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From despair to hope
Warning: this post mentions suicide. Hopefully, it will encourage you. However, you may want to give it a miss if the subject may trigger you.
Despair is a horrible emotion. It is defined as a feeling of hopelessness, that is, that things are profoundly wrong and will not change for the better. I have experienced despair. Recovering from that pain and distress has made me passionate to help anyone, where I can, to find hope.
The American Psychological Association states that ‘despair is one of the most negative and destructive of human affects, and as such, it is a primary area for psychotherapeutic intervention.’
It will be 10 years ago this week that our lovely friend Chris (who was like a brother and uncle) found himself in such despair that he ended his own life. His suicide was a trauma for our family. It led to me having a mental health breakdown and an eventual diagnosis of cPTSD. My son Isaac was affected profoundly and had years of struggle with his mental health. There were times when we were both in despair to the point of suicidal feelings. Here is a link to a short illustrated digital story depicting our experience: ‘How Does a Mum?’ It is honest, raw, and hopeful.
I want to share a little about how we found hope.
We both had professional help.
We shared openly with trusted friends.
I was blessed with friends who listened without judgment or fixing. I also found friendship and support in the Parenting Mental Health Facebook community. Isaac had great church youth leaders, who he trusted. The truth in a quote from Taya Kyle resonated deeply with me, I had to illustrate it.
Be brave reach out and share honestly with a trusted friend. I’m so grateful for friends that have placed their hand on mine
We’ve found meaning.
Isaac and I have both found beauty and strength in speaking out and helping to destigmatise mental health struggles. I have been blown away and so proud to have several parents tell me how Isaac has been able to support and help his friends through hard times. The private messages I’ve had of thanks for sharing my story are so touching and beautiful.
“Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”
It is possible to find pockets of joy in unexpected places.
We’ve allowed ourselves self-care with times of pleasure.
For Isaac, it’s been all things FOOTBALL! For me, it’s been art and pottery. It can be difficult to motivate yourself to do anything when overwhelmed by despair. Please think of the things you have once enjoyed and make them happen again. Do it in the simplest way possible at first.
We pressed into our faith
Isaac and I both pursued our Christianity. We found prayer, community, and worship brought comfort, support, and encouragement.
A systemic review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Health Psychology in 2021 found a positive correlation between spiritual and religious beliefs and resilience. Now may be a good time for you to get curious about faith. I’m always ready to answer questions about mine.
I found another inspiring quote from Raymond Williams:
To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.
I truly wish everyone reading this can be radical and make hope possible in their lives. If you feel able please share a comment, and I will reply. If you’d like to chat privately send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org