Author Topic: Coping with loneliness  (Read 242 times)

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Offline Badger55

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Coping with loneliness
« on: May 13, 2019, 06:14:41 AM »
It is now over two years since Simon died, and I am really struggling with coping with loneliness.  I have no family. I am 60, work full-time, a home owner, go to the gym, love gardening and have a cat.  I see friends at the gym for coffee and occasionally go out for meals.  Yet all of this is no compensation for the feelings of abandonment and loneliness I feel inside, especially when I am home alone in the evenings and at weekends.

I am not convinced that I am suffering from depression, I just feel so terribly alone.  I go online to try and find help in dealing with these feelings, but most resources I find suggest ‘reaching out to family and friends’, but I do not have such resources.  Also, that there is a lot of online advice aimed at young people.  What I want is just to feel OK about being so alone.  I Googled CBT for loneliness, which seems to focus on building self-esteem so that you can go out and make friends.  I do not suffer from low self-esteem and know that at 60 years, the circle of friends that I have is probably complete.

I do not want to go to my GP and be offered medication, given a leaflet, or be told about groups that meet during working hours that I cannot, and probably do not want to attend.

Is there anything available for people to help them cope in this situation following bereavement please?

Offline Karena

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2019, 11:35:17 AM »
Hi Badger.
I can relate to what you are saying it seems that we are at a difficult age - lots going on for retirees but all before we finish work. - I,m not a joiner of things anyway,as i do have self confidence issues - social anxiety disorder - and like you have work and garden, but  long empty evenings especially in winter -and most weekends go from friday to monday without speaking to anyone and dont work in a job that has much social interaction either  - i am agraphic designer the only female working for a company that lives on planet computer speak -  I do have familly but they dont live nearby.

I dont know whether there are things specifically for people who are lonely due to bereavement there certainly isnt where i live, this site  helped me a lot though because here everyone is suffering the effects of bereavement - but we also find other things in common and have everyday chat section where those things that you would once have gone home and talked about can be written - often it is the little things like that which throw us - i am 8 years along after losing my husband and still only a few weeks ago made coffee for both of us on autopilot.
When i first came here i never imagined i would use the laughing emojie but i do.Our own associated facebook group arrange meets in different areas between them selves so thats another place you could look. 
 I think it very much depends where in the country you are, there was one lady here who found a place called stepping stones, she was in Sheffield but again an older lady so i dont know if it was daytime - i think they generally met up for coffee etc and organised going to the cinema or theatre together. So i would try looking in your area for something.


You could also maybe try looking for volunteer opportunities in your area, it wouldnt be bereavement related unless you wanted to train to be a counsellor, but an opportunity to meet new people - there is allsorts not just charity shops - community gardens might be an area of interest to you perhaps. There is a database called doit.org - you put your postcode in and it gives you a list of places looking for volunteers.
 
My only other sugestion would be doing something educational - i started doing free online courses which lead to me then doing some voluntary design work -
it still leaves me home alone so to speak but at least i feel i am doing something worth while -futurelearn do all sorts of these courses - some are paid but there is a lighter free version of them too - you follow the course but communicate with fellow students via a comments section - I did a creative writing one and the others on it created a facebook group - i think a few have met up as well.

My mum who was also widowed in her early 60,s did nightclasses with other people and made friends that way - it doesnt have to be education as in career style she didnt want or need that, but something you are interested in -because that interest is a common starting point fo conversations with new people. Sh did architecture then when she retired topped it up to degree level with u3a - but there were field trips and residentials which was an opportunity for her to go away on holiday as well so to speak.


Offline Sandra61

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2019, 11:37:16 AM »
Hello and welcome, Badger55! Not sure if you are new here of if I just don't recognise the name! Hi anyway! :hug:

I can relate to what you describe as I am in a similar position to you. I don't have any family either, am 58, work part-time, so am home alone even more than you are and have a cat that visits! I had never lived alone until my mum died about nineteen months ago, so I do notice the difference now. I find coming home to an empty house hard and a little depressing and sometimes wish I had some company at home too, although I don't mind being on my own too much most of the time. I tend to be one of those people who can always find something to do, but I do wish I had someone to talk to sometimes. I miss that and the presence of someone else in the house. It does feel very empty with only me here now.

I find the first thing I do when I get up now is switch on the radio, so that I can hear people talking and then switch it to music if I'm not interested in what they are discussing. Sometimes I leave the light on when the evenings are dark so that I'm not coming home to a dark house. Also, I still talk to my mum and dad out loud at home and to myself sometimes! I suppose these  are some of the ways I cope with being at home on my own. But yes, it is a bit lonely.

I know some people use the chatroom on this website for virtual company. You could try that to help break up the monotony, but I don't think there is an easy answer. I know there are bereavement support groups. You could try joining one of those and might find some answers from amongst those attending, but I think it is largely, just a matter of building a new life; introducing new things into your life to spike your enthusiasm and catch your interest. These things will help lift your mood and improve things for you.

The best thing I have found that helps with loneliness in the evenings is that I joined a class. I'm not a gym person. I find the gym very boring. I tried it, but it's not for me. Instead, I go to a ballroom/latin dance class two or three nights a week. I am extremely grateful that I found it and was brave enough to join, as I think this was what saved me and stopped me sliding into depression after mum died. I found I could not think about anything else and was just getting more and more depressed. I knew I had to do something to try to stop that from happening and so I found this class.

I've been going for a little over a year now. I usually go once a week at least and often two or three times a week. I really find it helps a lot with loneliness. I have met some lovely people there who do text and phone me outside of classes and who understand about loss and have been very supportive, more so than existing friends and family, so that has been helpful from both the perspectives of grieving and of loneliness.

The dancing itself is great exercise and has improved my physical condition, toning me up and giving me more energy, helping me lose weight and exercising my mind as well as my body. Also I think it has improved my balance and strengthened my muscles. It also improves your mental state by making you learn new skills and think about the steps and routines. It releases endorphins that make you feel happier and dancing does in any case, just make you happy. Add to that that it is a social activity and that as learners, we make lots of mistakes,  :rofl: and we end up laughing a lot and chatting a lot when we run out of steam, so it all combines to give you a lot of fun and a great night out, so I always come home with a smile on my face, feeling like I've had a good time!

It only goes on for two or three hours a night and you can leave when you please, so you don't have to stay for the whole time, but it also tires you out, so you sleep better too. It makes the loneliness at home much less pressing, as I have something to look forward to and know I have somewhere to go a couple of times a week that I will enjoy and has improved the quality of my life beyond recognition compared to how it was after mum died and before I started going, so, for me, it was the answer. I can bear being on my own the rest of the week, even enjoy it a little, as I know I won't be doing that every night.

There are still times when tears well up and I can feel the lack of anyone's presence pressing in on me, but I just have to accept that this is my life now and remind myself of the things in it that are still good and that I have to accept that this is how it is now and it really is not so bad. I suppose life is what you make it, so you have to make is as good as you can.

You may or may not like the idea of dancing, but there may be some kind of equivalent that would suit you. A friend of mine who lost both his parents recently decided to join a cookery class and that seems to be helping him too. He is cooking different things at home and enjoying experimenting with that and likes having those classes to look forward to going to as well. There must be some classes that run in the evening in other subjects too. Churches often run evening meetings and activities too, so that might be another option, if you are a church-goer.

It is good to take up a new interest and have something to occupy your thoughts other than everyday life and your loss and have something to look forward to doing and somewhere to look forward to going. Also the people you meet can become really good friends and, as I say, they text and phone me outside classes, so that breaks up the monotony at home too.

I'm not sure what else to suggest, but I do really feel that having this life outside of work has helped me no end and I would not be without it now. I am still on my own at home, but not every night. Even when I am, I practice dancing some steps at home and have all the usual chores to do too, but the fact that I know I am not going to be in on my own every night really helps and encourages me to enjoy the time that I am. Does that sound odd? Well, that's how it feels.

I have the TV on in the evenings for background noise, if nothing else. I'm sorting through cupboards, trying to sort through my mum's things and doing all the usual everyday paperwork, when I am in, but knowing I will have dancing coming up, makes all that more bearable and less depressing.

Does any of this help? I hope so. There is more to life than work and home. You could consider going out somewhere other than the gym at least one night a week and somewhere that will involve you not just doing whatever it is on your own, as going to the gym does, in my experience. It really does help break up the time you do have to spend on your own and really lifts your mood and the way you feel about this new life you have had thrust upon you. I am biased, so I would recommend dancing beyond any other activity, but I know it's  not for everyone. However, from my point of view, there really is nothing better. My mum always loved it too in her younger day and always talked about it a lot, so I feel she would have approved. I usually tell my mum and dad I am off to dancing when I go and invite them along, if only to watch! A bit mad perhaps, but it makes sense to me!

Life on your own. There are no easy answers, but I think you have to seek out what will work for you and once you find it, life feels much better. I did consider joining a choir. Singing makes you happy too. Some of those run in the evening, but am so glad I went with the dancing!

Good luck, Badger55! Have a look around. There must be something else you can go out and do at least once a week, if not more. It really does help to get out, especially if the activity has some kind of social aspect to it. :hearts:

Offline green dragon

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2019, 11:19:41 PM »
Hi Badger, so your problem seems loneliness in the evenings and at the weekend? I wonder if you are specifically missing the companionship of a partner, rather than that of friends, which you seem to have?

When I saw you had a cat I thought, well, what more do you need of an evening?! ;-) but it's different for everyone. I have cats and they do the trick for me but maybe you like to see the lights on when you come home, someone to hear puttering around the house, someone to watch telly with and to have a quite meal with, go for a walk without feeling you have to constantly enterain with chatter - things like that.

If you just want interesting chatter that is not the telly, there are lots of podcasts these days online, a format of which I am a fan. Some of the podcasters are very thorough and interesing, and I like listening to hear my views shared about this subject or that, or to learn something new.

I have also enjoyed nature walks; if you persist on going, you will find that a large number of people are open to having short chats, and some return as well, and you can possibly make new acquaintances, if not friends. Now that the weather is getting warmer and the days longer, you can take a walk in the evening - provided your neighbourhood is safe and you're not allergic to pollen. Walks do tend to be refreshing. I also recommend city breaks, if you're in shape. A short change of scenery can recharge you - unless you don't like travelling.

Offline Karena

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2019, 11:52:10 AM »
sandra i am curious to know, doesnt dancing involve relying on some-one else to be there on their own - i have always thought it was a two person thing to join - never been (well not since i did Ballet as a kid) because the idea of turning up finding everyone already partnered up and me standing around looking like a spare part doesnt appeal.

( i dont think there is any here anyway, but like you it appeals more than a gym, which there is up the dale, but that one is nothing more than a lycra based body beautiful fashion parade for the rugby wags - i have  tried and failed to fit ( literally when it comes to the clothes)  before  :rofl:)

The thing about going for a walk though Badger is, even if you dont meet anyone, it is still something that feels less lonely just being outdoors ( as long as its a safe area of course) -i dont do it as often now since my dog died but taking a dog gives me a reason d-etre, which seems to be something i need to have to go anywhere these days - but i have other peoples dogs for holidays so i take them out, - just wondering if you have a friend/neighbour who might appreciate you doing that - but another trick i used was taking a camera -and doing a themed collection,  one year i took a photo of the same view weekly to show seasons passings, but then i found i can use it for going anywhere not just a wald locally -  i went to a steamfair that had vintage cars and took chrome car radiator grids, had a three hour rail connection time to pass in Manchester and took photos of the gable ends of the buildings,- there isnt much point to them in terms of usefulness of the collection ( occasionally i might use one for work, but doing it helps in making me feel i have a more vaild presence and focussing on a particular theme is also distracting me from being surounded by couples/famillies and feeling even more isolated than being home alone.
If you live near the coast have a look at the dolphin/whale watch events, that will be fresh air and company, - i dont live near the coast but i do help out with the land/ sea  based surveys for them -as a holiday activity,  - also maybe look for beach/ inland waterway clean ups, theyre usually  freindly people,  but again, for me anyway, its having a common interest and a common goal that makes it work.   

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2019, 01:00:42 PM »
Hi Karena!

No. You don't need a partner at all! In fact most people who go don't have one. Quite a few have ended up going after suffering a loss and looking for a way to help them rebuild their lives. It works really well at helping you do that, because you don't need a partner. You will find people to dance with there and to talk to and it will lift your mood and give you a great night out that will take your mind off your troubles. I only know of two actual couples who come together and one of them is semi-professional, so they just come to practice!

We have  three teachers present who make sure everyone gets a chance to practice with them. Two of them are ladies but know the men's steps and often, you end up practicing either with another student who is a man, or on your own. That's actually easier when you are learning new steps anyway. Quite a few of the better lady dancers have already learnt the men's steps too so that they can get more dances by dancing with the ladies who are learning still. It doesn't matter if you dance with another lady. It's all about the dancing anyway, so you're both just having fun! There is usually a decent number of men there too though, although none of them have partners either, so you have a good chance of being asked, especially the better you get at dancing.

There isn't much point trying to dance with a partner until you have some idea of how to do the steps anyway, so, in lessons, we practice the steps alone following what the teacher is showing us. Then we partner up where possible and practice together and switch partners, if there is an uneven number of men and women in the class, so that everyone gets a chance to practice with a partner and the teacher also practices with each of us as well.

During the practice session, we tend to practice alone but with a little group of pals or other students of the same level so that we can help one another out with advice or observations in case we are doing it wrong! The teachers and other students also come and ask you to dance with them to practice as a couple or you can go and ask them.

No one minds if you get it wrong. It's expected that you will as you are only learning. Even the teachers make mistakes sometimes!  :rofl: You just end up having a good time, a great bit of fun exercise, a bit of a laugh, a chat with your pals when you run out of steam and need a rest and a cup of tea and the music is great too!

As you can tell, I am full of enthusiasm for it, but it's not just me. Nearly everyone who goes usually finds themselves obsessing about it pretty quickly! There are all ages and levels of ability there and the better dancers are always ready to help out the less advanced people. There is one chap who comes regularly and still dances the jive at 98! He's actually pretty good as he used to teach, but still loves to dance! He is always happy to dance with me and I'm just a beginner really. He gives me some great tips.

As you have said about other things too, Karena. One thing takes you on to something different as well. A lot of the people who go make friends amongst the group and end up going on dancing holidays (yes, there are such things), mini-cruises that usually also offer the chance for dancing and mini-breaks that offer dancing too. It is a very social activity and makes it easy to start talking to people you don't know, so some people often go on these alone too. So you end up with a social life that you didn't expect to gain as well as getting exercise and learning a new skill. Plus it makes you fitter, improves your muscle tone and balance and your mood and you get to dress up for the social dances, if you decide to go to those, which is fun and stops you sitting in front of the telly on your own on a Saturday night!

There are quite a few tea dances around too if you look for them, so you can find out where those are and go along to them too, if you choose. So it's whatever you make it really. You can just learn to dance, or you can make new friends too and use it as a social life, take holidays where you will meet others who enjoy the same activity and use it for going out and enjoying yourself. It's up to you.

I know I am pretty full on about it, but I'm not exaggerating, it really is that good!! No one is left to be a wall-flower! We're all too  busy dancing! :yahoo:
« Last Edit: May 17, 2019, 01:17:38 PM by Sandra61 »

Offline Karena

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2019, 01:11:22 PM »
Its good to be full on about something - dont ever apologise for it - and tahnks for answering my questions.Holidays are not an option for me because i have my time with the dolphins and the rest i do various things in south africa i dont have enough holidays to everything i want to do - but one evening a week would be more do-able if i could find something nearby, although heaven knows since ballet, which i was quite good at, and the Northern soul nights later plus an odd scotish barn dance with my mum  - i am most definitely in the beginner category. :rofl:

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2019, 01:21:38 PM »
Well everybody was a beginner once, so that's not really a problem! Give it a try if you can find somewhere to go. I guarantee you won't regret it!   :yahoo:

Offline Emz2014

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2019, 08:41:12 AM »
My friend has started going to dancing, and she is loving it.  She goes alone too.

One of my tips would be to encourage birds to feed in your garden,  i started throwing suet pellets out for the birds as part of my morning and it has become part of my routine. I feed them in the eve too, and I can sit outside and listen to them chatter/sing, its got to the stage now that a little robin pair come and sit on the fence near me (one at a time) if I'm out there and do a little bow at me.  And the sparrows fly towards me as I walk outside.  Currently I have an army of starling babies and I watch them chase after the adults screaming at them to be fed and the parents feeding them as fast as they can.  It may sound weird but I never feel alone when I'm there watching them (and feel I'm doing some good, making their lives a little easier)

Other things that have helped me are hobbies - for me drawing, concentrating on producing a picture my evenings flew by.   And online courses - something to learn and achieve.  Im not sure if its been mentioned but future learn has loads of free courses, produced by universities. Having a focus like that helped my evenings too

Getting out with friends or having people over helped my weekends xx
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. 
Hold on in there xx

Offline Sandra61

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2019, 10:13:24 AM »
Gosh! Yes, drawing! I haven't done that for years, but used to love it. I remember it did used to make the time fly because you get so engrossed in it!

Another thing was learning to play a musical instrument. i used to play piano a little (another thing my mum loved to do) and my brother the guitar. I recently let go of a zither that was much loved as a child, but felt it was time to let someone else enjoy.

We also used to feed the birds in the garden, but can't do that so easily nowadays as otherwise vermin also get to know, as has happened with my neighbours. I do feed the birds at the park and the seagulls when I am at the coast though.

I do love the way the seagulls descend in a cloud of white and grey feathers and devour it completely in moments, then just vanish away again. I don't know where they all disappear to so quickly or how there seem to be none about when you put the food down, but suddenly appear in their hundreds out of nowhere once you do!

Another friend of mine was extolling the virtues of walking yesterday. I do find that an enjoyable activity in the light evenings sometimes, so that's another thing you can do  to fill spare time. Our scottish contributer on this site also takes along his camera and, where he lives, gets some wonderful photos of local wildlife. You can do that in town too. I used to take lots of interesting pictures. It's a habit I have let slip in recent years. I should get my camera out again!

I think the key with a lot of the things that have been suggested is to find a balance between getting out enough and finding things to do that you enjoy when you are out, with the amount of time you spend indoors at home alone and find things to fill your time enjoyably there too, so that there is not so much time spent alone at home that you do feel lonely.

If you can alternate time out and time in to the right extent, then you start to value the time when you are in and don't feel that it drags so, because you have the time when you will be going out to look forward to, so then the loneliness fades into the background because you are spending your time at home on things you need to do or that you enjoy, knowing that it isn't going to be like that every night.

Also, if you make friends at places other than work, it adds another strand to your life and makes your life fuller and more interesting and people you meet outside of work tend to be proper friends too, as they will only keep up with you because they really like you. I have found that getting the odd random call at home or text from them does brighten my days and make me feel less lonely. Of course writing to others here also helps with that.

Let us know what you think Badger and whether you might be taking up any of our suggestions! I hope you find a way to deal with it. :hearts:

Offline green dragon

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2019, 11:59:43 PM »
I am also someone who enjoys drawing. If any of us somehow end up meeting, I would always be game for a drawing party, as it were, since I found out that drawing in the company of others (even if we work on unrelated pieces) is a lovely pasttime that creates a nice, intellectually stimulating atmosphere. When I was at uni, we actually had a yearly drawathon, which took place over an entire night at the end of the second semester. It was always well attended and great fun, with pizza, soft drinks (and less soft ones) and good chats. And yes to taking pictures or videos whilst out taking a walk.

Offline Karena

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2019, 11:05:55 AM »
Weirdly i have also done a couple of drawings recently, You would imagine as a graphic designer i would be able to draw - but thats all computer based and i fell into it by accident when doing a business coure (yawn) i was doing work experience for the company i now work for - i had during the course done powerpoint stuff for presentations but soon got bored with the usual templated bullet point things and started adding sound and video effects - so while i was doing the work experience, stuffing enevelopes and processing orders i asked the boss - who was also into special effects how i could make the sound of a helicopter appear to be crossing a room and he made some kind of electronic device to do it, saw the presentation, and asked me to design an advert for the company.
But back to drawing - i remember only too well at junior school we had all been asked to draw something and the teacher held mine up in front of the class and took the micky basically - so from that moment on i was always some-one who "cant" draw. But my daughter did a course and when i was in south africa last time she was explaining some techniques she had learned. They went off for a walk and i stayed down by the stream armed with a drawing pad and some charcoal and drew  the scene in front of me - one of the young rangers came over and asked how i had done it what i was using etc - and a lot of these kids never got chance to do anything like that at school so i handed her some paper and charcoal and showed her what my daughter had shown me, it was lovely to pass it on to some-one else even though it was my first attempt.

The second time i was camping over easter and had put the charcoal and paper in the camper van as an afterthought, it was nice weather for sitting around but i,m not really a sitting around person and get fidgety, so i got them out and started drawing the scene in front of me - but as i thought they would be too difficult left out the houses and road -one woman came over and asked how you fix charcoal and i said i didnt know but i thought maybe hairspray she went off  to her van and came back with some - because she said it was too good just to let it smudge and ditch it - another who lived close by came over and then went home and got a photo of the scene before the houses and road, and i was amazed how close i had got it just from imagining it  - but it does seem to get people to come and talk too you, which was actually something i had been afraid of, given my lack of skill i thought it would be embarassing - it turns out i was wrong again i doesnt seem to matter theyre not there to judge but because theyre interested.

Offline green dragon

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2019, 12:05:14 PM »
You are correct about hairspray and charcoal.

Very cool how you got into graphic design. If only more workplaces recognised people's talents that way. Sometimes it feels like everything that's not strictly your job description is just ignored. Of course, that's not really true. After a childhood of drawing every day, I went to art school and worked in fashion accessories design but eventually got burned out and ended up in the medical field. After a very interesting set of supervision sessions with one of the psychiatrists, I suddenly picked up drawing again and have constantly been doing it again since. Proof you never know what lurks in your subconscious and when it may spring up again. Also, now that I am drawing all the time again, that includes at work, so some of our patients have actually asked me draw with them, even though I am not an art therapist. I've also done graphic-related work for our ward, so, like I said, you never know when your extraneous talents will be incorporated into your current work.

What I find great about drawing is the freedom it gives you. As an adult you realise how stifled your imagination becomes and art allows you to get in touch with that part of yourself again.

Offline Karena

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2019, 12:43:25 PM »
I did an online course about art in medicine with future learn, (theyre free short courses) but again links things together that we dont always see as obvious, i think a lot of my gardening enthusiasm is based in design rather straight planstsman ship  (love watching chelsea and how they put the show gardens together)but my great love is permaculture design - taking a system that copies natures ecology and turning into something useful and attracative.My plant choice is usally based on first will it grow in my soil second is i useful either to wildlife or for human needs- consumption/madicinal 3 is it attractive, can it be planted in an attractive way within other plants in that section - if it doesnt meet three then i dont buy it and to be fair there isnt many that dont. :rofl:
I went the opposite way from medical/care jobs to this, my burn out was privatisation and working in a system of care that i felt didnt care, ( certainly not in the last two places i worked)  so the art in medicine course attracted me immediately.

Offline green dragon

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Re: Coping with loneliness
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2019, 01:05:01 PM »
oh, I agree with you about careless care. My housemate works in private and the stories he tells are not pleasant. Public health, though, seems ok to me (certainly there is room for improvement, but where is there not?). The reason this suits me better than corporate design jobs is that I had the why am I doing this for? feeling. I am making bracelets and belts and handbags whilst the world is going to hell. Now I feel like I do something more worthwhile, at least for a few people, whilst then it felt like all I did was help my bosses get richer.

ps - Badger, sorry for hijacking the thread!