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Sunday, March 15, 2020

3/16/20 @9:30am pst - Author Val Walker joined Janeane live on KUCI 88.9fm to talk about 400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALL

LISTEN to today's show

400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALL: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community (a Central Recovery Press paperback, on sale March 26, 2020).

In this candid and comforting guide for isolating times, Walker explains how she found herself stranded and alone after major surgery when none of her friends showed up to help her. As a professional rehabilitation counselor, she was too embarrassed to reveal how utterly isolated she was by asking someone for help. As she recovered, Val found her voice and developed a plan of action for people who lack social support, not only to heal from the pain of isolation, but to create a solid strategy for rebuilding a sense of community.

Drawing on both her own experience as well as the accounts of others who overcame their own isolating ordeals, Walker compassionately yet realistically shows us how to break through our isolation by befriending our wider community, building a social safety net, and fostering our sense of belonging.

“Without any pomposity, this is a compendium of real-life stories and useful tips about solving the universal problem of loneliness. I plan to recommend this book widely!”

—Jacqueline Olds, MD, Coauthor, The Lonely American, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and Psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital

Q&A with VAL WALKER

About 400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALLWhile social media enables us to make connections with more people than ever before, social isolation is a growing epidemic in the United States. The National Science Foundation reported in 2014 that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985, and an unprecedented number of Americans are living alone, particularly people over sixty. Meanwhile, the youngest generations among us - Generation Z and Millennials - report being the loneliest despite their high consumption of social media. As it turns out, we can have hundreds of “friends” on social media without having any meaningful connections whatsoever.

This unhappy realization also hit Val Walker, author of 400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALL: Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community (a Central Recovery Press paperback, on sale March 26, 2020), when she found herself stranded after a major surgery. A well-established rehabilitation counselor, she was too embarrassed to reveal on social media how utterly isolated she was by asking for someone to help. As she recovered, Val found her voice and developed a plan of action for those seeking to heal from the pain of isolation and created a solid strategy for rebuilding support.

Drawing on both her own experience as well as the accounts of others who overcame their own isolating ordeals, Walker encourages us to break through our isolation and build community by:

Finding one empathetic person to talk to. Openly admitting to a comforting person (a friend, a therapist, or even a compassionate voice on a warmline) that we are lonely is a vital step to breaking out of the shame and social stigma of loneliness.

Seeking meetups or support groups with those in similar situations. What isolates us can also become the force that unites us. Whether we are contending with social anxiety, loss of a loved one, illnesses, addictions, divorce, or any number of isolating issues, Meetup.com, www.211.org, and other platforms often feature groups for others grappling with similar issues. Staying open-minded and not too fixated on who fits our “tribe.” It is often surprising who welcomes us into their world when we aren’t trying so hard to find the “right” group to belong to.



Offering our help to others. Ironically, we gather support by giving support. This is why volunteering is a solid way to build social networks.
Persevering and not taking rejection personally. Many people might not be interested in developing a new friendship or maybe they have put their social lives on the backburner. Don’t give up! With persistence, we will find others who are looking to expand their networks, as well.

Encouraging us to befriend our loneliness and validate our need to search for more support, Walker compassionately yet realistically shows us how to build our networks with more meaningful connections. An essential read for anyone who has ever felt lonely in a crowd or isolated in their unique circumstances, 400 FRIENDS AND NO ONE TO CALL will inspire even the loneliest among us to seek more fulfilling relationships.

About the Author:
Val Walker received her MS in rehabilitation counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University and is a rehabilitation consultant and contributing blogger for Psychology Today. She has led support groups for twenty-four years for people living with chronic illness, grief, and trauma, and speaks throughout New England on topics including how to comfort people in distress, breaking through isolation, and building social support after loss.

Her first book, The Art of Comforting (Penguin/Random House, 2010) won the Nautilus Book Award and was recommended by the Boston Health Commission as a guide for families impacted by the Boston Marathon Bombing. Keep up with Val at www.valwalkerauthor.com

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