By Maxine Flasher-Duzgunes
Q: What is loneliness?
A: A state of being, commonly one of the symptoms of mild depression, involving a failure to close the distance between the people around you. This can be expressed as both physical and emotional: your gut often tells you to hold someone’s hand, whereas your mind scolds you for giving it the least of a try.
Q: Who gets lonely?
A: More people than you think: maybe the prep school girl who keeps twisting her hair at church. When everyone’s still in prayer, she glances in your direction, wondering if she should glance a little while longer. It could be the dude in the basketball shorts who comes to English class for lunch. You’re there too, striking up a conversation until he says he has to go to the library. You stay. Even your science teacher: never a word about his family, not a baby picture, not a Christmas card. He’s at his desk from 6:00 to 6:00, closer to his papers than say, an actual breathing set of eyes.
Q: Am I at risk for loneliness?
A: Yes. An abundance of time spent lacking the company of others is true to loneliness: logging in a journal, star-gazing, shuffling through the four contacts on your phone, going down lists of to do’s three months after you said you’d do them, resorting to text marathons with your mother, refusing to answer the phone.
Q: Can loneliness be controlled?
A: Primarily, no. It’s not the people that forget about you, so much as the people you (frequently more than sometimes) force yourself to forget. Environmental factors: the means you were raised, the school you go to, were never meant to beat you into the android that you’ve become. However, as self-esteem directly affects your willingness to become the Charlie Chaplain like bum everyone avoids, it’s up to you to say you want in on the one-man club.
Q: Is there an absolute cure for loneliness?
A: Subjecting yourself to prolonged sessions with strangers. Say, placing yourself into an unnatural conversation: having a go at discovering common interests. And above all, making people like you.
Q: Was that last answer truthful?
A: Of course not. It’s essentially known that adolescents like you have difficulty accepting their disease, disorder, disability…whatever. Everyone you care about (the few people there are left) lie to you. Rejecting their intuition says that they hope you won’t die an old maid. Ninety-five years, you’re still attached to the tennis balls on your walker, in a cabin by the sea. The others you used to love probably would be too dead cold to visit you, while in their will, they give you a minor mention. Some inheritance, some money, some land, but that really doesn’t compare to the last words they let loose on their deathbed. They whisper, your elbow crunching the hospital mattress. They say: You’re not lonely. You’re not depressed. You’re just a writer.
*Editor’s note: inspired by Aubrey Hirsch’s piece, “Multiple Sclerosis FAQ”