Only the Lonely


bridge wall

I don’t know what to write anymore. Which is a real problem for a writer. It’s why I decided to do a photography project for August.

How do you write when you you don’t feel like you can tell people how you really feel?

Of course, I could write about what I “think.” Maybe write a political opinion piece… No, there’s enough of those out there.

I’ve been kind of off the grid beyond working my job and posting some photos. My main focus, I’m sorry to say, is all about me and how to get “better.”

bridge peeling

I’ve been reading two books lately – both are attempts to understand what the hell is wrong with me. The first book is called “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression” by Andrew Solomon. It’s a long book but is teaching me many things about what this pattern of ups and downs is welding into my brain.

It ain’t good, in fact the damage that has been found to occur from repetitive patterns of depression is frightening, which just makes me all the more determined to break out of this. If I wasn’t so afraid of what’s happening to me, I wouldn’t have faced the shame and defeat of going to a doctor and asking for help. I shouldn’t have felt that way about a doctor visit, and yet, so many of us do.

The second book I’m reading is called “The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone” by Olivia Laing. Laing writes about loneliness from her own personal experience but takes it deeper by investigating expressions of loneliness in art, writing, and music by well known creatives such as Andy Warhol and Edward Hopper. I haven’t read very far yet but already, I’m struck by common expressions of this thing that I feel:

“What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body. It advances, is what I’m trying to say, cold as ice and clear as glass, enclosing and engulfing.” ~ Olivia Laing

Because of the book’s subtitle “Adventures in the Art of Being Alone,” I remain hopeful that there will be a message somewhere that tells a person how to be alone without feeling lonely. I’m not talking so much about being physically removed from other people. I’m talking about the loneliness that comes from not being amongst your own kind — isolation in a sea of people kind of stuff.


I felt better for a while yesterday, after I visited my horse, Luke, and shared a conversation and a few laughs with the woman caring for him.

I’ve been thinking about the stigma and shame around being depressed and lonely. These are defects. Weaknesses. A mind over matter failure.

It’s the American way. Everything is controllable if you are strong enough and confident enough. If you work hard enough.

People believe that depression is “unhappiness.” So do this and do that and you’ll be happy. Or it’s mind over matter. Focus on what is good about your life, instead of what is bad, and you’ll be happy.

Like the song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” I have to ask, what does happiness have to do with it?

What I feel has nothing to do with happiness or unhappiness.

Anoka Rum River

I love my home and the person and the dogs in it. I know I’m very fortunate. I know there is no good reason for me to be anxious and depressed.

What I feel is not because of what’s out there. It’s a lifetime of what’s inside me.

Who knows. The drug I’ve been prescribed may kick in and things may turn around. I hope so.

In the mean time, I do simple things, like the photo project. I try to go easy on myself and not over schedule or ask too much. I look for ways to connect. Silly ways to tell myself I deserve good things, even if that only means buying fresh roasted coffee beans and taking extra care to brew one damn good cup of coffee.

I am hanging in there. Perhaps that’s why I am studying and photographing hands…

holding hands

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    1. Thanks Robin. You are a photography and adventure and discovery inspiration for me. Your work prompts some of my ideas and desires to push my photography in new directions.

  1. I can so relate. I have a long list of dreams, to-dos and deadlines. Then, last night I sat in my chair and sobbed and realized there really is only one thing I need to do: get better. Not yet sure what that means but reading your post feels like a good first step because it’s nice to not feel alone. Thanks for that. And here’s to better…for both of us…and everyone else who desires it.

    1. Although I love the company, I’m sorry to hear we are going through something similar. For now, I’ll join you in wishing for ‘better’ for those everyones. And we’ll continue to encourage each other on.

  2. Boy oh boy do I relate. Writing this and publishing it must have felt very naked, but it’s very good, very accurate. “Being happy” doesn’t really have anything to do with this does it? So true. The disconnected feeling of depression is so much deeper and scarier than feeling “unhappy.” As weird as it sounds, this week when my welder broke down made me as anxious as I can remember being lately. At the peak of my distress I was talking to Dan and I blurted– “it feels like the only thing I know for sure i’m good at has been taken away!” and it really hit home– I absolutely take refuge in my work when I begin to feel detached from the world. It’s like– at least I have a way to connect to myself. I’ve experienced times when i haven’t had that. It’s a precipice I avoid now. I still feel the echo effect at times, but feel lucky i’ve found some things that pull me back, like creative work, physical activity, forcing myself to be social etc until the disconnected feeling passes, and thank god it always does. Hang in there and thanks for sharing.

  3. Maery Rose, if you had a friend that was in your present state, what would you do, what would you say? I bet you would be a comforting friend, a compassionate friend. That is the friend you need to be with yourself.
    Remind yourself life had ebbs and flows… this too shall pass (even though it doesn’t feel like it right now).
    Spend more time with Luke, animal medicine is powerful and KEEP WRITING.

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