Malady-based on the latin ‘ill’ and habitus “having as a condition’ ergo an illness that inhabits.

‘The small seed of despair cracks open and sends experimental tendrils upward to the fragile skin of calm holding him together.” Judith Guest in Ordinary People
I used to like this image, until I watched someone I really care for cracked apart by the tendrils of despair, watched them battle the darkness as it made its insidious way through that outer calm and into their core. I’ve since come to resent the parasitism it implies.
Despair feeds on the living, sucks the life right out of them and leaves nothing but the air of indifference. It is not a quick death, but a long one and littered with the detritus of anxiety and panic attacks, fear and the feeling of hopelessness.
BUT…just because one feels hopeless, does not mean one is without hope. Poetic as Judith Guest’s image is, I think it is wrong. Despair is not a seed that has been planted in us awaiting germination. No, it is an external malady, a tendril that feels its way towards that fragile skin and burrows in when it meets no resistance. Most of us feel it’s first tentative touch and the second, colder one that follows. The solution is to run, hard and fast, away from it- all the while surrounding yourself with light (phone a friend, get outside for a walk, stop the thought train!).If we don’t, its first tiny incision will follow, that and the first dewing drop of blood that marks it’s point of entry (the knot in our gut, the downward spiralling of our thoughts, the feelings of inadequacy). The infant plant feeds on that first drop of blood, trailing its path inward to the source.
We cannot afford to lose time now- treatment must be aggressive and swift if we are to halt this vampiric shoot on its journey inward-capture those thoughts and challenge everything those voices say (everything will be ok, you are not a failure, this is not the end or even the beginning of the end, everything does not depend on whatever happens next, it is not ‘too hard’, ‘too much’ or ‘too late’). Pray, talk to a trusted friend, ask for help, drink lots of water, eat healthy food, feed your soul and starve your fears…get moving…that little plant Despair is rooted in one spot, we are not. Move and it remains tethered to the spot, pulled unwillingly away from us and its poison along with it (though we may need to bleed a little while to wash it out). We do not need to do it alone- a family member, friend, teacher or mentor can help unstick us from the spot, can pull us forward and steady our first tentative steps. But know this, the sooner we move, the easier it will be. The younger the shoot, the weaker its hold on us.
What if it makes its way inside-all the way inside? What if it sucks out the life and swallows the light? There is still hope…hope is the tiny seed that is planted in us, that was planted in us at  creation, that is there because we were made in the image of God. Hope is the tiny seed in all of us that can germinate-even in the absence of light-and send its roots into the hard rock of a despairing heart splitting the rock apart and holding it together at the same time. Hope is the plant that grows upward towards the sun drawing it’s warmth and light inward, dispelling the darkness, restoring the life.
The immunisation against despair is simple: fill yourself with hope, surround yourself with light, move when you feel it approaching, and never ever invite it in.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Puppycat
    Mar 08, 2011 @ 02:40:09

    So true Arianne .. hope is nutured in light and despair in darkness. And while we are alive, there is always hope.
    Looking forward to following you on your blogging journey 🙂
    Have an awesome evening



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