H is for Hopeful vs Hopeless
For anyone battling a chronic illness, there is a fine line between feeling hopeful versus feeling hopeless. This line may well blur depending upon the day, the severity of the symptoms that day, and the overall quality of life. I’d be lying if I said I have never experienced even the slightest bit of hopelessness. It is what we do with that feeling when it arises, that determines what happens next.
When we hurt so bad we can barely manage to get out of bed to go to the bathroom, and there seem to be more days like this than not, it is very easy to feel hopeless. When you can’t make food for yourself because you are unable to stand to do so, it is easy to lose hope. When you are unable to bathe yourself or feed yourself, it is easy to feel as if all hope at life as you knew it is gone. If left unaddressed, feelings of hopelessness can spiral down a rabbit hole that has no return. It is important to acknowledge these feelings and discuss them with your family, friends, and caregivers. You are not alone in this battle, and the more people you have on your team, the better you will be.
The phrase that is the key, I believe is “life as you knew it”. Whether we like it or not, if we are facing a chronic illness, our life as we knew it before illness has little bearing on who we will become with the illness. The key to discovering how to remain hopeful is to embrace your limits, learn how to manage within those limits as best you can and continue to grow as a person. While we will have those moments or even days where nothing will make us feel better, it does not have to consume you.
“Losing hope is not a sign of mental illness. It is a sign of being human”. Dr. Charles, Psychiatrist, Chicago Med Television Show. Episode “Prisoner’s Dilemma” aired 22 February 2017.
What you do if you do lose hope, is what determines where you go from there. How do you battle the hopeless feelings when they occur? What is your secret? Share with us in the comments below!