Mental Health Monday – Choose Hope

Over the last few Mental Health Mondays, I’ve written a lot about the things I learned on the Recovery College’s Holding the Hope course, so you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d written all there is to write on the subject, but oh no … there’s more! Last year, I also attended a second course on hope. It was the bitesize version of the first, and provided a good refresher of all that I’d already learned plus a few extra helpful ideas. One of the benefits of writing these posts, has been that I’ve gone over what I learned a year ago and reminded myself of all the things I’d forgotten or internalised. Internalising ideas and getting into wellness habits is a good thing, but sometimes I fall out of good habits because I don’t remember why I started doing them in the first place! But that’s a side note – on with today’s post …

I’ve called this post Choose Hope because that’s what I learned to do as a result of going on it. Often, we hear things like: look on the bright side, every cloud has a silver lining, or think positive, and it sounds so simple, but as anyone who’s suffered from depression or anxiety can tell you: simple is not the same as easy. Being positive is a choice, but it can be a very difficult one to make, especially when your brain’s chemistry is on the fritz. But what I’ve learned is that it’s okay to start small, to start with seemingly insignificant things that lift your spirits even the tiniest amount.

Hope can be found in all sorts of places. Hope can sound like birdsong, or a dog’s bark. It can taste like a hot cup of tea or a spicy curry. It can feel like a cool breeze or a warm blanket. Hope can look like a smile or a chink of blue sky. It can smell like freshly cut grass or freshly baked bread.

One of the activities we took part in during the course was to look at our own lives and the things we have achieved, both big and small. Here’s what I wrote:

  • Today I have: hung out the washing.
  • This gives me hope that: I will continue to make progress.
  • This week I have: spent time in my craft shed.
  • This gives me hope that: it’s okay to try things that still make me anxious.
  • This month I have: been on holiday
  • This gives me hope that: I can face and even enjoy the things I was previously scared to do.
  • This year I have: been discharged from hospital.
  • This gives me hope that: help is available and that I am able to accept and respond to it.
  • In my life I have: recovered from post-natal depression.
  • This gives me hope that: I will recover from this episode of depression.

Hope can be found in our achievements, in challenges we’ve overcome. It can also be found in the achievements of others, in stories of courage and perseverance. It can be found in music, movies, books, quotes, stories, games, art …

When I came home from this course, I wrote up my notes in my bullet journal and created a Choose Hope spread where I began to write down all the things that gave me hope at the time. Here’s a picture of it:

Over time, this spread expanded into a whole book which I named my Wellness Toolkit. If you’d like to have a look at how this development took place, I’ve made some videos about it. You can find them on YouTube:

As always, I came away from this Hope course with a bunch of inspiring quotes that I’ve referred to so much I have them engraved on my brain. My favourites are:

Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk it, the road comes into existence – Lin Yutang

The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love and something to hope for – Allan K Chambers

When hope is hungry, everything feeds it – Mignon McLaughlin

That first quote especially has stuck with me because I am so grateful to all the people in my life who not only held the hope for me when I couldn’t hold it for myself, but who also walked my hope into existence alongside me. You know who you are …

Well, it’s late and my ‘wind-down’ alarm has just gone off, so I shall leave it here for today. I hope that you’ve found this series hopeful and helpful. Next week, I’ll be moving on to talk about Recovery and what it means to me.

Thanks for reading! Back soon. xxx

You can read more of my Mental Health Monday posts here.

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