Do you ever feel hopeless?

Do you ever feel hopeless? Do you ever feel like every thing is terrible, with no light at the end of the tunnel? Do you ever become so overwhelmed with emotions that you just want to give up? 

Many survivors of sexual assault describe having these feelings, at least some of the time. For many people, these feelings can be a reaction to trauma or an especially stressful time in life. Sometimes these thoughts and feelings can take the form of suicidal thoughts. Other times they may steal your motivation to continue working, going to school, or taking care of yourself. 

Often, the first step is to let go of feeling ashamed or embarrassed. Of course, this is easier said than done; but remember these feelings are normal, and they don’t mean that you have done anything wrong. Find a trusted person, like a family member, friend, counselor, or a crisis hotline, and reach out - talk to someone if you are feeling suicidal. It is always okay to ask for help when you need it! You DON’T have to do this alone!

Questions to ask yourself if you are feeling down or hopeless:

  • How’s your physical state? Are you tired? Hungry? Dehydrated? Take care of those things first. It can be surprising what low blood sugar and fatigue can do to your mood! Get some sleep if it’s nighttime, or even if you just need a nap. If you are hungry, find something (relatively healthy) to eat. (Anyone else get hangry?!) If you’ve only eaten chocolate or chips all day go find something with more nutrients. It doesn't have to be a fresh chopped salad, but even a piece of fruit or a PB&J sandwich can make a difference.
  • Are you feeling sick? Do you have a cold, or a headache? Is there a regular medication that you take that has been forgotten or changed? Address these things with appropriate medication or other remedies. Make sure to take any medication as prescribed by your doctor. 
  • Have you moved around today? Often, when we are feeling down and ready to give up, we lose the motivation to even get up. But if you can force yourself to move, even just a little, it can have a profound effect. Take a walk around the house and open all the blinds, or better yet, go outside to get some sun! Even just five minutes of movement can help.
  • How’s your hygiene? A nice, warm shower can change your life. Hygiene is often one of the first things we let go when we are feeling a lack of motivation. Take a shower or a hot bath, and focus on the smell of the soap, or the way the water feels on your skin.
  • Are you feeling ineffective? Find something, no matter how small, that you can accomplish. Take out the trash, feed the dog, or make the bed. Remind yourself that you can do things that need to be done. Better yet, find something that you feel particularly good at, and do it! Drawing, singing, cooking, etc.… focus on your skills and abilities.
  • Are you over-exerting yourself or trying to do too many things at once? It can be hard to slow down in a society that asks us to move fast. Doing too many things physically, mentally, or emotionally can take its toll. Give yourself permission to slow down and focus on just one thing in the present moment. Take note of all five of your senses, and notice new things about mundane tasks, like brushing your teeth or folding clothes. Or just stop for a moment and focus on your breathing. Take an hour long vacation from the world and turn off electronic devices.
  • Have you done anything just for you? Often, when feeling like giving up, we decide that we don’t deserve the positives in life. Having positive experiences is important for us to keep going. So go do something you love, or something that is just for you! Practice some self-soothing, like taking a bubble bath, listening to music, or allowing yourself some of your favorite food. Do you love watching reality shows on TV? Watch some. Love nature? Get outside. 
  • Have you disconnected from other people? When we begin to give up, we often neglect our relationships with others. Call a friend or family member, and listen to them describe their day. Engage in random acts of kindness – leave a neighbor a nice note or give someone a compliment. When we connect with others we feel like we are a part of something, and we are reminded of how important others can be in our lives.
  • What is important to you? Look at pictures of loved ones, pets, friends, and family. Remind yourself of the people who love you. Think about the things you would like to accomplish in the future, and make a list. Break down large, long term goals into smaller ones. Remind yourself of the small things that you do every day, and acknowledge the strength it has taken for you to make it this far! Become your own cheerleader and tell yourself that you are strong and brave, and you can do difficult things!

No matter WHAT you do, remember that you are not alone. Sometimes emotions can overwhelm us, and cause us to struggle to think clearly. When that happens, it can be best to give yourself time to recover before making any big decisions. Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help. STSM is ALWAYS available through our 24-hour hotline. If you are struggling, call us at (803) 771-7273!

Eva Marson, LMSW

Eva Maron joined the staff at STSM in March 2016 as the Newberry Advocate Counselor. As an Advocate Counselor, Eva’s role is to enhance and expand comprehensive services for survivors of sexual assault and abuse in Newberry County. Eva received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Social Work from The State University of New York at Buffalo, becoming a Licensed Master of Social Work. She enjoys working with survivors and being a part of their empowerment and healing journey.