Hope Begins with a Choice

Motivating insights from life, books, and movies

Photo by Joao Tzanno on Unsplash

In my experience, I have found that I am never alone in my struggles or questions. We are not alone in this world, and we are journeying together on this path of life. Therefore, when I go through difficult times and receive insights that bring me through those times or bring healing and relief from emotional or mental distress, I like to write about it. Sharing our stories can bring hope and camaraderie in times when we feel hopeless and alone.

In the past year, I have experienced new extremes in the lowness of my mental health. I have always dealt with highs and lows throughout my life, as all of us do, yet in the past year, the lows have dropped to alarming levels for me. 

I have found that the low points in life have been a result of a failure to accept change, accept the way things are, accept who I am, and embrace who I am. Awareness of the moments taking place right in front of me has been overshadowed by regrets of what was or could have been. All unhealthy trains of thought, but that is what I have been working through. 

Perhaps all of this mental distress is a result of the Marvel Studios’ Avengers Infinity War Saga coming to an end. One to two epic movies per year for over a decade that hinted at an epic showdown that would eventually reveal the fate of the Avengers and the world. There may be some hyperbole on that statement, but it is true that when life gets clouded, the momentary pleasures are easy to hold on to and provide peaks that rise from the depths of a valley. 

What I would like to discuss is in this article is what those lows felt like, because it may give an explanation or insight into similar feelings you or someone you know may be experiencing. Likewise, I would like to share some of the information and advice I received and read through these times. Again, we are in this life together, so let’s share our stories.

I can tell you right now, that Connection is the most valuable word in my life right now, and I must embrace it. This word connection is used broadly, as it applies to many pieces of the mental health pie. A detailed look into the book Lost Connections, that opened the door to the world of connection and understanding depression can be found in a previous blog here: https://thestorywewrite.com/2020/02/06/understanding-depression/

It feels like this

At the start of a down cycle, I found myself very restless. The restlessness showed itself through an inability to be present, or be okay with the present. There would be a feeling like I was missing out on something or everything for that matter, and no matter what I did, I would compare it to some other person’s experience. It is hard to be satisfied when you view every aspect of your own life as less than everyone else’s life.

Physically, there would be tightness in my jaw and my chest; these are symptoms that would show up a linger for days. There would be this feeling tears welling up, but the inability to cry. At the very lowest times, tightness of breath would become an issue, this had only happened a couple of times. 

I share these experiences so that they may serve as signals to seek mental help and/or pursue mental health activities if you find yourself encountering the same or similar issues. I found confidence in the realization that these thought patterns that were bringing me down were just that, patterns and habits, and the reality of life was good. 

Come back home

Some of my favorite movies have themes of redemption. Consider the classic It’s A Wonderful Life. George Bailey acquires a life that is full of love, family, friends, and purpose; but this life looks different than the life he had always imagined for himself, and therefore becomes discontented with this life.

In The Greatest Showman, P.T. Barnum at the height of his success likewise finds himself wanting more to be satisfied. He leaves behind his circus, his family, and his home to pursue something that he considered better or more necessary than the life that was taking place. 

The climax for both of these stories comes as George Bailey and P.T. Barnum hit an all-time low on their life. All at once, they realize that they had forsaken the beauty before them for something that was elsewhere. The result of hitting rock bottom brought them both back home. Home is everything they had left behind.

The choice is yours

At the lowest point what we encounter is a choice; we either stay in the darkness or move toward the light. This choice begins in the mind, because that is where we need to start if we want to see a change in our life, and that change of mental state may be the only aspect of our life that is in our control at that time. A choice to rise above the turmoil does not always remove the turmoil, we may have to endure through that time powered by our state of mind. 

Another thing to remember is that we will also encounter trauma in our life that requires us to take time to grieve, and in these times, that grief may be the reason for our distress. Whether we are grieving the loss of a loved one, a broken marriage, or a physical accident, time in those cases, will play a valuable role in the healing process. This idea is also referenced in the book Lost Connections that I referenced above.

This is the story we write. Let us share in this life together, and add positively to the narrative of each other’s lives.

References

– Lost Connections by Johann Hari
– Marvel (Credit for all movies in the Infinity War Saga)
– The Greatest Showman by 20th Century Fox
– It’s a Wonderful Life by Paramount Pictures


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