Editor's Note: Renée Altson’s nonfiction and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies nationwide. Her weblog (www.ianua.org) has received wide acclaim and is viewed by the Christian and secular communities as an extraordinary narrative. She is the author of Stumbling Toward Faith, a personal narrative that chronicles Renée's painful story of the evil done to her—mostly in the name of God—and her difficult journey toward faith.
I received an interesting letter the other day.
I have been following your blog off and on since reading your book which was recommended in a book by Rob Bell ...
I read once that you were on 12 different types of meds and swore I didn’t want to end up there. I have however now tried fluox, citalopram, currently on Effexor, lithium, olanzapine and zopiclone for sleeping ...
I am frightened by suicidal thinking and have one attempt and hospitalization under the Mental Health Act behind me but wonder if things will ever change ...
I need hope and I read your blog looking for it. I don’t see it.
This letter caused me to take pause and look at my life, my blog, my current situations and other things.
I asked myself:
What is hope?…
What is hope for me?
Here was my response:
For me, regarding hope—
I am currently in the midst of a relapse.
The book was originally published in 2004. in 2006, I was raped (once again) by a stranger as I left the pool where I was swimming at. It set me back immensely. As my depression worsened, I tried electroshock therapy which actually helped me quite a bit, but I had to stop due to insurance reasons. This year alone, I was in the [psych] hospital 6 times between January and April. I broke both ankles and tore a ligament in my knee about a month ago, which has also been quite difficult.
For me, hope has looked like going a few days longer without self-injury, learning some new way of coping with things, trusting my therapist more each session, and being able to get down and up the stairs of my 2nd floor apartment with 2 broken legs ...
In the end of the book, my hope was still rather tenuous and fragile. Since, I’ve learned that hope isn’t always a tangible feeling of light or confidence. It can be in the little things. The tiniest speck of improvement or communication or relationship. The way the stars look in the middle of the night against the darkened sky. Looking in the mirror and feeling like you actually do matter.
So I might dare to argue with you that there isn’t hope.
There is. It just doesn’t look like it sometimes can.
Life is a struggle, it’s part of the reality of our humanity. We will get better and worse, we may always battle suicide, our PTSD may never really go away. The abuse still happened, and we struggle with what was done to us the rest of our lives.
But we’re not alone.
We’re not small and helpless.
We are loved.
And that is enough like hope for me.