A few years ago, after coming out of a long and deep bout of depression, a friend asked me how I did it. My answer was simple … “I gave up.” His frantic response was, “NO, NO, NO! You can’t give up! That’s what helps you get through! You must have hope!” The basic truth, however, is that it simply does not work that way for the depressed mind, and it is difficult for those who are not grieving to understand.
There is a wonderful scene in the cartoon series “Avatar; The Last Airbender”: they are desperate to reach the walled city of Ba Sing Se and must take what is called the Serpent’s Pass. At the gate of entry to the pass, there is an inscription in the mail that says “Abandon hope” and one of the travelers laments “But hope is all we have!” Aang (the Avatar) explains to hisions that the monks who raised him said that hope was simply a distraction; it is not hope that will get you where you want to go; will to action.
When someone is depressed, hope can seem like something they need to get over it, something to focus on. However, the challenge is that even a little hope creates expectations. If, for ANY reason, those expectations are not met, the depressed mind will use that “failure” as further “proof” that life sucks and opens an even deeper chasm that they can fall into.
For someone who is depressed, giving up the awareness of possible hope allows them to focus on the here and now, get through the day, begin to heal without the distraction of what “could” be. However, keep in mind; Turning off your consciousness of hope is different from turning off your conscience completely. The consciousness of the depressed mind must be closer to home, to think only in hours, even minutes, not in days, weeks, or months.
Giving up hope for the future means living one day at a time, in the truest sense.