Hope is essential in everyday life. With a definition of feeling desire for something to happen, it can be fundamental to how we respond to the future.
When an individual suffers a spinal cord injury (SCI), it throws the entirety of their life into uncertainty. In the aftermath of the injury, there are various stages of recovery a person is thought to experience. According to Garske & Turpin, stages of grief move from shock, denial, depression, anxiety, anger and finally to adjustment.
Adjusting after a life-altering injury can leave someone feeling lost and, ultimately, hopelessness. This can be seen as synonymous with depression and elevated suicide risk, not to mention quality of life. It is reported that people with SCIs can experience a perceived decrease in quality of life, although this does increase through time. Some academics even suggest depression, and in fact grief for their previous life, are necessary prerequisites for appropriate and proper adjustment to their injury and new life.
Finding a Path to Reality
Confronting reality is a stage that, although painful, is important in the journey to recovery. It is a contested idea in practice as to whether or not actively supporting hopes for the future is helpful, or in fact sometimes negative to an individual. Although there is no cure yet for SCI, medical research continues to show promising advances. This research provides encouragement that one day soon, a complete cure for SCI will surface.
Hope ultimately provides a reason for someone to continue with life; to never give up. It provides the necessary motivation to cope with the confusing and often painful emotions, and ultimately to keep going! Focussing on the future, hoping it will be better than now, and the ability to find meaning in life takes concentration off the spinal cord injury, and channels it into a more positive approach to life.
Acknowledge the Challenges
Of course, coping strengths and abilities are going to be challenged. It cannot be denied that, even suffering from a less severe SCI, a person is going to come up against a number of barriers and challenges. Hope can be a crucial element in the fight against panic and loss of confidence in regards to how the journey of recovery will fare.
Finding the excitement in life can be tricky when you feel you’ve lost a lot of what once made up your life, like many people do after a spinal cord injury. Hope can be the ingredient needed to assist in making life something to be excited and, indeed, hopeful for!
The Role of a Loved One
As a parent, partner, sibling, child, or friend of a SCI patient, your hopefulness will be crucial to your loved one. Hope can be infectious, and with a hopeful positive outlook on life, a person can have you to rely on when their stores of hope are running low. Intertwining hope with realistic goals and achievements can keep hope alive, without racing forward too quickly.
Hope for SCI Recovery
Ultimately, hope is not the only stage in adjustment, but perhaps one of the most longstanding ones which are going to have an impact on the ongoing recovery. Hope is conceptualized as the basic ways to find a meaning in life, which is something every individual needs, spinal cord injury or not!
All the stages of anxiety and negative emotions are to be expected, but they don’t have to last forever. Hope can be everlasting, guiding you from injury to the final point of recovery. Just don’t give up hope.