For all of the years that I thought my heart was protected because of my eating habits and love of fitness, I wasn’t paying attention to the deep roots of loneliness. Unfortunately, my childhood was very lonely. Growing up in a household of domestic violence and verbal abuse set me up with limitations for connection.
I recall riding my bike through my neighborhood in the summer looking for kids to play with outside. My mother kicked me out of the house because I was driving her nuts for something to do. In a home where everyone feels a lack of safety each person is on their own, emotionally walled off and seeking just some peace and quiet. I imagine my mother felt like she needed down time from my sister and me when my father was at work.
In spite of a neighborhood full of kids, I felt socially isolated. I was lonely at home, I was lonely and afraid much of the time in school. So that made me act out. A lot. Doing so isolated me more, and writing 500 times “I will not talk in class” did nothing to relieve me of the internal conflict.
There were many more years of this sense of isolation and loneliness because I wasn’t set up emotionally to connect and build connections. As I unravel why I had the heart attack, I dig up more information than the typical “Eat healthy, don’t smoke, exercise” advice for a healthy heart.
Copied from an article on http://www.Health.com:
Experts havent pinpointed exactly how social networks protect against heart disease, but there are a number of probable explanations. People who are socially isolated are more likely to drink, smoke, and get less exercise. And once someone has heart disease, friends and family often provide key support, such as picking up prescriptions, encouraging exercise, cooking healthy meals, and helping with household chores.
While that everyday help is important, its not the whole story. In recent years, researchers have begun to unravel the cardiovascular effects of social isolation, and they’ve discovered thatfeeling alone may hurt the heart even more than actually being alone.
“We started looking at social isolation about 20 years ago, and we found fairly quickly that objective social isolation in everyday life isnt as important as perceived social isolation,” says John Cacioppo, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. “And theres a term for perceived social isolation: Its loneliness.”
What we call loneliness—the feeling that you have no one to turn to, that no one understands you—is a form of stress. And if it becomes chronic, it can wreak havoc on your blood vessels and heart.