Do you feel like there is a barrier between you and the rest of the world, like you are shut in with your problems, and shut out from the rest of the world?

  • Are you afraid to go out?
  • Are you allowed to go out?
  • Or are you just plain lonely?
  • If you feel lonely or isolated, try to figure out why.
  • Is it how you feel inside or are other people giving you good reason to feel like no-one cares?
  • Are you just shut in with your problems, can't see a way out and feel like you are the only one?
  • Are you being shut out, or kept in? 

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can escalate into depression and thinking life is not worth living. Friends and family may not realise how you are feeling so you need to deal with it so you can get on with your life. Whatever your situation, there will be other people just like you somewherefeeling the same way, other people who have been there and got through it, and people who do understand and want to help.

What can you do about it?

Well, first of all you can tell someone.

If you feel really bad then seek medical help - you may already be depressed, be suffering from agrophobia if you are afraid to go out, or have other problems with your mental health which you can get help to deal with. See a doctor and explain how you feel before it gets worse.

Can you talk to anyone at home, a teacher, school counsellor, social worker, any adult you can trust and who might be able to help you? There are also many places you can find someone to listen to you, in person, on the phone, on the internet. Childline and the Samaritans are there for you 24/7. There are other places locally like Centre 33 in Cambridge and we list others in Rough stuff remedies.

Do you feel left out and uncared for? Maybe the people around you are so busy they don't realise how you feel and would want to do something to make you feel better if they realised. Sometimes people are thoughtless rather than badly intentioned. Try explaining how they are making you feel, without sounding like you are blaming them.

If you feel you have no friends and don't feel you have the chance to make any right now, think about things you could do and places you could go where there are other people who will make you welcome - join something, a club, a sports team, an out of school class or hobby, a gym, or become a volunteer. This is also good for finding people who share your interests, or for you to find new ones. If you need some ideas for this sort of thing, Connexions is a good place to start, the Volunteer bureaux will help you find somewhere to be useful, and the local council can tell you about sports and youth facilities provided by them.

If you are shy this is a good strategy too as it is hard to ignore people when you are joining in, having fun or doing something useful with. If you think your people skills are a bit lacking, read being a friend and take on board how to make friends and what being a friend means. If you want a friend. be a friend.

If you feel somehow different to other young people around you, and this makes you feel isolated from them, think about why this is - is it a cultural or language thing? Could you improve your language skills and integrate more, whilst finding other people in your community who are like you too? If discrimination is leaving you outside and feeling lonely, find out what to do. If it's just that you're not in the with "in" crowd, get some tips for dealing with peer pressure.

Is it to do with disability or illness which makes it hard for you to do the same things as other people your age? There may be groups who are there for people like you and you just have to find them.  If you are actually afraid of going out, you might be suffering from agrophobia and need to seek professional help and treatment.

If you are a young carer and spend a lot of your time looking after someone else including having to do housework or other chores, you might be comfortable getting together with other young carers. Find out what help you can get to get support and a break.  

If you're in care you might feel isolated from your family and friends from before. If you can't talk to your foster carers, tell your social worker about it and see if they can help you keep in contact with people who matter to you, and help you to feel more comfortable in your new surroundings.

If you've been in trouble with the law, you might well feel different and a bit isolated. Don't struggle alone, get some help to get back into society and make friends who will help you stay out of trouble.

If you've left home or run away read about where you can get support and how to get in touch with your family if you want to, as well as how to cope away from home if you have gone away to work or study. If you are at university there will be a counselling service who are used to people feeling overwhelmed and lonely when they first leave home and find themselves alone amongst so many others.

Maybe you are not being shut out by other people, but kept in. If you are a virtual prisoner in your own home for any reason other than your own safety, tell someone you can trust or call one of the helplines. In extreme cases you might be able to live somewhere else. We're not talking about being grounded here, but about being deliberately prevented from having any social life or choice in who you see or where you go. This is a form of abuse when it becomes total control rather than a parent keeping a way eye on what you are up to.

There is nothing as good as face to face, real live friends, but the internet does make it possible for you to interact with other people if you are physically isolated from them for any reason. Make sure you know how to manage your life online safely by reading online and mobile safety. There is more than MSN or facebook to having friends online - there are chat rooms and forums on a lot of the sites aimed at teens which are mentioned in GTRT, and they are there for fun not just for sharing problems. There are also things to do, competitions and games, and ways you can help - another good way to make friends. However, if you find your only friends are online, it's time to take stock and get out somehow, somewhere, sometime!


The page was last updated on 10 June 2014 by andrea.bateman.

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