Monday, July 6, 2009
"How hopeful are you?" I asked you - my readers - over the month of July. Of the 168 who responded, one in four of you (25%, 42) told me that you "see little or no hope in the way my life is going." By contrast, a mere one in ten (10%, 17) felt "very optimistic about my prospects."
Fortunately, another one in four of you (27%, 47) owned up to being "cautiously optimistic about my future." Still, that adds up to less than 4 in ten who are upbeat about the way your lives are going.
Over at the other end, more than one in ten of you (14%, 25) are fearful about tomorrow. Combine this with the "no hope" group, and we're pretty evenly balanced between the "upbeats" (37%) and the "downbeats" (39%).
Occupying the middle are one in five of you (22%, 25) who are "living day to day."
What are we to make of all this? Without hope, we can pretty well kiss recovery goodbye. But we also know that hope is a non-starter in the midst of a raging depression or similar mental illness state. Perhaps I simply caught some of you at a bad time.
But for many of you, the current state of your illness may have little or nothing to do with it. Your episode may have resolved, but the personal fall-out hasn't. Plugging your life back in is simply not going to happen with no job to go back to, no friends, no loving relationship, no money in the bank.
On top of everything, we are in the midst of the worst economic/financial crisis in memory.
Well meaning people, including therapists, are bound to point out the error in your thinking, but I would rather congratulate you for acknowledging the truth, for owning up to how you feel right now. Yes, we all want hope in our lives, but false hope is a mirage. Once we accept reality, we can work our way to understanding, and - eventually - true wellness. Hold that thought - this is where hope begins ...