From: Marc Jacobson
Certified peer support specialist
Mental health recovery is an exercise in hope. Hope — the earnest expectation of coming good. Hope is indispensable to our recovery. Hope can help us move away from the terror of defeat and despondency. It’s not an abstract idea that makes no difference in our recovery. It’s the cornerstone upon which the entire recovery foundation is built. There can be no recovery without hope.
Despair, on the other hand, is a hellish pit we can find ourselves in if we are not careful. When a person experiences despair, all hope is lost. The positive attitude is gone. The good self-talk disappears. The despairing person feels like nothing matters. It’s nearly impossible to convince this poor soul hope is possible again.
Recovery is hard work and needs hope
The truth is, recovery is hard work. We have to eat right, sleep right, think right, talk right, take our meds right, exercise right, keep all our doctor appointments, and educate ourselves and others about our illness. We have to avoid any and all things that would get in the way of our recovery. Worst of all, there’s no guarantee these things will make us feel better. Recovery is not for the faint of heart, it takes courage, commitment, and yes, and abundance of hope.
Relapse and failure in mental health recovery
But what happens when we do everything right in recovery and it just doesn’t seem to be helping? This is a perilous place in which to find yourself. After all, you’ve done everything that the experts said to do. You have worked very hard, but somehow your recovery has turned into relapse. You’re discouraged and angry. This is where despair can set in.
It’s hard to believe and accept that you can recover again. Perhaps the biggest question we might ask ourselves is why? Why should I continue on this road to recovery when I’ve already experienced that it doesn’t always work the way I need it to?
Hope says, “I believe there’s a treatment out there for me. I believe if I don’t give up, there’s a good chance I will feel better in the future.”
Despair says, “I will not make it. There’s no point. Life is horrible and it will never be anything else.”
If today you find yourself despairing and hopeless, we wish to offer some hope. We have been dealing with situations like this for many years. We’ve seen some amazing victories and some horrific defeats. We’ve embraced hope, and we’ve embraced despair to the point of attempting suicide. Many years have passed and we only recently found the necessary tools for ourselves to treat depression.
Hope promises future reward
The wonderful thing about hope it that it promises a future reward. What do you need to be rewarded with? Love? Acceptance? Understanding? A reduction of your pain? These things do exist, though you may not have experienced it yet. You will never experience these wonderful aspects of life if you give in to despair.
If you’ve fallen into despair, please communicate this to someone you trust. Don’t wait until your next therapy appointment. It’s literally a matter of life or death. You must understand that there are many people who really do care about you and your situation. Find them. They really do exist. Don’t wait for them to find you.
The fact that you are even reading this article shows you still have a glimmer of hope left. Sometimes, all that is needed is a little spark to make a difference in your life. Remember, hope has to be the foundation for any and all recovery!