In this Part II of this Loneliness & Isolation Piece, the Author Adds Where You Can Find Resources For These Conditions
By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Faith Columnist—
In Part I of this series, I made an extremely basic exploration regarding the despair caused by isolation and loneliness. It is an out-of-control national health epidemic negatively impacting the mind, body, and soul. Let me be clear, the column is not offering mental health advice, but it humbly offers some recommendations to help get you moving in the right direction.
Several of the suggestions below are common sense. Some readers may even say, “I already know that. Tell me something I don’t know.” Perhaps. But ask yourself why you haven’t tried or stayed with it.
Admit feeling lonely or isolated. Say it out loud. No one needs to hear it. Just say it. It will be cathartic to let it out. It is also a sign of strength and shows the inner wherewithal to start managing it.
Once you’ve let out much-needed steam, develop a written action plan. Yes, there needs to be a plan. Otherwise, you will wander aimlessly. Ever wander New York City without a plan? You can wander the streets of one of the world’s greatest cities without seeing a great museum, enjoy a great meal, see the Empire State building, or experience the beauty and enormity of Central Park. Make a plan and work it; have benchmarks.
There are times when professional counseling whether a psychiatrist, social worker, or the use of an employer’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is the best approach. If such resources are available, use them. Otherwise, it is a helping hand ignored. Be sure the resource selected is LGBTQ+ affirming.
Professional associations often have LGBTQ+ groups within them. Some include law, real estate, and health professionals. Joining and paying a membership fee is not enough, you need to get involved. Volunteer on a committee.
If you don’t hold a professional license, there are still things you can do. Volunteer at an animal shelter. This is especially beneficial if you can’t have a pet due to rental restrictions or job demands don’t get you home at a reasonable hour to walk the dog.
Join an LGBTQ+ hiking club or softball league. Several years ago, I penned an article for The Rainbow Times, TRT, on the International Gay Rodeo Association. It’s a great group with amazing people who look out for one another. You might not be a cowboy or cowgirl, but the point is there is something for everyone to get connected.
Try MeetUp.com. You’ll find LGBTQ+ social groups for seniors, cyclers, book clubs, software developers, fine arts enthusiasts, and more. Get involved in a political campaign. You can meet great people this way.
Because this is a faith column, I’d be remiss not to underscore the importance of taking care of your soul. Why join a church, mosque, temple, or coven? Fellowship, friendship, and family. You can find a lot of support in a spiritual community. It can become a loving, accepting part of your life.
There are places for witches, atheists, and agnostics in a faith community. The Unitarian Universalist Church, for example, has a place for Pagans, Wiccans, and Humanists. Unity Church, Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Metropolitan Community Church, and Evangelical Church in America are welcoming Christian groups with a demonstrated commitment to the LGBTQ+ community.
There are many Jewish temples throughout New England that warmly welcoming LGBTQ+ congregants. Interested in Buddhism and meditation? Try OutBreath.
Lastly, be mindful of diet and substance abuse. You’ve heard it before but act on it. You don’t have to be an alcoholic to abuse beer, wine, or something stronger. In addition to empty calories, alcohol, especially in large amounts, changes body chemistry, saps energy, and can also intensify feelings of hopelessness. Eating comfort food like a box of pasta regularly is a lesser evil, but an evil nonetheless.
Write down what you want and work on your plan. Learn to use positive affirmations. “I will find the supportive friends I need. I will join and be an active participant of at least one group this year.” Review your progress each week. Ultimately, only you can call on the divine within to empower yourself. You are holy and were never meant to be lonely or isolated.
*Paul is a lawyer, personal chaplain, and seminary-trained, ordained priest. He is the author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.” He may be reached at Dilovod@aol.com.