Despair: How to Carry On

Despair: How to Carry On

“I get knocked down but I get up again
you’re never gonna keep me down”
~ Chumbawamba

We can’t pretend it’s always easy. Life has ups and downs and sometimes many challenges seem to come at once. Have you ever had the challenges pile up on you? I remember a time in my life when it seemed there were many more “downs” than “ups”.

It was the year after my mother died, enough of a grief to bear all on its own. It was also the year my oldest child left home for the first time, to go to university. We had moved from the home in the town where we had lived for twenty years and raised our two children to an eleven-acre property in the country with a house that needed so many renovations that it was eleven months before we could move in. While we waited for our house in town to sell we carried the new mortgage and the renovation costs piled up. We were quickly sinking into debt. In case you’ve lost count; that’s five major stressors.

Was I depressed at that time? You bet I was. I felt crushed under the weight of it all. I remember I used to count the days I got through without crumbling in despair. One time I got as high as seventeen. But life goes on and I wasn’t about to let it go on without me.

Life’s like that sometimes. As much as you might think you have, you can’t prepare for losing your parents, or watching your child leave for university. You just have to keep going; one day, one step, one muscle at a time. Movement is an antidote to depression. As long as you keep going, you will get through.

I love the song linked to in the quote at the top of the page. Songs like that get my muscles moving [and me dancing] and remind me that I can and should carry on. Here are some things that helped me get through that challenging time in my life:

  1. Journaling; telling my story, if only to myself.
  2. Remembering something my mother used to say, “This too shall pass.”
  3. Using my “perspective tool” – projecting myself ahead in time and then from that place looking back at the present moment. This reminded me that at some point in the future what I’d remember most was that I’d triumphed. I’d gotten through.
  4. Clinging to the ordinary – hobbies, work, routines – as much as possible. These kept me moving.
  5. Staying in touch with friends.

Bernardo sugggests another great antidote to despair.

What do you do when you get knocked down in life? How do you keep moving when you just don’t want to? How do you deal with despair?

photo credit: Dennis Jarvis

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About The Author


I am passionate about writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age, now available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. I never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?