The one time it sucks to be single

The one time it sucks to be single

I’m single.

I’m not embarrassed by it.

Of course, I’ve had relationships – my longest lasting 8.5 years – but for the past four, I’ve been on my lonesome (three-month dalliances hardly count.)

I’ve always subscribed to the motto that I’d rather be single than in the wrong relationship. And while most of the uncouplings have ended amicably – I’m friends with nearly all of my ex-boyfriends – I have endured some dating disasters along the way much to the amusement of my friends.

“I usually go for trophy girlfriends but I’m trying to change my ways,” announced one chap within minutes of rocking up to our first date.

“Why can’t we go for a walk in the woods? I don’t believe you’re outdoorsy. Women always lie on their profile,” accused another on our first encounter.

In fact, my love life has been something of a hot topic among friends, family, acquaintances, and even strangers over the years.

I’ve had everything levelled at me:

“Are you ridiculously fussy?” (Um, no.)

“Why are you single?” (Um, I’ve not met the right person yet.)

“You’ll be left on the shelf.” (Er, thanks for that.)

“You never give anyone a chance.” (Um, I do. I date. Heck, I even went on a second date with the walk in the woods guy!)

“You go for the wrong type.” (Not intentionally. I promise.)

You always put up barriers” (True. One of my exes called me ‘The Great Barrier Reef’. It’s something I’m addressing after discovering the Psyma app)

The one time it sucks to be single

“You need to get a move on if you want to have children.” (Don’t get me started on this one. It’s just insensitive on SO many levels.)

“You work too hard. You’ll never meet anyone at home sat behind your desk.” (True.)

“Is it hard being single at your age?” (Hmmm, let me think about that.)

Ordinarily, my stock answer would go something like this: “Why on earth would it be hard? I’m not defined by my marital status.”

Don’t get me wrong, of course it would be fan-bloody-tastic to meet a kindred spirit to make wonderful memories with, share special moments, look after and cherish. No-one can deny that blissful feeling of being in love. It’s the best.

But my philosophy has always been it will happen when it’s supposed to so. I’ve always channelled my energies into making the most of my life now, enjoying precious time with my friends and family rather than dwelling on what I don’t have.

Except, last night my thoughts turned to being single, most unusual for me.


Because my autoimmune symptoms have phenomenally flared up. It’s not easy when you’re battling an invisible chronic illness that makes you feel utterly dreadful and requires every ounce of energy just to make it through the day, especially as I naively assumed I was on the mend.

I’d been making SUPER progress and even went on a ski trip for work last month, something I would never have envisaged 2.5 years ago when my health started acting up (Read the night it all began here)

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Relax Ya Self To Health (@relaxyaself2h) on

Because I’d been feeling much better I pushed myself and, approximately two weeks ago, decided to go swimming (the type of activity I’d do on a ‘rest’ day when I was well). Except on the evening in question, my body wasn’t feeling quite right.

My legs felt heavy as I walked to the pool. But I ignored the signs.

I ADORE exercise. It’s something I’ve missed hugely since my health took a nosedive – activity and heat can set off my tongue swelling reactions – and I was thrilled to be doing something I enjoy.

I swam one length, then two. As many as 14 laps later, I hauled myself out of the water very much swept up in the delightful endorphin-triggered buzz that exercise brings.

Boy, did it turn out to be a mistake

Over the 12 hours that followed my body crashed. And for the past 14 days I’ve been hitting the hay around 7pm most evenings to try and get a grip on episcleritis (painful inflammation in the eye), stabbing pains, and dreadful fatigue consuming my body.

On the outside, I look normal. Somehow, I’ve been summoning up the energy to work news shifts but inside I’m permanently exhausted.

The one time it sucks to be single

I’d forgotten how awful it is to feel like this…to wake up from ten hours sleep, feeling utterly unrefreshed and as though you’ve only had two.

But what does this have to do with being single?

Well, so far I’ve mostly survived this 2.5 year journey on my own. The uncertainty, the gazillions of hospital appointments, and generally feeling like crap.

*Disclaimer* I’m very blessed in that I have a wonderfully supportive family and good friends around me but more often than not I hide how I’m really feeling because I’d hate to burden them any further.  I also appreciate that I’m one of the lucky ones – I can still function when many others can’t – plus I’ve also learnt a lot about myself along the way.

Nonetheless, this battle is exhausting. Sometimes you can’t put on a brave face. And sometimes you just need a big MAN hug.

So, as I lay in bed last night feeling thoroughly rotten, a thought popped into my mind for the first time in my life.

“Being single with an invisible illness really sucks.”

At that moment I just wanted someone to hold me close and say: “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay. You will feel better. Everything will work out I promise.”

Or, at the very least take the P out of me and make me laugh hysterically!

Of course, I’m in a much better frame of mind today. That out of character thought was fleeting.

But that’s the thing with chronic illness. It affects you in all sorts of ways you’d never think imaginable.

Can you relate? Are you single? What do you like/dislike about it? Do you have an invisible illness that you’re dealing with on your own? 

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.  

Please do share or tag someone in this article if you think it might help them. Thank you!

Helen's Health
Previous Story
Next Story

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    30th March 2018 at 3:32 pm

    I hate being single but, much like you said, it’s better to be single than in the wrong relationship.

    I always make it harder for myself though as I’m naturally pretty introverted and my instincts are to bury myself in work or retreat into my own thoughts at home.

    • Reply
      Helen Gilbert
      30th March 2018 at 3:36 pm

      Ah, thanks for commenting! Yes, it must be really hard to meet people if you’re naturally shy. I know the feeling of burying yourself in work x

  • Reply
    Rachel Spencer
    30th March 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Helen this is a fantastic post and so relatable.
    I had all those stupid things said to me and it was hard and I was fit and well.
    So I can’t imagine what it must be like to be poorly as well.
    Thanks for sharing and it will all be ok, you’re amazing and you will find someone to share you’re life with.
    Better to be on the shelf than the wrong cupboard. Xxx

    • Reply
      Helen Gilbert
      30th March 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Ah, thanks Rachel! I was in two minds about posting it so this is good to know. I don’t usually have a problem with it 🙂 Just felt particularly meh last night. I’ll bounce back 😊

  • Reply
    Karen Stevens
    30th March 2018 at 7:18 pm

    This is like holding up a mirror. I’m 50 have so many illnesses I can’t write them all down but one is fibromyalgia which seems to be in constant flare up for a couple of years. I’ve been constantly trawling dating apps because I thought I was lonely, especially when feeling so I’ll, fatigued and low I could just (and do) cry. Wanting that cuddle or like you say that person to make you laugh. But the truth is I do have people in my life that do this but I wanted the closeness of a man but felt I’d never find it. Then one day, on one of my typically days when I’ve been brought to my knees, I realised it wasn’t loneliness I was feeling but chronic tiredness. This switched something in me, I’m not constantly pursuing a man now or thinking that having one would save me. I would still love to find someone, which is difficult as at 50 my options of going out and finding one are slim. But am so much more relaxed with it and don’t give myself such a hard time now.
    I’m trying to start up a blog so was happy to find yours to know I’m not alone and I’ve really enjoyed reading yours.

    • Reply
      Helen Gilbert
      30th March 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Ah, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry to hear about everything you’ve been going through but glad you’re feeling a little bit better on the man-front. Also, fantastic news regarding the blog – writing can be so cathartic 🙂 Good luck x

  • Reply
    2nd April 2018 at 9:39 am

    I can totally relate to everything you’ve written Helen. I have an autoimmune condition (which is largely in remission now) but in its height I suffered dreadfully with my bowel – both pain and constant trips to the loo – leaving the house, travelling, playing tennis, going to a restaurant were all v difficult. My partner at the time was great. Very understanding and supportive with all the times we’d need to stop the car and find a loo, or even go back home. The issue was me though – I wasnt used to having someone care for or fuss over me, I felt like a burden and was always waiting for him to get frustrated with me or the situation. I was just used to dealing with it myself and I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t do “normal” things. Sadly I wasn’t able to feel soothed because of the negative thoughts and lack of self esteem that come when you’re carrying a chronic condition – it messed with my head! All that aside I still prefer the simplicities of being single.
    Sorry you’re going through another bad flare-up Helen – you’ve got such strength and resilience – hope there’s some light for you soon xx

    • Reply
      Helen Gilbert
      2nd April 2018 at 12:30 pm

      Ah, Leah. I had no idea! So glad to hear that you’re in remission and hopefully things will improve for me soon. I have an appointment with a London-based nutritionist in a couple of weeks and I’m really hoping that she can help turn things around. Thanks fo your kind words. Much appreciated 😊xx

  • Reply
    Jo Romero
    5th April 2018 at 3:37 pm

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said. I actually gave up on finding someone after a series of awful dates and short term relationships and decided to be single – I went out when I wanted, went to the races for the day, all by myself, drove to beautiful scenery, ate dinner in bed, all cosy with a film. And then, suddenly out of nowhere, when I wasn’t looking, I met my husband. I always think it’s weird that I didn’t meet him when I was actually looking for someone. I often feel like I annoy him though because I’m always going on about my psoriasis and other health things! It’s inspiring to hear that you’ve done all this up to now on your own, you are very strong! <3

    • Reply
      Helen Gilbert
      12th April 2018 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks for your comments Jo. Oh no, I’m sure he’s very understanding 🙂 Yes, I never really look either. I’d never given it much thought before but was having a flare up and it got me thinking. Ha 🙂

    Leave a Reply