Please be aware: I did not write this and it does not belong to me. I very much want to share the wisdom and compassion in these words, but I’m having a difficult time trying to find the original author. To the person who wrote this: thank you.
What To Do When You Lose Hope
Talking based on my personal experience with profound depression, sometimes even this short list of 10 steps is overwhelming.
Here’s my two cents:
- “Stop thinking” is not so easy. After much struggling, I chose a long Buddhist prayer that I read everyday. I was so depressed that at the beginning I couldn’t read a whole paragraph. I would stare at the page and start reading and by the 3rd word I had already forgotten what I read before and had to return. I would go back and start over. Until I could read one sentence, one paragraph and so on. It doesn’t need to be a prayer, it can be any piece of work. The effort to read was so huge for me, that I had to stop thinking to be able to read.
- Get out of bed – for weeks on end I couldn’t get out of bed. On the days I managed to get out of bed, I made a point to fix the bed right away. It would make it less inviting for me to go back to bed. If you are too tired for even that and you can get some extra support from a loved one. Make this plan for your loved one to fix the bed as soon as you get out of it.
- Take a shower – only if it helps you feel better. It might too hard too. Make sure to at least drink a glass of water. Warm water or a cup of tea might be better.
- Get dressed – this too might be very hard. Take a selfie of yourself in the middle of the day each day and see how many days you were able to get dressed.
- Drink a glass of water – if drinking water repulses you, try adding cool aid, honey, or warming it up.
- Eat breakfast. It’s not as easy as it sounds. You might be so down that you cannot even furnish your pantry and fridge and there is nothing to eat. If you have some external help, ask for comfy foods like baby carrots, cereal bars, water crackers, cuties (oranges), grapes, cheese sticks, soups. At times, even talking about food would revolve my stomach. If you can’t put anything in your mouth, at least drink water.
- Go for a walk – only when you feel good enough. I remember that for awhile I was terrified of meeting or seeing other people around me. I looked so miserable that everyone felt compelled to hug me. Just the thought of someone touching me made my spine hurt.
- Pay attention to what is around you. In fact, when we are depressed it might be such a dark place that we feel almost blind. But other times we might feel overwhelmed by any sensory stimuli. I spent months only looking downwards. I started noticing every little detail, every stain, bug, litter, texture of every floor I walked.
- Get immersed in the scenery – only if you can. Take it easy
- Appreciate the beauty around you. Instead of that, revise your concept of beauty. Everything has intrinsic beauty and ugliness inside. We should break off the barriers of our preconception.
What helped me was to do something with my hands that required little concentration but still allowed me to build something. I made drawings (very bad ones, I’m terrible at it), I painted, I fixed broken things, I knitted a lot. But I only engaged in these activities when I was able to get out of the bed, drink water and eat at least once a day.
But I think that most important of it all, learn that you are not alone in this situation and there are at least millions of other people in this world, at this very exact moment, feeling as bad or worse than you. Some will get better, some will get worse, some will survive, some will die. It’s not hard to find some of them and talk to them. Incredibly, sharing misery makes it easier to carry. If you are a person that ran out of hope, you are probably not even able to read this, but I only hope that someone that knows you does, gets in touch with you and conveys it to you. If you still have a sliver of hope that got you to here, look for a support group. Call the 24 hour help line 1-800-273-8255, call someone you love. Don’t look for answers, but for questions that you might be able to answer.