Dear Depressed Person: Hang on to Hope


Several people have written to me lately to say they are in a debilitating depression and are running out of hope. I thought I’d share a message of hope with them and with everyone who is currently battling the beast.

Dear Depressed Person,

I know that you can’t feel anything. You might not even be able to read. But I want you to try to absorb these words of hope from one survivor to another.

You are in a dark basement feeling around for an escape out of the blackness. You think your experience of despair is permanent, that you will forever feel the weight of this unbearable anguish. What you don’t know is there exists a stairway to an upper level, where the rays of light shine through the windows.

Trust me when I say that you’ll get there eventually – to the steps out of depression. I can’t say how or when. It will probably happen from a combination of things – finding the right doctor, intense psychotherapy, self-care, and time. All you have to do is persevere for 15 minutes at a time and be as gentle with yourself as you would a scared child in the middle of a thunderstorm.

You are courageous and brave. Your battle is real and intense. Just keep going. One toe at a time.

Breathe deeply. You can do this from your bed. Count to five while inhaling and count to five while exhaling. Doing so will calm you down and quiet the alarm of panic.

Discern the whisper of truth inside of you that is heard in the stillness. It will guide your path to recovery and wholeness. Trust yourself and your own wisdom. Put down the self-help books. You already know everything you need to know to get better.

Surround yourself with people who love and accept you as you are. Cry with them. Laugh with them. Eat with them.

Revisit your strengths. Recall those moments in which you were most proud. Write them down.

Most importantly, hang on to hope. Repeat this mantra to yourself over and over again: “I WILL get better.”

You are in darkness right now. But you will soon be in light.



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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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29 Responses
  1. Theresa Rezac

    Thanks for the encouraging words. This is a dark and lonely place be day after day. But hope always shows up somehow.

    1. Suzanne Adams

      That is my strongest fear on earth like living cancer and what I deal with everyday .. having a basset helps
      I guess I need to join a church
      Feel alone most of the time but can function
      When someone knows you will be eliminated
      No one wants to hear your problems been told that to my face more than once
      They just call you lazy
      People think I am weird doing things by myself

    2. Tess

      Have you seen a counsellor or therapist? There are many non-profit support services you can connect with for women. Where are you located?

  2. Ralph

    Theresa…..Thank you so much for those words of “don’t give up yet”. There are so many
    days that people have that seem “unreal” and I know that for a fact….I use to sit there and
    wonder if life would ever feel “real” again. Then one day, my psychiatrist changed my medication
    and I told him that, that was what I needed…something that worked! It has been 2 years now,
    and I am back being myself again, with very few down days….I got back up, climbed back up
    those steps, and now I’m singing again. Ralph Edwards in Tulsa

  3. Laurie

    well., I always enjoy your messages 0f hope. but, what do you do when your family feels like you have hurt them more than you hurt yourself? very sad and lonely. have tried every holistic., medicine…yaddha yaddha.

  4. Chronically Depressed

    This article is filled with honest and accurate information. Citing examples of fining the right psychological professionals cannot be over emphasized. The entirety of a focus upon a daily commitment to do your best for that day. It is a rollacoaster at times. Be you.

    Thank you.

  5. Paul

    Hi. Thank you for the email.

    I keep telling myself that I will never be the person that I once was. It scares me that my head is so screwed up with the pain.

    I tell myself that it’s got to get better but I have self doubt. Many of us are dealing with this illness and it affects all those that are
    close to us each day. I am kinda fortunate that I have a large family and they know when I’m not feeling to well.

  6. Susan S.

    Thank you Teresa. The letter was very encouraging. It is time, finally, that depression and bipolar problems be de stimatized by the public, media, entertainment industry, various cultural stereotypes etc….This letter or one like it might be a good thing for someone who has been there in the basement of depression to keep available. Sometimes it’s easier to believe your own words than others. Just and idea

  7. Al Lindquist

    Acknowledgment of the condition is so important, Patience, Faith Hope and BEING OBSERVANT.
    Answers are one the way. Thanks Therese

  8. Cherlyn

    I’m 64 and divorced. Recently had to move to a senior citizen building due to fact had to retire early for physical reasons.. My daughter who is 45 doesn’t understand me and is always putting me down telling me to get my act together and just control my thoughts. My grandchildren live in other states and since my son was murdered 14 years ago I just don’t feel the same and really hurt this time of the year. He was killed on 1/10/05 and was 29 years old. Church folks tell me to get over it and the pastors tell me I have a demon and need deliverance and that I don’t know Jesus. I feel like I have to fight every day just to stay alive. I was very abused when I was younger and my mother committed suicide when I was 19. She used to always tell me I wasn’t going to be anything and I would end up like her. I thank God that He’s helped me live 15 years longer than my mom, but I just feel lonely and tired and confused. I always thought church was supposed to be a hospital for the sick. I hate to think of how many people have given up hope because of what’s preached from the pulpit. I don’t know where to go from here. God bless you Therese for everything you do.

    1. Brian Grove

      Sadly many churches are so unlikely Jesus that they cause more harm than good. Some “Christians” told me to “get over it” and I was feeling sorry for myself only 6 weeks after my wife died suddenly at the age of 49.
      You don’t “get over” losing someone close. Ever. You just try to learn to carry on, one day at a time.
      Other Christians WERE loving and supportive to me in those days. As the father of Corrie Ten Boom said about a Pastor who wanted him to turn over a Jewish baby to the Nazis, “Just because he lives in a cookie jar, doesn’t mean he is a cookie.”
      Do try other churches, even other denominations. Those who preach hatred at you are the problem, not you. Try not to associate with evil people like the pastor you refer to. Many churches are full of people who still have love for their fellow human beings.

  9. jeanne

    Thanks for trying but hope is on the wane. When you are in the middle of the depth of depression hope is a concept that is inconceivable. When you add physical maladies and a dearth of support hope is hard to muster up. But I still click on this e-mail so I guess that is a form of hope.

    1. Cherlyn Kelly

      God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes something someone says either here or a magazine you may pick up will have just a Nugget which will help you hold on. My mother killed herself when I was 19 and she was 49. I’ve always wondered what if she could have just held on one more day, one more hour. She killed herself 4 months after I had my first child. But she never she had the problem it was always me. Jeanne reaching out here is a call for help. I have a lot of physical ailments also and no support. But I am going to start counseling again. If you are able to do that it might be a buffer for these difficult times for you. Otherwise feel free to respond and I’ll get back to you. Please take care of yourself.

  10. Mary

    Therese, please look at My Sisters the Saints, A Spiritual Memoir by Colleen Carroll Campbell. I opened the book randomly to see where it took me and it was miraculous. I think you will like it. Blessings & Peace, Mary

  11. Brian

    Too tired to hope any more.
    Had a test to rule out a bowel Cancer and literally cried when it was negative for anything life threatening.

    1. Cherlyn

      Dear Brian, please hold on. I know how dark it feels now, but please don’t give up. Please call your doctor or a close friend or family member. Let someone know that you need help now.

      1. Brian Grove

        I am having counselling (yet again), this time for PTSD as well as depression. I’ve been on anti-depressants for some years and have had many sessions of counselling since my wife died in 2006.
        Now my physical health is getting worse, with a number of conditions which are painful and inconvenient, not to mention arthritis for which I’ve had one operation and am waiting for another.
        The only reason I keep going at all is my mother, who has dementia, needs me right now. Do you know how guilty it makes you feel wishing she’d die so I could simply commit suicide?

  12. Robin Mitchell

    I cried as I read these messages, as the parent of a depressed 23 yr old I live in constant fear I may lose her. My heart hurts for all of you who are suffering, and I wish my arms were wide enough to reach you, wherever you are. If I can offer anything, please accept heartfelt caring from this stranger, and know that I was touched by your words today. Sending love and peace.

  13. Marty

    There was a time in my life (2008) that I thought my life was over so I attempted to end it. By some miracle, I got out of that depression and started a new life. Today, in 2019 it has happened to me again. I feel that my life is over and I can barely get out of bed in the morning. The realization of my family mental health history, my past, and my defectiveness are making me feel like there is no other option.

    On the outside, people think that I should be fine. I have a job, I have a Master’s degree, and I have no physical abnormalities. That’s the tough part.

    I believe that hope can change everything, and I surely HOPE that I will find it once again. If this is the end of me, then I guess I can say that I tried everything – medication, psychotherapy, etc.

    The only person I can trust is my best friend, but he’s thousands of miles of away. If I had a good support system here, I would try harder. But the fact that I’m so isolated is making me give up.

    1. Therese Borchard

      Marty, Try to let other people have hope for you until you can have it for yourself. I am rooting for you, for one. You may try to get other support through groups like Group Beyond Blue on Facebook or Project Hope & Beyond (google that). Keeping you in my prayers, Therese

  14. Cherlyn

    Marty please try and find a therapist even if you been that route before. It’s not good to be alone but I know sometimes we isolate ourselves because of the hurtful things people can say to us. Maybe you can look into joining a depression support group. Please don’t give up. God bless you.

  15. Mayra

    I read this blog years ago, now coming back to reread it again and again. It’s very exhausting having mental issues every year. Every time I feel I beat it and it comes back with a vengeance. But this article still provides me with hope. I read it over and over

  16. Mary

    Mayra, hang on. I am suffering too and tired but we must keep the faith and not give up. Therese is our shining star of hope. Someone once told me, things always look better in the morning. May God watch over us all and give us strength. Amen.

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