We all know what hope is and we all have experiences of situations which are hopeless.
For to do anything at all, there has to be hope that there will be a consequence in line with what you expect and trust. That something will happen. An invitation for a friend to come round carries the expectation that the invitation will be received, understood and acted on or replied to – whether it is to say yes or no. A visit to the supermarket has within it the expectation that the items you wish to buy will be there and that you can take them away with you after having paid for them.
So hope has expectation and trust closely connected to it. That if we have hope, there will also be an expectation based on our past experiences of what happens and then trust that this time it will like the last time.
You could say that hope is essential for our capacity to function – and to have expectations and trust is part of this. But if one avenue seems to be without hope that we can find another. For of course we humans are resourceful and flexible and can adjust to situations where hope is absent to find something else.
But what if there was no hope. That wherever you looked you saw just blackness and felt powerless. And what if you realised that you had no real idea why you were feeling so exhausted and lost. And that whatever you had tried to extricate yourself had failed. In fact your efforts had just made the situation worse – your head going round and round and more and more exhausted. And what if you felt that there was no escape – that your feelings of hopelessness were spreading out to all aspects of your life – your work, your relationships, your daily life – everything?
Perhaps that is the way to understand depression – an absence of hope. Certainly in my many years in helping my clients recover from their depression, all of them lack hope. What I tend to find is resignation, defeat and hopelessness. And this is why I know that what they need right away, beginning in that first session is the seed of some hope.
Do you lack all hope now and do you need some restoration of hope right now?
If you have tried so hard for so long and spoken to so many people and discovered that nothing seems to work – well that will destroy any hope. And that is why I lay down a thread really early on – to allow it to lead from despair and hopelessness to confidence born out of direct experience. You can understand that to restore hope is an essential requirement for depression recovery.
That in terms of the image – there is a clear light shining at the end of the tunnel.
And this is how I do it for my clients. It is for them to understand what is causing their depression and from that to have the appreciation that shock/horror it is all fairly simple and straightforward.
It is hard for to me to overstate the importance of this – that depression is not a mystery and neither is a very complicated. And you certainly don’t need a postgraduate degree in psychiatry to have any hope of understanding it.
And that is one reason why this is the first part of all my work with depressed clients and is the first part of my Depression Recovery audio programme. I call it Hope & Firefighting and you can access it here.
Of course, if you are lost in depression, you cannot easily be fooled. You have good reason and bitter experience to support your hopelessness – that whatever you try does not work and whoever you ask for help and understanding fails so abysmally.
But hope is there waiting. All that is needed is to look in the right place. To find a simple explanation of depression that will make complete sense of why you are feeling as you do, and then guidance with the first steps that can be taken right away. And if you do find that, then guess what? Hope stirs.
You are not going mad, there is a credible explanation of why you’re feeling as you are and there is a route out for you. If you really understand why this is so, then lo and behold you should find that hope will return – and this will be genuine, rooted and real.