Written by Nancy Murphy

Several years ago, I was feeling particularly sad after my adult daughter told me she was feeling hopeless and didn’t see the point in living if this was her life. She told me that no one would want the brain she was given with all its negative thoughts that forced her to do never-ending OCD rituals. She was exhausted. I held her tight and wished more than anything that I could put her back in my uterus, the only time I could keep her truly safe in her 37 years.

She fell asleep, and I took the opportunity to take my despair to the beach. My daughter was feeling heavy shame as she believed she was ruining my life, and that I would be better off without her so I could focus on my ‘normal daughter’.

Seeing her in so much emotional pain felt like shards of glass slashing through my heart.

I needed to get away.

As I walked along the beach, head down, feeling so heavy-hearted, I started noticing heart-shaped rocks on my path in the sand. They seemed to be everywhere I went.

I started picking them up and holding them tight. Then, I sat down and lined them up on a log. They were all different yet carried the same message of hope.

I chose my favourite and headed home.

My daughter was still curled up in the fetal position. I placed the rock in her hand, and she opened her eyes. I told her about my walk and the beautiful rocks.

Then I told her, “I know you feel hopeless and that the brain you were given is not fair. I am going to hold your hope until you are able or ready to take it back. This heart-shaped rock is a symbol for you to keep to remind you.”

My daughter has passed her hope back and forth to me many times over the past few years. At the moment, she is holding it, and I am grateful. A few months ago, I was holding it tight for her. I know it will ebb and flow like the ocean, so I hold hope for the times she will take it back.

It is not easy. But it is what gets me through, and I celebrate the moments, write them down, take photos and hold on tight to those when her delusions take her away from me. I will continue to hold hope for my daughter and for myself on this walk.

I wish for you that you can find your own way to hold hope for your loved one and for yourself.