7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

Over the years, I have found that having hope is crucial in being able to live well.  That is, believing that I have a future, and a purpose for my life has been the one key factor that has enabled me to regain my life back.  But, to be honest, hopelessness far too often is lurking right behind me like a very dark shadow waiting to block out any ray of hope.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.  It comes about quickly if I fail to see a future and a plan for my life.  Hopelessness quickly gives way to despair and then the despair gives way to depression.  And suddenly I can find myself in a deep dark bit that overwhelms into emotional pain, isolation, and no will to get up and live.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.

It is a “cancer” that damages my soul and can lead me into the darkest deepest despair possible.  It would be all too easy to embrace this-this familiar enemy of hopelessness. So, every day I take great care to keep this “creeper” of hopelessness away. It takes daily focus for me to remain hope-filled; knowing that my life has meaning and purpose.  I have a future and so do you.  You have a future and a purpose!  Even all of the pain that you and I have experienced due to having bipolar disorder has purpose.

For me, knowing what hopelessness that is caused by a depressive mood looks like for me has been crucial in learning to live well.  What are the early signs? How quickly do I spiral down?  So through the years I have developed a workable plan for me when even the slightest bit of hopelessness rears its ugly head.

So, these are the seven things that I pay attention to when I feel even the slightest bit of despair creep in (Please know, that these seven things may nearly impossible to do if hopelessness has had a grip on you for some time.).

At the early signs of hopelessness/depressive thinking or feeling:

  1. Let your doctor and therapist know at the first signs of it. Don’t wait!
  1. Let key family and or trusted friends know. Don’t wait.
  1. If you have a WRAP plan or another type of wellness plan, start to work it.
  1. Not talking about your feelings of hopelessness will cause you to bottle it up inside you and it will begin to have even more “power” over your thoughts and feelings. You need to talk about it.  Get it out into the open.  Talking will release some of the very real pain of hopelessness.
  1. Work hard at not isolating. Isolating empowers hopelessness. Continued isolation will affect your brain’s ability to problem-solve and thinking differently.  (There’s actual research out there on this: isolation brings can cause an inflexibility to the brain to problem solve.) Call or text friends; don’t go to them, have them come to you.  Send out an SOS to whomever even if that is all you can do.
  1. If you have a peer specialist that is working with you be sure to let him or her know. If you do not have one, find out where in your community you might receive the services of one.  Having a peer support specialist is particularly important to do if you lack a support system through friends and family.
  1. Spend time reading Scripture or inspiring literature and listening to things that inspire you and fill you with hope.

If you’re not struggling with hopelessness currently, then I would strongly encourage you to develop either a WRAP plan or a wellness plan for living well.  After all, you and I both know that having a mental health diagnosis, hopelessness (a depressive state) is too often lurking around like a sick predator of our living well in spite of having bipolar.

And yes, no matter how hard we might fight against hopelessness sometimes our brain chemistry fights against us.  And that’s why medicine is imperative in our daily battle to live well in spite of a mental illness.  If you have a mental illness, your brain like mine, malfunctions.  So, I do everything within my power to keep my brain chemistry as “straight” as possible. Not only do I take my medicine, but I also choose to have hope, which helps my brain chemistry.  I don’t dare allow my thinking to go “south” for even the least bit of time.  So, I count on my medicine working, and I do my part regarding how I think.

How about you? What do you do to fight off hopelessness?  If you’re feeling hopeless what are you doing about it? What keeps you going even when you feel like quitting? What preventative steps do you take to ward off depressive thinking?

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Brad discusses the importance of moving toward something as opposed to moving away from something.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email Brad at pastorbrad@freshhope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.  Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

You can access this podcast by clicking on this icon:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

 

You can listen to this podcast via Apple Podcasts on iTunes by clicking on this icon:Listen_on_Apple_Podcasts_CMYK_US

Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope, go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Brad discusses the importance of moving toward something as opposed to moving away from something.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email Brad at pastorbrad@freshhope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.  Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

You can access this podcast by clicking on this icon:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

 

You can listen to this podcast via Apple Podcasts on iTunes by clicking on this icon:Listen_on_Apple_Podcasts_CMYK_US

Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope, go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

Over the years, I have found that having hope is crucial in being able to live well.  That is, believing that I have a future, and a purpose for my life has been the one key factor that has enabled me to regain my life back.  But, to be honest, hopelessness far too often is lurking right behind me like a very dark shadow waiting to block out any ray of hope.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.  It comes about quickly if I fail to see a future and a plan for my life.  Hopelessness quickly gives way to despair and then the despair gives way to depression.  And suddenly I can find myself in a deep dark bit that overwhelms into emotional pain, isolation, and no will to get up and live.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.

It is a “cancer” that damages my soul and can lead me into the darkest deepest despair possible.  It would be all too easy to embrace this-this familiar enemy of hopelessness. So, every day I take great care to keep this “creeper” of hopelessness away. It takes daily focus for me to remain hope-filled; knowing that my life has meaning and purpose.  I have a future and so do you.  You have a future and a purpose!  Even all of the pain that you and I have experienced due to having bipolar disorder has purpose.

For me, knowing what hopelessness that is caused by a depressive mood looks like for me has been crucial in learning to live well.  What are the early signs? How quickly do I spiral down?  So through the years I have developed a workable plan for me when even the slightest bit of hopelessness rears its ugly head.

So, these are the seven things that I pay attention to when I feel even the slightest bit of despair creep in (Please know, that these seven things may nearly impossible to do if hopelessness has had a grip on you for some time.).

At the early signs of hopelessness/depressive thinking or feeling:

  1. Let your doctor and therapist know at the first signs of it. Don’t wait!
  1. Let key family and or trusted friends know. Don’t wait.
  1. If you have a WRAP plan or another type of wellness plan, start to work it.
  1. Not talking about your feelings of hopelessness will cause you to bottle it up inside you and it will begin to have even more “power” over your thoughts and feelings. You need to talk about it.  Get it out into the open.  Talking will release some of the very real pain of hopelessness.
  1. Work hard at not isolating. Isolating empowers hopelessness. Continued isolation will affect your brain’s ability to problem-solve and thinking differently.  (There’s actual research out there on this: isolation brings can cause an inflexibility to the brain to problem solve.) Call or text friends; don’t go to them, have them come to you.  Send out an SOS to whomever even if that is all you can do.
  1. If you have a peer specialist that is working with you be sure to let him or her know. If you do not have one, find out where in your community you might receive the services of one.  Having a peer support specialist is particularly important to do if you lack a support system through friends and family.
  1. Spend time reading Scripture or inspiring literature and listening to things that inspire you and fill you with hope.

If you’re not struggling with hopelessness currently, then I would strongly encourage you to develop either a WRAP plan or a wellness plan for living well.  After all, you and I both know that having a mental health diagnosis, hopelessness (a depressive state) is too often lurking around like a sick predator of our living well in spite of having bipolar.

And yes, no matter how hard we might fight against hopelessness sometimes our brain chemistry fights against us.  And that’s why medicine is imperative in our daily battle to live well in spite of a mental illness.  If you have a mental illness, your brain like mine, malfunctions.  So, I do everything within my power to keep my brain chemistry as “straight” as possible. Not only do I take my medicine, but I also choose to have hope, which helps my brain chemistry.  I don’t dare allow my thinking to go “south” for even the least bit of time.  So, I count on my medicine working, and I do my part regarding how I think.

How about you? What do you do to fight off hopelessness?  If you’re feeling hopeless what are you doing about it? What keeps you going even when you feel like quitting? What preventative steps do you take to ward off depressive thinking?

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

Over the years, I have found that having hope is crucial in being able to live well.  That is, believing that I have a future, and a purpose for my life has been the one key factor that has enabled me to regain my life back.  But, to be honest, hopelessness far too often is lurking right behind me like a very dark shadow waiting to block out any ray of hope.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.  It comes about quickly if I fail to see a future and a plan for my life.  Hopelessness quickly gives way to despair and then the despair gives way to depression.  And suddenly I can find myself in a deep dark bit that overwhelms into emotional pain, isolation, and no will to get up and live.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.

It is a “cancer” that damages my soul and can lead me into the darkest deepest despair possible.  It would be all too easy to embrace this-this familiar enemy of hopelessness. So, every day I take great care to keep this “creeper” of hopelessness away. It takes daily focus for me to remain hope-filled; knowing that my life has meaning and purpose.  I have a future and so do you.  You have a future and a purpose!  Even all of the pain that you and I have experienced due to having bipolar disorder has purpose.

For me, knowing what hopelessness that is caused by a depressive mood looks like for me has been crucial in learning to live well.  What are the early signs? How quickly do I spiral down?  So through the years I have developed a workable plan for me when even the slightest bit of hopelessness rears its ugly head.

So, these are the seven things that I pay attention to when I feel even the slightest bit of despair creep in (Please know, that these seven things may nearly impossible to do if hopelessness has had a grip on you for some time.).

At the early signs of hopelessness/depressive thinking or feeling:

  1. Let your doctor and therapist know at the first signs of it. Don’t wait!
  1. Let key family and or trusted friends know. Don’t wait.
  1. If you have a WRAP plan or another type of wellness plan, start to work it.
  1. Not talking about your feelings of hopelessness will cause you to bottle it up inside you and it will begin to have even more “power” over your thoughts and feelings. You need to talk about it.  Get it out into the open.  Talking will release some of the very real pain of hopelessness.
  1. Work hard at not isolating. Isolating empowers hopelessness. Continued isolation will affect your brain’s ability to problem-solve and thinking differently.  (There’s actual research out there on this: isolation brings can cause an inflexibility to the brain to problem solve.) Call or text friends; don’t go to them, have them come to you.  Send out an SOS to whomever even if that is all you can do.
  1. If you have a peer specialist that is working with you be sure to let him or her know. If you do not have one, find out where in your community you might receive the services of one.  Having a peer support specialist is particularly important to do if you lack a support system through friends and family.
  1. Spend time reading Scripture or inspiring literature and listening to things that inspire you and fill you with hope.

If you’re not struggling with hopelessness currently, then I would strongly encourage you to develop either a WRAP plan or a wellness plan for living well.  After all, you and I both know that having a mental health diagnosis, hopelessness (a depressive state) is too often lurking around like a sick predator of our living well in spite of having bipolar.

And yes, no matter how hard we might fight against hopelessness sometimes our brain chemistry fights against us.  And that’s why medicine is imperative in our daily battle to live well in spite of a mental illness.  If you have a mental illness, your brain like mine, malfunctions.  So, I do everything within my power to keep my brain chemistry as “straight” as possible. Not only do I take my medicine, but I also choose to have hope, which helps my brain chemistry.  I don’t dare allow my thinking to go “south” for even the least bit of time.  So, I count on my medicine working, and I do my part regarding how I think.

How about you? What do you do to fight off hopelessness?  If you’re feeling hopeless what are you doing about it? What keeps you going even when you feel like quitting? What preventative steps do you take to ward off depressive thinking?

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!”

I hung up.

Get rich schemes abound.

Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain.

Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression?

Depression twists your thinking, convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression.

Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind. 

These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable.

These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse.

How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle.

S—Support groups. You are not alone in dealing with these thoughts. Finding a group of safe people where you can hear others tell their story and where you can share yours. Talking helps identify manipulative thoughts, discover maladaptive behavior, and ways to disarm shame.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

H—Honest thinking. You have been manipulated by the lies of depression. Shame thoughts are lies that need to be exchanged for truth. Identifying these thoughts and replacing them can change your feelings and behaviors. Therapy for this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It is highly effective at creating positive behavior.

“Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 Message

A—Appreciate life, even in the smallest details. It is impossible to deeply grateful and feeling shamed simultaneously. Gratitude resets your mind, changing your focus to the positive from the negative. Intentionally keeping a gratitude journal is a tool that many have used.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”Col 3:16

M—Marvelously Made. You have been made in the image of God. Yes, the image is tarnished but you are still marked in your Creator’s image. He sees you as a Masterpiece of His handiwork. The Good News of Jesus is that God loves us. Period. Nothing you do can make God love you more. Nothing you do can make God love you less.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

E—Empathy. Depression bullies you with its lies. Learn to be compassionate to yourself. Imagine one of your children confided in you they were having shame creating thoughts. What would you say to give confidence and encouragement? Say these things to yourself. Step out of yourself for a moment and empathize with your inner child that is hurting. Having compassion for yourself changes your inner world.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Mph 4:32 NIV

You can use the SHAME model to defeat thoughts and feelings of shame that depression causes.

When you hear the lies of depression, hang up the phone.

Quails-bio-slide

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

Freedom from the Thoughts of Shame

The other day I answered the phone and was greeted with, “This is a phone call like you have never heard before. My name is Jim and I can tell you how to make the cash roll in!”

I hung up.

Get rich schemes abound.

Manipulative people take advantage of you for their gain.

Are you being conned by the master manipulator, depression?

Depression twists your thinking, convincing you of lies that cause shame. Shame takes your life and feeds your depression.

Shame is a set of beliefs that you are defective, worthless, that you deserve misery. Some of these thoughts may ruminate in both our conscious and unconscious mind. 

These thoughts may include:  I’m stupid. I’m unattractive. I’m a failure. I’m a bad person.I’m selfish. I just don’t have what it takes. I hate myself.I don’t matter. I’m defective. I shouldn’t have been born. I’m unlovable.

These automatic thoughts steal from you and feed depression, worsening its hold on our lives. Depressive illness may bring on these thoughts. We can then be manipulated making depression worse.

How can we manage these thoughts of shame? The acrostic SHAME can be a pattern for breaking this downward shame cycle.

S—Support groups. You are not alone in dealing with these thoughts. Finding a group of safe people where you can hear others tell their story and where you can share yours. Talking helps identify manipulative thoughts, discover maladaptive behavior, and ways to disarm shame.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2 NIV

H—Honest thinking. You have been manipulated by the lies of depression. Shame thoughts are lies that need to be exchanged for truth. Identifying these thoughts and replacing them can change your feelings and behaviors. Therapy for this is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy.  It is highly effective at creating positive behavior.

“Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12:2 Message

A—Appreciate life, even in the smallest details. It is impossible to deeply grateful and feeling shamed simultaneously. Gratitude resets your mind, changing your focus to the positive from the negative. Intentionally keeping a gratitude journal is a tool that many have used.

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”Col 3:16

M—Marvelously Made. You have been made in the image of God. Yes, the image is tarnished but you are still marked in your Creator’s image. He sees you as a Masterpiece of His handiwork. The Good News of Jesus is that God loves us. Period. Nothing you do can make God love you more. Nothing you do can make God love you less.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalms 139:13-14

E—Empathy. Depression bullies you with its lies. Learn to be compassionate to yourself. Imagine one of your children confided in you they were having shame creating thoughts. What would you say to give confidence and encouragement? Say these things to yourself. Step out of yourself for a moment and empathize with your inner child that is hurting. Having compassion for yourself changes your inner world.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Mph 4:32 NIV

You can use the SHAME model to defeat thoughts and feelings of shame that depression causes.

When you hear the lies of depression, hang up the phone.

Quails-bio-slide

Struggles Bring Strength

Struggles Bring Strength

Last week I lifted a few weights at the gym.  It reminded me why I had not been lifting weights; my arms get sore!  I hate the ache that follows.  I confess that I am by nature a couch-potato.  Most likely my last breath in this life will be taken while on a couch somewhere.  So, as I was lifting a few weights, I kept reminding myself that there is no strength without struggle.

As it has been said, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.”  Strength does not come from what you can do; it comes from doing what you can’t do.  I believe this is true for all of life; including the struggle of living well in spite of having a mood disorder.

Even the beautiful butterfly must struggle to leave its cocoon; if it does not, its wings will not be strong enough to fly.

You and I both know that there are struggles with managing this “thing” they call mental illness. And there are days when you and I might feel that the struggle is not bringing strength but weakness.  But I believe, without even knowing you personally, that you are becoming stronger day by day in the pursuit of living a full and rich life in spite of the struggle.  In fact, I believe that those of us who have a mental health challenge in our lives are some of the strongest people around.  Yes, that includes you!

Let’s be honest. Anyone can lift weights for an hour a day, but to manage the other 23 hours with a brain that does not always cooperate…that’s a struggle that brings real strength.  As strange as it may sound, I am thankful for my struggles with bipolar disorder. I have had and at times continue to have struggles overcoming daily a brain that does not always work right, even with the medicine. The struggles have brought me to a point of strength emotionally and spiritually.  It has developed my character and my sense of humor.  My struggles have introduced me to who I am and who I am becoming.

Maybe you didn’t know it, but you are a strong mental health hero!  

Check out Brad’s weekly podcast, Fresh Hope for Mental Health at www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com 

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

The Importance of Moving Toward as Opposed to Moving Away

In this edition of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, Brad discusses the importance of moving toward something as opposed to moving away from something.

After listening to this podcast we encourage you to email Brad at pastorbrad@freshhope.us with a comment or question that we will share on our next podcast.  Or you can leave a voice message for us on the site: www.FreshHope4MentalHealth.com

You can access this podcast by clicking on this icon:FH PodCastArt (160dpi) 02_Splash 480x854

 

You can listen to this podcast via Apple Podcasts on iTunes by clicking on this icon:Listen_on_Apple_Podcasts_CMYK_US

Pastor Brad Hoefs, host of Fresh Hope for Mental Health, is the founder of Fresh Hope Ministries, a network of Christian mental health support groups for those who have a diagnosis and their loved ones. In other words, Fresh Hope is a Christian mental health support group.

Brad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1995. He is a weekly blogger for www.bphope.com (Bipolar Magazine). He is also a certified peer specialist and has been doing pastoral counseling since 1985. Brad is also the author of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which is available on Amazon or at: http://www.FreshHopeBook.com

If you are interested in more information about Fresh Hope go to http://www.FreshHope.us or email info@FreshHope.us or call 402.932.3089.

To donate to Fresh Hope, go to: http://freshhope.us/donate/

For a complete list of where Fresh Hope groups are presently meeting go to www.FreshHope.us and click on “find a group.”  Or you may attain an online group of meeting of Fresh Hope by going to www.FreshHopeMeeting.com

If you are interested in starting a Fresh Hope group within your faith community contact Julie at Julie@FreshHope.us 

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is a production of Fresh Hope Ministries. 

Fresh Hope Ministries is a non-profit ministry.  

The copyrights of this program belong to Fresh Hope Ministries and may not be duplicated without written permission.

All the podcasts of Fresh Hope Today as well as numerous other videos are all available on our YouTube channel: Fresh Hope Network

Fresh Hope for Mental Health is on Facebook at  www.Facebook.com/FreshHopeforMentalHealth

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

7 Things to Do When Despair is Creeping In

Over the years, I have found that having hope is crucial in being able to live well.  That is, believing that I have a future, and a purpose for my life has been the one key factor that has enabled me to regain my life back.  But, to be honest, hopelessness far too often is lurking right behind me like a very dark shadow waiting to block out any ray of hope.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.  It comes about quickly if I fail to see a future and a plan for my life.  Hopelessness quickly gives way to despair and then the despair gives way to depression.  And suddenly I can find myself in a deep dark bit that overwhelms into emotional pain, isolation, and no will to get up and live.

Hopelessness is an enemy that I must hold at bay, avoiding it at all costs.

It is a “cancer” that damages my soul and can lead me into the darkest deepest despair possible.  It would be all too easy to embrace this-this familiar enemy of hopelessness. So, every day I take great care to keep this “creeper” of hopelessness away. It takes daily focus for me to remain hope-filled; knowing that my life has meaning and purpose.  I have a future and so do you.  You have a future and a purpose!  Even all of the pain that you and I have experienced due to having bipolar disorder has purpose.

For me, knowing what hopelessness that is caused by a depressive mood looks like for me has been crucial in learning to live well.  What are the early signs? How quickly do I spiral down?  So through the years I have developed a workable plan for me when even the slightest bit of hopelessness rears its ugly head.

So, these are the seven things that I pay attention to when I feel even the slightest bit of despair creep in (Please know, that these seven things may nearly impossible to do if hopelessness has had a grip on you for some time.).

At the early signs of hopelessness/depressive thinking or feeling:

  1. Let your doctor and therapist know at the first signs of it. Don’t wait!
  1. Let key family and or trusted friends know. Don’t wait.
  1. If you have a WRAP plan or another type of wellness plan, start to work it.
  1. Not talking about your feelings of hopelessness will cause you to bottle it up inside you and it will begin to have even more “power” over your thoughts and feelings. You need to talk about it.  Get it out into the open.  Talking will release some of the very real pain of hopelessness.
  1. Work hard at not isolating. Isolating empowers hopelessness. Continued isolation will affect your brain’s ability to problem-solve and thinking differently.  (There’s actual research out there on this: isolation brings can cause an inflexibility to the brain to problem solve.) Call or text friends; don’t go to them, have them come to you.  Send out an SOS to whomever even if that is all you can do.
  1. If you have a peer specialist that is working with you be sure to let him or her know. If you do not have one, find out where in your community you might receive the services of one.  Having a peer support specialist is particularly important to do if you lack a support system through friends and family.
  1. Spend time reading Scripture or inspiring literature and listening to things that inspire you and fill you with hope.

If you’re not struggling with hopelessness currently, then I would strongly encourage you to develop either a WRAP plan or a wellness plan for living well.  After all, you and I both know that having a mental health diagnosis, hopelessness (a depressive state) is too often lurking around like a sick predator of our living well in spite of having bipolar.

And yes, no matter how hard we might fight against hopelessness sometimes our brain chemistry fights against us.  And that’s why medicine is imperative in our daily battle to live well in spite of a mental illness.  If you have a mental illness, your brain like mine, malfunctions.  So, I do everything within my power to keep my brain chemistry as “straight” as possible. Not only do I take my medicine, but I also choose to have hope, which helps my brain chemistry.  I don’t dare allow my thinking to go “south” for even the least bit of time.  So, I count on my medicine working, and I do my part regarding how I think.

How about you? What do you do to fight off hopelessness?  If you’re feeling hopeless what are you doing about it? What keeps you going even when you feel like quitting? What preventative steps do you take to ward off depressive thinking?