…What is hope?
Hope is a small one syllable word that contains a great deal of meaning. Some dictionaries define hope as an expectation or desire for something, but that’s about as far as it goes. It’s not a very satisfactory answer. The definition is too simple and superficial it’s almost glib. And so we use the word hope glibly. We say ‘hope the weather gets better’, or ‘hope the All Blacks beat Australia’, etc. These are desires based on nothing. They’re thin, flimsy, meaningless. This sort of hope is weak because it requires nothing of the person who hopes, it doesn’t require the person to actively participate in life to make these things happen.
Hope isn’t a passive thing that you pluck out of the sky or blink and it’s there. It has to be developed and nourished through work and dedication, it has to be exercised like any muscle in the body for it to be strong. Most people learn to hope from their parents and family when they’re very young. It’s nurtured in them that all things are possible, provided you’re well with yourself and comfortable in your own skin. Hope is a strength and that comes from faith, a belief that things can and will change provided you’re prepared to take that first step into the world. Foundations are first. Making sure you stand on solid ground is the key ingredient; it’s what gives you the self-confidence to move forward.
Seeing hope, gabbing it and holding on isn’t easy and is best done with a friend. You need not stand alone in trying to find hope. For years I was depressed. I felt isolated and disenfranchised, I was scared and lonely. As far as I could tell my life was empty and lost, I had closed myself off from the world. This led me to make a number of suicide attempts which in turn led to a number of hospitalisations. After one such hospitalisation I came in contact with a group of clinicians who worked with me, my family and friends to re-establish hope in my life. In fact for the last three years they have held hope for me while I have been unable to find and hold on to hope for myself. Holding hope for someone else is one of the most fundamentally loving things you can do and it can literally help save a life
Holding hope for someone who struggles is about being a quiet presence of support in the recovery process. Work with that person, deep down somewhere in his soul there is a light, for without that light there would be no life. So reality check the past and focus on the present, on the little triumphs of day to day life. We all have our successes each day, just getting out of bed, having a shower, eating breakfast are all small, but important steps in living. Often a person feeling depressed is stuck by the inertia of apathy. These people may need support shopping or cleaning the house or going to see WINZ and other practical missions. Those missions, if accomplished carry with them so much meaning, they’re important triumphs and should be seen as successes. It’s not about taking over, but it is about being there as a practical support. To some extent you’re the persons cheerleader, someone they can turn to and gain recognition of things achieved. It’s as vital to have a support person around during the lighter days as the dark. If a person sees you’re there for them whatever the weather it may give them the strength and the confidence to engage more and recognise in themselves that they are worth the energy. Being a positive influence for change and sharing your own experience of life is another key to support. The person may see things in you and your experiences that mirror their own circumstances and that may give them some sense of hope. When the person attempts to branch out be as encouraging as you can, remembering that you are a role model to this person. Try not to talk in the negative. Positive actions and dialogue create new ways for change in a person who is stuck in the negative. Engage in solving problems, challenge one another to work together to create a plan of attack is a good way of seeing challenges through to completion. And that builds confidence. It doesn’t matter who you are in that person’s life so long as there is mutual respect in the relationship. In fact the more people holding hope for that person the better. Let the relationship grow organically at its own pace, this may take time, but I think it works best this way.
As I say it’s taken me three years to get to a point where I have hope in my life. It’s a fragile kind of hope, something I have to nourish all the time. I try to keep busy on positive things and I’m trying to seek out new challenges. This process shows me just how far my confidence and reason for being dropped during those terrible years. And others show me just how far I’ve come and how far I could yet go. My days can still be very dark and the voices can bring no let up at times. But with good, positive, encouraging peaceful friends, family and clinicians a new beginning is possible. It’s a scary journey going it alone so stay tight with those you respect. Mourn your loss, but don’t dwell there. Triumph is there for the taking today. So seize it with both hands and those of your supporters and live life in vitality.
Written by James King