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Hope as Resiliency Factor by Tammy Dyer, MSW Authoring this section for the Empowerment Magazine has quickly turned into a huge blessing for me. I am delighted to know there are so many of us dedicated to infusing ourselves and our community with strength and well-being. However, due to a series of sad events that have transpired since the last publishing, I find I am struggling to find the right words to say. While my vision for this segment is to be positive and uplifting, I am also keenly aware that life is hard and sometimes very painful. So I find myself digging deeper in my quest to bring us all a little closer to realizing our own resilient potential. Wikipedia reports Psychological Resilience as the positive capacity of people to cope with stress and adversity. So what precisely is this “positive capacity” that gives us the strength to try one more time when really all we want to do is give up? In my last article I mentioned a number of factors that contribute to resiliency such as spirituality, adequate support, and the ability to see one‟s problems as solvable. And I also talked about hope. Hope is the spark that ignites the process of change.

flooding through my despair. Instead of dying, I learned how to live with hope as my guiding light. When things get tough, as they do for all of us, I am able to look at the life I have lived since that day and know that whatever I need to walk through, it is worth it. By living instead of dying I get to experience so much joy that I would have completely missed. One of the brightest lights in my life is my grandson, who was born after the death of his father. I have a close, loving relationship with him today that I would have completely missed. I have come to a place of recovery through hope and faith, and no longer feel the overwhelming depression that had haunted me throughout my life until that moment of complete despair. I no longer live in the pain of the past, but in the hope of the future. I realize just how terribly my death by suicide would have affected the people I most love, especially my grandson who is now 24 years old and who has been able to see his father through my eyes. I know today that when emotional pain comes calling that I can have faith that it will pass. I know the only way to get through it is to go through it rather than over, under, or around it. Then it is behind me and I don‟t have to meet it again around the corner.

In my life, hope came when I saw others overcoming the same obstacles I had been struggling with for so long. I recall the story of a woman who was my dear friend some years back. She carried with her an energy that just naturally attracted those who were seeking spiritual strength. She radiated love and compassion, and her eyes always twinkled. To know her was to love her. To know her well was to understand her miracle. You see, years before she had pushed a shopping cart around downtown Sacra- Life is challenging, but there is so much good in living each day as mento, wearing every piece of clothing she owned, and talking to it comes, understanding through faith and hope that each challenge is worth meeting in order to get to the next happiness, which things that only she could see. may be only a moment away. To come from such despair to Once she overcame her difficulties she carried with her a powerful where I am now, embracing the realities of life and knowing nothing is worth dying prematurely for, I can only describe as „true gift that cannot be learned through formal education, professional freedom.‟” experience, or therapeutic intervention. She had the power of example and with that the gift of hope. The hope is this: “If she can As our conversation came to an end, I asked my friend if she was do it, so can I” and “if I can do it, so can you.” Every scary shame- able to turn her life around all by herself. She replied “Absolutely ful place I had been, she had been; but more importantly, she not. I had to reach out for help and then be willing to accept the help that was offered to me. I had reached out for help before but wasn‟t there anymore. had not been willing to accept what was offered. This time I really This past month has not been an easy one for the people in my listened and took the suggestions offered and things got better.” life that I care about. We have all been reminded of the pain caused by the loss of hope. We attended the funerals of two peo- To anyone reading this article, I want to remind you that ple, both of whom took their own lives. Although I was not espe- “hopeless” is just a feeling and feelings are not facts. Feelings cially close to either of them, I was there to support those they left pass if given time. Please do not give up before your miracle arbehind. rives. Your moment of “true freedom” may be closer that you think. If you are hurting today, please tell someone. As human I have spent the days since then trying to better understand the beings, we are not meant to carry our burdens alone. No matter depth of pain that comes from the loss of hope because I know what the voice in your head says, you do matter, life can get betthat someone reading this article will be standing on the edge of the cliff trying to decide if it is worth it to even try anymore. If that ter, and help is available. is you, please keep reading this article. I have another dear friend who made a very serious suicide attempt some years back after the death of her adult son. She talks about the hopelessness of that moment and about being thoroughly convinced that her family and friends would be better off without her. She was very close to the edge but then something happened that changed her mind. Let me have her tell you in her own words: “I thought I heard the voice of my son, who had died about ten years before, pleading with me not to take my life. Whether I actually „heard‟ his voice I cannot say, but I felt hope

Author’s Bio Tammy received her MSW from CSUS in 2007. She specializes in Mental Health and is committed to the Consumer Movement. She believes strongly in the Recovery Model and is committed to helping our community overcome misconceptions that lead to the stigmatization of persons with mental health issues. She is currently employed by Consumers Self Help as their Clinical Director where she enjoys teaching therapeutic classes. She is proud mother of two adult sons. Her passion is photographing blossoms.


Empowerment Magazine Fall 2011 issue