I feel so lonely.

Did you know it’s possible to feel completely alone even when you have someone with you at all times? If you do, and you’re anything like me, you’re fighting an internal battle that no amount of medicine or counseling can mend right now.

I am more alone now as a stay-at-home mom during quarantine than I was a single woman fresh out of college. My husband is home with us and while I don’t forget to count our blessings for this, it feels like he just . . . exists. He’s as lifeless as I am. He’s a roommate who gets his snacks and goes off to work or the home office, or who eats his dinner silently while messing around on his phone. He hardly speaks.

My toddler, on the other hand, talks all day.

I mean it. For 15 hours a day, he is whining, crying, singing, talking, shouting, and making all kinds of noise. There is no second for a peaceful train of thought. He accompanies me to the bathroom, pantry, mailbox, laundry roomyou name it. He’s there. Shouldn’t I be praying for a moment of definitive loneliness?

But the lonely I feel isn’t about the number of bodies in my homeit’s isolation in my spirit.

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When the stay-at-home issue was ordered, I was overjoyed for all the household projects we would accomplish, and the togetherness I would feel for our family.

Those household projects? Can we take a moment to mourn the idea that never came to fruition? The only project getting done around here is changing into new pajamas each day. Togetherness? We . . . watch movies together?

Why am I like this? Is it because I’m tired? Mentally fried? Depressed? Bored? Hopeless?

I’m all of these things, but primarily, I am lonely. I feel unwanted.

Frankly, we all are a bit unwanted right now given the crisis in our nation. I’m required to sit back, sit tight, and not go out in public. My husband has admitted honestly that he wants space from me, too. And my toddler voices his sadness for wanting to see his friends. Even he’s lonely with me around all day. But I get it. I crave human connection and this cosmic energy I get when I’m with other people. 

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As a person who struggles constantly with anxiety and depression, the mental load on my heart and mind has created this cloud that hovers over my body from the moment I get out of bed. Social interaction, fun experiences, and seeing others around me normally overshadow the doubts of inadequacy I feel about myself. It gives me a sense of worth and brings sunshine into the parts of me that are dark.

I feel like I have no purpose now.

The days are blended together, and there is no absolution headed my way for this hollow mindset. Psychologists did a study yielding that loneliness is just as unhealthy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It wreaks havoc on your body. It’s immensely difficult to overcome. After two months of being at home, in what feels like a prison, I feel addicted to this loneliness. I love my family, and I know I’m doing them a disservice by being unappreciative of their company.

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So if you’re at home wondering how having your kids and husband around nonstop could still make you feel alone, you aren’t crazy.

Your feelings are real.  

It’s OK to need more. My heart misses crowds of strangers, cars on the street, family and friends. I miss quality time. I miss other people’s embraces. I hope to appreciate this loneliness when the pandemic is over and use it as a driving force to reconnect with everyone. I hope this detachment from the outside world calls us to be closer and to always remember how crucial human interaction and a sense of belonging is to battling mental illness. We need all the pieces to feel whole.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.