It was about three in the morning when I typed the words “suicide chat rooms” on the google search bar. I felt alone and vulnerable, but mostly angry because nothing in my life was going according to plan despite my sincere efforts. The thought of taking my life had flitted across my mind, but in reality I didn’t want to die. I simply wanted to find kindred spirits in my frustration. What I found instead shocked and terrified me. My eyes followed the lines of people begging for partners to end their lives with them. I read stories of immense pain, loneliness, failure, and self-hatred. The hopelessness was so palpable that I slammed my laptop shut and exhaled. The tears came before I knew it. I knew people suffer, but this was different. People are suffering. The urge to reach out across my computer and hug that man or woman in indescribable pain overwhelmed me. It brought to mind how I should always seek to do no harm to anyone. We really should be nice to people.
My situation wasn’t nearly as grave as these individuals in those chat rooms. Enough resolved lived within me to pick myself up and go, but I knew many people out there couldn’t do just that. That’s why I’m writing for the discouraged that have something left in them to move. This is by no means a replacement for professional help. Don’t delay to seek professional help if you know your condition is severe. However, if you’re in a terrible slump and having a hard time coming out, here are five things that eased my tough times.
1.) Stop for a second to think through why you’re going through this spell of discouragement.
I’m a big believer in unrolling and picking apart the negative scenarios that my mind plays. If I allow my negativity to go unchecked and do not take the time to analyze it, then it’ll have more control over my life. The good parts of living become obscured, and my mind declares that nothing of value will come out of my efforts. The result: I stay stuck and roam about like a zombie. This is not about positive thinking. Mostly everyone can do that, and personally, positive thinking doesn’t always work for me. When I’m in dark place, I take a pause and figure out the true, deeper cause behind my negativity. I debunk the lies and myths and come up with alternatives for a problem in which my mind says there are none. There is always an alternative plan, alternative path, opportunity, choice, etc. It’s about changing or rewriting the negative script your mind is set on following. A conscious effort in changing one’s mindset can make a big difference.
2.) Exercise if you aren’t already.
I don’t have to elaborate on the scientific studies lauding the benefits of exercise for improving one’s mood; a thirty minute workout will yield a happier and more relaxed state of mind. But what if you don’t like exercising or going to the gym? Find an activity you love that gets you moving. It could be something as simple as throwing a Frisbee with a friend or dog. Just keep moving for at least thirty minutes. Trust me. It works. I always feel better after exercising. Almost like I can do and take on anything.
3.) Talk to someone. No, really. Find that one person you trust and let them know how you feel.
I’m not usually one to burden my friends with my problems. In fact, I don’t like talking about my problems in general. However, I have enough sense to know that I need one person who will be willing to listen to me when life hits me with frustration and pain. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be one-side because everyone has problems. My friend listens to me and I listen to my friend. In the end, we encourage each other to keep pressing on and let the other know how much we love and care for the other. Instead of getting help, I may end up helping my friend. And you know what they say about helping others. It makes you feel good. So, go and seek that one person. Hug, talk, laugh, cry, and heal together.
4.) Look back at the good times and absorb the good feelings to give you strength to make new memories.
It’s almost too easy to forget that we were once happy and on top of the world when trouble hits and buries us in a pit so deep we forget what light is. One day I happened to look through my pictures from the last four years of my life. In each photo, I was smiling, surrounded by good people, and doing activities that elicited happy feelings. The memories pulled a smile out of me. After looking through this trove of pictures, a thought popped up: Wow, I’ve had some pretty amazing times. I felt good and thought how life was indeed beautiful. Even better, I felt more determined than ever to move forward and experience new things.
5.) Have a dream? Pursue it. Now.
You might think, “Ha, but my dream is the reason why I’m so depressed. I haven’t been able to make it come true.” Yes, dreams are those elusive critters dancing so attractively above our eyes as we try to grab them with short hands. Each time we think we’ve caught them, they fly higher above our reach and life laughs at us. It’s almost sadistic. However, terrible scenario aside, dreams can give us life, purpose, and focus. For example, my dream is to become a sci-fi author. When my other life plans crashed and burned, making me depressed, I continued writing and editing my book. This sole activity of working on my novel gave me life unlike anything else. I’m pretty sure I would have fallen into a deep depression if I didn’t have my book to keep me occupied and focused on a task that mattered very deeply to me. Although I would be more than ecstatic to publish my novel (and I plan to do so), what kept me going and hopeful was the process of making a finished product. So, whatever it is your heart seeks to do, just do it. And finish too.
A list like this isn’t comprehensive enough to bend a complicated life in what we may believe is the right direction. But small things can always grow and branch off into mightier and numerous things that can make a stronger impact. I hope by giving a small piece of my life that you may find some strength and hope for yours.
How about you? I would love to hear what you do when life drags you down.