The One Thing I Can Do, Even When I'm Feeling Hopeless


I was running late that day. I was supposed to attend a meeting for my campus’ To Write Love on Her Arms group and got lost in the maze of buildings on campus. I was already half an hour late, and at that point thought perhaps I should just give up and go to the math center to study until my husband came to pick me up. For some reason, I didn’t do that, but instead emailed the president of the club to see if she would redirect me to the right room. I thought it was a long shot since people don’t usually respond to emails quickly.

Surprisingly, she did, and moments later came, got me and took me to the room where we were meeting. It was there I met Elizabeth. To Write Love on Her Arms is a mental health advocacy group and was also somewhat of a support group for the students in attendance. That day, the theme of the meeting was stress, since finals were approaching.

I asked if it was OK for me to share what I had learned from a recent workshop called “Cultivating Resilience.” The president was kind and let me speak about what I had learned. I even showed the video I had seen during the workshop on the “ABCs of Resilience.

At the end of the session, Elizabeth told me that she was thankful I had joined the meeting. She needed to hear what I had shared, and was struggling to overcome her own self-criticism and negative self-talk. She said she hadn’t expected to come to the meeting and find answers to her problems. I was surprised that what I thought was just off-hand information was so helpful to her.

I then shared with her my struggles with depression, anxiety and ADHD. I told her how just that morning, I had visited my psychologist at the counseling service office for crisis-intervention — I had been feeling suicidal the day before. My psychologist asked me what I thought my purpose was, and I was having a hard time giving her an answer.

When Elizabeth thanked me, I realized that my purpose was to keep talking and sharing my story and experiences — to touch lives and share meaning with others whenever I can.

I told Elizabeth I felt a deep connection to her, and despite knowing next to nothing about her, realized that what little I had said to her had touched her life. That I, someone who felt purposeless and hopeless, was able to share a glimmer of hope to someone else who was struggling. That itself gave me hope. It shifted my perspective that evening and I realized that despite my hopelessness, I was still able to do good for others. It made me realize that my life is as valuable as everyone else. Despite the depressive episode I’m going through, I can still do good in the world.

It was thanks to Elizabeth that I made that connection and realization. Though my psychologist had already talked me down the figurative ledge that morning, Elizabeth gave me a reason to walk away. Just by telling me what I had shared with her had been impactful, she gave me a reason to keep going. And for that, I will always be grateful for our chance and seemingly random meeting.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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