Hope is a prayer like ‘we hope he comes through his operation’. Hope is what we don’t have when we’re in the middle of an untreated mental illness. Hope is not there during a psychotic break, a deep depression, a higher than high manic episode. I have hope, now; I hope my illness will stay at arms length, that I won’t ever fall into a depression or kick up into a mania again.
My son, Calen Pick, who lives with schizophrenia, is eloquent on the subject of hope. He says that for him, hope represents “The rejuvenation of my perception.” I really like that! A positive perception of myself and you of yourself is probably one of the most important pieces in recovery.
Sometimes I get so tired of managing my medications, of calculating when I should go to bed, of never being able to go to a late movie or have time to sit up late with a good book. I get exceedingly tired after taking my medication and simply can’t function. But, if this is all I dislike about my meds then I’m so very lucky!! Well, I’m not so fond of dealing with refills, etc., right? My heart skips a beat when the refills on the bottle say zero! Have you noticed that I’m only tired of dealing with the medications, not the symptoms of my illness?
Hope is so very important, especially for those of us who have struggled mightily to get well. I used to be terrified of what I’d do when manic but even more terrified of depression because of the risk of suicide. I had two medications turn on me, one almost killed me, yet I persevered. I HOPED that eventually all would be well with new meds. I HOPED that I would be able to function. I HOPED to live a life full of light and action and work.
When I was suicidal I craved nothing but death. I don’t think hope was even possible in that state but a tiny voice did tell me that I needed to stay alive for others, not myself. I do think that tiny voice was hope and that voice kept me alive.
I’m invited to speak at various mental health organizations’ fundraisers. Every time I get up on the stage I look out at all the faces, faces that are filled with hope. Last year I remember looking around the room and tearing up because all these guests were there HOPING that mental illness will be treated with dignity, not shame, with love and compassion, not hate.
Hope is a big part of raising the curtain on mental health. Without it we are nowhere. I can only hope that prejudice and shame will be eradicated someday. I hope…