#MHAM What is Hope?

Migraine awarness What IS Hope?: We left his one for late in the month so everyone would have been thinking about hope. This one may be one of the more challenging prompts for you, or it may be one of the easiest. Please define hope. Tell us what it is to you, and what it isn’t.

  1. Hope
  2. Hope is an optimistic attitude of mind based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. Wikipedia

The human mind is special in the sense it has the capacity to project into the future potential outcomes and have expectations, desires, dreams and goals about that future. If in the present moment we are suffering we can a) believe in the future it is possible that suffering will diminish b) that the suffering will be worse in the future or c) that it will remain the same. If we were to say the past dictates the future, someone with chronic pain would look at their history of pain and logically believe the pain would either get worse or stay the same in the future. Hell, even research suggest the brain gets fixed in its experience of chronic pain, which is hard for it to ‘unlearn’. Hope resides only in our capacity to believe that it is Possible we will have some relief from suffering in the future, in some way. Not necessarily the belief of a cure from the pain, which might at this current stage of the game be unrealistic, but for less frequency of attacks, less intensity or just less general suffering so we can better cope with the attacks that we have. History may not give us any reason to believe this will actually happen. Quite the contrary in fact. Which is why hope comes from an optimistic place, or at the very least, a place of possibility. Rather than the lack of possibility.

Hope is not all about the future however, it inspires us in our present lives to make goals for us to achieve the ends we hope to gain. If we want less suffering in order to manage our pain better we may try new coping strategies like biofeedback or meditation, or just relaxation breathing, or rest with ice and migraine balms… additional things we can do that help to manage the pain that Exists already, but hopefully makes it easier to deal with. If we want to diminish the frequency or intensity we will try new medications or botox… and have a hopeful outlook that those new medications have the potential to work. In fact, some studies suggest a positive outlook may help with medications working. That is the power of believing a medication has the potential to work, helps them actually work. Whereas going in with the belief that it will make no difference at all can hinder your results. So hope can actually have an importance on our outlook, if that study is to believed, and why not given how powerfully potent the placebo effect is… the brain does in fact have effects from pure belief that are quite startling. Then there is just the simple motivation we have to enact these goals that hope inspires in us. Like exercise routines that are very hard to maintain with chronic pain, but may have a benefit on us in a few ways, these sorts of goals we can create and enact from having the hope of improvement. Sometimes just hope itself heaves us through the darkest times in our chronic pain chaotic lives. When we despair for ever getting through the pain… but that sliver of hope pulls us through. We just refuse to give up. Until we have more fight in us.

Whereas being Hopeless, there is no sense of future. There is no possibilities. Possibilities are consumed by the pain. Because it is hopeless. The pain will never end. Treatment will never work. Nothing I do will ever make a difference. Hopeless is very final. It does not allow for Possible. For change. For the motivation for change. At the same time it consumes the present, because the present is likewise consumed by pain. An existence, not a life. Why do anything if nothing is going to make any impact? It is also a dangerous place to be in for any length of time because why exist at all if there is no hope at all suffering will be diminished even slightly in the future? Seems like torture. And when you go down that negative thought spiral it leads to depression and suicidal ideation. That is what happened to me when I felt utterly hopeless for too long. Feeling hopeless for a day was never too bad… sleep off the pain and feel better in the morning. But months and months, is risky. Pain needs to be managed or we do lose hope. And hope, even just a thread, is necessary for us to cope and necessary for our existence. We need to believe in the possible. We need to want to try. 

“The Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is organized by the American Headache and Migraine Association.

Prompts to be found on: Awareness Month page.

Awareness Month page.



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