When I used to try to explain to people that I was feeling hopeless, they would say to be grateful for what I had, stay in the present and live for today. Well to me that isn’t hope. Hope is the future. What will tomorrow be?
I’ll tell you what my hope is. My hope is that tomorrow I will be better than I am today. It doesn’t matter if today is a good day or if I’m feeling down. I want to be better tomorrow. So, what does “better” look like? To me, better is more confident or more aware or more patient or more kind or more organized or more communicative with the people I care about. I don’t want to stop hoping and working to be the best version of myself.
I choose to learn from my past, not be burdened by it. You don’t have to label your past experiences as good or bad. They are just life lessons. It’s okay to feel happiness, sadness, pain, joy, or grief. Those feelings aren’t the end all be all. They are only there to compliment the journey to find the YOU that you want to be.
I used to personalize my life experiences, especially the not so good ones. I’ll give you an example of what I mean by this. I once called the National Suicide Hotline. I wasn’t feeling suicidal per se, but I was feeling very low and alone. I was afraid if I didn’t take some action, I would sink lower. I dialed, it rang and then I heard it…. a recording. Seriously? Isn’t this a crisis line? I was on hold for over 2 minutes before I finally hung up. I’m not important enough for them to pick up the phone.
10 minutes later after realizing that I was only feeling and not thinking, I called back, and I stayed on hold for 90 seconds until a woman answered. I wasn’t on hold because they didn’t care. I was on hold because they did. They were helping other people, like me or people feeling even lower than I felt. Then that feeling of worthlessness turned into a feeling of gratefulness that there are people in the world that care enough to make themselves available and take their time to be there for people in need. They are choosing to listen to others cry, yell or just vent. How amazing is that!?
When depression comes, our perception becomes skewed. We think things won’t get better or we will never find happiness or we’re not worth him/her caring about us. None of those things are true.
For years I struggled to understand why people say, Suicide is a selfish act. At that time, suicide was an act to end the pain of feeling like nothing would get better, but now I get it. I realized that when I was depressed, I only felt about myself. Only my feelings (emotional or physical) mattered. I was consumed by what I was feeling. Then it dawned on me. I could feel and still think. I gave myself permission to feel but committed to looking at my feelings objectively and thinking through them.
Why was I sad? Was it because I deserved what someone did to me? No, it was because someone hurt me but that was on them. It wasn’t a reflection of me, it was a reflection of them!
I asked myself, what good can I get out of this? I took control of that hurt and sadness, and I used it to drive me forward, to get me to tomorrow. I realized something positive about myself. I was stronger than they were because I didn’t have to try to tear someone down to build myself up.
It is so much more empowering to build someone up than it is to tear someone down. But we need to remember, it’s not only about designing a life to build other people up, it’s also about designing a life to build ourselves up. I have a small canvas on a bookshelf in my apartment and it reads, “She designed a life she loved”. I put it there, where I can see it every day when I walk in and out of my bedroom, to remind me that I not only deserve a good life but that I also have control over what I want and don’t want in my life. Some days I just need that reminder.