Written by: Jamie Stick
There’s a lot going on in the world: civil war in Syria, uptick in high profile police-involved deaths in the US, a booming human trafficking industry in Brazil following the World Cup, and much more. Sometimes it can feel like the media outlets are just trying to ruin your day. For some it may be overwhelming to the point where you can’t begin to engage with the disheartening information. These are valid feelings that the majority of us have faced at one point or another, perhaps on regular basis.
Our creed says, “where there is despair, hope”. How can we have hope in the midst of despair? We are not superhuman, or at least I’m not, and that leaves us susceptible to the same whirlwind of emotions that everyone else has. Despair can creep up on us like the weight of books. You can carry one or two books without much difficulty, but when you try to carry several books you find your arms grow tired. Despair doesn’t always strike all at once, but oftentimes creeps up on us as our joy ebbs.
First I want to empower each and every one of you that it’s okay to feel despair. It happens and I wouldn’t try to force you into a mindset where you have to pretend it doesn’t. What I would caution against is thinking that there is nothing to stop despair once it has set in. Here I want to identify some basic steps of processing despair:
Enjoyment - this phase is when you’re enjoying life. Though it may not be perfect, your life seems to be going fairly well at this stage.
Jarring Moments - this is when you begin to notice the bad things more prominently in your life.
Submersion - despair has set in
Withdrawal - you withdraw from your relationships
Coping - you have moments of clarity that allow you to mentally and emotionally work through the negativity that led to your despair.
Reintegration - you begin to reestablish your relationships.
Depending on your personality type, you might begin to discuss your coping process and how you’re coming out of despair.
Invigorated enjoyment - each time you successfully come out of despair you become more and more equipped to deal with the next bout. Some people may be able to articulate their experiences in such a way that it helps others process their despair.
Your process may not look like this nor do you have to go in this order. Some people may go through withdrawal before submersion while others may reintegrate as a part of their coping. The important part is that you develop coping methods to deal with despair. Introverts may enjoy things like journaling, crafts, art, or reading particular books. Extroverts may enjoy talking to someone who they trust, performance art, going for a walk, participating in a book club. You may have to try a few different things before finding a coping method that works for you.
Disclaimer: It’s okay if you feel that you’re still stuck in despair and you’d rather seek a therapist or other professional help. If you suspect you might be suffering from clinical or severe depression, it is most definitely advisable that you seek someone trained to help you through it.