I have never been so open about my mental health as I am now that I have my semicolon tattoo. I’ve talked about my depression to those I’m closed to, those I want to help, and those who need to hear a story that could maybe give them some hope that it does get better.
I got my semicolon tattoo a little over a month ago and I didn’t think I’d be ready to talk about my journey with mental illness but the moment someone asked me about what it means, I felt this huge weight be lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was finally ready to be okay with my depression, my anxiety, and my recently diagnosed PTSD.
For those who don’t know about Project Semicolon, it’s a international organization with a mission to prevent suicide by providing a forum for people who experience mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, BPD, addiction, suicide, postpartum, schizophrenia, dissociative personality disorder, and eating disorders.
It’s become a worldwide movement to destigmatize mental illness. Their website says, “Project Semicolon is an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives.”
Recently, their founder, Amy Bleuel lost her battle with depression and passed away from suicide on March 23. She was 31. On her about page, it reads, “After overcoming many obstacles in her life including bullying, rejection, suicide, self-injury, addiction, abuse and even rape, Amy has found strength and a love for others. Amy struggled with mental illness for 20+ years and has experienced many stigmas associated with it.”
Honestly, getting this tattoo felt so freeing. It felt like I was finally going to be able to tell my story and not be ashamed of it. It gave me power.
I got diagnosed with depression shortly after I turned 13 in May of 2012. It’s been just over 5 years now and it has been the wildest journey I’ve ever been on. I have gone through 3 major depressive episodes, suicide attempts, and I struggled with self harm for two and a half to three years and I have always, for as long as I can remember, struggled with eating. I recently got diagnosed with PTSD stemming from years of sexual abuse as a child and emotional abuse from relationships.
I got my semicolon tattoo as a way to remind myself that I made it through some of the worst struggles I’ve ever been through. I was able to make it through self harm, abuse, and major depressive episodes and I still managed to graduate high school, continue dancing up until junior year, get into a good school, and maintain a relationship.
It’s not easy. Mental illnesses are a bitch. They are really hard to manage without proper help and depending on the severity of some, it’s tough to be in healthy relationships with friends, family, and partners.
My semicolon helped me heal in a way I didn’t know I needed to. It allowed me to put on my body, “Hey I went through this, but I’m okay. I’m going to make it. I’m going to follow my dreams and build a life for myself. I went through all these horrible things but I made it out. If I can, you can too.” And that’s something I never thought I would be able to do.
I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of the person I am, of the woman I’m becoming, and of the girl I was. I can’t say I’m happy I went through what I did, but it made me into the person I am today. It’s crazy to think but I wouldn’t be who I am without the trauma I’ve experienced and truth be told, I wouldn’t want to change anything. I’m stronger than my mental illness and I’m determined to make it through.
If you’re going through anything and you want to talk about, please, feel free to reach out to me. I am always here to talk, to listen, to help in any way I can.