This piece originally appeared in The Irish Times online as part of a feature focusing on loneliness. It was an honour to contribute.
There has always been an aura of simplicity about my presence in character. Despite the ambivertedness and often detailed observance in my outlook around people, the role of 'happy go lucky Dave' was a recognised and rarely challenged fairing amongst family and friends.
Bubbly, outgoing, sporty and active; all resounding traits of a self-promoting bio with the mood swings, drama and bitter excerpts merely regarded as the impulses of teenage angst.
I've always enjoyed company, revelling in chat and laughter. But the hidden scorn of paranoia and insecurity could easily spoil the anticipated gladness of socialising and connecting. Talkative, engaging but quietly doubtful. Apprehensive about personal viewpoints on the basis that someone might not like me because of what I thought or what I said.
This silent persecution inside persisted in the former of mental torture; a daily routine of mirror goading tagged with insults and reminders that I was worthless, no one liked me and that I was better off alone.
Subsequent moments by myself allowed me to revel disturbingly in the triumph of forced solidarity; ignoring text messages, avoiding nights out and meet ups with the belief that I would not be missed, that family and friends would be glad I chose to stay away.
The peak of depravity in forced withdrawal from social circles came when reluctantly agreeing to join friends on a weekend away. Citing work as an excuse for late arrival, this made sure I could travel alone. I also booked separate accommodation with a comeback of financial constraint at the ready should anyone raise query.
Upon returning to my hostel later that night I realised I has forgotten my access card. Unable to get inside I avoided contacting nearby friends, opting instead to sleep in the car.
One friend, who most likely picked up on my subdued demeanor that night, rang my phone. Despite having a towel as a blanket, a jumper for a pillow and a hardened carpet beneath me, a place on his hotel room floor that night was perhaps the greatest comfort I had ever known.
These experiences of depreciation and mindless punishment are just few from many clouded moments of confusion and misunderstanding in my very being. However they have played a vital role in my eventual willingness to discover a grasp in managing doubt and fear that rises when life is interupted.
The study of mindfulness has helped greatly in finding guidance to living. Acknowledging that whilst nothing in life is absolute, everything is relative. Gaining awareness of my emotions and reasoning with the experiences I have been through gives me strength and confidence to persevere and compassionately embrace the value of myself and of equal importance the value of family and friends.