The Semicolon Project: My Response

Yesterday I did something that I never thought I would be able to do.  I shared one of my deepest darkest secrets. I wrote a blog post about my struggles with depression, anxiety, addiction and suicidal thoughts. I was terrified, but hoped and prayed that my story could help someone, somewhere and posted the blog on Facebook.  I had no idea the response this post was going to have. My phone was going off the remainder of the day with Facebook comments, private messages, text messages, and emails.  People sharing with me their stories, their struggles and the loved ones they have lost. The love and support was beyond overwhelming, my head was spinning by the time I went to bed last night.  When I came home from work today the blog post about the Semicolon Project had almost 1,000 page views.  To put this in perspective, my highly irregular blog posts usually have less than 40 page views. One THOUSAND page views.

These are topics that need to be talked about.  People everywhere need to realize that they are not weird, or broken because they can't feel the way they think should. You do not have to slip into the darkness and pain with no place to go. There are people all around you who are struggling just as you are. It may not just be the stranger in line behind you at the store, it may be one of your close friends, or a family member that is embarrassed by their depression.  Everyone needs to know that they are loved.

If you feel that you are alone. If you feel that you have a deep force that is preventing you from feeling.  If you don't know how you can get through another day. If you think that your life is just not worth living.

Please Please PLEASE reach out to someone.  Someone you trust. Someone you know loves you, even though you can't feel their love.

It's hard.  It's really hard. 

 But you are special. 

You are important. 

And you have every right to deserve to live a life full of happiness and joy. If you can't talk to someone, if you have no one you can trust, then talk to a stranger who wants to help you.

If you live in Massachusetts you can contact Samaritans via phone (877-870 HOPE (4673), online or text (text "START" to 741-741).
If you live anywhere in the US you can call  1-800-273-8255 or 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) to talk to someone.

If you don't know where you can find help for your struggles Project Semicolon has many resources for you. Or if you are worried about someone you love.

If you want to support and raise awareness but know that tattoos aren't your thing, there are many other beautiful ways to show you care. Let those around you know that you want to be supportive and loving. Start a conversation.

Please don't be quiet. Please don't live in a silent darkness.  Please don't be ashamed. 

Continue your story.  

Continue to live.


The Semicolon Project

A quick Google search for The Semicolon Project will show all kinds of blogs, Facebook pages, images and most importantly the Project Semicolon website.  The Project Semicolon Vision brought me to tears.  Creating a world that is loving, accepting and understanding of mental illness, suicide and addiction means so much to me. Why does this mean so much to me? Because these are all things that I struggle with, as do a truly astonishing number of people. However, thanks to the stigma associated with mental illness, people do not want anyone to know they struggle with depression, anxiety, addiction or self-harm.  Well I hope that through people, such as the Semicolon Project, people who struggle will realize that.


You are not weak.

You did not do anything wrong

You do not need to do this alone.

My brother introduced me to the Semicolon Project. Immediately I knew that we both had to get semicolon tattoos and I would do everything I could to make sure that we get them together.
See, my brother and I share something besides both coming from the same parents (maybe we share this because we came from the same parents).  We both have struggled with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and addiction.  There, I’ve said it.  It’s out for all of the internet world to know. I struggle with mental illness.  For most of my life I felt left out, not quite cool enough, smart enough, pretty enough or thin enough to be loveable, or even likeable.  There were many moments in my adolescent and teenage years that I felt like I could not possibly live another minute.  Obviously I did live, despite some moments of extremely poor decisions, and I am incredibly grateful that I did. Just because I am no longer a hormonal teenager does not mean that I no longer struggle with depression or anxiety. I have come to realize that this will be a struggle that I will deal with for probably my entire life.  For many years I was embarrassed that I couldn’t just be happy, or feel like “everyone else.”  Now I realize that many people are also embarrassed by their emotional struggles. 

Why are we embarrassed?

If we had ALS, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s or any other illness, we would not think that we did something wrong and just aren’t strong enough. We would understand that something happened in our bodies that we had no control over. Struggles with depression are no different. It is a chemical imbalance in the body. You don’t need to suffer alone. I believe that we have made advances in medicine (yes, I am a nurse) to help people with their physical and emotional pain.  There is no reason for anyone to suffer if they don’t have to. 


The only thing wrong with you is a chemical imbalance that YOU CAN NOT CONTROL.
(without help)

My tattoo
So I have made a very drastic decision to permanently mark my body in a visible way to raise awareness.  I now have a tattoo that will stay with me until my body turns to ashes. It is my hope and prayer that when people see this mark on my wrist they will ask me about it and I can tell them what my tattoo means.

Do you know what a semicolon is? A semicolon is where a sentence could end, but it doesn’t.  The sentence continues, the story continues, the life continues. 

Through the infinite love of Christ my sentence and my story continues.

I have met almost all of my life goals. I am living in an active, vibrant, large city. I am happily married.  I have two beautiful girls.  I love my job. I have a wonderful church that supports, challenges and shows love to me. I have amazing friends. I am taking medicine.

My brother's tattoo.
Well, maybe it wasn’t my life goal to be on medication.  But I am. And I realize that it’s not the most socially acceptable thing to talk about.  But guess what: I feel great.  I can realize that I have a great life.  I can truly love the people close to me.  I can get out of bed on my days off of work (my parents instilled a good work ethic in us).  I can accomplish things.  I can deal with life’s challenges with something other than food. I don’t need an entire pint of Hagan Das Stracciatella to deal with a bad day.  I can take a deep breath, move on, and get out of bed the next day. That may not seem like much to most people, but for someone who is depressed or anxious, this is actually quite an accomplishment. 

You can do it.  You can wake up.  You can get out of bed.  You can move through life with an appreciation for everything around you.  I am here to say, it is possible. You don’t need to do it alone.  There are people everywhere who love you.  They may not know you. But they love you.
You know how I know this?  Because I love you.  I may not have met you. But I love you.

You are loved.

YOU are loved.

You are LOVED.