What to do when you’re feeling hopeless and seeing no reason to keep living.

Suds Asks: Shirelle, sometimes I feel so hopeless I don’t want to live anymore. Does that ever happen to you?

Hi Suds –

I’m sorry you feel so lousy.  I know what it’s like to feel really sad and frustrated and lonely and angry.  But no, I’ve never not wanted to live anymore.  That’s because dogs are different from people – we just never think that way.  But I have to tell you, I’ve never known a human who hasn’t felt just what you’re feeling right now.

The strange part about this is that when someone has that feeling, they always feel like they’re the only one in the world feeling it!  Right?  And here I’m saying every person feels it, at least sometimes!  Kind of goofy, isn’t it?

Now when I see people feeling as hopeless as you feel, I want to do two things.  The first is to make you feel better.  If you were here I’d jump on you and lick your face and play tug-of-war with your shoes while you’re still in them.  That’s got to make anyone’s day, right?  And second, I want to make sure that you know there’s always something to look forward to.

So I have a few things I suggest.  The first is to make a list of twenty things you still want to do someday.  Maybe you want to go to Paris, maybe you want to drive a car, maybe you want to have a date with someone amazingly attractive.  Maybe you want to eat a whole pizza all yourself (that one works for me)!  Then when you’re done with the list, look it over and see which ones you could do soon, and which will take longer.  Okay maybe some of them are impossible (“I want to jump up so high I touch the moon” or something).  But I’ll bet most are pretty achievable.  And the more you focus on them, the more you’ll want to be alive, so you can do them.  And if any of them is something you could do right now… it might be a great idea to just get out there and do it!

Second, try thinking about the times you’ve felt really great.  Maybe really happy, or really proud, or strong.  Write them down too.  Now pick the three best of them, and write all you can about them.  What you did, what others did, and especially how it felt.  Now maybe some of those memories bring up more sadness — maybe those were experiences you had with someone you loved who you don’t have anymore, for example.   But still, the fact that they happened once means they can happen again.  I’m always miserable when Handsome’s out of town, but I can still play with other people and dogs till he gets back.

And third, most importantly, if those haven’t worked:  TALK with someone.  Someone you really trust.  Maybe a family member, maybe a friend, maybe someone who works at your school or place of worship.  A therapist could be especially good for this, because they’re all trained specifically to deal with just this feeling.

Remember, my goal isn’t just to keep you alive, it’s to make your life really fun and worth living.  When you’ve got that, you can’t feel this hopelessness.  You’ll be more like me, eager and excited to greet every new day.

Good luck, and if you need to talk about this more privately, be sure and write me on the “Contact” page.

Sending You Joy,


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