Everyone feels despair sometimes.
Everyone has felt that moment where it seems like nothing will ever improve.
At those times, sometimes it’s an effort to even get up in the morning. You might not feel sad, really, or identifiably depressed. At the same time, the world seems colorless and there doesn’t seem to be any point to anything.
There’s no incentive to try, or to dream. There’s no hope, and what’s worse, you might not even care that there’s no hope.
I’ve been there. I’ve thought, in a disinterested sort of way, that the world would roll on just fine without me, and might even be a little better without me in it.
If you’ve felt this, or you’re feeling this, this post is for you.
Here’s a secret: The world is just the same whether it seems dark or bright to you, it keeps rolling on no matter what. This is actually a good thing because it gives you something you can depend on. There’s hope, you just can’t see it. Think of it like a cloudy sky. The sun’s still up there, shining away, even if you can’t see it. But it’s there.
If you’re really down deep in the pit of despair, that might not seem to matter. But if you think you might want to see a little more light, there are definitely ways to come back closer to the surface, so you might peek through that cloud layer into brightness.
The key is to try something and succeed at it. Not a big effort, mind you, just something small. Set a little task. Do it. If that task lets you focus on something outside yourself, so much the better.
For example, taking a walk. The brain makes natural feel-good chemicals when we get up and move around, so taking a short walk and breathing deeply while you’re doing it can help a lot. Then, even if you didn’t do anything else that day, at least you got outside. Incrementally, your mind will improve your outlook, even just a tiny bit. Step by step. If you are motivated to do something else then, so much the better.
This question comes up for me from time to time: how do you become motivated when feel like there’s no hope? Here’s the answer. Don’t try at first. It’s too big a goal. Just work on one thing at a time.
Why try at all?
Here’s why. The world would be less without you. I know, that sounds like a bunch of bunk. Believe it, though. It really would be. Nobody else on this planet has the exact same skills and knowledge as you, the same experiences.
It would be such a waste if you simply disappeared. People care about you. Even if you think no one cares, think of the EMTs and the police who found you, days after you’d died. I care too, even though I’ve never met you. I’m spending time writing this, trying to help. Because I’ve been there and I wanted someone to tell me, in a non fluffy, non hearts and flowers, non religious way, that I mattered.
Nine ways to battle depression:
It’s harder to be depressed when you feel valued as a person, when you are making a difference. Powerlessness, or perceived powerlessness, leads right into the black pit of despair. To climb back out, find ways you can have control.
Practice smiling at people. Even at the check out line. Instant lift.
Sit up straight. Studies show good posture actually convinces the brain you are doing better.
Take care of something. A plant, a pet, or do a favor for a neighbor. Volunteer if you don’t have a job.
Seek people out. Take a walk, go to a park, take a class. Focus on the outside.
Learn something. It will help distract you and give you something to focus on.
Practice control over your mind. Meditation, a gratitude journal, or mindfulness practice work well.
Exercise. Walking, lifting weights, or simple calisthenics are all cheap or free, and they give you a boost. They also give you a feeling of control over your body.
Eat right. Your brain can’t work well if you feed it junk. So get enough vitamins and minerals, get at least some fat, try to limit the empty calories when possible. You wouldn’t put sludge in your gas tank, your brain doesn’t run on it either. A food that helps me oddly well is hummus.
If I could tell you one thing that you’ll remember, it’s this: Don’t give up. If you fail, try to learn from it and try again. You are not your actions. If you make a mistake, you are not the mistake. And you can always fix mistakes.
The most important thing – try again. Your world may never be a picture post card, but guess what? Other people’s lives aren’t perfect either. They’re just good at pretending it is.
Never give up.
-Illustration and text copyright Rohvannyn Shaw of Mindflight