Loneliness, isolation and the light within the darkness A seventeenth-century English author named John Donne once wrote the phrase, “No man is an island, entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” The meaning behind those words implies that no one is self-sufficient, everyone relies upon others to live & human beings do not thrive when isolated from others. And those words couldn’t be more true in today’s modern society. Well, my name is Hannah. And I’ve been dealing with loneliness & isolation for the past 10+ years of my life. I have Aspergers Syndrome (A form of Autism) & anxiety, so things haven’t been easy for me from the beginning. I’ve always had a difficult time making friends, communicating my thoughts & feelings effectively to others and handling stressful situations. However, on the bright-side through my writing/blog I try to provide my own unique perspective of the world. Back in the Winter of 2015/early 2016 I took part in the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust’s ‘Get On Track’ programme, and those few months changed my life for the better. Through having the support from mentors such as Michelle Griffith-Robinson & Jimmy Corbett as well as having other people around me who were going through the same situation as I was; it helped me realise that I wasn’t alone anymore. Months after I finished the ‘Get On Track’ programme I wrote about my experience on my blog (You can read about my experience here). And not long afterwards it was picked up by the media department at the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust. They were interested in telling my story & working with them on a campaign about loneliness in young people. I instantly jumped at the chance to work with them & I was grateful that my story was going to be told; and through doing so it could make a difference in other people’s lives. Over the next few months (during Summer/Autumn 2016) I worked alongside the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and told them my story. On a mild day in August I even took part in a photo-shoot for promotional images to include in ‘My Story’ & I found out months later that I would be one of the faces for their loneliness in young people campaign. Loneliness is something I know a lot about, I’ve been dealing with it for a good portion of my life. Whilst growing up & during my teenage years at school I got bullied a lot and I didn’t have a good support system around me to help me through it. My way of handling it all was to keep my head down, focus on my studies & isolate myself from everyone else; and that changed me. Years afterwards and even today, I still sometimes have trouble trusting people. There are times where I close myself off, I only trust myself & I don’t say how I feel because I don’t want to be a burden to others. The Dame Kelly Holmes Trust recently published research which found that in today’s modern society 7 out of 10 young people suffer from loneliness. When I first read that figure I was surprised, to know that so many young people like myself are suffering in this way is terrible. (You can read the full article with the facts/figures about this here) Here’s a message for not just young people, but for everyone. You are not alone in your struggles, for there’s always people around you that can support you even in the lowest moments of your life. Even on the coldest & darkest of nights, there is light within the darkness; there is always hope that things can get better. My story is proof of this, that by being myself & having support from others it can really make a difference in someone’s life. Over the past year I’ve been working on my writing, volunteering twice a week with The British Heart Foundation, I’ve been more social through playing table-top RPGs with friends & I’m in a relationship with someone who’s always been supportive of what I’ve been doing right from day one. (You can read about ‘My Story’ here) To anyone suffering from loneliness & isolation, if you can please find someone to talk to. I know it isn’t easy for everyone, but by talking to someone about what you’re going through (whether it’s family, a friend or even a complete stranger) you can get the support you need and in turn it can change your life for the better.