By Stacie Prada
Learning about hope gives me hope. Hope, faith, endurance, resilience, conviction and belief, they all contribute to my level of hopefulness. They help me feel like I can make it through hard times. The conditions I’m enduring will subside, or I’ll figure out a way for it not to hurt as much.
I’m learning that people with hope do better physically. I’m realizing that it’s not a feel-good thing or coincidence that at my neurologist appointment, the questionnaire asks me how many times in the last month I’ve felt hopeless. You may be familiar with this question. It reads: “During the last 30 days, about how often did you feel hopeless? Choose among the answers: All of the time, Most of the time, Some of the time, A little of the time or None of the time.”
Some internet research has shown me that this question is from the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale. It is a measure of exactly that, distress. People who are hopeful live with less distress. It doesn’t mean their lives are less challenging or easier. Actually, they’ve learned that life conditions don’t have a correlation to how hopeful a person is. People with similar challenges can have vastly different levels of hope, and even the same person can have different levels of hope at different times in their life. I’ve learned it takes effort to be hopeful, but our circumstances don’t dictate our well-being.
There are things we can do if we’re feeling hopeless. Hope and motivation do well with ongoing support and inspiration, and often they involve other people. Tell someone you trust, talk to a counselor, reach out, and lose any guilt or shame for needing help. Answer the question honestly when the doctor’s questionnaire asks you.
We’re all going to have different things touch our souls and give us hope. Just looking for things that make me hopeful leads me to find reasons to be hopeful. Being clear about what is possible and what is probable narrows my focus for where to direct my attention productively.
I’m excessively aware that I can’t control most of things in life. I can‘t control what others do, I can’t control the pace of scientific advancements, and I can’t control my body’s multiple sclerosis advancement.
I can’t unilaterally fix the world’s injustices, but I can contribute a little in every interaction I have.
I can’t prevent MS progression and disability in my body, but I can live in a way that gives me the best odds of doing as well as possible.
I can’t speed up medical advancements, but I can stay informed, participate in studies and contribute to causes that are doing that work.
Acknowledging the many areas where I lack control and the few where I can contribute eases my stress level. It lessens the degree of responsibility to a manageable level where I feel like I can do something that matters. That gives me hope.
*Stacie Prada was diagnosed with RRMS in 2008 just shy of 38 years old. Her blog, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing” is a compilation of inspiration, exploration, and practical tips for living with Multiple Sclerosis while living a full, productive, and healthy life with a positive perspective. It includes musings on things that help her adapt, cope and rejoice in this adventure on earth. Please visit her at http://stacieprada.blogspot.com/