project of Kristina Chimbaraite
I am a veterinarian who wants to be a pet's surgeon. I was in Bulgaria because I am an artist too I draw murals and caricatures. I am so interested in travelling.
What do you feel or imagine when you hear the word ‘loneliness’?
For me, it seems like one person sitting in a room which is totally dark without any people around him and maybe it’s raining outside. Yeah, I think this is the loneliness. Even if there are people outside this room, he still feels lonely, because loneliness doesn’t mean that you have to be alone.
Is this what you feel loneliness is in general or specifically for you?
I think it’s in general. Sometimes I prefer to be alone which is my choice so I can't say that it is loneliness. This word could be a feeling more than a situation. The last time I felt lonely was probably in a high school, but recently no. Because I always have people around me and I choose to be alone a lot, so maybe that’s why… like it’s my choice, so it’s not loneliness. I’m not obligated to it.
That time, these 'pictures' that I told about, all room was dark and I was sitting on the bed just staying there doing nothing, maybe crying a little bit… and thinking a lot about this situation, why I’m feeling lonely now. So maybe it's the same picture and that's why I got this picture in general for all people. If you tell me 'this person feels lonely' I have this picture in my mind.
And if we go back in time to the moment you faced loneliness. When was it? And how did it feel?
When was it? In secondary school. Well, teenage years are the worst for everyone, and that was the time when my grandfather died. Everything around me was so dark. Also because six years before my aunt died, and now my grandfather was dead too. I just felt at that time ‘ok, I don’t want to speak with anyone, that’s not normal’. And the whole house was depressed of course. And everything was like ‘ok, I will not speak to anyone, because if speak to anyone, I’m gonna cry'. I don't have any problem with crying if you feel more comfortable after that, but the feeling itself was horrible. Somehow I just connected loneliness to death. After I moved on from this situation, it happened for maybe three days… maybe because our family interacts with each other a lot, so I can't be isolated for more than two days in my room. So it's hard to be physically alone. But yeah, this feeling I will never forget, so I told myself: 'Ok, no matter what is going to happen in the future, you won't feel this feeling again.'
"somehow I just connected loneliness to death"
I don't know. It's not easy. Sometimes I have the thought that I might have this feeling soon, but I say to myself: 'No, I won't'. So it had a vice versa effect on me because now I have this problem when someone dies… well, for me, I have this concept that if someone close to me dies, for me this person is not dead, but just travels and I will meet them in a way. So that's made, let's say, like a bad effect on me, because now I don't care about people dying, not don't care… from the outside maybe I will be sad, but in my mind, there will be: 'you will meet them again'. I don't know if it happens because of that situation or not, because I don't like it, I just pretend that this person didn't die. And if I spend time alone, I think about it a lot. So during this time I just take the opportunity not to stay alone. Sometimes I would just call a friend to go anywhere just to make my mind busy about anything else, not to isolate myself. Because I hate this feeling, so I won’t put myself in this situation again. I was too young to think about that.
Have you ever comprehended that it was loneliness or the realisation came afterwards?
If you think about it a lot, you will consider it after that, because your mind is busy with ‘what should I do?’ not ‘what I am now?’ So you don’t think about yourself, but about what made you feel this way. I mean, if you are feeling lonely, if you are thinking ‘why?’ you won’t recognize that you are. You will be so busy with 'how can I move on from this situation?' more than 'if I'm lonely or not'. You have to recognise first that you are feeling lonely because it's not easy to… for me it's the same like being depressed. Actually, sometimes you don’t know if you feel depressed or not, because you are just figuring out what is wrong with you.
"more or less when you recognize that you were lonely, after that you can figure out how to get rid of something like that. Because for me, how can I get rid of loneliness if I don't know that I'm lonely?"
I don’t know how to say it. Ok, the first thing to move on is to recognize that you are lonely or depressed. So if you recognize it during or after being in this state, because during that time you were busy with something else, like ‘why people are like that, or why I am like that?’ but you didn’t have an answer. More or less when you recognize that you were lonely, after that you can figure out how to get rid of something like that. Because for me, how can I get rid of loneliness if I don't know that I'm lonely? You have to find the problem first and only then you can solve it.
Yeah, I think I recognized it… maybe I don’t know the specific word at the time when I’m feeling lonely and I figure it out only afterwards, but I have the feeling. And this feeling is so bad, I don’t know the name or a scientific term for it, but at least I know what’s wrong with me. To feel that’s something is wrong it’s a beginning to solve it, I think so.
So you already touched this topic, you recognized that something was wrong, there was a problem. But what worked for you? Just the decision not to feel it again?
Oh, for me it is always like escaping. Of course, I am not forever escaping, but at the moment. To face the problem actually is the best thing, because if you just escape it will accumulate in your mind and your heart, and after that it will be a much bigger problem. Ok, this is my theory: I will escape it at the beginning of this period, just escape or ignore it, but after that I will find a solution, I will face it. But at least my feelings won't be the same. I will try to make myself busy with a lot of things and after that when I have a clear mind, I will think about that.
So it’s just like I will ignore it for a while and then when there is no more escape I will face it, I’ll have to take action. Action always changes everything, either for good or for bad, but it changes. It might not happen from the first time, but from the second time, third time… Maybe it doesn’t work for everyone, but it always works for me.
Is it possible to recognize a lonely person? I believe it is but is it really? How to understand, especially for family members, are you just spending time on your own or is there a real problem?
It’s not that easy, of course. I believe close friends can really recognize it. You will see because they can't pretend that they are ok in front of you for a long time, it's difficult.
When I feel something similar to loneliness I call my friends, but I don’t speak particularly about this, but about anything else. And if I feel comfortable enough to speak about my feelings, I do it as well. Sometimes it happened to me that a talked about personal stuff with people I don't really know that well. It's like I have nothing to lose if I tell them. Sometimes I don't need a solution, but I just want to speak and it won't be anything bad for me, you know. Here in Bulgaria it happened two or three times, I spoke to people I don't even know. Sometimes you just need that. And actually, that's how you can get close with someone. You are just comfortable to share your personal story.
And is there something you would like people to know about loneliness?
Well, for me… it’s not working for all people. Let’s say, you cannot obligate people who are lonely to talk, but it’s the best for them to talk. If I know someone who is feeling lonely, and if it’s a close friend then I know how to encourage them to start speaking, I’ll just say that I’m here any time you need me and I’m listening. I won’t judge you or anything, if you want to talk, I’m here. But if you obligate someone who feels lonely to speak, I think it’s more stressful and damaging for them. It’s probably not the right thing, but it’s my concept of the situation or whatever it’s called.
"but if you obligate someone who feels lonely to speak, I think it’s more stressful and damaging for them"
So yeah… I believe that it’s kinda related to disease to be lonely. It’s not just a feeling, because even your body accumulates it and if you go deeper and deeper it could transform into depression, literally a disease. More or less it depends on a person if they want to speak or not, but at least you can spark a conversation by being there for them ready to listen and make them feel safe. And it’s their choice if they want to use this opportunity or not.