Depression dominated my teenage years and adult life. I know what it’s like when the darkness descends upon your life and seeps into every area, a blackness so deep that it obscures your vision and prevents you from seeing a way through. I know how it becomes all you can think about, when there are days when just breathing hurts more than you can bear. I know what it means to have to fight for your life and to fight for your right to a future free from darkness. I know the pain of being judged and criticised for an illness you did not choose and would give anything to be without.
I know all these things but, more than anything, battling depression has taught me a good deal about hope.
Recovery is a long road, and it’s one I’m still travelling down. I still have days that feel like they’ll break me, days that take all of my strength to get through, days where I have to lean on other people. But throughout the journey, hope has proven to be stronger and braver than depression. Recovery for me has been about learning to listen.
You see, depression shouts. It hits you with wave after wave of negativity and lies, until that’s all you can hear. You start to believe all the lies it tells you; you believe that there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that it will never get better. But I’ve found that if you stop and really listen, you can still hear hope whispering.
Hope whispers in the kindness of friends. It whispers in those who stand by you and hold your hand as you take the first steps towards recovery. It whispers in those moments of simple joy and those moments where you cannot help but smile and laugh. Hope whispers in the words of health professionals who show you that recovery is possible and give you the tools to get there. It keeps whispering in those long dark nights, and it tells you that your story does not end here. These are golden moments that the darkness can’t steal.
I may have depression, but I also have hope. I believe in its power to break through the darkness. It has been the flickering flame that doesn’t go out no matter how fierce the storm rages around it. Truth isn’t measured in the volume of the voice. Sometimes the most precious truths can be found in those persistent whispers, in those words that pull us back from the edge, and in those words that ground us and keep us going.
I can remember my own dark nights. These were nights where I felt like I’d reached the end of the fight, I didn’t believe I would ever win. I wanted to turn my back on life and give up. But hope wasn’t done with me. It reminded me that no feeling lasts forever. It reminded me that though we may feel like we’ve been waiting an eternity for the dawn to come, it will break and scatter the darkness. I realized that my story could be one of hope if I let it.
Maybe you’re reading this in the midst of your own darkness. Perhaps the hurt and the pain have drowned out hope’s whisper, and you’re searching for a reason to keep fighting. If that’s you then let me tell you that hope is real. It hasn’t left you; it’s still there whispering beneath the noise in your head.
Or perhaps you are watching someone you love struggle with depression. Maybe you feel helpless in the face of the illness. I want to encourage you to keep speaking hope into their life. Your voice might be small compared to the voice of depression, but don’t underestimate the strength of a whisper.
There are brighter days ahead, days where the darkness will seem a distant memory. And every day there will always be hope. Your story is important. One day there will be someone who needs you to tell your story, someone who desperately needs you to hold out hope for them. For now, know that you are not alone, talk to someone you trust, and let them whisper hope back into your life. The voice of depression may shout loudly but hope will keep whispering. Don’t stop listening for it.
“Hope Whispers” was written by Sarah Scarisbrick-Rowe