Fifty Shades of Grey

6 Feb 2019

"Sorry, what was that?"

I looked up from my minute taking. 'Practice manager to book community room and email members to confirm date...'

Trish looked at me encouragingly. "I said that perhaps you would be happy to take the lead on this educational event: Loneliness and Depression. After all, you are the mental health representative on the panel." She means the Patient Participation Group of our local GP surgery, for which I am Minute Secretary.

I mentally smacked myself around the head to remove the frozen-rabbit-in-the-headlights look of terror from my face and forced a competent looking smile.

"Yes – I'd be happy to take that on." I said, and surreptitiously felt my nose to make sure it wasn't growing. "I'll just draft up a flyer and send it out for you to take a look..."

Gulp. So – that's what I've been doing today: playing with text boxes and colours and fonts and trying to make an event on loneliness and depression sound enticing.

Trish didn't think much of my title, Loneliness and Depression. "But it does what it says on the box!" I protested.

"I think we need something catchier."

"Um – how about "Insert your name here is perfectly fine"? You know, after that Eleanor Oliphant book? Where she's so lonely she doesn't even realise she's lonely?"

I got a patient, understanding look. "I don't think many of our patients will have read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

"Well, they should," I grumbled. "Our book club read it. It's a wonderful book." I got the Look again. I know what she means: I must consider our patient demographic. Members of book clubs are in a minority in our practice catchment area. It may be a small market town, but for various historical reasons, we have inner city problems.

So, I thought about the reasons for loneliness and the ways that loneliness can lead to depression and feed off it, so that it becomes a vicious cycle.

Battling loneliness is not as simple as just saying, "Get out more! Join a few clubs. Make friends." We know that is just the equivalent of saying, "Pull Yourself Together!" and is worse than useless.

But – I am woefully short of ideas. I am lucky enough to have a loving family, good friends, a supportive network on Facebook, great colleagues. And – all the people in my head, who I'd love to spend more time with if only I had more time. So – I don't feel I can talk about being lonely.

But, maybe some of you are or have been lonely. How do you deal with it? Have you overcome it, or do you struggle still? And, how strongly is it linked to your depression?

So please will you help me to help the patients of my local surgery? Help me understand. Log in and leave a comment; I'd be so grateful.

At least I've got my title, Fifty Shades of Grey – Loneliness and Depression. What do you think? Catchy, eh?


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