Friday, October 12, 2007

Hope (Part 2)

After Dr. Jerome Groopman was healed from a 19-year-struggle with extraordinary back pain (which he discusses in his book, The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness), he set out on a journey "to discover whether the energizing feeling of hope can in fact contribute to recovery. I found that there is an authentic biology of hope. But how far does it reach? And what are its limits?

"Researchers are learning that a change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry. Belief and expectation--the key elements of hope--can block pain by releasing the brain's endorphins and enkephalins, mimicking the effects of morphine. In some cases, hope can also have important effects on fundamental physiological processes like respiration, circulation, and motor function.

"During the course of an illness, then, hope can be imagined as a domino effect, a chain reaction in which each link makes improvement more likely. It changes us profoundly in spirit and in body. Every day I look for hope, for my patients, for my loved ones, and for myself..."


Daily Dose said...

Right now in my life, I have no hope. Maybe I should read the book :)

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Daily Dose,
You definitely should read the book. For the most part, Groopman is writing about people who have survived cancer when there was "no" hope, but his belief in the healing power of hope is extraordinarily important. I believe that its application for bipolar mood disorder is clear.

Since my diagnosis in 1993--I spent a decade researching this illness and four years researching healing and wellness.

I believe the reason so many bipolars are so sick is because the medication is ineffective (for so many people) and highly toxic, and our doctors don't believe we can get well.

And logically, that doesn't make sense. Ours isn't a terminal illness yet the prognosis is awful, and in my estimation, the treatment is worse.

At one stage, having been so very sick for so long, I, too, lost hope. And my mother, who was 80 at the time and suffering from dementia, looked me in the face and said, "Susan, somewhere, someone is helping people get well from this illness. You need to find that person."

I didn't find "that person" but I did find a doctor (not a psychiatrist) who gave me hope.

The rest I had to do on my own. And these days I'm thriving. Why?

Because I decided that bipolar disorder need not be a "death sentence." I believed I could learn skills that would help me heal myself. I believed I could figure out what triggered my illness in the first place and subsequently what triggers depressive episodes--and prevent it from happening.

I believed it was important to focus on wellness, not illness, and to create a community of like-minded people. I believed in the importance of stress reduction techniques.

On a daily basis, I believe in utilizing a wide range of wellness activities.

And I am currently learning about brain switching and hypnosis, which I think provide a revolutionary approach to this illness.

Daily Dose, I'm not sure why you've lost hope but let me know if there's any information or advice I can share with you!

All my best and a virtual hug from Los Angeles!


JayPeeFreely said...

For me, some days, I find some solace and hopefulness in writing on baseball. It has been about 18 months since I started and I have been up and down throughout the process, but I see a end in sight.

I've been hopeful that it can be a starting point to a new life. I realize I have much, much more to learn about this craft, since I refused to learn about it in school, or study it much on my own, but I think with some traveling, developing vision and driving to a goal, maybe I'll get it.

I did self-help and self-diagnosis - DSM IV and a multiple choice charts to discover my identity. I still wonder exactly what it is. And I don't trust anyone enough to get the truth.

I'd like so, so much to wipe the slate clean. But I know that ain't happening. So, I have to decide what parts are going to be wiped (bad and good - not so easily to decide, if you knew everything) clean, and what is going to go forward.

Always a pleasure. Have a good weekend!!!

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Dear JayPee,
Always a pleasure to hear from you. Your honesty and sincerity are a shinning light. Sounds like you're moving in the right direction. I've always felt that a "baseball related career" will be your salvation. All the career books recommend that the best careers are ones where we pursue our passions!

Hope you have a good weekend too.


ChimeraX said...

The impact of hope in my healing both from cancer and currently depression has been central to the progress I've been able to make. I couldn't agree more with these two posts. I've been blessed with an inner resilience that has saved me many times from the worst depths of suicidal depression. I doubt anyone can explain in rational terms what that deep thing is that springs back when your life is threatened - by your own mind. Perhaps it's the basic instinct of survival at its core - a force that tells you there is a next day coming, a next thing to attend to, a next word to write. Moyers' Healing and the Mind is a good introduction to several thinkers and practitioners who have tapped into the power of hope and the mind to heal.

Bipolar Wellness Writer said...

Thanks for your "inspirational" comment. I, too, believe that the mind and the brain are the primary tools for wellness, and too few people understand this.

I've read Bill Moyers' book many times. And during the darkest days of my illness, I read cancer books for inspiration because they were so much more helpful than the books on bipolar disorder and depression.


marja said...

I tend to feel differently than you do, Susan, about medications. I rely on mine and know I wouldn't survive without. They work well for me.

Part of living a hopeful life is having a purpose that gives your life meaning. Writing my two books gave meaning to my life. I was hopeful that they would be helpful to people who suffered the way I had suffered. And my life keeps being led along, from one meaningful project to another. I believe in these projects and I have high hopes for their benefit to others.

I think I'm a naturally hopeful person, though. When my husband and I play cribbage, I never give up the hope that I might win - no matter how far behind I am.

Are some people naturally more hopeful than others? Can hopefulness be taught?