Holding Hope

By Genevieve DJanuary 1, 2024

I don’t remember the first time I heard the phrase, “I’m holding hope for you,” but I do remember what I felt the first time someone said it to me.

I was surprised. Someone actually saw how much I was hurting? Someone could see how hopeless I felt? Someone had hope for me? Someone believed in me enough to hold that hope until I could see it and hold it for myself again? Someone was willing to do that?

And I’ll never forget how I felt as that truth began to sink into me. In the midst of such deep depression, I felt cared about. In the middle of isolation, I felt like I wasn’t alone. In the midst of trauma, to which I couldn’t see an end, I felt loved. And in the midst of some of my worst suicidal thoughts, I felt like maybe there was a reason to stay.

Over the years, there have been times I haven’t been able to find hope, much less hold it for myself. Times it seemed too far away. Times it felt like it was for everyone but me. Times I didn’t even care enough about my life to try to look for hope. And yet, there have always been people willing to hold that hope for me. People who stepped in and said, “Hey, this is not the end of your story. And I know you can’t see that and you can’t believe that right now, but I have so much faith that I’ll believe it for you. I’ll hold hope for you.”

Time and time again, people have stepped in and done this for me, texting or telling me they were holding hope for me.

In August 2015, when I returned from a family vacation that pushed my suicidal thoughts to the edge: “I love you so much. I’m serious when I say I’m holding onto hope and strength for you.”

In February 2016, when my suicidal thoughts were overwhelming: “I am praying for you as I always am. And I’m still believing it will be OK for you even when you don’t or can’t.”

In April 2017, when my self-harm was the worst it had been up to that point: “When you wake up, breathe deep and say, ‘it’s going to be OK.’ I still believe that for you even if you don’t, my love.”

In January 2021, when I was questioning if any of it mattered anymore: “I know, love. I’m holding onto hope for you tonight. It does matter, it really does.”

In March 2021, when I relapsed back into self-harm after almost 18 months without (something that took me a decade to do): “My heart is hurting for you. I’m praying love, I’m holding hope for you.”

And in March 2022, when I took leave from work to enter a partial hospitalization program, my interim therapist (because my regular one was on maternity leave) told me: “I have hope for you that things will get better. I know you don’t have that right now, so I want you to know I’m holding that hope for you.”

The thing is, when someone says, “I’m holding hope for you,” they’re saying a lot more than just those five words. First and foremost, they’re validating your pain. It’s someone saying, “I see you and I see how much you’re hurting. I see you’re in so much pain and struggling to find hope.”

Those words also create a safe space. Someone holding hope for you gives you space to process, to think, to just be—but it’s a space that’s safe. And I’ve found that makes all the difference. It allows me to be honest and explore what I’m feeling without fear or judgment. Because I know even if I can’t find hope, there is hope in that space by nature because someone is holding it.

At its very core, it’s someone saying, “I care.”

And when suicidal thoughts and depression strip all the truth and good from your sight, when they convince you your life has no meaning and it wouldn’t matter if you were here or not, someone saying “I care” or showing they care is powerful. Frankly, in my life, it’s been life-saving.

So, I don’t know where you find yourself reading this right now. Maybe you have a friend who’s struggling right now. Maybe there’s someone you know who seems to have lost all hope. I would encourage you to reach out. You don’t need to have the right words, just your presence can speak volumes. And, if they’re someone close to you, consider letting them know you’re holding hope for them.

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re the one who’s struggling right now. Maybe you feel like hope is lost, or it’s too far gone. Maybe you’re questioning why you’re here. Maybe you find yourself in a place where depression has stripped truth and hope from your sight. If that’s you, I want to say I see you. And I want you to know I am holding hope for you. I don’t know your specific pain, but I do know you belong here. I know you matter. I know we need you. I know, as dark as it seems, there is hope. There is light. There is a reason to stay. And those aren’t just some nice words on a page, those statements are the truth. And if you can’t believe that right now, that’s OK. I’ll believe it for you until you can.

People need other people. You are not weak for wanting or needing support. If you’re seeking professional help, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected]

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Comments (4)

  1. Rachel

    Thank you so much for writing this. In my psych appointment today, I had to admit how much I’ve regressed since my trauma therapist went on maternity leave 6 weeks ago. I asked for help. It was hard and I was scared. But I knew if I didn’t, the depression and grief would over take me.

    Reply  |  
  2. Aly

    I’ve never thought about hope this way, you know I have been thinking about what it means to hold hope and faith for the last few days, and what it means to be human and go through those excruciating moments when we feel as though we can’t hold it up for ourselves anymore. I’ve been hit with the realization that although it may be hard for myself to hold hope for myself, I have people in my life that do so. Thank you so much for this post, I cried whilst reading it. This post holds hope for me. Thanks.

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  3. Chris

    This is beautifully written. Truly a powerful message!
    Thank you

    Reply  |  
  4. Dj

    You know I never thought that I would be okay and then I realized after reading this that I will be okay. And that I am a strong person so if others are going through what I’m going through I just want them to know how much I love them

    Reply  |  
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