If you are just starting this series on this post, please be sure to check out any previous articles in this series.
Hope. Probably one of the most powerful feelings we have as human beings. Hope is what keeps us going from today to tomorrow. It keeps dreams alive. It gives us the feeling that we are contributing to the world. We hope for others, and we hope for ourselves. Hope is that tomorrow will be brighter than today. To me, it is the essence of why we want to live. Mental illnesses are dangerous because the first thing that goes is hope. You see, someone who is experiencing mental issues never envisions themselves out of the dark pit. They don’t think tomorrow is going to be brighter than today. Why else would someone contemplate suicide? If tomorrow is just as dark as today, life no longer seems worth it (but that is a lie because life is always worth it).
I wish I could put into words exactly what it feels like to feel hopeless, but I believe only those who experience it can truly understand. When I was first diagnosed with OCD I remember thinking there is no point in fighting it because it will always be there. Why waste the energy and, even worse, why try to conquer it when I knew I would fail? Pulling yourself out of this mindset, I believe, is the trickiest part of mental illness, and that is because it requires the most humility. In order to feel hope again you must be willing to seek help.
As a teenager, help was the last thing I wanted. I mean, who wants to admit they are having mental issues? No one! Especially me. I was popular, athletic, and outgoing. If people found out what was running around inside my head, then I would lose all of it. But not really. Do you see the lie a mentally ill mind tells when seeking healing? It makes you think that everyone is going to judge you when that is rarely the case, especially when you seek help from friends and family. The best decision I ever made was to ask help from my Dad. It was humiliating. It was embarrassing. It was scary. But it gave me hope. A slight glimmer of hope. As I continued to ask for help from not only my parents but from therapists, doctors, and other professionals, that glimmer of hope grew.
Hope did not come back all at once, but over time I soon found the hope I have today- the hope that tomorrow is brighter than today and that my life is worth something to those around me.