Loneliness doesn't always mean being alone. I'm an introvert. I need a decent amount of alone time. I meditate, I read, I write, I color in my coloring books, I watch bad Hallmark movies and House Hunters episodes, like I did last weekend when all I needed to do was nothing. But those are the moments I choose to be alone. I want to be spending time with me, myself, and I because I need to recharge from people-ing. I need to talk to nobody but my dog, and only when I feel like it, because she can't initiate. Loneliness happens when you don't choose to be alone, desperately wish you were not, but are anyways. Loneliness happens when all you want is another human being to share things with, to do things with, or even to just sit there and talk and listen, and yet everyone has something else they need to do and somewhere else they have to be. Sure, you could do things on your own, but that only accentuates the loneliness when you already feel this way. Have you ever desperately wanted to spend time with someone (either a specific someone or in general) and you decide to suck it up and go out and explore alone? There's a chance it might lift your spirits. You may bump into someone you know doing the same thing and pair up. But you're also surrounded by couples and groups of friends, by families with little kids that you don't have but wish you did. Everyone looks ten times happier and you feel ten times more miserable. Is it worth the risk?
When you battle depression, and you feel so isolated from the world, so different, so misunderstood or completely not understood at all, being lonely is torturous. It only emphasizes the feeling of isolation. Your depressed brain tells you that you're not enough. Nobody wants you. And no matter how much people tell you that's not true, when you find the courage to say "Ok, well, then could you spend time with me because I desperately need human contact" they reply, "Oh I'd love to but...." And you realize you're not more important than they're "but". Or whatever it is, they can't change it for you, at least not this time. And then someone says something like "You should learn to do things alone" like you don't already enjoy doing things on your own. Like you haven't explored cities and countries on your own form days or weeks at a time. And then someone else says something ridiculous like, "Isn't your Great Aunt Hilda having that party at the retirement home." And you say "well... yes". And they reply with something stupid like "See you could have plans, you just don't want to go, you're just being picky." And you say "Well that's only because Aunt Hilda and her 95 year old friends can't physically get away from me quickly enough to not let me join." Because nothing is more pathetic than having to hang out with Great Aunt Hilda and her 95 year old friends because they're the only people who can't physically avoid you. (For the record I don't have a Great Aunt Hilda or any Great Aunts in the area). Or a friend says on Facebook, "If I were there I would hang out with you" and this doesn't help at all and just annoys the heck out of you because they live half way across the country or the world. And you're still alone, and lonely, and whether or not they wish they could be there isn't the issue. It's that they aren't. Nobody is. Except maybe Great Aunt Hilda but not if she could help it.
Depression is awful. Loneliness is terrible and terrifying. Both can warp your mind. They can whisper things to you that people tell you are lies, but feel so true. They tell you that nobody wants to be around you, or not enough to make sure you're not alone. They tell you that you aren't enough. They tell you that if you were, you wouldn't be alone when you're begging people not to leave you alone. You feel like you can't get through them. Like you can't physically, mentally, or emotionally manage to. Nor should you have to. Not again. But you do. Because this is life with depression. I don't have an answer. But I do have an offer. If you live near by, and you ever feel the awful grip of loneliness and depression that you can't bear, and nobody else is around, reach out to me. Because I know how it feels. I will not give you platitudes or cliches or "helpful" suggestions that aren't at all helpful. But I will truly do everything in my power to make sure you don't have to bear it a moment longer.