When It Feels Like No One Knows You

Some of us, to some extent, have felt like no one really knows us. Maybe it is persistent, or it comes in intense waves. It could come after losing someone important to you or when you sit down alone surrounded by yourself. Regardless, when it surfaces, it is painful, better yet, excruciating. Maybe you have tons of friends and a wonderful family, but it still seems like no one really knows you. You are not alone. Other people feel the same way, and there is hope. There is a great depiction of this feeling in the show Mad Men.

The scene happens when Don breaks down after losing Anna. If you aren’t familiar with the show, Don Draper is the main character who plays a brilliant adman on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. He remains distant and shows very little emotional vulnerability throughout the show. He continues to shove people away that care for him and keep them at arm’s length.

Anna plays the wife who was married to the man that Don steals the identity of before the show takes place. She allows him to take the identity of her dead husband, knowing that he didn’t want to go back to war and wanted to start over from a past of being raised poor and brought up in a brothel. Through Anna’s kindness and support, Don is able to start over. Don doesn’t share this with anyone for several seasons of the show, so Anna is one of the only people that knows about that part of Don’s life.

The scene takes place in Don’s office when he receives a phone call while with arguably one of the closest people he knows post identity swap. During the phone call, the person on the phone tells him that Anna has died from cancer. It takes him a few moments, but after the phone call, he breaks into tears. You see the pain, grief, agony, and loneliness sweep across his face. He realizes that he has lost someone who knew of his past and loved him regardless. He knew that she hadn’t been drawn to him because of his current prosperity and status; rather, she supported him before he had accomplished anything. He hadn’t lost everything, but it felt like it. After being asked what was wrong, Don says, “Someone very important to me died…The only person in the world who really knew me.”

You may not have lost someone, but maybe you are acquainted with that feeling. Sometimes it doesn’t seem obvious as to why you feel that way. You might have plenty of friends and great family members but still feel alone and unknown. After a while it can build, and the usual conversations and relationships may not seem like enough. You want more and don’t know where to find it or how to get it. Other times it is obvious why you feel that way. Maybe you don’t have many people to talk to, and you feel forgotten.

The antidote to this feeling is genuine deep connection. Tim Keller, a public speaker and retired NYC-based pastor, describes this well:

“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is…. what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.”

The pain is real and the satisfaction from connection runs deep. There can be a strong temptation to keep pieces of yourself hidden from everyone. If you hide the bullying you went through in school, the bad divorce you experienced, or the guilt from the way you have treated people in the past, people can’t judge you or treat you differently for it. You can keep things from people and, in fact, sometimes you should. However, the feeling of loneliness and being unknown can start to creep in the more that you hold painful things in.

Don is an excellent example of this. He keeps his identity and past a secret from most people throughout the show. No one knows of his painful and ugly past except for Anna. She was the one person he could turn to that knew and cared for him unconditionally. There is a strong sense of relief that comes from showing someone everything and then having them love and care for you despite your ugliness.

Make time to share with people that you know are trustworthy. A supportive and encouraging ear can be transformative. This isn’t something that will go away overnight, but with the right people and willingness to share, it won’t hold as much power.

If this feeling persists more often than not and doesn’t seem to go away, then seek professional help from a local counselor or psychiatrist. This could be a symptom of depression. With the right care you can move forward and find healing.


Why Relationships Are Important

Why Relationships Are Important

Whether you struggle with anxiety, anger, stress, perfectionism, depression, or anything in between, there is hope.  Developing more healthy relationships, or transforming current relationships into more healthy and positive ones, is a big piece of the healing process. This oftentimes means fighting the feeling of loneliness and I won’t pretend that it’s easy. It’s not. In fact, it’s really hard at times. Creating or maintaining healthy relationships in our society today has become more difficult than saying no to Girl Scout cookies. We are constantly being dragged from one thing to the next with little to no time to develop relationships. In order to make relationships work, they need quite a bit of time and effort. In order for them to get time and effort, most of us need to know that they are going to pay out. Is the time spent investing in relationships able to produce a high return on investment?

Relationships and Your Physical Health

The proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a study suggesting the number and quality of social relationships a person has impacts their health just as much as diet and exercise. Having less quality relationships has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, and other serious health concerns across different parts of a person’s lifespan. The mortality rate for older adults significantly increases the less a person is socially connected, and the risk for obesity among adolescents significantly increases the less they are socially connected.

The physical response to being less connected to people is burdensome. Not only can it decrease your lifespan, but it can also affect your quality of life.

Relationships and Your Mental Health

Not only is a lack of relationships bad for your physical heath, but loneliness has a negative impact on your mental health as well. Loneliness has been linked to depression and increases a person’s risk of committing suicide. Loneliness can also increase stress and decrease motivation which can make it incredibly difficult to cope with everyday stressors and accomplish tasks.

Living life without meaningful relationships is hard. It becomes more difficult to deal with the hard times and enjoy the good ones.

If there is one thing worth adding to the top of your to-do list, connecting with people should be that thing. Make sure to invest time in people that are important to you and possibly even creating new relationships. If you notice that most of the things you set aside time for throughout the week are tasks related to work or running errands, and you end most weeks feeling stressed out and empty, then commit to taking some time to nurture and build relationships. That could be taking your spouse on a date, or going out with friends. Regardless of how you do it, make an effort to connect. If loneliness is something that you struggle with often and don’t see a way out, then reach out to a professional for help.

4 Ways To Navigate The Depression Fog

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Dealing with depression isn’t easy. Approximately 1 in 10 Americans reports suffering from depression which means over 32 million people in the US report having depression.

It can be one of the most crippling psychological problems to deal with. At its worst, depression can keep you in bed running thoughts through your mind like “What’s the point in living anymore?” or “No one will care if I’m gone, so why should I continue living with this pain?” At its best, it can steal joyful moments away from you leaving you with little motivation throughout the day.

Navigating depression is difficult, but there is hope although it may seem impossible to grasp. Luckily there are ways to deal with depression and escape the painful grip of its symptoms.


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1. Give Yourself Permission to Feel

One of the most challenging parts of depression is that you can begin to turn on yourself. Sometimes it can feel like you are being a drag for no reason. Maybe you have more than most people and you still aren’t satisfied. Maybe you feel like you will never be enough. Maybe you live in fear of being exposed as a failure. What the heck is the matter with you?

Well, you’re depressed. Depression is hard for any person to deal with. Some of the strongest and most confident people I know have struggled with severe depression for long periods of time. To feel bad about feeling bad leads to a cycle that can get worse with time. By allowing yourself to feel things like sadness, loneliness, and discouragement you are giving yourself permission to be human. Those feelings are helpful and used to signal the need for connection and support.

The more a person denies the feelings of depression, the longer it takes to realize that they can use help and support. The longer it takes to realize that you can use support, the longer you are stuck in the cycle of depression.


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2. Get Out and Eat Right

Get out of the house. There is growing research that supports exercising at least 20 – 30 minutes a day can significantly reduce depressive symptoms.

Some research suggests that exercise has comparable effects to reducing depressive symptoms as depression medications. Exercise is a great way to fight depression, but getting out of the house in general, whether it be hanging out with friends or taking a walk around the park, can help keep depressive symptoms at bay.

Not only will getting exercise help with fighting depression, but so will eating right. Staying away from foods that are processed and high in fat can help you avoid feeling sluggish or suffering from the crash that comes from eating refined sugars.

Relevant Reading:


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3. Make Connections and Establish Support

Another difficult part of depression is feeling alone. No matter how many people you interact with in a day, you can still feel like no one is there for you. It can seem as if no one can understand what you are going through, or worse, no one cares to understand. Ironically, even if you do have people in your life who care, because of the depression, you push them away which leaves you feeling more isolated and depressed.

Making attempts at pushing through the feelings of isolation and connecting with a few people can help tremendously. It is important to share your feelings of depression with people you trust. If you are not used to sharing your feelings, pick one person that you trust and share with them a summary (maybe two to three sentences) of how you are feeling. You might be surprised by their response. I wouldn’t expect immediate relief from the depressive symptoms, but over time, as you build more trust with someone and allow yourself to share more, healing happens.


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4. Seek a Professional

If you have been dealing with depression for a while now and feel like you are just spinning your wheels trying to find relief from your depression, then seek out professional help. Therapists are trained to help people who struggle with depression. They go through years of training, and some have years of experience in helping people journey through their depression to find hope and healing. One of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself is therapy when struggling with something as difficult as depression.

Depression is incredibly painful, but there is hope. Fighting depression involves using every bit of energy that you have. Some ways of fighting depression are easier than others. Picking out healthy food at a grocery store is certainly easier than running a few miles or trying to grow relationships, but eating well is a step in the right direction. Every step towards fighting depression matters no matter how small or large the step. Keep pushing forward.

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