To Hope Is to Fight

By Michelle SteppJanuary 11, 2018

“Look at yourself. You don’t deserve to feel this way. You deserve to get better.”

My whole body was shaking. I was anxious, exhausted, and could barely form a coherent sentence. I was sitting in a small office with a social worker who was completing my intake assessment. Her words weren’t empty, pithy advice. They were true, reaching through the fog and piercing the darkness.

My depression and anxiety had convinced me that how I was feeling was going to last forever. Suicidal thoughts became normal. To the point that I had a plan in place: I was prepared to die.

Hence, why I was being admitted to a behavioral health unit.

The classic symptom of major depressive disorder is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, which can lead to suicidality. If feeling a lack of hope is a symptom of depression, one could come to the conclusion: We are meant to live feeling hopeful. Even in the description of Depression’s symptoms, there is hope contained in the word “feelings.” Feelings are often temporary. Even more so, our feelings are not always an accurate reflection of reality.

Throughout my first hospitalization numerous situations brought me hope. Despite my belief that hope was something I would never feel again, it found me in my pain. Hope came when I looked into my husband’s eyes and he said, “You got this, babe,” before he had to leave me in the hospital. Hope came as I sat alone and scared, and other patients talked to me and became my friends. Hope came one morning as another patient and I read the Bible together. Hope was strongest during family visits when “I love you” was spoken. Even at my lowest, hope was there.

Recovery was a slow and grueling process. When battling mental illness we can choose to live no matter how much it hurts. We can stay and wade through the pain, work until the weight of what we are carrying gets a little lighter with each battle.

Throughout the muddy, confusing, terrifying, and sometimes lonely process, I began to believe in hope. Not just the word—four letters and a single syllable—I began to believe in all that it embodies.

Hope is the belief that life has something for us. It is rooted in believing something good will come from the shattered pieces of our lives. Among the messiness, hope lives on. Hope isn’t butterflies and flowers. It isn’t calligraphy over a scenic landscape. Hope is relentlessly stubborn. It is perseverance, endurance, and determination. Hope is what gives us the motivation to fight.

Hope believes all of the circumstances of our life have meaning. Somehow, our experiences weave together our story. Our pain can grow us as individuals or can connect us with others. Every time we attend a therapy session, take our prescribed medication, get out of bed, shower, eat a healthy meal, spend time with other people, exercise, or ask for help, we are fighting. Each step in recovery is an act of defiance toward our mental illness leading us to hope.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me; if you don’t feel hopeful right now. Find someone who does and don’t let go of them. Let them fight for you, alongside of you. Let them believe hope is real for you.

Because it was believing in hope, in believing that I was deserving of recovery, that I refused to accept my diagnosis as a curse. My anxiety and depression are no longer a death sentence, a cocktail for perpetual darkness. They’re an aspect of my life—not who and all I am.

My name is Michelle and I have Major Depressive Disorder. It’s severe and it’s recurrent. But I am not my depression, and my depression is not me. MDD is a part of my story, but it isn’t my identity.

And my request to you is simple: I ask that you choose hope, each and every day.

Michelle also runs an Etsy shop where she sells “handcrafted decor with a purpose.” 10% of every purchase is directly donated to TWLOHA!

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Comments (17)

  1. david stein

    I have severe OCD mostly related to thinking. I usually feel I must verbally confront another person for victimzing me.. It ties to historical issues of allowing myself to be bullied.
    It can be a comment made that insults me taht triggers me. Or a million other things that threaten me. I always feel I must get forgiveness or apologize or do something to relieve anxiety or fear torturing me. Many times, all I am looking for is the safety of some bully giving me understanding.. ..
    I am usually so severely depressed that I cannot function..
    Then, alas, I resolve some issue by confronting, explaining, apologizing ,or find some other way to relieve my anxiety. Then I am feeling better…for five minutes. Soon, another source of torment develops..
    Well, today it is different. I am feeling hopeless and miserable. But, strangely, my ducks are in a row. There is no bully or demon to confront. I could be thrown off at any time but I am without an issue to deal with.I feel nthat feeling that OCD urge cannot exist if there is no issue present.
    Not true. Think about that. Im a 69 year old male by the way.
    Unfortunately, even removing my triggers leaves me alone and totally depressed.
    So, I could talk for years about my particular OCD details but I am no different then any other sufferer. Hang in there.
    David S.

    Reply  |  
  2. Conor Baer

    This is similar to my story. I also have major depression and was released from the hospital just a couple of months ago. I now hold onto hope and lean on the shoulder of a really good friend. Thank you for sharing your story; thank you for providing hope. I pray that you may continue to be filled with peace and happiness. Hope is real and I hope others who are struggling may realize hope is worth fighting for.

    Conor B.

    Reply  |  
  3. Noah

    I have never been hospitalized. I have never known a psych ward. Hell, I don’t even know why those things didn’t happen to me. I was severely depressed. To the point of suicide. But by God’s grace, I’m still here. I’m on medication now and am going to up the dosage soon. But throughout my recovery journey, I have many relapses. Had a breakup, boy, did that not help. My friend who feels a brother is going through suicidal thought and attempts. I’m here just praying and clinging to life. Hoping one day where this is all behind me. Where suicide is not constantly tailing me, whispering to me its sweet lies of release. A girl I never knew did it. She did it last week. I’m so hopeless right now. And I thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story. It has brought me hope for the future. And to twloha, thank you guys so much for just being a beacon of hope. Thank you for constantly challenging me to get out of bed every morning and to keep living. Thanks to you guys I might actually have met my future wife. Thanks to you guys I might find some hope soon.
    With all the thankfulness in the world,

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Noah,

      We’re so sorry to hear that you’re struggling right now, that you can still hear suicide’s lies. We have so much hope for you and all you’ll do in the future, and we’re so proud of you for how far you’ve come.

      We hope you continue to meet the mornings when they come. We hope you hold onto hope.

      If you need help or someone to talk to right now, we list resources and help lines here:

      If you’d like some encouragement from our team, please email us at [email protected]. We’d love to send some your way.

      We’re rooting for you, Noah. Please stay.

      Reply  |  
  4. Kaylee

    Thank you. Yesterday and today have been rough days for me. And I’ve just been feeling like a lost cause almost and I’ve been wanting to self-harm (but I’d rather not risk my parents finding out so I haven’t) and I’m depressed and have been numb and I asked my best friend can you just please pray for me which I don’t ask a lot. But in the midst of that you made me smile, actually smile, not fake it, which for feeling the way I am, is impressive. So again, just thank you. This blog post just means so much.

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs


      We’re so glad this post made you smile. That means so much to us. All we ever want to do with this blog is inspire you to keep going.

      We’re so proud of you for reaching out to your friend and asking for support. We encourage you, if you’re comfortable, to also reach out to your parents and let them know how you’re feeling. Talk to people you know and love and trust and let them know about how you’re struggling with depression and thinking about self-harm. Ask them to meet you in the midst of your pain. Ask them to hold the hope with and for you.

      If you’re looking for more help, we list resources and crisis help lines here:

      You’ve got this, Kaylee. We’re rooting for you.

      Reply  |  
    2. Michelle Stepp

      you’ve got this, kaylee! keep fighting!

      Reply  |  
  5. no

    This is pure agony to those truly alone. You have this life with a husband when I and others literally have no one … I couldn’t even finish it.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Although you may not have a significant other, you are not alone. Whether it’s a friend, a coworker, or us. We are here and we see you. Please reach out to the professionals who are there to help you (, call a friend, or email our team at [email protected]. Hope is possible for you, we truly believe that.

      With Hope,

      Reply  |  
  6. Martina

    I’ve been battling depression and anxiety for many years now. There were so many times, that I just wanted to give up but somehow I couldn’t give up this little hope, this little voice that was constantly telling me that it can be better and that I can do it.
    Because of this stubborn hope, I am still here, fighting even though it is hard and tiring.

    Reply  |  
  7. Simon Therrien

    Very good.

    Reply  |  
  8. Kyle

    Great article. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  9. Sara

    Thank you for being willing to tell ur story. I have MDD and i also steuggle with self harm. It has gottwn bad.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA

      Hi Sara,

      We are so sorry to hear that you are struggling with depression and self-harm. If you haven’t already, we would encourage you to talk to people you know and love and trust and let them know what you’re struggling with.

      We want you to know you are not alone. There are people who love you and want to help you through this. If you need someone to talk to right now, we list resources and help lines here:

      If you’d like some encouragement from our team, please email us at [email protected]. We’d love to send some your way.

      We believe in you, we believe your best days are ahead of you, please keep fighting.

      Reply  |  
  10. Jasmine

    I always over think things and it always makes my depression and anxiety worse. I have been to a mental hospital, thinking they would be able to help me and honestly they didn’t. This website has helped me more in the past few days than the hospital did.

    Reply  |  
    1. TWLOHA


      We are sorry to hear that you’ve been struggling with depression and anxiety, and that you didn’t find the help you were looking for. At TWLOHA we believe in the impact of professional counseling and although some options work better for others we would encourage you to continue to seek professional help. If you’re looking for different options, we list resources and crisis help lines here:

      We’re glad our site has been a source of encouragement for you during this time of struggle. We know some days can be harder than others, but even on our worst days there is still hope.

      You’ve got this, Jasmine. We’re rooting for you.

      Reply  |  
  11. Nancy roberts

    Thank you… the worst part for me in dealing with depression is the helplessness. You are showing me that in the “doing what I can” is where the actual fighting is; I am not a victim as I keep moving… I don’t necesssararily have to feel happy I just need to feel somewhat useful..

    Reply  |  
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