Do you remember the joke about seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and it really being an oncoming train? These days many feel this way because all we hear about is doom and gloom. We report on the number of new infections, the death rate, and the unemployment rate. I don’t think if those reports didn’t come out, we wouldn’t know the severity of the situation.
I’ve been a mental health provider coming up on thirty years. My practice overwhelmingly has been devoted to chronic and life-threatening illness and trauma. Why are we so prone to being burdened by despair? We all face challenging times to varying degrees, but we wear struggle and heartache like a badge of courage instead of looking for ways to rise.
I would be remiss as a mental health provider if I didn’t focus on the idea of hope. We will see light at the end of the tunnel, and it won’t be a train. Our lives will be forever changed, but humans are resilient. I have a fifteen-year-old cat. He has lost vision in one of his eyes and I’ve been watching him adapt to his different abilities. We’re higher thinking mammals so I believe we too can carve out new means of survival and thriving.
Our history on this planet shows how incredibly resilient we are as a species. We’re dedicated to overcoming challenges with inventive ideas, a sense of community, and the strengthening of our bodies, minds, and spirits.
Shame has been a deterrent for many in seeking mental health services, along with a lack of resources. Mental health is not for the few, if it were we wouldn’t survive. We need to focus on what’s possible, not what’s holding us back. We get glimmers of hope when someone leaves the hospital after fighting COVID-19. We see the kindness of others when people deliver food and medications to those who are homebound. We have become creative in how we can raise money like golf tournaments and online concerts.
I’m a champion for hope. I also know not everyone will get well, but we can all get better. It’s why progress, not perfection should be our goal. Mental health has to be a focus. Developing new coping mechanisms, strengthening our capacity for change, and belief in our ability to make a difference in the world. Let’s look toward the light together.