“You’re one of the strongest moms I know. If you can’t do it, I can’t either.”

My friend’s words jumped out of the text at me, hitting me right in the gut. That negative voice in my head, always lurking just beneath the surface, was quick to question her view of me. 

How could it be that someone sees me as strong when lately all I feel is weak, a growing sense that I am a failure, and the notion that I am shrinking away from everyone?

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How could it be that despite the fog of depression and anxiety that has lately filled my head once again, I could appear to have it all together to others?

How could it be that my outward projection is such a contradiction to my inner thoughts about myself?

Which view of me is the correct one? Her view or my own? 

“I always think of you when I am in a bad spot and wonder what you would do.”

This time her words hit me even deeper. They cut through the nonsense in my head and brought some clarity to me. 

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She had no way of knowing my inner struggles, but something I was doing or saying was acting as a lifeline for her. Somehow, despite nearly drowning in my own despair, I was serving as a beacon of hope for her at times. 

Maybe, just maybe, that voice in my head was wrong. 

Maybe, just maybe, I could find a way to be that beacon of hope for myself. 

Her words echoed in my head that night and kept me awake for hours as I reflected more and more about what it meant to be a source of hope for someone.

I realized that I can’t give up. None of us can. 

We have no idea who is watching us, who is holding on to their last thread of hope thinking, If she can’t do it, neither can I.

We have no idea who is wondering what we would do if we were in their shoes, using us and our experiences to help guide them through their troubles. 

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Look around. Someone somewhere is watching you, desperately looking for signs of hope and a sense of guidance. Maybe it’s one of your closest friends, a family member, a neighbor, a mom who sees you in the drop-off line at school, a coworker, an online friend, a stranger at the grocery store, someone reading your words—it doesn’t matter who it is, but they need you to keep going, to keep fighting, to keep believing in yourself. 

If you can’t do it, they can’t either.

Jenni Brennan

Jenni Brennan, LICSW is an author, podcaster, college professor, therapist, and mother. Her work centers around the topics of grief, health and wellness, relationships, and parenting.