I had an experience yesterday that was a huge victory for hope. A wonderful progressive political candidate in my county, for whom I had worked and to whom I was very attached – who had been written off in many circles as not having a chance against the entrenched political power of his opponent – won, and by a wide margin. Early in the campaign, a friend who knew a whole lot about Democratic politics in this area said, “Bless your heart for working for Todd, but I’m not going to invest any energy there because he doesn’t have a chance to win.” This lodged deep in me and I spent the rest of the campaign not expecting to win. When, at Todd’s “celebration” party after the polls closed – which I mostly expected not to be a celebration – the word came through that his opponent had conceded, I mostly couldn’t believe my ears. It took my breath away. Tears squirted up into my eyes.
I had given up hope. I had continued to support my candidate – had taken election day off from work and spent the whole day at the polls – but did it out of loyalty to my friend and out of some sense of duty, without an expectation or even a hope for a positive outcome. There was a depressive quality to all my efforts. When i sent out broadcast emails or put up Facebook postings to get out the vote, my discouragement did not come through in my words – though some of my friends or acquaintances might say that the negative energy somehow came through. When, at the polls, I gathered all my bright energy for the moments it took to hold out a piece of literature to a voter and say “Todd Williams needs your vote for District Attorney”, did my secret discouragement leak through? Even though I was depressed that day (definitely not manic) I seemed to myself more energetic in those moments of engaging the voters than the other people similarly hawking their candidates. I don’t know.
At my depression and bipolar support group last night, when we were searching for a topic, I proposed, “What are the sources of hope in your life?” The group liked this topic and chose it. It was generally agreed that lack of hope is perhaps the key symptom of depression – and the belief that “This too shall pass” is maybe the key antidote.
A wide variety of factors were given credit for generating hope. Several people mentioned this very support group. Others referred to other relationships where people are close with you, believe in you. I mentioned that a variation of “This too shall pass” is paying attention to the fact that even in a depressed day there are moments/hours/segments that are not depressed or at least less depressed. Seeing that depression is not monolithic, that it waxes and wains, is encouraging. (Is encouragement the same as hope? That’s a good topic for another post.)
I said that for me creativity is a key stimulator of hope. I’m going to save this for another post(s).