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.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
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.
Again, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.
The only thing wrong with you is a chemical imbalance that YOU CAN NOT CONTROL.
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.