Does anything in nature despair except man? An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair. It is too busy trying to survive. It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting. Is this a key? Keep busy with survival. Imitate the trees. Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain. Sit it out. Let it all pass. Let it go.”
― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude
Reading one of Elizabeth Gilbert posts on her Facebook page last week she states:
The etymology of the word “despair” is “to be without hope” (From the Latin. De = without. sperare = to hope. Curiously enough, this thread of simple investigation led me to another word, which I’ve never heard before — the adjective “sperate”, which means, “having some likelihood of recovery”…which seems like a really important word to know.)
The scariest feeling I’ve ever experienced in my life was the sense, during my period of deepest depression, that this might not end. My fear was that this was not a phase, but a new reality — forever. I feared that I might look back years later and see that there had been a moment in my life when I fell off the sidewalk, landed in the gutter, and never really made it back up to my feet again. That fear for my future was worse, even, than the reality of my present.
I realized I am not the only one with a sense of no hope at times. Funny she mentioned her experience, as I was just telling my therapist last week how overwhelmed I felt with everything, and I couldn’t imagine, after 3 years, still finding it challenging to even brush my teeth some days. It was to the point, on the Monday of our Canadian Thanksgiving, after all the family left, and I was alone, I started to feel worthless.
Totally, utterly worthless.
This horrid feeling lasted the entire day, and a rare time when I couldn’t even find a reason to smile. Just the day before I was enjoying my family, a great dinner, smiles and laughs. Surrounded by those I cherish, and although I felt a tad uncomfortable (being in a group) I knew I was safe. So why is it, the next day, I fall into depth I was just 3 years ago.
I said to my therapist : « Is this ever going to end? »
That is when she explained : « You feel despair ».
I never knew the true meaning of this word until last week : « The complete loss or absence of hope » yet, Mrs. Gilbert brings up another word, which I agree is a very important one “sperate”
There is a chance I will recover, even better: I will recover.
As a child, and even now, I am the « light at the end of the tunnel » person, always trying to find the « end of the rainbow » for the pot of Gold. Somewhere over that rainbow, blue birds do fly.. I promise.
But some days, there are no rainbows, or birds, only « why only why can’t I? »
Thank the great Universe above, I do not feel despair every day, only in moments. I am able to chase away the feeling by eventually finding beauty, finding joy, finding love. All I have to do is look at my children and the despair flies out of me like a cat after it fell into the toilet. It runs.
I think of the people who feel despair daily, at one point, I did. It was the most unnerving feeling in my life. Not being able to set goals, or even imagine anything better than what I was experiencing at the moment. Years of therapy, writing, sharing and communicating with others, allowed me to know that this is not a forever thing. It never was a forever thing.
Oh, I may have a chronic illness (depression), and yes it returns every day, week or month. Yet, if I look at the passion I felt last week, capturing the beauty of autumn with my camera, taking in the spectrum of hues this time of year brings. Yes, it is an end (the fall) to bring in the beginning of another season.
And seasons will change, as the season of my life changes. Guaranteed!
It is all-encompassing
Today, the leaves I captured in my photographs are falling off the trees. Soon the soil will be covered in a beautiful blanket of snow, however, it never ends, life itself. It is only dormant for a short while, earth does not despair, because under it all life is still waiting to become again.
I am becoming every single day.
“Depression is the flaw in love. To be creatures who love, we must be creatures who can despair at what we lose, and depression is the mechanism of that despair.” ― Andrew Solomon, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression