Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming

Someone asked me recently “what does hope mean to me” my first thought was “just keep swimming” from the optimism of Dora’s in “Finding Nemo”.

But where does that come from?.. when I was growing up and heard ‘suck it up’ or ‘stop crying’ it was normal. And ‘asking for help’ at any level, to me was seen as a weakness with significant associated recrimination. So survival or hope became a self-reliant and sometimes vulnerable journey. Some young people experience more vulnerability than others based on their experiences, genetics and environment.

I say this mostly through experience as a support to a family member who experienced psychosis regularly for 20 years. Each time the ‘just keep swimming’ idea wasn’t working their recovery stopped and illness worsened. I had to take a different approach. I needed to stop, listen and give them an opportunity to be unwell before they could start to recover.

The journey of recovery for some young people comes in the form of validation, being heard, having the space to talk, to explore to rant, to cry. In order for this to work, it needs someone to listen without judgement, and to take out flippant, discriminatory language, e.g “you have an incurable disease!” (GP) and other statements like “taking happy pills” “he’s nuts” which can be paralysing and feel isolating.

Recovery is individual and not always linear, in the same way a broken leg fixes, it takes patience from all involved. Language and discrimination, in my experience, is one of the biggest challenges to someone’s potential growth and recovery and yet being able to listen seems to be the single most uncomplicated approach to someone being well. So hope to me is an opportunity and a journey which involves being heard when you can’t ‘just keep swimming’.

What do you think, do you agree, do you have success stories around hope?, Are you struggling? Please feel free to get in touch for insight and resources around supporting young people.