Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Face of Despair © Megan Snider

A Friendly Warning: I have mentioned this before, but I am going to mention it again because I am adding some pieces of personal writing to this blog that deal with mental health opposed to adding content that is of my usual caliber. Here is the warning: Everything on this blog is written and maintained by me, Megan Snider. I do not mind if you link to my site nor share my writing. However, if you do so, you MUST use my full name and accompany my writing or any excerpt of my writing with my name. ANYTHING you use from this site is my own personal writing, which I have personal possession of. Please NEVER reduplicate pieces of articles, quotes from articles or excerpts from posts without my total permission or without using my name.  As you may guess, my writing is extremely important to me. If you stumble upon this site and respect the research and help I am trying to provide, then I must humbly ask you to respect my opinions concerning my writing within this blog. Remember, I am paid for none of this. It is all done out of passion and love in my own free time to help the mentally ill communality and, to some extent, possibly their family members.

by Megan Snider on June 11th, 2012
Franz Kafka once wrote, “Don’t despair because you despair.” Of course, he wrote it in German—not English. Gerard Way would counter this in a song lyric where he would sing, “What sin is despair?” Both men have admirable arguments. Both men were definitely visited by grief and despair. Despair etched itself all too heavily on their gaunt faces. The more appropriate question is not what to make of despair, but rather, how to handle it.

No matter who you are, you started somewhere, didn’t you? We all have points of origin that feed into whom we are and make us men and women of character. When faced with despair, just as a child would run to its mother, we run to our points of origin—be it through the abysmal march back to a geographical location or an intellectual journey to a fixed point on the ever-expanding plot graph of time.

When massive overload comes, as it surely will, and the smile creeps off your face, when your lips feel numb, and all you can do is fix your eyes into space, you will find that you have gone. You have returned to the place and the time where you were happiest.

Perhaps this time was being a "backseat Baptist" in a small congregation hidden in a maze of cornfields. Perhaps this time was with someone who possessed a bright spirit that tugged you ever closer. Perhaps this time was a fleeting embrace in the dark or just a hand skimmed by the touch of another’s hand. It makes no difference. For you and for me, that place of origin still exists and pulls us in close as the walls mildew and fold around us like an illy shuffled deck of cards.

Despair, to answer both Kafka and Way—as strange bedfellows as they may seem—is certainly no sin. I am most positive that Christ felt despair when he cried out, “Elohim, Elohim, lama sabachthani?” Christian or not, you are familiar with this lamentation. At this time Christ was human, and as a human, He felt what we all feel from time to time—the absence of God. And He despaired.

As life increases, so does wisdom and, as Ecclesiastes tells us, “He that increases knowledge increases sorrow.” A revelation can bring about sorrow, grief, and despair. The acknowledgement of loss, the acceptance of pain, the persistence of suffering, and the inevitable encounter with death all easily the stretch the face into the twisted gaping contours of despair.

To be blunt, and more importantly, to be honest, if you are human, you will despair. As James Joyce aptly noted, “You can still die while the sun is shining.” The question is not when or why you will despair. Rather, they question is what to do with this despair.

As I once wrote rather pathetically to myself, “God gave us burdens. He also gave us shoulders.” Christianity has been quite fond of the idea that we each have our own crosses to bear. This is irrefutable. The cross Christ staggered with becomes the warped and poorly nailed planks of wood that we all too must shoulder up our own personal Golgotha.

If you will read the passages detailing Christ's struggle to Golgotha carefully, you will note that Christ did not weep for himself. Many wailed. Many were distraught and on their knees, yet, from Christ, came no single tear or sign or resistance—only a dogged determination to cross into the final destination. If you truly suffer, you will do so in silence most often. The bravest people are the ones who smile with a gum line of rotten teeth or who gaze into the horizon with blind eyes. They are the ones who have lost yet for some reason keep going.

Let me be clear so that there is no division or confusion among you. There is no sin in despair. And, to be honest, Kafka was often morbidly depressed and only one who has despaired over despair would have the presence of mind to advise others gently not to do so themselves. However, appropriately or inappropriately, the loveless Kafka finally found his reason for living as he approached his own death.

As we place foot in front of foot each day of our lives, we will inevitably be reminded that despair will visit each one of us individually. When you hear the knock upon your door, do not despair— as you already know who is on the other side. Without murmuring, without hesitation, and without self-pity, once again pick your cross back up and resume your march up the hill. You may die while the sun is shining, as Joyce pointed out, but you will die with the sun on your face.

© Megan Snider
(c) Megan Allyce Snider
Copr. M. Allyce Snider 2012
Copyright Megan Snider


  1. I'm just going to add this for the sake of this post. As usual, when someone mentions religion or politics, people get rightfully upset. Know that this is *not* a commentary on Christ nor Christianity itself. If I wanted to write about those issues, I would start a blog on Christianity. I am more than capable of that. However,I realize there are many branches of Christianity and I don't have any trouble starting fights on my own-- let alone by writing about my personal views on religion or God on a public blog. As I have revealed before, I am a person of faith. If you do not agree with what I have written here, then simply try to think about what it is you are upset about. I do not feel as though I misrepresented or slandered Christ in anyway. I am simply making abstract thoughts and applying them to the suffering that goes hand in hand with mental illnesses. Thank you for understanding!

  2. I have received an e-mail saying that I received a message from "Anonymous". It is not showing up here on the blog, but I would like to thank you for your kind words. No, I am not paid for this work. It is more of a labor of love. I'll make no bones about it, just like any English graduate, I want to be published in something besides a college writing periodical (I am already in several of these from my college days). I write confessional poetry and historical or dystopian fiction mostly. Thanks for your kind words. I care about what I do here very much. I WISH I could get paid to write like this! :) Thanks for stopping by! Feel welcome to come back!

  3. I see you're still writing with beauty, honesty, depth and meaning, Megan.

    You and your site here were a beacon to me during my darkest days. Life has moved on ("foot in front of foot") and as the river of chaos becomes a calm stream, I have focused on my own life's work again.

    It is good to see you again, and wonderful to read how you and your writing have evolved.

    Much affection and gratitude,
    Christine Robinson

  4. Thanks, Christine. My life is coming apart, but I am managing. Every so many years it does this. It's sort of like a child pulling the stuffing out of a teddy bear doll. I was surprised by some things and I also despair over some things. I do not believe that is a sin in itself as some do. Sometimes despair is all you can seem to find.