Depression and despair are not the same, and they are not mutually exclusive. Depression is that sinking feeling in your chest that makes you not want to get out of bed/out of the house/into your car/to the doctor to tell him or her that you’re depressed and to make you not depressed/drive back home/take your pills/go back to bed/wake up with horrible side effects. Despair is actually the result of after years of depression of finally working out a routine that enables you to get out of bed, etc. Years of emotional recovery have enabled you to be active and functional. However, all of this positive normalcy cannot hide everything. Years of depression have hammered the idea into your head that no matter how things may get, you always will expect the worst.

I think that despair makes the difference between arrogance and modesty. Successful, arrogant people are extremely optimistic. They always assume that everything will go exceptionally well, and usually for them, they do. Successful, modest people are pessimistic. They have probably experienced an extended period of depression before. They know what it’s like to not want to get out of bed in the morning, and whenever, for example, their wife begins to speak, they assume divorce. Whenever she instead says, ‘I love you’, they assume she’s cheating on them. Then, whenever their best friend asks them out for drinks, they assume he’s the one his wife is cheating on. Then whenever they assault their best friend of twenty years and go to jail for six months, they assume it was a set-up. Then, upon release, they instinctively assume that their best friend and wife are now married, so they end up going out on dates with other women. Then, their wife, who was completely loyal, loving, and was never actually sleeping around finds out, and she divorces him and takes all of his money because he never signed a pre-nuptial agreement, since he was too busy obsessing that she was going to leave him due to his perpetual pessimism. Then they have to get up the next day for work.

If you’re experiencing this, I think dating can help. It forces you out in the real world outside of your bed/work routine. On dates, however, it is not a good idea to extrapolate on your emotional problems if you’re a guy. If you’re a girl, it might actually help to an extent. Guys love to try to be the hero.

Another thing to do is to enjoy the little things. Drink on a Tuesday. Order a pizza and eat it by yourself on the floor. Do both of those things. At the same time.

One Comment
  1. Um, what you described as despair is called nihil. It is a close synonym to depression, but far more dangerous.

    Despair is the pain of not knowing how to find or repair your long-term happiness. This will make all short-term victories feel empty, But a person feeling despair hasn’t given up on finding an answer, just that they think that it is unobtainable unless something outside their power to control changes.

    Depression is the feeling that your actions currently cannot make a difference. This effect all short-term goals, not just ones towards your long-term happiness. This is the primary difference between the two.

    Nihil, as an emotion, is what happens when a person completely stops trying to repair their happiness. I don’t think I need to explain how dangerous this is.

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