Thankful for hope

Overgrown with prickly weeds...

In my work, I am blessed to witness the birth of hope. It's a word we all use casually throughout our day, without much thought to it's meaning. Hope. "I hope that I have time to stop at the store on the way home from work." "I hope that everything goes as planned on our vacation." These passing examples of hope seem far too casual for me. I redefined hope many years ago while wading in my own untreated and sorely exacerbated depression. Depression fools us into thinking that there is no good to be found in the world. There are no plans to thrive, because there are no plans. Furthermore, good things only happen to other people, and aren't likely to land in this path of cracked brick- overgrown with prickly weeds. It's a dark place, most certainly.

Being present with someone in their space...

What is the opposite of depression? I used to think it was happiness, but that's not entirely accurate. The flip-side to depression is hope, as depression is the absence of all possibility. When I initially meet with a patient, they may just be looking for a simple "tune up." They share their feelings, bounce some insomnia-induced racing thoughts off me, and they're good to go. While others have been in genuine emotional pain for years, without any glimmer of light to guide them forward. There is something so sacred and special about being present with someone in their space. I can almost taste the despair as their tears flow. Not only am I honored to share that vulnerability with someone, I'm given a sacred responsibility to help guide them back to the light. This is not always possible within my means, but I can always promise that someone will be better off when they leave my office, than when they first sit down to share their story.

This is a place of healing...

Something magical happens in this place. Though it's plastered with pictures of my daughter (that she has taunted me as being a shrine), post-it's of to-do's a mile long, semi-organized resource folders, and an endless supply of paperwork waiting to be completed, this is a place of healing. Nothing brings me more joy than to absorb my patient's story and form a plan for their escape from suffering. I see puzzle pieces fitting together like a chess game in my head. If I can get her to see that mode of thinking is harmful, if I can re-frame his parenting as the (very) best he could do with what he knew at the time, if she could learn to find her voice and ask for help...so many possibilities. 

Over the course of several weeks to months, I can see the black and white thinking start to crack, as they consider the possibility of control over their own future. There is a moment. I can see it like a spark in their eyes. It screams "hope." Oprah calls it the ah-ha moment. It's where possibility lives. Once they see their fate isn't written in stone, the house of cards that depression built- crumbles. None of their subconscious arguments hold up anymore. That taunting voice that tells them their future is futile- muzzled. What a gift to witness. How beautiful. I remember the birth of my own hope. That day the sun shined a little brighter, and my smile wasn't broken anymore. Hope lives in my world every day now. I know that all darkness is temporary. I know that if I can't find my light, I will ask for help to guide my way, and it will be given with love and understanding. I am thankful for the hope in my life, and the hope I can help people find in my place of healing, spark by spark.  Happy Gratitude Tuesday. What are you thankful for?

AM