For someone who has suffered from depression (and all sorts of other mental health issues) since childhood, I am a very hopeful person. Of course, there are times when the depression drags me into a pit of hopelessness and despair, but most of time I hope. I hope the Electoral College will go with the popular vote (a long shot, I know). I hope that tomorrow will bring less pain. I hope that my husband will find relief. I hope for a better future.
I hope. I hope. I hope.
Even when the odds are stacked against me and there is only the slightest glimmer of possibility, I hope. Often times, I wish I could stop hoping. Hope opens us up to disappointment. The more hope, the more chance for the pain of disappointment. Yet, still I keep hoping even when it makes no sense.
My biggest hopes are that one day, my husband and I will find treatments that will allow us to live pain free, or at least at able bodied levels of pain. Yet, this is one of the hopes that I fear will crush me.
My husband was just diagnosed with MS, which, by definition, is a progressive illness. So far, the doctors have given him medicine to help the pain but not treat the illness. Yet even with strong pain killers, I watch him suffer every day. I watch him struggle to stand, struggle to manage the pain, struggle to play the video games that help distract him.
When we tell people about the new diagnosis, the most common response is that treatment has gotten a lot better these days. Yet, right now, I look at a man who suffers every day with little relief and wonder where these fabulous treatments are.
Yet, despite the lump in my throat and tears that threaten to spill as I write this, I still hope. I hope that one day (hopefully soon) the doctors will give him a treatment that gives him his life back. I hope that the man who was once a cheerleader and highly active will one day be able to walk around a store without exhaustion. I hope that the man with stories swarming in his mind will be able to type without pain. I hope that the man I love more than anything can live without constant pain.
I hope for myself as well. Despite the endometriosis that plagues my innards, I hope that one day I won’t be in pain. Despite the failed surgeries, the treatments I can’t take, the lack of options, I hope that one day I won’t have to plan my life around pain. I hope that research will actually be done into this disease despite it being a “women’s issue”. I hope that they will find a treatment I can take. I hope that they will cure this incurable illness.
I hope for the long shots. I hope for the tiny glimmers. I hope for the impossible.
Some days, I lose hope. Some days, when the pain is overwhelming and the depression sinks in, hopelessness clouds my mind. I lose myself in the thought of a life spent in constant pain. I lose myself to the idea of my husband degenerating and suffering endlessly. My doubts in the medical system amplify and crush any hope that may remain.
On the days that the pain is more than I can bear and I’m left without options to lessen the burden, I crumble into myself in a mess of hopelessness and fear. These are the days I question why I push on. I wonder what the point is in continuing forward in this life. I drown in the agony and desperation.
Yet a new day comes and I again I hope. For without hope that one day I will find relief, that one day things will get better, how can I push myself forward each day?
Hope opens us up for the possibility of disappointment and pain. Yet, hope is the buoy that can keep us afloat. Hope is a reason to keep fighting for a better tomorrow. For those of us with chronic pain, for those of us who are sick and may never get better, hope is a shield against the destruction of despair. Hope, some days, is all we have.
It may be a long time from now, but I hold to my hope that one day things will get better.