A Place Called Hope

By JessMay 15, 2016

“I want to kill myself.”

Those words hurt me. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I sat there for a second searching for words, searching for a breath, searching for something that would take me back 30 seconds so I could somehow pretend this wasn’t happening.

This wasn’t real.

She didn’t want to kill herself, not really.

She couldn’t.

Not the beautiful, bubbly girl sitting in front of me.


This was what I experienced the first time my friend opened up to me about her struggle with depression, self-harm, and suicide. In the days that followed, I tried unsuccessfully to make sense of everything I had newly been exposed to. The feelings I had ranged anywhere from hot anger that she had to live with this day in and day out for the past three years to the deepest gratitude and joy that she was still here and willing to share this part of herself with me. I was confused about how she could’ve hidden this so well and mad at myself for not somehow catching on sooner. I felt helpless because I didn’t know what to do, and I was often ashamed that I was so unprepared for something like this; at times, she was the one consoling me.  But beyond all the swirling emotions, one thought stood like a strong tower in a sea of unpredictability: I WANT TO HELP.

I didn’t know how to help or if she would even let me, but I knew within those first five seconds of the words leaving her lips that I was willingly entering into something bigger than myself. Something bigger than her struggle, bigger than my confusion, bigger than the gulf of understanding between the both of us, but something that could bring us both to the other side: hope.

Hope is a glorious thing, but it unfortunately doesn’t come with a perfectly structured step-by-step instruction booklet. There is no “right way” to hope. It is fluid. It changes every day based on our emotions and our needs.

At first, I struggled to make sure I was taking the right steps to help her. I was trying to say the perfect things, refer her to the appropriate places. But I quickly realized that hope could take many forms. Sometimes hope comes from simply being with the people you love and letting yourself feel that love. Sometimes hope comes in the form of a simple text at 4AM saying, “I’m here.”

Hope can be found in the late-night burger run to distract a friend from the screaming thoughts telling them to self-injure. Hope can found when you’re laughing until you’re crying about something totally normal and unrelated to the struggle – because it’s important to remember that the struggle is not who they are; it’s not what defines them. It’s a part of them, but only a part. Not the whole. They still have favorite songs and inside jokes and all the beautiful complexities that make someone who they are. Hope can also be found when you remind them of that.

But hope isn’t only found at the mountaintop. It’s in the valley, too, and in the climb up and the slippery slope back down. Hope can be found in the days when you forgot it existed and turned back to the darkness. Hope can be found not only in recovery but also in relapse. It can be found in the silence, and it can be found in a friend.

If you are someone struggling with these thoughts, it’s OK to be honest with yourself and those around you. It’s OK to let someone in. The people around you might not have the perfect response or the perfect path to show you, but that’s OK too. Help them to know what you need and how to help you. Let them fumble through their own self-awareness and walk alongside you. Let them be there for you. Let them partner with you. Let them whisper words of hope when all you hear are the screams of darkness.

And if you are one of the lucky ones who have been deemed trustworthy and safe by someone struggling, embrace it. Remember that this is not your struggle to bear alone. Remember that you do not have to be perfect in your support.

Most importantly, be there. It’s OK to not have the perfect words or know the perfect things to do. Be there anyway. Learn to navigate the unknown waters together. Let them know they’re not alone and that they are loved. Whisper hope to them even when you can barely cling to it yourself. It’s OK for you to not be OK too.

So let’s meet each other where we are and find the things that bring us together.

Let’s meet in a place of understanding.

A place of communication.

A safe place to rest.

Let’s meet in a place called hope.

To B: I’m in this and I love you. Forever plus 5 days.

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Comments (7)

  1. Melissa McLaughlin

    As someone who has struggled with sh, depression, and suicidal thoughts, this post rings so true. At times, just having someone, a friend, to confide in and just having them sit beside me (at times in silence and at times offering words of comfort and hope) was the most helpful thing. To the author of this post and to the creators of the website, thank you. And to my friends and family, you gave me light in my darkest times. I’ll love you always.

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  2. HOPE

    I know how you feel. You’re angry. Angry at the world or even angry at yourself to the point where you might even hate yourself. All that bottled up sorrow turns into anger and that anger can lead to self hatred and self harm. Where was hope when I needed it? When this happened to me why was no one there? Why did this happen to me? What did I do to deserve this? You start asking yourself questions like that. You’re not alone I care. Even though you might not love yourself right now I love you for who you’ve become because this is not who you are. This is NOT who you are ONLY what you’ve become and you can change. It starts with self respect and positive thinking. You have to think about life and yourself differently and change the way you look at it. Anger is good motivation and counter for sorrow but not if you’re angry at yourself or everyone else. The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone. There’s like 7 billion people on the planet and most likely whatever you’re going through someone else already has. You have to look at it a different way. IF THEY CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT. Thats what HOPE is. Strong people don’t put other people down they lift them up and can see the strong in others. Bad times make you stronger. Depression or whatever it is you’re going through or whatever happened to you makes you stronger because once you get through it you can be there for someone else that might be going through the same thing. Depression does not define who you are. Depression is not who you are just what you’ve become. You’re in a moment in you’re life when you’ve only become weak but you are NOT weak because it’s happens to everyone. Even the strongest of people probably felt how you feel at one point in their lives. Falling down is apart of life getting back up is what matters. When you’re like this the best thing to do is be around people who won’t judge you and love you no matter what. Isolating yourself in this state is the worst thing you can do because loneliness or unmet physical needs is sometimes the cause for some people’s pain other than what happened to them. Depression or anxiety based mental illnesses is sometimes caused from over thinking and over analyzing things. It all depends on what you think about. Change your thinking and you can too. Don’t use self harm or drugs as a way to escape the pain of your past that will only put you in a deeper hole. You have to find different ways of healing from those emotional wounds. Sometimes it’s an unmet emotional need like the lack of a father figure that makes you angry. Just remember that this is only a moment in your life meaning it’s temporary. I may be like this now but I won’t be like this forever. Tell yourself good things like that. Whatever it is you’re going through I believe in you. I believe that you won’t give up because I won’t give up on you. I believe you can change and overcome this. You just have to do you’re part and have to be willing to change. Don’t fight change embrace it. Adapt, change, and grow. The only time you should look back is to see how far you’ve come. I love you when you can’t love yourself. I believe in you. You just have to believe in yourself.

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  3. Bellla

    I also think hope is believing one day, for those who are alone, they might find someone to walk with them. Not all of us have people we can finally turn to, and who is trustworthy within that.
    And sometimes, hope comes within a blog post.
    Thank you for being such a great friend to her Jess.
    God bless

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  4. C. Williams

    Thank you for this post. I have struggled for a long time with SH. I’ve started talking with someone again. Each day I try to remember that I have purpose and meaning. Thank you.

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  5. Danny

    I’m no scientist so I’m not claiming to be an expert by an any means but I’m just sharing what I know if it helps. I heard that depression can also be a chemical imbalance in your brain. I don’t want to give you wrong information but this is what I remember. When you’re depressed for years it can be caused by lack of seratonin, dopamine, vitamin d, and other things I can’t recall but these seem to be the main things. I guess that’s what happens when you stay inside all the time and it’s also important to keep stress levels down. I read something like the reason depressed people do SH is because you’re brain produces dopamine when you’re injured which is a natural pain killer so the real reason you hurt yourself is to get your fix of dopamine and other chemicals/hormones youre lacking. Dopamine and seratonin are the two main things that depressed people lack and are pretty much responsible for making you feel happy. You can easily get them from working out or any kind of physical exercise rather than doing SH, acohol, or drugs including the prescription kind. Vitamin d is sold as supplement for sure but you can also get it naturally from the sun. I don’t know if dopamine and seratonin are sold like vitamins but hope this helps.

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  6. Aubree

    When I told my sister she told me “dont to say that” and “no you don’t” multiple times and has never spoken to me about my issues again so i don’t want to tell anyone else cause I’m afraid that their response will be worse cause she’s the openest one I know and they only one I would tell about this… Im not sure what I can do about it

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  7. Gail A. Porter

    This letter could be someone’s life saving grace between that fine line of thinking and doing there is hope squeezed between each word and this means so much to those that are suffering with depression?❤️??

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