I saw a boy waiting by a desk in the library perched on his skateboard. The next night he was in my dream, clear as day—cap, skateboard, and all. Every friend that I was thinking of the day before was there too, plus a girl I don’t like who was pinching and poking me the whole time. This all happened in the corridors of the school I used to go to. The one I don’t go to anymore because of anxiety, depression, and chronic fatigue. I was back in the school hall, with its tall arched ceiling, for the first time in ages and it felt so real. Strangely, I wasn’t scared or nervous like I often was at school. It almost felt good to be back.

It’s hard not to feel isolated with no school and no job to go to. I’ve had almost four years of it now, so I suppose I’m used to it. I enjoy being alone, but I also really enjoy company and I don’t think I ever have enough of it. It’s hard to admit that. It’s hard to be honest about feeling lonely.

Even when I used to go to school, I got lonely sometimes. I think everyone feels that from time to time, the sensation of being alone in a crowd. But sometimes I wonder, if so many people on the earth feel lonely deep down, then where is the hope? I wonder if I should just accept lonesomeness as my natural state. The few friends I have have so much schoolwork to do and then they have a whole group, from school, of friends and boyfriends etc. Their life is a Venn diagram, and I am just a small circle among many, overlapping with few.

With some of my friendships, I’ve felt like I put in a lot more than what I got out. I’ve been the one to instigate all communication; I was always the one arranging things to do. It’s hard to discern if people are worth the effort when you are doing all the work. Maybe I was just more invested in these friendships, while the other person had lots of equally important friendships to pay attention to. Maybe people stopped inviting me to things because when I was first ill (with CFS) I kept on having to say no.

The fifth of November was Bonfire Night here in England, aka Guy Fawkes Night. It’s quite a strange celebration, with people burning effigies of Guy Fawkes, a Catholic man who tried (and failed) to blow up the House of Lords and kill the King. Nowadays it’s usually just about the fireworks. I was having a tough day, and I could feel hints of depression rising to the surface. But then me, Mum, and Dad did some underwhelming fireworks in the back garden and waved some sparklers about. It wasn’t raining and the moon was out and shining, so it wasn’t bad at all.

I thought back to one of my favourite Bonfire Nights, with my primary-school friend Hannah, whom I haven’t seen since we started attending separate secondary schools. We went to a public bonfire—Hannah, her dad, and I. That was a clear night as well, and there was so much excitement in the air. On the way back in their little car we got mounds of fast food. It doesn’t sound very special when I describe it, but I enjoy things the most when they are just ordinary. And when something has been just ordinary you can’t really explain to anyone why it was so lovely. I guess I was never lonely with Hannah. ♦