Depression, Despair, And How to Have Hope

One of my favorite quotes is by the Italian writer, Cesare Pavese: “But a man’s life is down there in the valley, in the fields, at home. Beside a hearth and in a bed. And every day that dawns confronts you with the same toils, the same failures. In the end it wears a man down… The everlasting, grinding toil, the effort to stay alive from day to day, the recognition of evil in others, petty evil, as tiresome as summer flies–that’s the life that cripples a man.”

I feel this sentiment so frequently.  I’m someone who despairs or gets depressed easily.  Every day I’m confronted with the repetitive daily chores and tasks that are required of me.  If I’m in the wrong mood, it all seems impossible.  Sometimes it makes me want to lay down and give up.  In difficult times, the thought of an escape (death/running away) sounded easier than going through the motions of another day.  So where is my hope?  Well, for a little while I lost hope and I thought that it would be better if there were no God, so that death would be The End.  But I just couldn’t convince myself that there’s no God and no life after death, as if death is not a mystery, but something already known.  And if there’s a God and a heaven and hell, and I only have one chance at life, I don’t want it to be this way.  So I need hope.  I look for hope.  I place myself in hopeful situations.  That is how I came across the author, Walker Percy.  I went to the New York Encounter, hoping to have an encounter with God.  And He gave me someone to follow.  Walker Percy feels like a grandfather to me.  He died an old man in 1990.  He struggled with depression his whole life.  He was agnostic until he converted to Catholicism as an adult.  With his new faith, he was able to keep a fascination for the human experience and write about it. WalkerPercy (1)

“The search is what anyone would undertake if he were not sunk in the everydayness of his own life. To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something. Not to be onto something is to be in despair.”
― Walker Percy, The Moviegoer.

I think this quote is very similar to Pavese’s quote about the everyday toils we face.  But it goes further and suggests that the only way out of this “everydayness” is to always be searching for something (God, truth, the meaning of life and so on).  And if we don’t search, we despair.

Well, I was curious about who Pavese was since I related to some of his thoughts.  I looked up his bio and discovered that he was a brilliant writer, an atheist, and had committed suicide in 1950.  He had several quotes which I think Walker Percy would have identified with as well, but their lives ended so differently.  Pavese despaired in the end.  Percy fought the good fight and died triumphant.  He was always searching, always questioning and he struggled his way through this life until death claimed him by cancer.

2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight.  I have finished the race.  I have kept the faith.”  This verse has always been comforting to me since it was in a song I listened to as a child.  I hope I can say these words at the end of my life.

“Losing hope is not so bad. There’s something worse: losing hope and hiding it from yourself.”
-Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

And one of my favorite quotes, which I recently used in another post:

“You live in a deranged age – more deranged than usual, because despite great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing.”
― Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book

Do you struggle with depression?  What helps you?

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rebekah
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 02:13:58

    I feel like I could have written this. I have been super depressed lately, struggling to cope. It is so unpredictable and frustrating. I write blogs to deal with stuff and just give me a way to do something other than the norm.

    Reply

    • Deanna
      Mar 26, 2014 @ 14:05:40

      Sorry to hear you’re in the midst of it. The unpredictability of it is so difficult. When it was everyday, I could try to figure out what to do about it, but when it’s every once in a while, or comes for several days and leaves, it’s hard to know how to handle it. My prayers are with you.

      Reply

  2. Megan Faye Gettelfinger
    Mar 26, 2014 @ 02:38:04

    Yeah I do struggle with depression, or “the problem that has no name” as it was called for so long. I struggle with it when I don’t have a purpose, when I am stuck in the day-to-day routine. I’ve been able to realize I fall in the cycle of it when I no longer grow, when I no longer learn. I love that you’ve shared this. I was just thinking about blogging about my experience with it. I love your honesty in your whole blog. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    • Deanna
      Mar 26, 2014 @ 14:18:43

      Thanks Megan. I think everybody’s experience is meaningful and something to learn from. I know we’ve shared some of this with each other, but I’m sure there’s more to your story, too. 🙂

      Reply

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