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Living a simple life

The power of hope and love

Inspiring hope

In most cases of depression, often exists a comorbid presence of hopelessness.

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for this as everyone’s state of mind differs so much, and there are many different theories to why people suffer mental health problems, specifically depression and anxiety.

I am no psychologist, nor claim to be, however, in my limited experience of life I have found several perpetrators of depression, relation to a biochemical model, a stress vulnerability model, a genetic model, environmental factors, reactive circumstances to name a few theories.

However, despite this availability of scientific evidence/psychological theories relating to the cause of depression, it is a well known fact, that hopelessness is the key factor in why people choose to end their lives deliberately.

I feel instilling hope is a fundamental part of enabling those with depression to overcome their paralysed state of mind.

My own definition of hope, is that despite adversity and the inability to see beyond the despair which at times can overwhelm and darken the senses, disinhibiting the ability to see a bright future, that in fact , things will get better, adopting a positive attitude in times of strife.

Everybody has an individual perspective on what gives them hope in life. I have spent time with people, asking them what gives them hope; common responses related to family, friends, a job, but most significantly,  reflects being connected to other people.

I believe the power of human connection cannot be underestimated. Human connection manifests care, warmth, love, humour, respect and a deep sense of belonging.

I believe we are born to live in communion with one another and a sense of harmony.

My own belief is that spirituality is at the core of this principle, having an awareness that we are all part of a greater purpose and connected through a power that lies within us all.

An example of this, are two perspectives; one is a ground perspective, the other is a higher perspective.

If I look out of a train window as I pass some beautiful countryside, then to a degree, my view is restricted, I have an inhibited view of what is ahead of me.

However, on an aeroplane, if I observe the same view, as the aeroplane flies over the same countryside, the same scenery exists, but on a completely higher perspective. There are things I can see from an aeroplane window that are simply physically impossible to see from a train window!

I try to view life in the same way and I feel hope can often be acquired from a change in perspective.

If disappointment, hurts, or frustration arise because perhaps something hasn’t worked out, I try to see a higher perspective, that perhaps something better awaits around the corner, or that however difficult some things are that occur in life, that simply have no explanation, we can allow our lives to be moulded by them positively, if we choose to adopt this attitude.

Although this theory may seem easier said than done, having hope is paramount in our lives, often reinforced through how we relate to others. Being able to receive love and care from others, as well as give love to those around us.

I believe love is at the core of every human being. And in order to live wholesome lives we need to have a self belief that we are worthy to receive love and acceptance from others as well as giving our care, love and time to others. This is the foundation of human connection. This is what I believe no human being can live without. This is what I believe the world should be about. That if we all loved and cared about each other as much as those we hold most dearest to us, the world would be a better place.

On a final note, I use the analogy of a blocked dam. The river bed represents our physical bodies. The river represents our spirits. The flow of the water represents love flowing through our very core (this can be towards all those in our lives we cherish and value), but the blockage represents anything within us that is keeping us imprisoned in negative feeling/fear/worry and this could represent anything in our lives that causes us to fall or lose that feeling of inner peace/love.

These areas are unique to a lot of people, but may or may not include elements such as addiction, unemployment, bereavement, relationship breakdown, health anxiety to name but a few.

Identifying these areas in our lives enables us the power to accept the feelings these circumstances invoke within our lives, in order to address them positively, and work on effective management strategies, to allow a better quality of life.

Change does not happen overnight, but adapting to situations in our lives that allow us to seek to utilise unfortunate and often unforeseen circumstances in our lives, with a different perspective  to re-establish a firmer identity within our selves, more balanced sense of self worth, enhanced resilience and therefore more meaningful existence .

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Living in each day

In the midst of depression or anxiety, it is often difficult to enjoy the simplest things in life.

Day to day activities become a chore and motivation gradually ceases to a halt.

Even simple day to day living can become a mere existence without structure and routine.

Day to day functioning is a tiresome task in itself, eating, sleeping, and often fatigue and lack of energy overtakes the will to set day to day goals in order to accomplish a decent quality of life.

A bit like driving through thick, dense fog or a heavy battering of rain, with no clear view only a rough cognitive map of the road ahead within.

When the fog in our minds sets in, it can become difficult to make even the simplest of decisions or judgements,.

However, I do believe beauty can be found in the simplest things in life.

Within us all, lie passions or things that make us happy or bring us a glimmer of inner peace.

Things that bring us back to ourselves .That reconnect us to our own identity.

And even in the midst of mental illness, I do believe a positive activity can engage us in a sense of positive mental wellbeing.

Activities outdoors for example; gardening (if weather permits), fishing, walking , running, fruit picking, going to the beach and listening to the waves roll against the shore, can be such a peaceful experience and also very reflective.

Indoor activities can be as simple as ; reading a book, writing down some inner thoughts and feelings in a little journal, or producing a sonnet or a poem.

Often reading an autobiography can give us insight into the resilience of the human spirit through immense adversity, which can inspire hope when we connect with the pain of others around us and how they found inner strength to overcome their trauma.

Everyone has different ways of coping with life, and nobody will deal with the same set of circumstances in the same way.

How people react to stress and difficult situations is different due to a variety of factors, including genetic/environmental/stress vulnerability

But how people cope with stress and manage it is individual to them in equal measure.

The vital essence of this , is having self awareness and insight into one’s self ,

what causes us to feel sad and unhappy or anxious, and how we can manage it in a positive way.

Sometimes, the only way to understand oneself and resilience is in times of true adversity.

And though painful, it is often helpful to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences to establish an understanding and  human validation for one’s feelings.

To have feelings judged or dismissed by people with a lack of understanding can be a frustrating experience.

Forgiving people, who often do not understand what you are going through, because you would not wish on them the pain they would have to endure to do so.

And establishing hope in accepting feelings of helplessness within, connecting with people who do understand or who have gone through similar experiences and writing down what gives us happiness or small goals we would like to achieve.

Setting a small goal creates a sense of hope. It is like a footstep on a journey. And the most important thing isn’t trying to envision the end result. Because that would be rather overwhelming. But just living in a concept of what is achieveable today. in the next 24 hours.

And simply embracing each day, the people that cross our paths in that time, and how we can live a more fulfilled, content life in that time.

 

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