Hope and mental health

Company arrived last night, and we did our belated Christmas gift exchange this morning.

Lynn’s sister blew me away with the thoughtfulness of one of the gifts that she gave me. It was a hope angel. It was a small gift, yet one that had tremendous impact.

The reason this gift has the impact it does is because over the last few years hope in my life has at times been in short supply. I have been at wits end, not able to see beyond the emotional pain.

This hope angel is something I can focus on when times do get rough, which they invariably will.

The funny thing about hope is it is a very human feeling. The hope of a brighter future is what drives many in this world. When people lose hope the world becomes dark and purposeless. Without hope humans can become distressed, despondent, and even dangerous. After all, why hold back when there is nothing left to lose?

At times in my life when I have lost hope I have become very suicidal. There was no light at the end of the tunnel. I was convinced that any light was a freight train heading my way.

I no longer feel hopeless. I know that there is much work to do but I do see a future where I can contribute and make a difference in people’s lives. I know that my hold on this hope is tenuous and that I can begin to slide at any time. I can’t afford to let my vigilance lapse, and I know my skills need to be at the ready to deal with what comes at me.

I have been on an incredible mental health journey in my nearly 40 years on this world, but I can say from personal experience that hope is on the horizon. Recovery from mental illness is a process, not a stop sign. It’s a process I will face every day until the day I die.


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