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The Email:

I'm borderline and was wondering why I feel so much despair? I didn't know I was feeling despair til my doctor told me that. Thought I was just majorally sad.

AJ's Response:

Well sadness is a part of life for all of us. Borderlines tend to feel this much more acutely when they feel it. They tend to perceive it in extremes, ie, like it will last forever. There is a difference between sadness and depression and despair.

Depression itself can be something that just comes on for no apparent reason. Sadness is a very healthy response to sad or hurtful or disappointing experiences in life. Despair is a lack of hope -- feeling hopeless.

Your doctor might have used that term if what you shared indicated a loss of hope or some level of hopelessness that has become more pervasive and not just fleeting brief episodes associated with mood shifts.

Think about where your level of hope or lack of hope is. That will be an indication of whether or not you are truly experiencing despair.

Despair is often experienced in tandem with deep and profound "original pain". It can be worked through but one must be prepared to do the work and to grieve. Crying a river is a major way to recover from despair because it will free up your hope over and over again.

Hang in there. Keep working. Stay true to your process. The only way out of the pain is to go through the pain to the other side.

This response is © A.J. Mahari

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This page/section was moved from Soul's Self-Help Central October 13, 2002 and is © Ms. A.J. Mahari (& (.org) 2000-2007 was last up-dated July 29, 2007