2017 – The age of technology and 24-hour connectivity. We’ve never been so social, so it seems. But why do so many of us feel lonely?

I know it’s not just our community, but it’s increasingly common for gay men to feel isolated and alone. Match these feelings with anxiety and depression, and they can be an extremely dangerous combination.

It’s all too easy to go from the hustle of a busy social/work life, to being stuck at home without any real interaction. So a lot of us take to social media to fill that void, but it really isn’t the same. A digital life is no replacement for reality.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I probably use it too much, but I use it quite a bit for work so it’s a double edged sword. Does it really help when we’re feeling low or does it make it worse? I think the answer is different for each and every one of us.

Social media can be a great tool and a lot of fun. The countless memes, funny cat videos and hilarious posts. But it can also come with a price… It can be so easy to find ourselves comparing our lives to others, equating likes to being valued or accepted. Sometimes you have to step away from your phone for your own mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health isn’t just about depression. It’s about keeping yourself in good shape, not letting the daily grind bring you down or chip away at your happiness. It can be so easy to let negativity into your head, the opinions of others or what’s going on in the world.

Speaking from my own experience I know how soul destroying loneliness can be. I live a busy life and meet a lot of people along the way, but I still get incredibly lonely.

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I live alone, I’m single and my days of being out every night are over. I’ve had some low moments, feeling very isolated. It’s so easy to pour everything into your work but forget about having a life. It can be a slippery slope so it’s important to spot those feelings and do something about them before it goes too far. One thing you have to remind yourself of is there are a lot of others out there feeling the same way.

It doesn’t matter what your social status is, how much money you earn or how well you’re doing, we can all get lonely.

It’s so important to have people around you that you can trust, open up to and speak honestly with. There’s no shame in having these feelings. We all get them, we all need to process and learn from them.

I know it’s easier said than done, as real, honest connections can be hard to find. A lot of us get hurt and this can cause us to close ourselves off emotionally. But we’re human, we need interaction and we need intimacy.

We’re fortunate to be part of a community that has so much to offer. You don’t have to go out to bars and clubs to socialise anymore. There are hundreds of groups across the UK LGBT+ community. From dance groups, gaming, sports, social, networking and so much more.

You don’t even need to socialise to maintain a happy mind. Find something you love doing, start running, join a mindfulness course. There are so many ways to battle loneliness, isolation and mental health worries.

If you’re feeling lonely, find a local group or reach out to someone you trust. Take that first step and see where it leads. It can be too easy to suffer in silence. Take it from someone who has been there and come out of the other side. Sometimes the only limitations we face are the ones we put on ourselves.

Look after yourself… You’re important and you deserve to be happy.

Follow Tom on Twitter – @TJ_Knight

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