Phases #8 Decisions

Gary Davis, decisions, despair, depression, life, journey

     Rising above despair, or crawling your way out of it, is not easy. It might take more time than you initially thought. And you may never fully find yourself completely clear of it. Some pains leave deep scars.

     If there is one tool in the fight against deep, enduring despair it is this— make decisions. It will require every ounce of strength and determination you can muster, and then some. And you will get it wrong sometime. Fine! Try again. Don’t let failure defeat you; learn from it; grow from it. Get mad at your situation. What did Sir Winston Churchill say during World War II? “We will never give up! Never, never, never give up.”

     So also it must be with you.

     At some points you will not even have a hint of what those decisions are. That’s OK. But there will come a day, a moment, a tipping point when a decision, a resolution will become clear. You must make it. Right or wrong…, MAKE IT. It’s better to be engaged in doing something than to lie there sullen, mired in your own solidifying concrete.

     First, a disclaimer. I am prone to depression; to deep spirals; to feeling empty and useless. So, these thoughts do not originate from a book on counseling or self-help. They are real, just like the anguish you are now enduring.

  1. One, I’ve already mentioned— get mad at yourself. This will at least awaken your ire and challenge you to start fighting.
  2. Don’t over-analyze. Mulling the same think over ad infinitum has a way of breeding reptiles of the mind that gnaw at your soul and cramp your emotional/mental capacities.
  3. Pray. If you do not have faith in a God who created you and has your best interests at heart, then this idea doesn’t apply to you: but it should anyway. Call it external processing if you must. Unburden your heart to someone who can help. I vote for God.
  4. Seek medical help. Whether to get through your pain, or, to gain a sense of stability once again. God’s healing is both natural and supernatural; it’s hard to tell which is which sometimes.
  5. Eat the right stuff. Even though chocolate and coffee are essential food groups you still need a source of meat (cow, fish, protein), vegetables (fiber & vitamins), grains (bread, oatmeal, fiber), dairy (yogurt, cheese, hit fudge sundaes).
  6. Exercise. Brooding bloats the brain. Get out there and burn off some endorphins, stress, and calories.
  7. Again, talk to a wise friend. Or, pay a counselor. You need an external perspective.
  8. Make decisions that give you hope and a clear path of resolution and restoration.

Never give up! Never, never, never give up!

  Gary

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Phases #7, Despair

people-who-dont-get-discouraged[Note: This EMPulse was initially intended to focus of discouragement. But the more I wrote, the more I realized it was about Despair. Thus, the shift to despair, which is far more lethal than being discouraged.]

     I didn’t think it would ever end— this despair, this gut wrenching emptiness. The anguish had taken over my body, my soul…, my very reason for living. Will this ever end? How can God let this happen to me?

In the loss of a wife, a parent, a daughter, the grief is understandable. But betrayal? That’s a whole ‘nother kind of anguish. It hits us like a 10 lb. sledge hammer; how can this be happening? Stunned, we try to make sense of it all; but nothing is clear.

Discouragement is something that hits each of us at some time or another in our life. Things just don’t work out the way we had hoped. But despair leaves us with nothing, emptiness, totally alone within ourselves. A child dies, a promotion denied, expectations & hopes—  smashed upon the rocks. We’ve all been there. But what to do about it? Some suggestions—

1.      Give in to the grief. You can never recover from your grief unless you let it have full sway over your heart. Reel in its devastation. Feel the depths of it grip.

2.      Talk to a safe-person. Not necessarily your lover or spouse. NEVER your child. Find someone who holds your confidence and open your heart to them. Cry. Sob. Weep. NOT to someone who will try to “fix it,” but to one who will simply let you be you in this moment.

3.      Cry out to/at God. You can blame Him. But you know it’s not His fault. Cornelius VanTil once said “The only way we can slap God in the face is if He picks us up and holds us in His arms.” ‘Nough said.

4.      Give it Time. Sometimes… lots of time. Whoever said Time heals all wounds, was right. And, truly, some pain never leaves us.

5.      Hope.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; [2 Corinthians 4:8-9] The hardest thing I have ever done is to hope in the midst of the darkness & despair— truly The Dark Night of the Soul[c. 1577-1579. Saint John of the Cross], takes on new meaning once we’ve been dashed upon the rocks.

6.      Make Decisions. Like what? No, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. This topic is so important that it will be the focal point of my next installment.

For now, if you are just entering your despair, feel it deeply. If you are in the midst of your grief, grieve. If you are just recovering, somewhat, don’t beat up on yourself for not handling your pain better. The Psalmist David once wrote—

[Note2: These suggestions are in no way sequential, complete, or final. Facing despair is far more intricate than this article infers.]

 Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
and why art thou disquieted in me?
hope thou in God:
for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

  ~ Psalm 42:5. (AKJV)

Hope!
Gary

Troubled

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Troubled, Crisis, Troubles, despairWhat troubles you? Money? Family? Relatives? Competition at Work? Feelings of failure? Emptiness? Mistrust? The list goes on. There are so many things that can get under our skin and irritate us without let-up. Some of us live our entire lives in frustration, crisis mode, turmoil. Nothing is ever settled. Nothing ever seems to work out. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) put it best—

Double, double toil and trouble;

 Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

~Macbeth

            In life, troubles will come; that’s a given. The issue is how we face them when they do come. Some people ignore their troubles, believing if they don’t address them they will go away. They won’t. Others put their troubles out of their mind, pretending they don’t exist. They do. Still others face their problems but have little hope of overcoming them alone. Yet they push on, commiserating with no one.

Most of us are troubled about something-or-another most of the time. Something is always troubling us. So please forgive me if I offer this sound, if risky, advice.

1.      Start with a thoroughly gut reaction! Cry, yell, sulk, hit something (not someone). If your emotions are raw, let them be raw. When something is eating away at your core you need to address it first at a primal level of gut reaction. Then, walk away. Get over it! After some time has passed, even within the same day, regain your composure and start to think clearly, peacefully. Address the issue head on. A true friend may be needed to give you honest advice..

2.      If you are an external processor, talk with a trusted friend who has some wisdom. If you are an internal processor, get alone for an extended time period; ruminate. Drink tea & remain calm.

3.      DO SOMETHING. What should be done first to solve this problem? What RESOURCES can be drawn upon to help you?

4.      Evaluate if your actions made a difference. To what degree did they help toward a solution to these troubles?

5.      What’s next?

6.      Pray for God’s wisdom and insight. You are not in this alone. If you do not believe in God or prayer, do it anyway. There might be a big surprise in the light at the end of the tunnel. (NO, not a train.)

7.      Learn to ask the questions that need to be asked; even if it turns out that YOU are the problem.

There are very few troubles that come our way that do not have a solution. Whether it comes from private pondering or picking the brains of our friends, or turning to God, these are always ways to face our fears and our foes, and to overcome them. DO NOT give up!

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Depression

Robin Williams, Danger, Depression, Suicide, despair, needinc, dr, gary, davis             Depression is a silent killer. You don’t even have to die to experience its death. You live the death just under your skin, suffocating your soul, 24/7. It is an insidious infection that never lets up.

Sure, you have moments of elation, rest, momentary peacefulness, or escape. I’ve struggled with it for years. When I first married, my new bride would describe me as morbidly introspective. Nice.

Yet on the surface I was upbeat, forward looking, powerful, and optimistic. Underneath, I always wondered if I measured up to peoples’ expectations. I was sure I didn’t.

So I performed better. And better. And… tried harder and harder… .

Robin Williams recent suicide brought it all back to me—the acting, the humor, the insecurity-amidst-confidence; and especially the fear of being known. I even wrote an article on it.

What drives such a successful man to draw an end to his life? In a word— despair. Def.- The conclusion that life holds no more for you. That managing life is now beyond your ability and/or desire. During my journey as a counselor three individuals have committed suicide under my care; one, premeditated, the other two, on the spur of the moment. I’ve always wondered if I could have prevented these needless deaths. My depression spiraled downward to the deepest depths.

If you could have walked through Robin Williams’ depression with him, what would you have said? What hope would you have offered? What reason to continue living? What great purpose would have fulfilled his life? Certainly his success as an actor and comedian did not bring him the fulfillment he so desperately hungered for.

Many fellow Christians might have offered him the reasons he sought in a relationship with Jesus Christ. But do you realize how strange that could have sounded to someone who had no hope, who sat outside the perimeters of God’s protection? It would have sounded farcical.

So many of us, Christians and normal people alike, place our hope in our personal security, our financial stability, and in our own abilities and self-confidence. I don’t think this is enough.

There is a great deal to be said for reestablishing a relationship with the God who made us. And for cleaning out the garbage of our lives. And for clearing the air with our friends.

I grieve Robin Williams death. He left us, unnecessarily, too soon.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

“When did doilies and your mother’s dishes become so important to you?”

Dr, Gary, Davis, despair, Hobbit, Dwarves, doilies, comfort zone, dreams,  It was with this question that Gandalf the Grey, Wizard of Middle Earth, challenged Bilbo Baggins of the Shire in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

            Bilbo had become comfortable, complacent, uncomplicated; retired, in some senses. He had grown at ease with the life he had come to enjoy in the Shire. Everything was as it should be; everything was in its place; life moved along within predictable perimeters. Then, in one evening, his world was launched into chaos and mayhem with the arrival of Thorin Oakenshield’s band of thirteen dwarves. With dwarves and dishes flying everywhere Gandalf arrives to bring a meager sense of order to it all. It is then that the Quest to retake the ancient Kingdom begins to take shape.

            It is often out of chaos and mayhem that our own lives begin to take shape. Tragedy cuts short our plans and dreams; broken trusts confound our relationships; fear grips our souls with spiritual and emotional stringency. There seems no place to go but…, actually, there just seems no place to go: we believe there is no way out of the quagmire that bogs us down in futility.

Thus do we give up.

            Do not despair. There is always a way to push your way through the fray and conquer. Some suggestions, if you will—

1.      Stop! Give your heart and mind time to recover from the shock.

2.      Ponder. Think through your own shortcomings as well as external causes of the recent events that plunged you into this devastation.

3.      Talk with wise friends; not just with drinking buddies who will commiserate with you. You need sound advice and reflection.

4.      Pray for guidance from above…, especially if you do not believe in a god. There just may be one who might surprise you. Boo!

5.      Do NOT watch excessive amounts of TV to escape. That will merely dull your senses and make you tired the next day.

6.      If you are married, talk with your spouse about what you are experiencing. This is the one person in the world who loves you the most. Time to open up.

7.      If the road ahead still seems muddled, seek professional advice. A life-coach, a professional job coach, a relationship therapist, a pastor, AA. You do not have to go this road alone.

8.      Recall your own network of friends. There usually is someone there with connections.

9.      Use an actual piece of paper and pencil (not pen) to clarify issues, draw connections, identify failures (your own & others), and to lay out your next steps. Do this alone first, then, with someone who knows you v-e-r-y well. BE HONEST.

10.  Let it all go on a walk, a run, a basketball court, Ultimate Frisbee, or a fine dinner out. Thinking about your situation ad infinitum will drive you crazy.

I make these recommendations because I have been where you are now in life. I have known the pain, the broken trusts, the tragedies, the loss of those I love, the personal failure. You can and will get through this— for your own sake, and for those you love.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

A Lion Shorn

Facing a new year always brings hope for new beginnings, fresh starts, and a revived spirit. We make resolutions to change things, to do the right thing, to gain in character and lose in poundage. This is right and good. The real test comes at the first setback, the first impediment to our efforts; that alarm clock, the snow storm, the pain that doesn’t seem to work its magic on the gain (weight, that is).

We start off as a great lion, ready to defend our pride, ready to battle the aggressor, ready to provide and persevere. We roar; ready to take on all who might thwart us in our dreams. Though the hunters be many, we will avoid their assaults and elude their snares. Our hearts are steeled on what lies ahead!

Nonetheless, within the next 12 months something will come upon you that will crush your strength, undermine your resolve, and quench your spirit. Your roar will be quelled to a pathetic meow and you will cower in a corner somewhere, trying to escape or slink into anonymity. You will be tempted to give up and call it quits.

But that is not what you were designed for.

Remember Aslan of the C.S. Lewis NARNIA books. A lion, shorn of his mane, emptied of his strength, bound and lying powerless on the ancient table of sacrifice. Then…, slain. But he did not stay there. He rose up, greater than before. Ready to do battle. Ready to protect his own. Full of power and might. THIS is what we are made for! Not whimpering, nor cowering. Rather, for overcoming and conquering, in strength and with great graciousness.

So, this year, when the conflicts come, when the confusion overwhelms, and entering a cloister seems the only sensible thing to do, remember Aslan, who eschewed retreat, and reentered the fray. You may despair and believe you are a lion shorn of his mane and strength. But you can arise from the ancient alter and once again rise to greatness. You may need a little help doing it; but that is true for all of us.

For what it’s worth,

Gary