Hope is one of the biggest things that is lost to people dealing with depression (or depressive cycles in bipolar disorder). It’s not that they don’t want things to happen, they just don’t have the belief that things will actually happen and they don’t believe that they can actually do anything to help get to the things that are important to them. It’s like there is a huge wall between you and the goals that you have in life that is too high to get over and to wide to get through. I know this has been true for me during my depressive cycles. I have goals and aspirations galore but I have no trust in my ability to do anything to get to them. It feels like my faith has been drained away from me and no matter what I do it is just not possible to get to things that I want to have happen. This feeling of hopelessness prevents me from being able to escape the depression and the depression feeds the hopelessness. It’s a vicious cycle but it is one that can be broken with some effort.
“To live without Hope is to Cease to live.”
How can you regain hope when you feel like nothing you do is going to work? I think a good start is to make a list of all of the things that you have already successfully accomplished in your life. It may not be long when you first sit down to do it but if you write down things as they come to you, over time you will see that accomplishing things that you want in life is not impossible. Anything that you are proud of can be included in this list. You can include small things like painting the walls in your bedroom to large things like buying your first brand new car. My own personal list includes things like graduating college, raising my son to be a good man, and seeking treatment for my bipolar disorder. I am very proud of these accomplishments. They make me feel more confident in my abilities. My list is not long right now because hope and faith are something I am still rebuilding but with each item I add to my list I see more and more that nothing is truly impossible if I am willing to work for it.
Something that goes along with making a list of things you have already accomplished is making a second list of the things that you want to achieve. This is the same as making your Bucket List. Once again, include the small things like getting the pet you’ve always wanted and large things like buying your first home. Be specific. Don’t just say travel. List the places where you want to go. After you have this list, pick one and determine the steps you can take to get there. Make sure they are manageable steps for you. The last thing you want to do is to become buried in the details. One of the big things I really want to do is to have the opportunity to travel. There are so many places I want to see. Since I don’t want to overwhelm myself with the task of getting to every place I want to go, I can pick one and work to get there. For example, I would really like to go to Japan. Some of the steps I can take to accomplish this are things like checking out the cost associated with being able to go to Japan, setting up an automatic deposit to my savings account that is specifically for the trip and determining how long I will have to save up until I can go. These are all manageable steps for me that will help me feel like I am getting closer to actually going there. As I accomplish each smaller task, I will feel like I am getting closer to one of my dreams. The hardest part may be taking that first step but once you do that it I believe it can help add to the idea that these things are still in the realm of possibility.
“Hope anchors the soul”
For some, getting in touch with their faith may help them to regain the hope that they have lost. Hearing that God still has faith in you can be very inspirational and may give you the courage to carry on. It’s also helpful to believe that there is a positive force out there rooting for you to experience happiness. I recently returned to my church in an effort to jumpstart my spirituality. I’m really not particularly religious but I have always been a spiritual person. I lost my spirituality during my struggle with managing my bipolar disorder. It felt like there was this large hole that it left behind for me but it’s hard to believe that there is any benevolence in the universe when all you see is pain and conflict in your life. The messages I have received in the past couple of weeks have helped me to remember that there is a bright side to the universe that wants to help me be successful in my endeavors.
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.”
― Emily Dickinson
Surrounding yourself with positive people and things can also help to restore the hope you once had. Negativity only helps to feed hopelessness and despair. Surrounding yourself with positivity can not only relieve depression it can feed that little seed of hope that you still have inside you. Sometimes though this is where the “fake it until you make it” idea comes in. I definitely had to do this. When I decided to get treatment for my bipolar disorder, I was surrounded by positive people everyday. At first I found it entirely annoying because I was still absolutely miserable inside. I would smile and return greetings to people even though that was the last thing I was interested in doing. The more I did it though, the less fake it became. Pretty soon (when everything was being better managed), it didn’t feel fake or forced anymore. Though it was tough to do it at the start, it was something that helped to start to restore a little hope in me because of all the positive feedback I received from the people who I was interacting with everyday.
Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.
Hope can be difficult to regain when everything seems to be working against you. Sometimes it seems like there is nothing that can be done to get to the things we want. But the opportunity is there if you can reach for it. I’ve always believed that the energy you put out to the universe is what you get back from it. Changing your point of view from one of hopelessness to one of hopefulness is a process just like so many other things. It takes time but it is worth all the effort in the end.
What have you done to regain your feelings of hope? Or how do you maintain your hopefulness when you are surrounded by negativity?