The power of hope…and how you come by it
Last night I had the opportunity to sit in on a Face It group with men who I don’t have regular contact with. One of the men, who I met nearly 3 years ago was in this group and it was great to have the chance to connect with him again. When I met him 3 years ago he was really struggling. He was up against many challenges in his life which were causing him severe and profound distress, to the point that taking his own life was an idea that floated in and out of his head. He was in a deep and dark place.
As group began last night I noticed some things about him that were rather profound to me. He smiled, he laughed, he shared, and he offered up words of encouragement to other men in the group. When I first met him 3 years ago, he could barely (and I mean this literally!) speak, let alone laugh, smile, or encourage others. At one point in the group process last night a fellow group member also chimed in about the changes he had seen in this man. The group member commented that the guy seemed “lighter” and that “your laugh is genuine”, all the while the other group members were nodding in agreement. With each accolade and affirmation thrown his way, this man smiled and embraced that he was indeed feeling better.
I asked him what he had been doing to find his way out of the dark hole he had been in and as I accustomed to hearing when I ask men who struggle this question, I got “I don’t know, it just seems to have happened.” And as I am accustomed to doing I responded with “bullshit.” What I have learned in my many years of doing the work we do at Face It and along with working on my own challenges, is that happiness, contentment, and satisfaction with life don’t simply happen by accident. So, I pushed him and we all learned that indeed it hasn’t been an accident.
This man has taken multiple steps to find his way to the genuine smile he was sharing with us. He has learned to set boundaries with others, so that he has some time to get adequate sleep. He has learned to confront people who treat him poorly and has asked them to stop. He has connected with men in group to the point he can be vulnerable and talk openly about the choices he has made in life. He has pushed himself to be more engaged with others and very importantly he has learned that he (and his words not mine) has far more control over his life than he ever imagined. When I suggested to him that he sounded hopeful, he hesitated for a moment and then agreed and went on to say he has more hope now than ever before.
And how did he get here? By accident? No, I don’t think so. He arrived at this place through a determined effort to make changes in his life. He arrived at this place by being honest with others and by opening himself up to suggestions for how to do things better. You’ve read this from me before and you’ve heard this from me many times over…you cannot walk the road of recovery from depression if you’re not willing to do the work. I know it’s hard to get motivated, I know you have shame about the past, I know you think the future is pointless, I know you doubt yourself, I know you think change is impossible, but so did this guy…so did I, so do many people with depression. The ones who move forward with recovery are the ones who make the bold choice to change. Trust me, you can feel better if you decide to!