A Story of Hope: Digging Deep
December 12, 2023
Life Before HopeWay
When I first came to HopeWay, I was lost. Body, mind and spirit broken. I promised my wife that I would do everything I could to get the most out of treatment. But after struggling for months with persistent panic attacks, insomnia, anxiety and depression, I worried, “What could a place like HopeWay do for me?”
Those first few days I was overwhelmed with anxiety. Anxiety about meeting new people, remembering names, and trying new things. I resisted everything about treatment, begrudgingly attending group sessions and integrative therapies, convinced that nothing would help. Until it dawned on me that I wasn’t keeping my promise to my wife. In that moment, I decided that whatever therapy session came next that day, I was going to dig deep.
Integrative Therapy at HopeWay
I opened my schedule hoping for a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) session or group discussion, but instead saw drumming. My stomach lurched. I despised drumming the first time, feeling extremely self-conscious about missing a beat and “messing up” the rhythm. But I had already committed to digging deep, so I joined the circle ready to do my part. As my mind flooded with negative thoughts, I reminded myself to use what I learned in meditation to stay in the present. I clung to the beats, matching my fellow group members. As I let those intrusive thoughts go, the world around me began to shift. Afterwards, I asked the therapist if he would be willing to do a private session, and he gladly offered to come in that Saturday to work with me one-on-one. That was the turning point for me.
I took this new “digging deep” approach to all aspects of treatment starting with art therapy. I initially struggled to connect with art therapy because I didn’t enjoy drawing. Like with drumming, I asked my art therapist if there was another approach.
Rather than hand me another pencil and paper, she pulled out a set of paints and canvas to introduce me to the concept of paint pouring. It seemed simple enough – mix colors in a cup, pour it on canvas, and move the paints around. But as I began to meditate and manipulate the colors, I found myself expressing and working through my deepest thoughts and emotions on the canvas, igniting an artistic nerve in me that I never knew was there.
A Second Chance
I got many gifts from my time at HopeWay, including my health and healing, once I accepted my situation and began digging deep. I am back to work, surfing, playing music, enjoying time with friends and family, and even facilitating my own drum circle. I am also now a full-fledged painter and have actually sold commissioned pieces and prints of my paint pours.
Art is a new thing in my life that I’m very proud of and remains an integral part of my continued road to solid mental health. I think of it as a metaphor for second chances. When starting a new piece, sometimes inspiration comes bursting out but other times it takes a couple of tries to create something. When that happens, I just wipe the slate clean and start over. I believe second chances are a gift that life gives you once in a while if you’re lucky enough. I got that second chance and I wish that for everyone who goes to HopeWay.
*The artwork above is one of George's paint pours.
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