Despair: This is a feeling of depressive hopelessness that can be so profound that it proves fatal for some. At minimum, despair degrades one’s quality of life and often causes the afflicted to isolate themselves from other people and their help. Is despair a common feeling in your life? Through observation, have you learned the warning signs for when you are beginning to slip into depression and despair? Are you even aware of it? Do you allow others to help or do you rediscover hope on your own? If so, are you aware when others are slipping into this negative mindset? Are you willing and able to help them to recover from despair? In life, you may find yourself overcome with despair. A loss of all hope or confidence can feel finite and absolute, but it rarely is. You must find and cling to things in life that give you hope and inspiration. Allowing ourselves to ignore those things which will improve our emotional state will force us into depression. By applying positive thinking to our situations, we can avoid depression. What gives you hope in life when despair threatens to consume you? Have you determined whether despair is self-inflicted or caused by outside forces? Is there a spiritual remedy for your despair?
Each one of us, at some point or another, experiences some degree of despair in life. Be it the loss of a loved one, the inability to make [more] money, or some other instance where hope (see Hope Blog) seems lost, human beings are susceptible to the down-spiral of despair and depression. Although, some might believe that despair only plagues certain groups of people (e.g. the rich, the poor, the mentally ill, etc.), despair can be devastating for anyone who often lingers in this state of mind. Certainly, the devastation created by despair is not confined to only the afflicted, but also touches family, friends and other well wishers.
Devastated is an apt description of how some felt when they heard that comedic legend and Oscar winner Robin Williams took his own life. After reading about his struggles with clinical depression, alcohol/drug addiction, and his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, I began to more fully realize the level of despair Robin Williams was experiencing. According to the LA Times, his wife explained that he “battled drug and alcohol addiction at different points in his career and spent time in rehab in July,” but “was maintaining his sobriety at the time of his death.”
How can we understand the difference between this individual despair and the despair suffered by thousands who cope daily with situations like those in the Middle East? Their lives are defined by terrorism that keeps them in constant fear and seeks to rob them of not only their lives but also their world simply because of their religion.