Layla's story: a young person's experience of loneliness

May 2022

Layla speaks to West Sussex Mind about their experience of being excluded from a group and the impact this had on their life

How or why were you feeling left out, lonely or excluded?

My old friendship group and I didn’t really have any similar interests. So, as I tried to start a conversation with them, I found myself really struggling to talk to them. I ended up feeling excluded as they talked about their interests and it ended up leading me to think they didn’t like me as much as I had assumed.

What impact did this have on you?

This definitely made me feel like I was the problem and I needed to change and have the same interests as them. But now I realise, nobody should have to do that; real friends won’t exclude you for not having similar interests.

What could have helped you feel better or more supported?

I felt like I never had anyone to talk to about it and I assumed that this was something that just happened in a lot of friendship groups and I needed to deal with it.

What other help or support did you need that you didn't get at the time?

I would have liked if my friendship group at the time had understood that excluding me wasn’t the right choice, maybe if we talked about it, we could have made up and I could have put my thoughts to the side. I’m very lucky to have a great friendship group now that supports me with everything.

What change would you like to see to help or support others in the future?

I would like to see more recognition of loneliness; people don’t seem to understand how greatly it can affect someone, until they experience it themselves. It’s so much easier to deal with things when you have supportive people around you.

What would you say to those that made you feel left out, bullied, or excluded, that maybe you couldn't say at the time?

I would explain to them that what they have done to me – and to others – is completely unacceptable. Excluding, bullying or bringing people down, to make yourself feel better is never the right answer. I can understand everyone makes mistake and can be forgiven, but they’ve hurt too many people.

What advice would you give to other young people feeling lonely or isolated?

Please talk to someone about it, I promise you that, once you get it all off your chest, you’ll feel so much better. Join a club that interests you and make some new friends from there. You never know where life is going to take you.

Thank you, Layla, for sharing your story with us