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What 'I'm Holding Hope for You' Means for Someone Who Is Suicidal

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Editor's Note

If you struggle with self-harm or experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, visit this resource.

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 at first. 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 for me 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 in that, 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 and telling me they were holding hope for me. Some examples include:

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

A few months later, in November 2015, when I found out my therapist was switching practices (the only therapist I somewhat trusted up to that point): “I’m always here, always holding onto hope.”

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.”

And not too long ago, in March 2021, when I relapsed back into self-harm after almost 18 months without (something that took me 10 years to do): “My heart is hurting for you. I’m praying love, I’m holding 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.

And 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,” is powerful. Frankly, in my life, it’s been life-saving. 

So, I don’t know where you find yourself reading this post. 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, maybe consider 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. 

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

Originally published: June 13, 2021
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