You know the saying – every dog has its day. For the longest time, I felt like someone up there did not schedule such a day for me. Not in this life, at least.
I thought I was the loneliest person on Earth. Detached. Forgotten.
Not worthy of love.
My name is Julie. At the age of 62, it finally feels good to be alive.
But 6 months ago, things were completely different.
All my life, I wasn’t happy with who I was. I didn’t love myself.
And I didn’t expect others to love me either.
Six months ago, I was a solitary, grumpy accountant working at her office in a small town in Oregon. Divorced 3 years ago. No close friends.
My son moved away when he was 16 and would visit me once every 2 years. Sometimes less.
I was a lonely island, as James William once said.
My favorite hobby was opening the door to my cat, Jacky.
I wasn’t enjoying my own company that much. Couldn’t look in the mirror without a pout. I could definitely stand to lose some weight, but I never really had any motive. Who would have benefited from that?
Myself? There were other things I was even more displeased about. Frustrated, even.
I read somewhere that you are the most confident when you turn 60.
Well, that was not my case, I can assure you.
I was always an insecure person. Everyone seemed more interesting than me. Funnier, more energetic. Had more entertaining adventures to tell or just happened to meet fascinating people.
I would dream about another life. Where I am more beautiful, interesting, cared for…
Perhaps these thoughts have crossed your mind as well: “What would have happened if I was just a bit smarter? Slimmer? Braver?”
Just a bit more worthy of acceptance and love.
And then reality would hit me.
Loneliness was not a fleeting feeling that would visit around the holidays or in the evenings when the dinner table is set for just one.
It was my constant companion in what I got used to so much I couldn’t imagine my life without it.
Everyone around me seemed so distant and almost unreal with their happiness. Proud of their families and grandkids.
All I had was my busy son, a spoiled cat, and arthritis.
I felt left out from life.
It’s a well-known fact that loneliness can kill. Lonely people suffer from coronary heart disease and stroke. They recover slower and get sick more often.
If the numbers were right, my loneliness had to have taken away about 20 years of my life.
If only there was someone who would genuinely care to listen after asking: ”How are you?”
Yet, the pandemic was the best thing that happened to me.
When this global disaster struck, loneliness became commonplace for so many people.
It was as though someone’s ruthless hand grabbed a pair of scissors and cut all connections between people.
I wasn’t impacted. There was no one to cut out of my life.
That’s when a shocking idea crossed my mind.
I realized that what others began experiencing was something I had been dealing with for several years.
That joy-sucking loneliness kept me paralyzed. Without a sense of belonging, my life seemed meaningless.
It felt so terrible.
Having to endure my day instead of enjoying it. Having to be strong because there is no one to support you. Trying to distract myself by watching television just to whisk away the pain of being alone.
Was that all I could get from life? Was there nothing waiting for me? No one?
In this age of instant communication, there had to be at least something I could try.
But my self-loathing gave me zero suggestions. A book club? I would be too shy to talk. A dating app? Nobody would like me at that age.
I hit another wall.
I saw no way out. I thought I was stuck in my little town, feeling too small and weak to change anything about my life. About myself.
I needed someone to save me.
If I couldn’t find answers in myself, someone else might as well try.
At least I’ll have someone to talk to. Things couldn’t get any worse, right?
There was no chance for me to meet a therapist during the pandemic. So I opened my laptop and looked at what the internet had to offer.
I skipped all the popular therapy platforms. They had many reviews from customers and therapists about being overcrowded.
If I was going to pay for someone to talk to me (since my insurance doesn’t cover therapy), I wanted them to pay attention to me and not try their best to answer hundreds of people at once.
Then I came across an app called DoMental. It was a funny name, but the reviews were positive, and I decided to give it a shot.
Every dog does have its day.
Sometimes they just have to dig it out.
The day I filled the short quiz on DoMental’s website and started talking with my therapist Rachel – I call it my second birthday.
It wasn’t her clicking her fingers like a fairy godmother and me suddenly reaching my full potential.
It wasn’t easy. But Rachel was there to support me. DoMental offers communication with your therapist 5 days a week. As much as you need.
I always hated writing my thoughts down.
And there I was, writing a gratitude diary every day.
At first, it was very difficult to find a second thing to be grateful for (the first was always my cat).
But with Rachel helping me find new perspectives, the list grew longer and longer.
She gave me other methods to work with, tailored to my personality and struggles.
She also explained to me how perfectionism actually pushes us away from becoming our best selves.
We planned my personal goals. A little step at a time. Manageable steps, ones anyone could take.
I joined a local church choir.
I was hesitant at first.
To start only now, after years of living there?
But Rachel helped me find the courage to do it.
And who could have thought that all the faces I passed on the street would become dear friends?
I started recreational running that didn’t hurt my arthritis. I remind myself to be gentle every time I look in the mirror.
I know there is still work to be done. But my therapy gave me a clear direction.
And I couldn’t have done it without Rachel and DoMental.
She reminded me what it feels like to be cared for. To be understood.
She started to fill that deep void inside me.
She was my first meaningful connection in a very long time.
A connection that has been healing my wounds and restoring my relationship with myself.
That’s the story of how I decided to take life into my own hands.
And I don’t want you to suffer the way I did.
50% of all Americans experience loneliness [I]. It feels like nothing can be done. But you don’t have to stand alone. Not when there are people ready to help you find the way out.
Start therapy. Any kind of therapy.
Rachel assured me that after years of experience, she noticed similar progress for her in-person and online clients.
In cases like mine, daily correspondence can even be better.
What I can say from my experience is that if you’re looking for someone to make you feel heard, understood, and welcomed, I believe DoMental is the best place to start.
They guarantee several responses a day, 5 days a week, so you don’t have to feel left out anymore. You can also change therapists if you don’t connect with the first one.
Just remember what it feels like to be with people who care for you. To belong. To experience that warmth and attention that you may now think you have lost forever.
You can experience that again.
Disclaimer: Results may vary due to personal features. Always consult a professional for medical advice.