Healthy lives for young people
  • Help & Advice
  • Find a Service
    Close icon

Loneliness: Fern’s story

Fern, 24, talks to us about how loneliness has affected her life, and things she has done in the past to feel more connected and resilient. 

Content Warning

This page has discussion of mental illness.

When did you first experience feelings of loneliness?

My first experiences were probably when I moved away from university. I think it went unnoticed during my university years as I had a massive group of friends and lots of housemates and I just thought of it as home sickness, but once I graduated and the 24/7 group of housemates and uni friends that used to surround me were gone I realised that I was very much alone and lonely. I had no family around and no one to call on when I was feeling low.

Do you think there was an event/something that happened in your life that led to you feeling lonely or made it worse?

I have GAD (generalised anxiety disorder) and probably don’t do as many activities as I should, because of this I’ve not really had an opportunity to meet new people in place of friends that moved away after university. I was also in a long distance relationship which meant I also spent lots of time by myself between seeing my boyfriend.

I had periods of being very happy and very busy, but also a big contrast of spending days alone.

Can you describe how loneliness felt/feels to you?

I think the worse bit is when you’ve had a long and hard day, and not having a welcome when you get home. You never really value having people around you until they’re not around; even knowing someone is downstairs or in the room next door is a comfort. I’ve always hated when I feel down, stressed out or poorly that no one has been around to take care of me.

I suffer with migraines and things like not having someone to bring me a glass of water when I’m in bed is horrible, it really makes you feel alone and vulnerable. Sometimes just seeing another human or speaking to someone can make you feel so much better.

Did you/do you talk to anyone when you are feeling lonely?

I used to phone my mum or FaceTime my family but it’s hard feeling so negative and having them feel so helpless. I did get support for my anxiety and felt that 1-2-1 conversation about myself was really filling a void from loneliness, rather than helping with my anxiety.

What did you/do you do to help you cope when you are feeling lonely?

I’ve always been into food, and really enjoy eating out.

Once I got over the embarrassment of going for meals solo, I actually really embraced it. 9 times out of 10 when I felt lonely or bored I’d go out for dinner.

This way I was surrounded by people and atmosphere, I could have a pressure free conversation with restaurant staff about my meal and did something I was enjoying. I guess most people do sport or activities, but this was my way of dealing with being lonely.

Do you have any tips for other young people who might be feeling lonely?

I think if you can, definitely take up a sport or hobby. I’ve always been envious of people who are outgoing enough to do this.

I also think you need to put yourself out there as much as possible, don’t shy away or choose not to see people because you can’t be bothered. You should take advantage of opportunities.

Also – be open with people. On social media I probably looked like I was having a great time and out doing things, when in fact I was always by myself doing these things. If I had been honest with people they might have made more effort to see me.

It’s OK not to be OK

Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year (NHS England, 2020).

If you are worried about your mental health, or about someone else’s, there are lots of places that can offer you help and support. You don’t have to be diagnosed, you don’t even have to know exactly what’s wrong. Whenever you are ready to talk to someone, you can.


    Other Stuff you might find useful…

    Real Stories
    Mental health and a birthday to remember: Rachel’s story
    Find mental health and emotional support
    Real Stories
    Experiencing mental illness: Chanel’s story
    Mental health and emotional wellbeing
    Real Stories
    Supporting a partner with their mental health: Rachel’s tips
    Real Stories
    Mental health: Alex’s story
    Mental Health Problems


    Find a Service near you