by – Kai, lead somatic sexologist
October 8th to 15th is mental health week which coincides with this blog.
I started writing this blog article after viewing the SBS documentary, the “Age of Loneliness”, but stopped as I didn’t know exactly how to approach the topic. I’ve played an active role in the acute care stages of mental health emergencies, and previously suffered my own uneasiness relating to trauma and workplace stress. When writing about loneliness it really made me take a good look at myself, the people around me, and seriously question how loneliness may affect myself. Let’s face it – we all need someone to talk to. At some stage in our lives we are going to experience a degree of mental discomfort. We may also be lonely at that time in our lives. We are only human. Sometimes we cope really well, and other times it’s OK not to. What is important though, is when to recognise that you need to get help and how to get it.
As a somatic sexologist and sexological bodyworker I work with people’s sexual disembodiment. Many people’s sexual disembodiment stems from mental health concerns. Often such persons are not in touch with what they are truly feeling, and are unable to explore their feelings safely. In particular, sexual problems that are experiential. A healthy sexuality that includes (self-love – masturbation, partnered love, intimacy and connections) are all part of your sexual wellbeing. If you are not sexually healthy how can you be happy? Many people suffer in silence. Medications for depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders can also play havoc on your sex life and create immense sexual and emotional discomfort.
So loneliness is an important issue as any to address this mental health week. After watching the documentary I realised that the epidemic of loneliness is something we as humans have created. It’s affecting peoples mental and physical health. We no longer communicate and support each other in the way that it is beneficial to us.
Technology can have damaging and negative effects on our expectations of others and experiences in relationships. You only have to look at dating websites/chat application technology such Tinder, e-Harmony, Grindr, Scruff etc. Of course these can also be part of positive experiences, however what happens when you just want to talk to someone and the technology you are using is limited. What happens if the short yes/no responses of random chat are not alleviating the loneliness for you? Or what if you don’t have access to such technology at all? Is this our only avenue?
Loneliness is a confronting reality for many of us. It is silent because people don’t talk about it. Given that there are so many lonely people in the world why are we not meeting each other forming friendships, relationships and communities. What’s preventing this? When making my deliberations about loneliness I have decided to feel into my body. What do I feel after listening to these peoples stories? I feel a lot of emotional hurt that might be responsible for impacting societies loneliness. I feel for many people life has not given them the necessary skills to be resilient enough when it comes to loneliness. Human contact was meant to be interpersonal, face to face, touch to touch, emotion to emotion, community to community.
So to alleviate loneliness we as people and communities need to make small gestures of kindness to each other. These gestures may only be small, but will greatly impact those who are lonely. Put yourself out there in communities. Make your own community with like-minded people. Keep an eye out for one another. Say hello to someone you wouldn’t normally say hello to. Feel into it. Talk to your mates and look them in the eyes and ask them is everything OK? Go on give someone a hug.
If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please dial 000 now or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you have a mental health concern, please contact your medical practitioner to discuss how you may benefit from a mental health plan and access a psychologist. If your mental health is effecting your sexual wellness why not reach out to Polysoma.
Peace and love to you all.