Loneliness. It’s a pretty simple definition in the dictionary – sadness because one has no friends.

Yet, I have friends. It’s a much more complicated noun than we give it credit for.

Being a carer is non-stop, there is always something to do, a place to go an appointment to keep, so being lonely is almost a contradiction. I’m with people all the time. I listen all the time, listen to others’ sadness, worries, and ailments.

Some days I’m screaming inside because of frustration (this world is still not built for wheelchairs) and pain because if I bend one more time, push, sit, stand, drive, I think I’ll throw up, but keeping that scream and the reasons for it safe inside my mind is a far better option than actually telling someone what I’m thinking – heck if I said half of what I’m thinking aloud I’d sound bonkers! No one needs to hear that stuff. I’m with my loved ones all the time too and they also don’t need to hear my issues, I even see the doctor but she’s the last person I’d tell, I mean, what if I tell her my thoughts and they come to take me away ha ha? … So, am I really lonely? … all these people around me all the time? Am I?

Yes. Yes I am. But I’m aware it’s my doing. Aware that unless I share these thoughts of mine I’ll always be lonely. I keep saying no one needs to hear my scary thoughts but perhaps someone will want to hear them. I understand what I’m writing and doing so is therapeutic, I’m also aware that unlike so many I do have people around.

This years Carers Week is about supporting carers to be healthy and connected. Whether juggling work with looking after someone or being unable to enjoy hobbies or some down time with friends, many carers suffer from isolation, stress and poor mental health due to their caring role. Many don’t say anything to friends, family or work colleagues.

Loneliness is a complicated word and should be redefined perhaps – sadness because one cannot share.  That covers many a lonely person.

Kate Grant