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How Michelle Overcame Loneliness by Volunteering in her Community

"As a result of my struggle with loneliness, I began to self-isolate. I felt hopeless and felt like interactions were a chore. Everything was an endless loop of routine and I could not wait for each day to end."

Struggled with:
Depression
Loneliness

Helped by:
Volunteering

Hello! Who are you?

I’m Michelle Giordano, I am a Community Counselor and Outreach Specialist for Live Another Day. After earning degrees in Community Counseling, Psychology, and Sociology, I have worked in a variety of clinical settings including an Inpatient Treatment Hospital, IOP treatment facility, and a Substance Abuse/Recovery Outpatient Treatment Center.

I am based in the U.S., I’m married, and I have a pet monitor lizard. My passion is to touch as many lives as possible, in a positive way. I am big on making impacts and my line of work helps me to make a difference in individual lives.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

I struggled with loneliness and depression.

The bad emotions that can arise when your demands for social interaction aren't met are referred to as loneliness. It's acceptable to occasionally cherish your alone time.

In fact, solitude may promote relaxation and recharging. You could require more alone time than another person to feel your best because everyone has varied needs for it.

However, loneliness and being alone are not nearly the same. You're less likely to feel negatively lonely or yearn for social interaction when you're enjoying your isolation. Loneliness and isolation frequently go hand in hand, and both can have an impact on physical and mental health.

As a psychologist, I'm aware that the terrible global problem of loneliness has evolutionary roots. Feelings of loneliness serve as a warning of isolation and remind us of the corresponding anguish. Lack of necessary social connections and lack of affection in existing social relationships are two characteristics of loneliness. 

As a result of my struggle with loneliness, I began to self-isolate. I felt hopeless and felt like interactions were a chore. Everything was an endless loop of routine and I could not wait for each day to end.

It started when the pandemic started. The lockdown didn’t help matters because it just gave me opportunities to be even more alone and lonely. 

I was initially in denial, but then it began to progress because I was nonchalant about it. 

It has its moment, I didn’t always let it show because I got better at hiding it until I couldn’t anymore.

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

At my worst moment, this struggle of loneliness had me feeling hopeless. I was in an endless loop of sadness and I didn’t feel like seeking help. 

I tried to hide it, but eventually, it began to show. My partner began to notice differences in my style, mood swings, wanting to be excluded from plans, and my endless need to cave in at any slightest discomfort.

Eventually, I began to feel like I was losing everything, including my mind. I felt like I was pushing everyone that mattered to me away. I began to realize that it wasn’t just about me and gradually, I began to open up more.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

My struggle impacted me for almost the entire year 2020. Towards the end of 2020, when the lockdown was getting bearable and more relaxed, that’s when I started to turn things around.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

One thing I did to overcome my struggle with loneliness was to volunteer and participate in community events. I volunteered at the children’s and youth center, and I helped to organize rewarding events. I made sure that my participation in these activities didn’t only distract me, but that it also felt rewarding.

It kept me motivated, it got me closer to people and I positively impacted the lives of others.

I also adopted a monitor lizard, it was a weird choice but I have not regretted it.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

I felt comfortable talking to my partner, but besides that, I only talked about it with very few of my trusted friends. 

I didn’t feel confident talking about it at work, because I was afraid that they’d gossip about it or talk about how hypocritical it was for a psychologist to get caught up in the same battle she helps others to fight. 

I’m now unashamed to share my struggles because when I meet someone with a similar struggle, my experience helps them to be comfortable and confident.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

I wish that people would be more understanding. I also wish that I didn’t hesitate for too long before seeking help. Now that I know the reason for my struggle, I wish that I didn’t let it get to me for so long.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing - This book explores the theme of loneliness through the lives and works of artists such as Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and David Wojnarowicz. Laing delves into the complexities of loneliness and how it can lead to a deeper understanding of the self and human connection.

It helped me to connect more with myself, explore the dynamics of my current relationships, and how my perception of loneliness depended on how I looked at it and what defined loneliness to me.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

People can find me here at Live Another Day.

💡 By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, we've condensed the information of 100's of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. 👇

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Hugo
Hugo Huijer Founder of Tracking Happiness

Hi! I'm from the Netherlands, love skateboarding, ran 5 marathons, with one of them in under 4 hours (3:59:58 to be exact). I consider myself to be a data junkie and have tracked my happiness for over 10 years.

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