Cosmopolitan June 2018 - Page 109

psychologist who chairs the Australian Coalition to End Loneliness. “It is a big transition period. From high school to university, to finding a job to managing a relationship, to maintaining a mortgage, to determining how they interact with people. It can be a really challenging time.” IS IT HEREDITARY OR TRIGGERED? “Loneliness can be triggered in many ways. The onset of physical ill health, not spending time with people face-to-face, social media, relationship breakdown, losing a job [or] a loved one’s death,” says RU OK?’s CEO Brenden Maher. “The truth is, it doesn’t take much to get our pendulum swinging out of whack.” Interestingly, loneliness can also be partially due to your genes. “People may carry a gene which predisposes them to being more lonely. However, they do hold the power to change their genetic code, overcome those barriers and build resilience,” says Dr Michelle. “What women need to learn is that loneliness is not any different from feeling hungry or thirsty. It’s just your body telling you that you need to reach out and talk to people.” HOW TO HELP A LOVED ONE If you see your loved one withdrawing and suffering in silence, there is something you can do to show them you are there for them. “The most important thing you can do is to respectfully and non-judgmentally listen to them. Allow them to speak about their stuff at their own pace,” says Lifeline Research Foundation Executive Director Alan Woodward. “It doesn’t push a person to action and it doesn’t try to solve their problem. It is simply saying: ‘I as one human being am there and available for you as another human being who I care about.’” I still haven’t quite overcome my struggle, and some days are better than others, but I have realised there are people all around me who want to help —all I have to do is let them know n I need them. FOR MORE GREAT STORIES, VISIT COSMO.IN JUNE 2018 COSMOPOLITAN 109