Stephen Hawking
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
January 16, 2024 ·  5 min read

Stephen Hawking Left a Heartwarming Message for Anyone Dealing With Depression

“If you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out…”
From a world-renowned scientist who spent nearly his entire life physically disabled, confined to a wheelchair, and unable to speak, this beautiful piece of advice should be heeded by anyone who has lost the will to go on. Life sometimes hits us hard in ways we would never have imagined were possible. We find ourselves facing the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking experiences, feeling as though all hope has been lost. Stephen Hawking lived a painfully difficult life, but he made it through living a fulfilled and decorated life. 

A famous theoretical physicist, author, and cosmologist, Hawking was diagnosed with a very rare slow-progressing form of the motor-neuron disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis {ALS}, a condition that gradually paralyzed him over the years. He was given only two years to live, but amazingly, he hung around for 55 more. He later lost his speech in 1985 and had to communicate with a speech-generating device. Hawking spent his life being tended to by nurses, requiring assistance to perform the most basic daily routine activities, moving around only on a customized wheelchair, and finally needing round-the-clock medical care [1]

Take it from someone who knows

Hawking dealt with depression in one of its worst forms. However, he didn’t let it stop his dreams or aspirations in life. Hawking is most famous for his collaborative studies with Roger Penrose where he propagated the theory that black holes emit radiation, often termed Hawking radiation [2]

Before his death in March 2018, Hawking had acquired 13 honorary degrees, written at least 14 books and dozens of academic papers, delivered countless lectures around the world, and wrote hundreds of inspirational and motivational quotes. He is also famous for having one of the highest Mensa IQ scores in the world, 160, the same score as Albert Einstein.

Hawking was a mastermind, a firebrand, and a force to be reckoned with. His disability never translated to inability. Nothing held him back, and from his famous black hole theory, Hawking wrote one of the most beautiful messages ever for anyone suffering from depression at any point in time [3]. Going into depression has often been likened to spiraling into a black hole, but according to Hawking’s physical theory, things can get out of black holes the same way they get in. Black holes aren’t always as dark and as lightless and people make them out to be.

The message of this lecture is that black holes aren’t as black as they are painted. They are not the eternal prisons they were once thought,” he said during a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution in London on January 7, 2016.

“Things can get out of a black hole both on the outside and possibly to another universe. So if you feel you are in a black hole, don’t give up – there’s a way out… Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
It matters that you don’t just give up.”

Don’t stay down – pull yourself up

Hawking wanted people to know that depression is not a permanent condition. Anyone can get out if they set their minds to it. Opening up to someone, perhaps a professional therapist or a family member takes a lot of weight off your shoulders. Nothing eases the heart like sharing your problems ad letting things out.

 Engaging in activities that make you happy and generally channeling negative energy away from your life are strong measures that that can set you on the right track to full recovery. Recognize the importance of self-care and make solid attempts to keep your mind at peace. Fight negative thoughts and embrace positive vibes. However, if depression takes over your life and impairs your ability to perform basic functions, it’s important to seek medical attention [4].

Hawking also left an amazing message for people living with disabilities.

“If you are disabled, it is probably not your fault, but it is no good blaming the world or expecting it to take pity on you. One has to have a positive attitude and must make the best of the situation that one finds oneself in; if one is physically disabled, one cannot afford to be psychologically disabled as well. In my opinion, one should concentrate on activities in which one’s physical disability will not present a serious handicap. I am afraid that Olympic Games for the disabled do not appeal to me, but it is easy for me to say that because I never liked athletics anyway. On the other hand, science is a very good area for disabled people because it goes on mainly in the mind…”

Life-changing words.

Hawking’s daughter speaks on her father’s powerful mindset

Speaking at the same event in London, his daughter, Lucy Hawking said that her father’s resolve to never stop pushing is truly enviable. Lucy is a successful journalist, novelist, educator, and philanthropist.

He has a very enviable wish to keep going and the ability to summon all his reserves, all his energy, all his mental focus and press them all into that goal of keeping going. But not just to keep going for the purposes of survival but to transcend this by producing extraordinary work – writing books, giving lectures, inspiring other people with neurodegenerative and other disabilities.”

Hawking lived an exemplary life. He knew depression, frustration, heartbreak, isolation, abandonment, and loneliness, but he pulled through one of the most debilitating conditions anyone could ever live with, beating the odds and going on to leave a magnificent footprint in the sands of time.

  1. Admin. Stephen Hawking. Biography. Retrieved 30-07-19
  2. Pease, Roland. Stephen Hawking: The science that made him famous. BBC Science. Retrieved 30-07-19
  3. Brown, Lachlan. Stephen Hawking has a beautiful message for anyone who suffers depression. Idea Pod. Retrieved 30-07-19
  4. Staff writer. Antidepressants: Selecting one that’s right for you. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 30-07-19 
  5. Staff Writer. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 30-07-19
  6. Admin. Books by Stephen Hawking. Thrift Books. Retrieved 30-07-19