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The Importance of Hope in Recovery
by Laura Blockel
“Abandon all hope, ye who enter” reads the archway to Dante’s Inferno. I once thought of this as more of a blessing than a curse, because hope was a luxury I felt I could not afford. After receiving my diagnosis I could not imagine a future. So much effort was required just to get out of bed and function in those years that I did not have the energy to think about other possibilities.
“This won’t be forever,” promised my psychiatrist as he signed my disability papers. Though I could not yet think of what a better life would look like, his promise planted itself deep in my soul. Through the next few years, with the encouragement of friends and good professionals, hope began to grow until it finally broke ground like a fragile seedling.
Hope needs to be tended, watered and nourished. I came to Genesis Club looking for friendships, work, and a place to belong. I found out that these were guaranteed ‘rights’ in the clubhouse model of recovery. In the care of the club members and staff, my hope blossomed into real goals and for the first time in years I dreamed of a better future.
Research has shown that positive thinking and expectations promote psychological and physical well-being (Snyder, Irving, & Anderson, 1991). Hope is empowering and is recognized as one of the most important determinants of recovery (Deegan, 1988). Pat Deegan described the process of recovery as transition from despair, anguish, and pessimism to a new hope that life can be different, often born out of the presence of another person ready to provide support and care.
When we cannot believe in hope for ourselves, let us be that hope for another person. A smile, a brief conversation, or just being with someone on a difficult day can make all the difference. And in giving to another, we may just find a reward of renewed hope for ourselves.
Reprinted with permission
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