With my most recent medication adjustment, and focus on self care, I find myself feeling better and better each day. I am so grateful that things were easily remedied this time. I know, from experience, that things can be much worse.
This causes me to reflect back on where I’ve been and see how far I have come. In doing so, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Where once, not too many years ago, I was encompassed by darkness and despair, I feel now the light of hope, happiness and optimism. I plan to enjoy this as much as possible. But, as I think back to that time of darkness, I can still remember the agonizing pain, and the overwhelming hopelessness. I can recall how afraid I was of what was happening and how heavy the burden felt. I remember wondering day after day if I would ever really get better–if I would ever really be me again. I felt so removed from the me I knew and understood that it felt as if my brain was hijacked or taken over by something else. It was akin to a novice fisherman, accustomed to being in calm waters, suddenly transported into a great storm in the middle of the ocean–without bearings and with no proper equipment to survive. I truly cannot believe how far I have come, since then. I learned to navigate that storm. And eventually, the waters calmed and I could see the light coming over the horizon again. I know storms will come and go–I can be sure of that. But for now, I am doing ok.
I can remember being in the midst of all of this, and being crushed time and time again by waves of hopelessness. I searched, I prayed; I tried the best I could to get through minute by minute. My only comfort and hope, in these dark times, came from God. He was with me and helped me through every step. I know, that it is because of Him, that I have come this far.
I learned through this process that hope is the antidote to despair. So I did everything I could to strengthen my hope. First and foremost, because Jesus Christ is the source of all hope, I did everything in my power to move closer to Him. I studied His words, I prayed and I tried to keep Him in my thoughts. As I did so, I was strengthened in my hope and was eventually able to overcome my despair.
I know that this idea does not appeal to everyone and so I also include some other strategies for growing the hope within.
As I tried to move through this pain, I also clung to stories of hope–accounts of people overcoming great hardships. These I soaked up like water into parched, desert ground. I clung to the hope that I could overcome as they had. It didn’t really matter what the hardship in the story was–be it overcoming cancer, learning to live with a physical disability, enduring chronic pain or the loss of a loved one–I felt if they could overcome, then somehow, I could too. I felt (and still do) that these great storms come to each of us in different ways, but come they do. I feel this is something we all have in common: suffering and hardship, and the sometimes desperate hope that we will be able to overcome.
So, because I have felt of agony and despair, like many of you–I feel a desire to help others. My utmost hope is that I can support, even in some small way, another person trying to get through life’s storms–whatever those may be. I’m still in the boat and the storms still come. I am no expert fisherman, but I am a fisherman who wants to help others in rough seas. To those in the midst of deep depression, despair, bipolar disorder or whatever it may be, hang on to hope. There are so many who have been where you are and have pulled through to brighter times.
So, find hope. Find it anywhere you can. See it in the stories of how others have overcome. See it in the stubborn flower that thrives in cracked concrete. Find it in the source of all hope: Jesus Christ, Himself. As you find it, cling to it. Make growing your hope the quest of each day. And as you begin to overcome, minute by minute, day by day, share that hope with others.