Dealing With Despair 

By Hannah Bouwmeester

Some of the prevailing mental health issues Veterans and others of us deal with today are depression, PTSD, despair, survivor’s guilt, or other negative emotional states. People generally deal with these states more and more in our argumentative, emotionally charged, social media-driven, negative news and the overall culture of divisiveness and derision we live in today. We can wake up feeling in total despair, and that isn’t even taking into account personal turmoil we may have to deal with at home with family, friends, or work.

URGENT: If you are having suicidal thoughts, please stop immediately and call the Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 Press 1 or Text 838255

Negative emotions and circumstances can pile upon us until we feel we may be crushed under the weight of it all. We wake up each morning feeling desperate for a reason to even get out of bed, and sometimes we may just throw the covers over our head and hide. The dark cloud of despair threatens us; we feel frozen. We endure the slog and have no idea the length this season will last. Many ask, “How do I pull myself out of this state??”

I don’t want for a moment to minimize the reality that feelings of despair can be tied to our physiological makeup as much as our circumstances or emotional state. The suggestions I am about to share are certainly NOT a comprehensive list, nor should they be used for self-diagnosis or treatment if you need professional help. Seek your professional healthcare provider’s help before trying or following any recommendations.

That said, there are some things we can do to help us deal with despair or feelings of depression or anxiety. 

  1. “Change your physiology change your state.” I am a huge fan of Tony Robbins and have taken Tony’s coaching program as well. First, let me say that this is huge! When you stop slouching, sit up straight, take deep breaths, or stand up and jump around like a lunatic, IT CHANGES THE WAY YOU FEEL! Now, you cannot wait to feel like doing it, you have to just get up and do it, but it works! Let your emotions out as verbal sounds. Wail if you have to, but let them out. Shout, scream, let a stream of profanity flow. Whatever helps get the toxic out, do it. Then breathe deeply. Keep moving. If you have to sit, sit straight, shoulders back, have a position of purpose. Try it! You will be amazed.
  2. Meditate. Tony also says where focus goes, energy flows. So stop thinking all about the negative things that are creating the internal storm! Instead, begin to change your focus by meditating on what you are grateful for. What positive things can you find? Even if it is just the sunshine or the sound of the birds chirping. Your children. Your ability to walk, breath, love! The reality is this; if you focus on what you are grateful for, it is hard to stay in despair. 
  3. Pray. Well, if you believe in prayer, that is. I do. I am a spiritual person. I am not religious; please don’t confuse that. But I do believe in the power of prayer. Pray to God when you are feeling that life is spiraling out of control. There is something settling, comforting, and even relieving when you can talk to God who knows all, sees all, and is powerful enough to sustain you even in the hardest of times.

Again, not a comprehensive list by any means, but these three very small steps can make a huge difference if you are willing to take baby steps to stand against despair in your life.

For more help click here –> https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.

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