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A guide for young people Feeling alone and misunderstood

Sometimes, we might feel different from other people or that they don't understand how are we feeling. This can be really tough and isolating. If you are feeling this way, we have tips and advice on what you can do to feel better.

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Your feelings are valid

Sometimes, it can feel like no one understands what we are going through or what we are feeling. Or you might feel like people just don’t get you. You might look at other people’s lives and feel like yours is very different. This can be very isolating and frustrating, and can make us feel worse and more alone.

As difficult and painful as this can be, it’s important to know that there are things you can do to feel valid, seen and heard. You are important, and your feelings matter.

Why do I feel like this?

It is our human instinct to want to connect with others, to express ourselves and to be understood. That's why it can be so hard when we feel disconnected and alone. You might be experiencing some of the following:  

  • bullying, or being made to feel like an 'outcast'
  • having a different communication style to people around you
  • worrying about how people will respond to you if you tell them how you really feel 
  • assuming people won't understand you, so you might avoid people altogether 
  • a difficult family, abuse or trauma

When we start to feel bad about who we are this can make things a whole lot worse and stop us from being ourselves, or even trying to open up to others. But whatever you're going through, you are not alone. 

Dealing with loneliness
Not everyone is going to get you, and that's ok. But when loneliness starts taking over your life, often the first step to feeling better, is to accept yourself as you are. You are unique and that's incredible. The more you love who you are - including all your 'flaws' and even the things other people can't accept - the more comfortable you will feel.

If you're having negative thoughts

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When people judge us, dislike us or react to us negatively it can make us feel guilty, ashamed, helpless, angry, fearful and lots of other uncomfortable emotions. When we have these emotions, we might blame ourselves or feel like we don’t deserve to be happy. Once we start judging ourselves, our negative thoughts can spiral. These thoughts and feelings can make you want to hide from other people, or feel scared of opening up. But there is support out there that can help you. You do matter and you deserve to be happy.

If these negative thoughts feel overwhelming, you might be struggling with:

  • Depression – If you’re feeling down all the time and you are having a lot of negative thoughts, you might be experiencing depression.
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings – When these negative thoughts feel so overwhelming, you might feel like there is no way out. If you are feeling like this, it’s important you get the help you need.
  • Low self-esteem - if you feel bad about yourself, struggle with confidence or the way you look. 

If you're not sure where to turn to for help right now, these services can support you.

  • YoungMinds Textline

    Text YM to 85258

    Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis.

    All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors.

    Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

    Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
    9am - midnight, 365 days a year
  • Papyrus

    Offers confidential advice and support for young people struggling with suicidal thoughts.

    Its helpline service - HOPELINEUK - is available to anybody under the age of 35 experiencing suicidal thoughts, or anybody concerned that a young person could be thinking of suicide.

    Opening times:
    9am – midnight, 365 days a year

If you feel like people don't understand you

Everyone interacts with and experiences things differently, whether it’s chatting with friends, understanding how people are feeling, finding crowded spaces tough or coping with change. If you are neurodivergent, for example if you are autistic or have ADHD, this can affect how you see the world and how you interact with others.

Sometimes you might feel lonely because people might not understand what you’re going through and think you’re being difficult. But you deserve support. Talk to friends and family about how you are feeling and what you do or don’t find helpful so that they can do their best to support you.

Advice that can help

If you are feeling misunderstood, we have tips, advice, and real stories from other young people like you.

If you're being bullied or discriminated against

If people are saying or doing horrible things to you, this is bullying. It can be a very isolating experience, especially if it feels like no one is there to help you. Bullying is always unacceptable.

If you are experiencing bullying, speak to someone you trust. They can help you get the support you need.

You might also be experiencing discrimination because of your race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or disability. This can feel very lonely, especially when people around you can’t relate to your experience, or make you feel like you’re overreacting. But how you feel and your experience is completely valid.

If you are experiencing discrimination, it’s really important to talk to someone so that you can get the support you deserve. No one should be treated differently for who they are.

It is illegal to discriminate against someone because of:

  • age
  • gender reassignment
  • being married or in a civil partnership
  • being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • disability
  • race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

Support available to you

We have advice, tips and information on where you can get support. 

If you're struggling with school

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School can be a place that we enjoy, but sometimes it can be tough. You might be struggling with school when it feels like others around you are coping, or you might find yourself continuously getting into trouble. You might also be struggling with a friend or a friendship group.

Problems like this at school can make you feel alone, or like no one understands you. If you are struggling with other students or teachers, try talking to someone outside of school about how you are feeling. There are people who love you and will want to support you.

For more tips and advice, our page has information that can help you.

Problems at school

If you're finding university tough

There can be a lot of pressure for university to be ‘the best years of your life’, but university can be really difficult. It might be the first time you have lived away from home, you might not be enjoying the course you have chosen, or you might be finding it tough to make new friends.

If you are finding it hard to cope, your university will have services you can turn to for support, like your local GP, your tutor, student welfare officers or university counselling services. 

Looking after yourself at uni

If you're struggling with family

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Families can be complicated. And we know that family can have a big impact on your mental health. When family relationships become difficult, it can make life feel hard.  

If any of your family members are treating you badly – not taking your feelings into account, shouting at you, being physically abusive, making you feel like you have to do things you don’t want to do, or putting too much pressure on you – it’s really important you get the support you need.

The first step is speaking to someone you trust about what’s going on. If you feel unable to tell anyone because you are worried about how others will judge you or your family, there are helplines and online services you can access. It is so important that you don’t just keep things bottled up and struggle on your own.

Grief and loss

If someone in your life has died, even if you had a difficult relationship with them, it is completely normal to feel down, sad, depressed or angry. If you’re finding it tough we have some advice that might help. 

Tips that can help you get through this

If you're finding family relationships tough, or you have lost someone, our pages have information and tips on how you can get through this.

If you’re questioning your gender or sexuality

At points in your life, you might explore your gender and sexuality. This can be at any point in your life, and it is completely normal to explore different parts of who you are. Sometimes, this can feel difficult because you might feel ‘different’ from your friends, like you don’t fit in, or that you are being treated differently because of who you are.

Gender and mental health

If you are feeling lonely, finding a ‘safe space’ can help you share how you are feeling with people who have a similar experience. Safe spaces can be groups, like an LGBTQIA+ group where you can connect with others and talk about your experiences.

Sexuality and mental health

What can I do to cope?

Try something new

Find ways to meaningfully connect with people can be hard. But you are more likely to do this when you have a shared passion with someone. Try different hobbies until you find one that brings you joy – writing, sport, music, art, school/youth clubs. You can connect with people online through things like gaming and fansites.

Talk about how you're feeling

More often than not, you’ll find that other people experience the same feelings and thoughts as you, even though you might not think so. Remember you are not alone, and if you don't know where to turn or how to open up, we have some tips