Dealing with Despair

The last week has been rough. I’ve found myself stuck in my all too familiar self destructive cycle of hopelessness and despair. Each day consists of crying in bed questioning the point, and every night I go to sleep hoping not to wake. The self perpetuating cycle of my depression is a dark one, always waiting in the corner of my mind waiting to pounce and take over. And sadly it’s so easy to stay there and let the depression control me, rather than trying to break free. This is why it’s so important to choose recovery everyday and to continue choosing it until it is no longer a choose but rather your reality. I also know however, how easy it is to fall down and to get trapped in depression feeling like there is no way out, sometimes it can happen even when you least expect it, when there is nothing wrong at all. That’s when it’s usually the worst when your not only depressed but also racked with the guilt of knowing you have no reason to be, knowing there are so many others worse off. Yet it never changes that constant familiar undercurrent of miserable in your life, that constant sense of dread each morning knowing you have to face another day. Usually at least for me personally the phases of deep despair will always pass sometimes lasting days or something even weeks. But eventually  it always passes just like a storm and my mind begins to clear and allows me to see a world full of possibilities. Then sadly  more often than not this periods of hope and positivity is gone as soon as it arrives, and the despair returns.

There are so many recommendations of how to feel better and to do this, think that but no matter how much you know about what you should do to get out of ‘depression’ it doesn’t make it any easier. That sense of dread and despair is not something that you can think yourself out of, it’s something you need to feel and work through. Dealing with despair, at least for me is something I’ve had to teach myself to work through. It came to a point where it felt like I had read all the books, done all the things I was meant such as meditating, exercising, socialising, getting a hobby, eating well, reading books, listening to positive podcasts, journaling, doing yoga, making goals and being mindful but none of it worked. No matter what I did nothing stopped the despair, it always came back slowly but surely it always came back and I would find myself deep down the dark hole. I knew what I was meant to do to ‘get better’ but nothing changed the fact I just couldn’t seem to do it. When you are in that place trapped in the dark despair of your mind it taints your entire world, it makes nothing worthwhile, nothing is easy and it all just feels like too much.

Over time though my continual struggles with these all too familiar cycles of despair and hopelessness I have now developed a few tools that have helped. These tools are not a guarantee but over the years and with many experiments I have found them to be some of the most useful methods to help me with my depression and often to just get me through the day.  These are things that are easy and don’t require much physical or mental effort because for me personally doing anything on dark days can be a struggle. xx

These are my 5 tools to Deal with Despair:

  1. Get out of bed.
    It’s simple and effective. It sounds obvious but I often find when I’m at my darkest and there just doesn’t seem to be a point to get out of bed, that it is difficult and almost impossible to do. Often the things that feel the most difficult are the things you must do, so get out of bed and even if it is just so you move to the couch that is achievement enough.
  2. Sky gazing.
    Take a moment to look up into the sky, ideally the night sky and simply gaze at the stars or the clouds. Take that moment to just ponder the vastness and beauty of the sky, let yourself feel how small and insignificance you are in the universe. I have always found that taking a moment to feel my total insignificance and temporary status in this world to be an incredible perspective shifter for me when I feel totally lost and deep in depression. There is something above gazing up at the sky that provides me with such a sense of peace just contemplating the sky, space and time.
  3. Move.
    Everyone knows exercise is good for treating depression. This however doesn’t change to fact that often when you are deep in despair sure we might know exercise will make us feel better but doing it is an entirely different thing. So because I know this happens, I pay a membership to a Pilates studio and committee myself to Pilates classes 2-3 times. Having this accountability factor and something to get out of bed for regardless of whether it’s a good or bad day has made a huge difference for me. It means even when I have had one of my darkest days, if I go to a Pilates class then at least I know I’ve gotten out of bed and achieved something even if I do just go straight back to bed after. And yes I do always feel better after exercising. So committing to a class and giving yourself that accountability factor is a great way to force you out of your despair and at least give you a rest from your head for moment. If you don’t want to committee to paying a membership that at least commit yourself to walking outside for 5 minutes a day, go outside an move just for 5 minutes and trust me it will make a difference.
  4. Watch Comedy TV Shows.
    My personal favourites – Brooklyn99, Parks&Recreations, Workaholics and Little Britain…
    The recommend TV shows is because they are short and often the story line isn’t as important to follow. I find comedy movies usually too long and easy to lose interest in, whereas TV Shows are usually more consistently funny throughout an entire short episode. And if you don’t want to watch a TV Show try at least a funny YouTube video! Laughing is truly an incredible medicine as cliché as it sounds, you can’t possibly be stuck in your head when you are laughing. There is something so therapeutic about being able to just get out of your head for that moment and laugh and just be.
  5. Hand Hobbies.
    Recommendations – cross stitching/knitting, playing an instrument, painting/drawing, making something or baking.
    There is something about using your hands that helps get you out of your head for that moment and gives you the feeling that you are achieving something. I’ve never found reading a book or watching a movie to ever be very useful to help with my depression, however during my multiple hospital stays I took up cross stitching and I immediately noticed an improvement. Using my hands while I was stitching and the need to focus on the stitch count and pattern helped me get a break free from the incessant thoughts in my mind. It also gave me a sense of achievement whenever I finished a cross stitch and there is a real satisfaction in being able to physical hold something you made in your hands. Even on my darkest days now I still use cross stitching as an almost meditative way to help get out of my head when it get too much. Plus even if I spend all day in bed feeling sorry for myself at the end of the day I still get the small satisfaction of getting to hold that little piece of art in my hand, and it’s the small things like that that really make all the difference.

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