Thankfulness Thursday: No Surviving Without Hope

I have gone days before without water and food and survived. I kept going and pushing myself. I felt like I could survive. The day I went without hope, I felt like it was my end, and I wished it to be. I firmly believe one cannot live without it. Hope is what keeps us alive. Hope is what keeps us moving forward, believing that things will get better and tomorrow has the chance to be brighter. It is having the expectation that the pain will not be forever. You have confidence in the possibility of the fulfillment of something you desire and wish for. It is feeling that what is wanted can be had and that all will turn out well. It is trusting that God is going to get you through the storm and at the end will be a beautiful rainbow. You have promise for your future. Hope is the fuel to keep you fighting and persevering in the difficult moments of life. 

The absolute darkest, depressing, painful times of my life were when I lost hope. I could not see me living another day like I was. I could not even fathom life getting better based on how deep I had dug myself. The thoughts and behaviors and emotions had me so worn down. I needed to throw in the towel. I lost the energy to fight. I saw no way out of the pain but death.

In one my hospital stays, I was given an assignment in treatment asking me where I dream myself to be in 2, 5, and 10 years. I want to share my answers with you to show the darkness hopelessness can bring in your life, its ability to extinguish any light that may be trying to creep through and shine down on you.

February 7, 2012

2 years: dead, finally being set free and at peace, no longer imprisoned, a spirit with no emotion or body or pain or struggle, in a place of solitude and contentment, free from judgment and scrutiny, finally obtaining what I have been working so hard to achieve-an end to this life 

5 years: a pile of bones in a casket buried in the ground, just a piece of stone to mark my existence, six feet of dirt hiding and protecting me from the world and society and the tears and footsteps of passerbys; or perhaps I will be ashes floating in the air, spread out at my favorite place, no proof that I was even alive, no way to ever be found or uncovered, no way to be seen. It would describe how I lived my life-never whole

10 years: nonexistent, no trace of me ever being alive, a distant memory, just another lost soul, a statistic, a casualty of a troubling and difficult life

Living without hope is a dark place to be. It breeds depression, despair, and negativity. The time I spent in hopelessness brought me to a place I never want to be again, a place I pray none of you have to visit. I could no longer dream of my life in the future, a life free from pain and the anorexia. On numerous occasions I tried to take my life in ways other than starving myself. With the anorexia, I was already committing a slow suicide but I wanted a quicker way in those moments of absolute despair. I wanted out then and there. I didn’t want to have to wait anymore and live another one of those never ending, hopeless days. I couldn’t survive another day in the world I created with the anorexia. I was drowning. I had no stamina left to doggy paddle to shore or keep myself afloat. In a great twist of irony, I saw death as my lifesaver. The thing that would rescue me would be the same thing to cause the end of me. People will say suicide is an extremely selfish act but please do not judge. Until you have walked in their shoes, you will have no idea the extreme hopelessness one must endure to reach that point. Nobody is doing it to hurt anyone intentionally. They are desperate to be relieved of the pain and torment.

 I never told anyone or alluded to what I was going to do. I kept it very private. I knew that if I did, seeing them react to it and hearing the pain in their voice as they talked with me about it would cause me to back out. I would have to associate with them. The guilt of what I would put them through by ending my life would be tremendous and be the thing to talk me out of it. I wanted no obstructions in my path to stop me from following through with my plan. Thankfully, none of my attempts at suicide ended the way I thought at the time I wanted. God kept taking the place of death as being my rescuer. To say I was angry at Him over that for a while would be an understatement. I reached a new level of aggravation that I didn’t believe I was capable of feeling. Even after each sparing of my life when there was no logical reason for me to still be alive, I kept trying and making myself believe that I was not deserving of such grace. I saw it more as a cruel joke to be spared than because I had great things to accomplish in my life, and it wasn’t my time.  

When I lost hope, I felt death was a duty, my life was a disgrace. What is there to live for? What did I have left? To live without hope is to cease to live and that was the point I reached. Those in my life though who wanted nothing more than to see me recover and dreamed of my life without anorexia never lived without hope and saw I had plenty more life to live. The greatest things in the world have been accomplished by people who kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. My supporters are living proof of that. When all seemed lost in my recovery and I was completely defiant in treatment and denying help, they never let go of the hope that I would get better and see life beyond the eating disorder. And look where I am today? With hope, anything is possible. Any dream can be reality. 

Every person has hope in them.  It’s just a matter of whether or not people chose to acknowledge it and chose to accept it in their lives. Even the smallest amount can bring light into your life. That small flame can become an inferno as long as you don’t let yourself or another person or thing put it out. It can morph into something far more powerful and greater than one could ever imagine if given the room and the right to grow. Hope has extreme influence over our lives. To have hope is to have life. Once we stop hoping, we stop allowing ourselves to have any chance of happiness and a better tomorrow. We make ourselves believe that this life is as good as it will get, that we don’t deserve more than this life of pain and suffering. We become complacent. The dreams stop. Hope can be contagious and nothing is more rewarding to spread to others than the belief that a future of health and peace exists beyond the battle of today.

I thank God every minute of the day for saving my life. I see all I am experiencing now, look at all the people in my life, watch as my dreams unfold, see the many blessings I am receiving every day, and I think about how I would have robbed myself of all of it. I would have gone my life without experiencing how beautiful life can be…

Please, to the person reading this, do not let go of hope. Hold it. Grasp it. Cling to it. Do not let it slip through your fingers. That little speck is going to be used in a far greater way than you could ever imagine. Let it grow. Do not give up on it. And while yours is expanding, I will be holding onto plenty of it to share with you. I believe in you. The world needs you.

Love, light, and bravery, J.L.