthless.
That said, not every person can support others struggling, and we cannot take this personally and feed the depression with “proof” that we are terrible. Again, we have to be patient with others as well as ourselves.
By finding relationships with clear communication, we give ourselves the ability to connect with people who want to be with us. And, we’re in turn more able to respect the boundaries of people who cannot support us in this state.
Loneliness, self-hatred, and depression feed into each other in a cycle, and the path to healing is equally non-linear.
In our lowest moments we often are blinded by our pain and cannot see a clear way out of our emotions. It is imperative that we remember that we do have control, and that we can make decisions in our best interests.
We must also remember to be patient with ourselves, that the pain we feel is an accumulation of many compounded experiences. We will need to take time to move through each phase until we find the peace we’ve lost.
You deserve to feel that peace.