If you are depressed, you may be experiencing hopelessness, it is a horrid feeling, and I want to help you turn hopelessness into hope based on what I do when I am depressed. There will also be the odd scientific fact thrown in so that you know where the idea comes from.
I’m assuming you are already on antidepressants or in the process of getting them, as these will help alleviate those feelings of hopelessness. But they take time to work, and if you are anything like me, you want to get rid of this horrible empty feeling.
You might be wondering what hopelessness is? It is the loss of purpose and a sense there is no meaning to life anymore. Nothing seems possible, and any thoughts of changing how you feel seem pointless because there is no longer any desire to move forward.
On the other hand, hope is future planning and optimism about the supposed outcome of goals and ambitions. Everything seems possible, and it is with joy that future events are planned and thought about; it gives us purpose.
Depression and Hopelessness
One of the key signs of depression is feeling hopeless and not having the energy to do anything about it. I have been depressed many times, and everything seems bleak and pointless; there is little room for hope when you feel lethargic and exasperated by the hollowness you feel inside.
When hopelessness sets in, it can be dangerous as suicidal thoughts soon follow, so it is of paramount importance to take antidepressants. Yet they can take several weeks to begin to work and during that time you have to manage your thoughts. If you have ideas or intentions about suicide, I will always recommend that you don’t read the rest of this article. Get yourself to a medical emergency centre; it will be the best place for you; I have had to do this several times in the past.
If you cannot attend, then phone your countries suicide crisis number. You can find it on Wikipedia.
Increasing hope will involve some activity, but I’m not going to ask you to jump around the room or sign up for a marathon. I know full well energy and motivation will be lacking, so the suggestions I have are easy to do, and you don’t have to venture very far.
Bipolar and Hopeless Feelings
I experience bipolar depression, hence why I get depressed so often. It is a chronic condition interspersed occasionally with hypomanic episodes.
Much like the advice above, if you need help now, stop reading and see a doctor.
If you have been newly diagnosed with bipolar, you may feel hopeless about the future, as you don’t know what to expect or how to manage the condition. I have many articles on this site about bipolar; here are a few which should be of use to you.
I will also suggest therapy to help you come to terms with a bipolar diagnosis. You don’t even need to venture out of your own home as [AF] Online Therapy offers cognitive behavioural therapy for around £23.00, and they work worldwide.
Ways to Increase Hope
I won’t lie; changing hopelessness to hope is a challenging process that requires what little energy you may have. I am fortunate that I have beliefs that help me. You may not ascribe to any belief system, but I’d advise finding one that resonates with you. Be it Buddhism, Christianity or even Aliens, any belief about hope will help instil a sense of calm and move you forward through prayer and quiet reflection.
However, you don’t have to believe in something to find hope; you can look towards nature for your hope. In ancient times the rising of the sun was a joyous event; it meant a new day and that the Gods were pleased. You can take this viewpoint and watch the sunrise, and life begins again. Each new day is an opportunity for nature to be born again.
Watching wildlife go about its business makes you wonder if they ever get depressed; they seem to be constantly on the move, searching for food, a mate, safety and their lives are spent with purpose. Do they know what it is, or do they just go by instinct? Start asking yourself questions about nature. You’ll find by questioning; you are giving yourself hope to find out the answer. We don’t ask questions if we haven’t expected the answer.
Hope is an expectation of things or thoughts to come. You can train your brain to be hopeful; I use the free meditation apps you can get for your phone. I try many of them to help my mind and accept negative thoughts and promote well being. Quiet and still meditation is not for everyone; you may prefer a more active one; I have a couple on here. One involves raisins, and another requires tea.
This could be as simple as closing your eyes and repeating a single phrase or word, or counting breaths. “This helps provide some distance from those negative thoughts or stressful feelings, allowing you to recognize that, although they affect you, they are not you,” says Dr. Denninger.Harvard Medical
When you are hopeless and depressed, it is difficult to read a book as you can’t concentrate, but books inspire, and they create hope for the characters, and you can get involved in their lives for a short while. I find listening to books easier than reading when I am depressed.
Don’t go for complicated books but think about getting some classics or one of the current bestsellers. Try and avoid horror or gory thrillers; choose an audiobook narrated by a famous person you admire; this will more than likely interest you. Set aside some quiet time to fully absorb what is being said to become involved with the characters. If you can’t have hope for yourself, transfer it onto someone else.
If you are feeling anxious about your condition, I suggest taking calming gummies. I use these regularly when I need to manage my anxiety. When we are depressed, we can become anxious at the lack of feeling, and if we are also experiencing brain fog, this can cause us to feel out of control and even more hopeless.
The calming gummies I use contain GABA and L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and they will help you to feel more chilled out. When you feel calm, you can think logically, and you are not basing thoughts too much on emotion; you can look towards the future and see there are possibilities.
The gummies take about twenty minutes to work, and I buy them from [AF] Piping Rock; just type in their search box ‘calming gummies’ and scroll down and look for the strawberry and lemon flavour. They deliver worldwide.
Don’t Look Back
I find that if I start reminiscing, it can lower my mood. To start with it is enjoyable, especially if I am looking through old photo albums, but then thoughts creep in about how well I felt back then, and this then makes me feel bad that I don’t feel that way anymore. It can exasperate me and lead to hopelessness.
Feeling hopeless does not last forever; sometimes, it can last for a few hours, other times a few days, but the human spirit inevitably looks for opportunities. Just as our eyes will be drawn to movement, so too does our inner being; the past is no longer here; it has long gone. All we have is now and the things to come. Knowing you will not be stuck in hopelessness forever should bring you hope; it is a passing phase.
Suppose this is your first time feeling hopeless and depressed. In that case, you won’t have any previous depressive episodes to gauge it by, but let me assure you that the feeling of hopelessness does go, maybe not today. Still, soon enough, you will realise you are planning for the future; even waiting for the antidepressants to work is hoping.
Counselling is beneficial for talking through your condition. I recommend an online company called [AF] Calmerry, and they have good reviews on Trustpilot. I find when I have counselling, I am actually looking forward to my next session. You can’t always talk to family as expressing how you truly feel may be upsetting for them, and I personally do not want to put that burden on family, so I choose the option of counselling.
When you seek out counselling, you move from hopelessness into hope because you plan for the future; you have given yourself something to do in the coming days.
Unrealistic Hopes and Expectations
When you become hopeful, try and keep your hopes realistic, don’t suddenly plan to involve yourself in a triathlon if you have not trained for one, even for charity. When I first experienced depression, I started planning great things like hosting dinner parties and travelling the world as I became hopeful. These are all fine when you are well, but start small, so you can tick them off and build your self-confidence.
Depression takes a lot out of you, and you may find that you become slightly different after; I wrote an article called Emerging Different, which talks about this. You may find your priorities have changed and that you want to follow a new lifestyle as the old one landed you up in this place.
I tend to find setting realistic goals such as getting my hair cut or going to a restaurant for a meal is much more conducive to improving my mental health than big plans. Once you’re recovered from depression, then you can make big plans, but in the meantime, little and often is the best way to go.
Turning hopelessness into hope can be challenging, but I hope that what I do will help you create a more hopeful atmosphere. You are setting your mind up for change by giving them a go, and change brings hope.