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Tag: depression

Hope.

Hope.

Hope can be defined as:

intransitive verb
1:  to cherish a desire with anticipation:  to want something to happen or be true. hopefor a promotion. hoping for the best. I hope so.

transitive verb
1:  to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. I hope she remembers. hopes to be invited
2:  to expect with confidence: trust. Your mother is doing well, I hope.

I have a soft spot for the sentiment of hope.  I feel it as a mixture of sadness and optimism.  Sadness for where you are and optimism for where you would like to be.

I’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout my life, but there is always one thing I would never give up on, and that is hope.  During the difficult times I would tell myself, “You are going through this for a reason.”  And the belief that life would get better always got me through it.  Hope is essentially positive thinking.

Now, I’ve been pondering over this idea of hope for a while.  I actually wrote those opening paragraphs months ago but didn’t have all my thoughts together to finish up this post. And in true fashion where things happen when you need them to, I recently came across the research of C. R. Snyder. Snyder was a psychologist who studied positive psychology.

Snyder believed that hope is not an emotion but a cognitive process.  He believed that hope is a combination of setting goals, believing in ourselves to achieve those goals, and finding a way to produce the result.  He also believed that hope can be learned.  (How cool is that?!)

In terms of children:

Children who have been given the opportunity to struggle, (versus being rescued by a parent during a difficult time), learn how to believe in themselves, assert themselves, and deal with conflict.

But this totally applies in adulthood too.

In leadership, we are taught that sometimes we have to let others fail, so they can learn for themselves.  It’s essentially the same thing as the parent letting their child struggle.  You come out of adversity stronger and more resilient.

Growing up with depression, sometimes, it felt like the only thing keeping me together was hope that it would get better.  I think that this is why I feel so strongly about hope.  It literally saved my life.

I would consider myself a very hopeful person, because it’s still something I hold onto almost everyday.  Though my reasons for feeling hopeful have changed, the need to be hopeful has not.  I don’t know if it was the many years of hopeful practice during depression that has made hopefulness such a norm in my life or not.  But if hope can be learned, then it seems to have definitely proved true in my life.

But back to Snyder…

He believed that how hopeful you are could be measured by The Future Scale.  The Future Scale is a series of questions that combines the score of your Pathway answers and Agency answers for a total Hope Scale score. The Pathway questions measure our perceived ability to produce routes to achieve our goals, and the Agency questions measure our motivation to follow these routes.

So, I was curious as to how hopeful I really am.  Like is this just something I think of myself highly or am I really practicing what I preach here?

When you take the quiz, you’re supposed to read each question carefully.  Of course, I was quite eager to see my results and kind of rushed through the questions.  With a total possible score of 64, I scored 53.

I honestly didn’t expect such a high score and am now kind of wishing I didn’t rush through the questions to see if I would have gotten higher!  But what didn’t surprise me is that my Agency answers scored higher than my Pathway answers.  This actually makes perfect sense.  I have a lot of motivation to achieve my goals, but I don’t always necessarily know how to achieve those goals.  While I already kind of knew this, seeing it in black and white really clarified where I need to put more of my focus, so this has been great feedback.

If you’re curious to see how you’ll score, take the quiz here.

Acceptance.

Acceptance.

I love how when you’re paying attention to the little things, you recognize that sometimes those things occur right when you need them to.  

About 6 months ago, I was browsing through the on-sale best sellers at Target.  I was looking for a good book to take with me while I traveled. On a whim, I purchased Uninvited by Lisa TerKeurst, but I didn’t get around to start reading it until the beginning of the year.

I picked up this book to read at a time where the message is one I needed to hear. 

While I have made strides personally and professionally, and am so proud of where I am considering I took the long road to get here, part of me has struggled because my path has been so different from that of my peers.  I’m not married.  I don’t have children.  Many of my friendships have fizzled, because they built families while I returned to school and built a career.  I don’t really know anyone who is in a similar stage of life, and it feels a bit lonely at times. 

“There is something wonderfully sacred that happens when a girl chooses to realize that being set aside is actually God’s call for her to be set apart.”

While struggling with depression throughout my youth and adolescence, I remember thinking that there had to be more out of life.  I knew, deep down, that I was going through it for a reason.  There was a purpose for the pain.

TerKeurst says that there are three “little-known gifts of rejection that can work good in your life if you so choose.”

  1. The gift of being made less
  2. The gift of being lonely
  3. The gift of silence

During much of my life, I have succumbed to these three little-known gifts of rejection. It wasn’t until I began my leadership journey that I unknowingly began to embrace these rejections as gifts. And it wasn’t until I read this book that I really understood how all the circumstances in my life have led me to where I am.

When we decrease, God has room to make big things happen.

I’ve spent much of my life feeling less. Humility gives you wisdom, and wisdom prepares you for new challenges.

This will develop in you a deeper sense of compassion for your fellow travelers.

TerKeurst points out that Jesus seems to speak most intimately to those who are lonely. Let me tell you, I’ve had a lot of conversations with Jesus, and I’ve spent a lot of time in silence: thinking, questioning, and listening. Depression embodies those three little-known gifts of rejection.

While reading this book, I learned that my experience with depression has prepared me to become a leader; a leader who is humble and empathic. While deep down I knew there was a purpose, it’s taken me 10 years to learn what it was. After so many years of feeling resentful that all those years of suffering seemed wasted, I’ve actually come to a point of relief.

This final stage of acceptance of the experience has given me a sense of freedom. Freedom of the burden that made me feel depression robbed me the formative years of my life. But it actually did the exact opposite. It shaped me into the person I am, and for that I am so thankful. So although I have not actually suffered from depression in many years, I never felt healed. Until now. Understanding that purpose has made all the difference, and I cannot tell you how truly freeing that is.

Depression Confession.

Depression Confession.

I was sad to hear about the passing of Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington.  I’m not sure which mental illness he suffered from; I don’t really know much about him.  But during my many years of suffering from depression, the music of Linkin Park resonated with me during my adolescent years.  Numb was one of the many LP songs that I kept on repeat.  The rock beat with the screaming vocals complimented the lyrics that accurately depicted some of my inner turmoil.

Formative years are difficult enough.  Add on mental illness, and it’s a struggle that often takes unfathomable strength to overcome – at any age.  For me, I wanted to be invisible because that’s how I felt.  Thinking about all the cool and exciting things I got to do as a youth, that I don’t really even remember living through.

I got a
Heart full of pain, head full of stress
Handful of anger, held in my chest
Uphill struggle, blood, sweat, and tears
Nothing to gain, everything to fear
– Nobody’s Listening

Depression really wasn’t a diagnosis when I was a child.  It wasn’t until I was about 14 that I first started on antidepressants.  I remember going through countless counselors and therapists, even in elementary school.  All these people I didn’t know trying to help me, when I didn’t even understand what was going on within myself.  Depression is a hard concept to understand if you’ve never suffered or known someone who suffers from mental illness.  My dad didn’t understand it, and he couldn’t fix it.  I know that it was hard on him.  I would never fault him or blame him for not knowing how to help me.  I didn’t even know how to help myself.

Watching the Somewhere I Belong video instantly brought tears to my eyes.  It took me back to a place that I hadn’t visited in a very long time.  I vividly remember depressive episodes where my heart hurt so badly, and I had cried so heavily, that I became nearly physically ill.  So desperately wanting to feel something else, get out of that state, and find somewhere, some place, where I could be the person I hoped I could be, not the person I was.  But having no hope in those moments for the person I could become, “just stuck, hollow and alone” feeling “lost in the nothingness inside of me.”

I had depression for as far back as I can remember.  Nearly every memory of my childhood is blurred by the fog of mental illness.  I don’t know how I came out of it, and it didn’t happen over night.  I suffered for nearly 24 years.  But I never gave up hope. I don’t have the answers.  I know how hard it is to face that uphill battle.  They say that anything worth having is worth fighting for. Battling depression was one of, if not the hardest thing I’ve ever done.  And victory never felt so good.

If you are suffering from mental illness, please know that it is not your fault.  I know how frustrating getting help can be, but you have everything to lose if you don’t.

So let mercy come and wash away
What I’ve done

Rest in Peace Mr. Bennington.  Lord knows you deserve it.


National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255