Looking for a little bit of hope

Cathy Brownfield

Recently someone spoke of hopelessness after the mills closed and the effects on the residents of Jefferson County. The remark took me back to the late 1970s and early 1980s in Columbiana County. The tumble of the region into depression – economic, emotional and psychological – came back to me in full color. Families were torn apart. Men who were used to supporting their families, suddenly, were unable to find any job that would support their families. Difficult, difficult, times in an area that had always been prosperous.


Hopelessness was all around. And it still is. Men couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel because it went on for such a long time. Their families suffered along with them. Hopelessness can happen to anyone. There are no monopolies on hopelessness or its relatives: alienation, forsakenness, lack of inspiration, doom, helplessness, captivity, powerlessness, oppression, and limitedness. Depression is a result of the ‘lessness’ family.

And a troubling, new report from medpagetoday.com cites a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report that there is an “alarming rise in violence, hopelessness, among teen girls.” The report says that nearly three in five teen girls said they felt “persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, a rate that doubled boys and represented a large jump from the 36 percent reporting that in 2011.” This data comes from the national Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

“For every 10 girls you know, at least one of them, and probably more has been raped,” according to the director of the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, Kathleen Ethier, PhD.

When there are no resources to work with, when there is no light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, where does one find hope? Hope is connected to providing for our most important needs. Hopelessness, also known as emotional distress, is “living without passion, positive expectations or enthusiasm.” How can hope be found when even our youth are so affected by the world around them?


That “family” I just mentioned, all of those things are linked to depression which is “a system of beliefs, behaviors, and ways of relating to people that keeps you locked in a trap: avoiding people, chastising yourself harshly because you aren’t perfect, thinking deeply about your problems rather than living your life. Worrying about what others think instead of just doing what you think is right and best for you.

If you take a little time to sort out the way you feel throughout your waking hours, what are your best, most positive times of the day? Who is with you? What are you thinking?

What if you take those positives and focus on the things you can control? Does doing this give you more hope that, in time, things will get better? The negative things will fade. Know that everyone has those moments when they feel hopelessness.

“Hopelessness is a natural response to many life events,” advises an article at psychcentral.com, “9 Types of Hopelessness.” Hope is associated with the fulfillment of those needs we mentioned. This is where mindfulness comes into play, when you see that “hopelessness is always about the future.” Mindfulness is the being in this moment, right now, a much kinder place. And everyone deserves kindness, including you.

Hope is “the force that drives us to fight for change; hope is also a choice to stay open to uncertainty and possibility instead of retreating to the glum certainties of pessimism,” writes essayist Rebecca Solnit.

There are a couple of videos at YouTube I will recommend to you. The first is parent Peta Murchinson speaking about the importance of “focusing on what matters right now.” Her child was diagnosed with a rare, incurable disease. She speaks in the video of, “Finding hope in a hopeless situation.” The second video is “When Nobody’s Watching.”

Losing hope. The stories of people’s lives, those who have lost hope and not regained their passion, their positive expectations, their enthusiasm for life, is troubling. If you are one of those persons, you are not alone. In Columbiana County, the Help Network of Northeast Ohio provides a 24-hour crisis intervention hotline at 330-424-7767. The hotline is for anyone who is contemplating suicide or for concerned friends and family members seeking help for a loved one.

Family Recovery Center has professional staff who are ready to listen when you have no one else to talk to. The goal is for the health and well-being of all. Contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or email info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the website at familyrecovery.org. You can find Family Recovery Center at Facebook. FRC is funded in part by the Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.