Borrowed Hope

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“I am a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and
I didn’t have the heart to let him down”

 – Abraham Lincoln

A few years back I was really depressed.  I was very despondent and lacking all hope for any sort of recovery of my mental illness.  It was before my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and I had been dumped in the ‘treatment-resistant depression’ box.  I hate that box because it’s like ‘they’ decide I am not doing my bit to recover and so am just left to founder for myself.  The public Mental Health System had ceremoniously dumped me off their books because I didn’t respond to the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) they offered and they simply didn’t know what else to do with me.  And yes, they told me all this.  The public Eating Disorders Service also dumped me off their books at about the same time because they couldn’t work me out or figure why I did the things I did, and didn’t respond to what they tried to get me to do.

I was seeing the therapist I still see, and thankfully he held out hope for me.  But it wasn’t enough.  I thought at that time that the only reason he held out any hope for me was that I paid his bill at the end of the month.  No matter what he said or how super-therapist he proved to be, I could only imagine that he just saw me for the money.

You name it, I’d tried it.  I’d had years of therapy (from several different therapists),I had tried masses of different medications, I had tried Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) three separate times, I had two lengthy stays in a therapeutic community and had many hospitalisations (which really never did much except maybe keeping me alive.), oh and did I mention that I left my marriage on the expectation that doing so would cure me (many doctors told me this would happen).  It didn’t… although it did bring an end to my suicide attempts and alcohol abuse so I guess that was a good thing.

I had sunk to a new low.  I thought I had tried everything and nothing worked.  It seemed like nothing was going to help and while I hadn’t acted on suicidal ideation for some years, the thoughts were constant.  I started to realise that this was going to be my lot.  I was always going to be depressed (because that’s what everyone still thought I was).  Another 50 years of this was not a good prospect.  Life as a depressed person did not look like a good prospect and actually I really couldn’t see the point.

I stepped up the self harm, cut down the eating and tried to come to terms with the fact (or what I assumed was a fact) that this would be my lot.  I kept telling my therapist that he was only in this for the money and actually no one really cared about me.  For some reason he kept on seeing me regardless of my attitude about his apparent money-hungry ways.

Fortunately I had someone who believed in me.  My Dad believed in me, believed I was a good person and believed that one day I would be healed and restored to health.  I have to admit that I was very clear that Dad felt that way, but I really just thought it was him being him.  He was very much a ‘glass half-full’ positive person to the extent that it drove me to anger at times.  I thought it wasn’t really real and that one day I would do something to smash that glass and he would realise that the hope he held for me was just thin air.

With a lot of patience and perseverance Dad kept on at me.  Somehow (and I can’t remember exactly how it happened) I slowly started to think that maybe I should hold onto his hope for me.  I had no hope for myself but I kept hearing his belief.  Somehow he convinced me that his hope for me would be enough.  His hope for me would get me through this.  I had no idea how that could be possible but I decided to hang onto life, because he believed it would get better (even though I still had no hope myself).

It worked.  Not overnight by any means but it kept me going day to day, without choosing to opt out of life.  Actually making that decision to hang onto his hope also helped me stop self harming.  The urges were still strong but I could see that if what he said was right and my life was going to be restored, then I didn’t want more scars on my body.  And that was somehow enough for me.

Dad died suddenly last year.  It was a huge shock and one thing that really worried me is what I would do now that he was gone.  What would happen to his hope that was keeping me alive?  I’ve realised though (with time) that his hope can still keep me alive.  He’s not here (physically) anymore but I believe he is somewhere watching over me, and as such he probably still holds that hope for me.

More than that though, I’ve realised that I have a little bit of hope for me now too.  I’m not expecting a total cure from the difficulties I face but I can see that it is possible to live a satisfying life in spite those things.  So with Dad’s hope, and my own new hope I can keep going.

Borrowed hope really works.  I am living proof of that.  So I want to say if you don’t have any hope for yourself, look around and see who does have hope for you.  Pick someone who you trust and can believe that something could be so because they think it is.  Then hang onto it tight.  You don’t have to understand it, just give it a go.  What have you got to lose?


27 thoughts on “Borrowed Hope

  1. so touching and honest. Let your own hope keep growing sweety. Anyone reading this post that might feel the way you did may be saved from losing all hope because you decided to post this.

  2. This is beautiful, Cate. Not just because of what you say, but the fact that you say it. I think it’s wonderful that you shared this and I thank you so much. I love the idea of hanging onto someone else’s hope, when our own is not present. That is such a promising thought that gives me so much on which to reflect.

    Thank you for sharing this, and God bless your dad!

  3. Great read!!!

    I’m sorry about your Dad passing! He sounds like an amazing man!

    I remember thinking that my parents “had” to not give up on me. Much like how your parents “have” to say you’re pretty and cool 😛 I know now that this is not the case. Many family members bail on their “loved ones” when they experience severe mental health issues.

    1. It’s so sad when family bail on each other. I seem to have found myself in that situation with another family member and it hurts badly. My Dad though, he was human and sometimes he annoyed the hell out of me, but he never stopped believing in me and for that I will always be thankful. I don’t have kids of my own but he did teach me how to believe in other people, and there are always people that need someone to believe in them.

      1. I had some family members heavily judge my Mom and Dad because of what I was going through and I am mad at them for that.

        Having empathy and faith in others is amazing to be able to give to someone! I’m glad your Dad instilled that in you! Pass it on!

  4. anicelia

    A lovely, honest, and comprehensive entry. I am so glad you had someone who believed in you and loved you -it makes all the difference. Love is what had saved me, gives me security now.

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