How to Deal With Despair

It’s a fact that the majority of what happens in our lives is outside our control. Accepting this is crucial to one’s sanity. And so is choosing to let go of the Why? question.

Why? Well, sometimes you can search and search and search and never find the answer. I’m naturally curious by nature and I just have to know everything, so I get it. Curiosity isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you were to take a look at my browsing history you’d probably think WTF?

Hmm. I take that back. I just took a look at my recent browser history: pediatrician office for my son, prospective employers, election results, and barely any porn. BORING. Well, I used to look up everything. I guess I’ve started to accept sometimes this can lead you down the rabbit hole of darkness.

Just LET IT GO, Quix. Maybe I’ve gotten better at doing just that.

But when you feel sad… Really, really, really sad in your being… because you can’t catch a break, and you feel helpless, you’ve got to have enough of positive history behind you to focus on what has worked in the past.

Not to say, Things will get better if I just hang in there because maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Hanging in there doesn’t generally make things better. Often, worse.

You have to have enough faith (if I may co-opt that word) to believe that if you take some action, despite everything in your body telling you it is meaningless, you may have enough emotional resources to make it through that day, or even just that hour.

Because the goal is not to be happy, as happiness comes and goes at the most unexpectant times and cannot be induced nor controlled; the goal is actually to not die. This may be by literally preventing your actual death by suicide, but it also might mean to prevent the death of what makes you authentically you and what makes you feel alive.

It is in willingly accepting what is within your power and willfully choosing to let go of what isn’t. It is taking a look at your life and training yourself to determine what the objective truth of your situation is. Not a shame perspective or a defeatist perspective. Just a reality perspective.

Then, with the reality perspective, asking yourself what the most effective action (s) are that you need to take to go towards a goal. Because to deal with despair you must have a goal and you must start taking realistic action on it. Or you will die.

What’s the goal? It helps to problem solve. This could be puzzles, riddles or mysteries you are trying to solve in your leisure time. Though, most effectively is solving problems in your “real” life.

Sometimes it helps to focus on one small problem so as to not get overwhelmed. Simply to get out of your head you might pick up trash and take the bag to the bin. Not, I’m so messy but from now on I’m going to keep the house spit-spot clean. Or you might go for a short walk. Not, I’m fat and I need to get into shape by going for a walk every day this month. Sometimes to get through the hour, or even the next few minutes, you need to have a small goal. Just that one goal.

Sometimes, to combat a bigger existential despair, you need to get in touch with what matters to you. What really interests you. Not what would make the world better because that’s too vague and will make you feel helpless, but to ask what would make your place in the world better. What can you bring to the table, so to speak? I mean, honestly it doesn’t matter what it is. If you are honing in on what makes you feel alive and are doing those things you are doing great. What if you can’t do the things you really want and it causes more despair? Do other things. There are always other things.

The hardest part of my life is working towards my goals regardless of how I feel. My worst enemy is my own brain, as is the case for most.

I have been told recently by many accomplished, admired and professional people in my life, and more importantly by my own rational mind, that I need to start taking specific actions in terms of my goals. I am used to just letting fate take control, but that caused me immense suffering. So I’ve being taking specific, concrete action, as I am able, and an seeing some positive results.

As I am able does not equate to As I feel like it. More, Am I able to effectively accomplish this task right now? If not, what resources do I need to accomplish it? Sometimes this hard to gauge but trying keeps me alive.

It probably goes without saying that sometimes you can’t just “try” your way out of despair. I’m only able to get to this point with the right meds and many (many!) years of therapy, but hopefully my post will help someone.




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About Quixie

Hi! I go by "Quixie" My nickname comes from the term I began using to describe myself when I began blogging 5 years ago: "quixotic," meaning "exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical." It's how I described my evangelical Christian faith at the time. Now I'm an agnostic atheist who is trying to find a balance between idealism and reality.