Today, April 16th, is Project Semicolon Day, a day when people all around the world join together by wearing a semicolon to declare that their stories aren’t over yet.
“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to.
You are the author and the sentence is your life.”
Project Semicolon was founded by Amy Bleuel, and it’s all about suicide awareness and prevention. My mom told me about this wonderful group and the idea resonated deeply with me! For along time, I’d been thinking about getting a tattoo, but this was the first time something resonated so deeply with me that I’d be willing to permanently engrave it into my skin.
Almost exactly one year ago, I thought about suicide for the first time in my life. Not many people know that. I’ve pretty much always struggled with depression, anxiety, and self-harm, but this was a new low for me. Thankfully God is faithful and I didn’t give up!Placing a semicolon on my arm is a daily reminder that my story is not over yet. Click To Tweet
That was worth permanently engraving into my skin.
The Meaning Behind My Entire Tattoo
- The anchor, which holds within it a cross and a heart:
- The cross stands for faith in Christ.
- The anchor stands for hope, because “hope is the anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19).
- And the heart stands for love.
- Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love!
- The flowers: These stand for me… part of God’s beautiful creation, but delicate. Frail. So I need Jesus!
- The vine: If you look closely, you’ll see that the vine wraps around the cross. Because of the frail nature of the flowers, the vine represents clinging to Jesus! He is my support and the only One who gets me through the hard seasons!
- The color purple represents royalty. We have been adopted by God and now we’re His children!
- The semicolon is the whole reason I got the tattoo. It stands for not giving up.
My Battle with Depression and Suicide (For Those Who Care to Read This Long Story…)
Depression and anxiety began early for me. Because of some challenging life circumstances, I grew up with these underlying beliefs:
- I was never safe
- Very few people truly loved me.
- My safety depended on my ability to keep everyone happy.
- Conflict was never ok and it should be avoided at all costs!
When I made it into my current position at work, I quickly learned that conflict is a common part of managing people. But the problem was, any time there was a conflict, my mind would just shut down.
My learned response was: conflict isn’t safe. Tell them what they want to hear, then get out!
Well, that’s not a very successful management philosophy…. So I began researching and gaining tools that would help me navigate conflict in a healthier manner.
Conflict is ok and can
actually be quite useful
when handled in a healthy manner.
Slowly I gained tools for resolving conflict and maintaining friendships in the process. My courage grew and I began addressing conflicts here and there, even though every part of my brain would tremble in fear and want to shut down!
Something interesting happened…. When I voiced a disagreement, no one began yelling at me. No one struck me or threw a chair across the room. …Perhaps conflict was safe. My confidence grew and I thought, yes, I’m getting better at this whole “conflict” thing!
But then one day, a co-worker disagreed with how I was training her and she started yelling at me. Once again, I froze. I felt that old fear rise up. I didn’t know what to do or how to respond. My mind just… shut down.
This was the progression of lies:
I thought I was getting better at dealing with conflict, but once again my mind shut down and I couldn’t handle it.
I’ll NEVER be able to handle it. There’s something actually broken with me.
I can’t function in life. I’ll never get better. I’ll never be able to contribute to society. I’ll never make a difference.
Why am I alive at all? Why am I even trying?
I shouldn’t be alive. I have no purpose.
I’m just tired….
Wow! That was a hard, challenging place! The enemy attacked me with all sorts of lies. My unhealthy thinking was at a max. At the same time, I was not taking care of myself:
- I was overworking myself at my job
- I wasn’t getting enough sleep
- I wasn’t taking time to rest and be with friends
- My exercise routine was non-existent
- My diet consisted of donuts, hamburgers, french fries, and ice cream (yikes!!!)
My Sister Saved My Life
Thankfully, this wasn’t the end! As my thoughts turned to what life might look like if this progression of thoughts were to continue, I remembered my sister.
I have a twin sister and she is so important to me! I knew that, if I were to die (no matter the method), it would devastate her. And I just couldn’t do that to her. I’ve never told her this, but she quite possibly saved my life!
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
Around that time, my sister also said something that really changed my perception on going to counseling:
“No one questions us when we go get our annual physical. Well, the brain is a physical organ in our body. Why should we question getting a brain check-up once in a while?”
She was right! And I’m so thankful I listened to her.
I took three steps that made all the difference:
- I started seeing a counselor who helped me process through my painful memories and unhealthy thought life.
- My PCP got me on some medicine to help manage my anxiety levels.
- I got connected with the Mental Health Grace Alliance in Waco, which is a wonderful nonprofit that has helped me learn the value of self-care and taught me the tools to live that out, through their Thrive curriculum, which I highly recommend!
These three pieces together have helped me immensely in the recovery process! I already feel like a different person….
Long story short, I got my tattoo as a daily reminder that:
My story isn’t over yet.
I must cling to Jesus, because He is the one who will help me get through life’s challenges.
I am royalty. I’m loved and I’m worth taking care of myself.
Thanks for reading! I hope this story was encouraging for you! I want people to know they don’t have to feel ashamed for encountering challenges in life and that it IS ok to seek help!