I decided to get a semicolon tattoo to be part of the movement to destigmatize mental health issues. It’s a simple design with a powerful message, perhaps most well known through Project Semicolon, a community of people dedicated to supporting those struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-harm.
But, why specifically?
I can think of a lot of people who have attempted to commit suicide, and too many of them succeeded. Many are authors, celebrities, or other notable public figures, but they are also friends, acquaintances, friend’s siblings, or children of family friends. I never understood how they could have reached such a low and desperate point in their life where death was the only solution.
Until the moment came when I was sobbing uncontrollably into the brown shag rug of my living room floor. I had just gotten out of the shower, my hair was dripping and I was wrapped in a towel, and I was crying harder than I’d ever cried before. All that could console me in that moment was thinking of an earthquake tearing apart the ground beneath me and swallowing me up.
This was my rock bottom.
I’ve never wanted to inflict any pain on myself or actually take my own life, but during this bleak period of my life I really only expected the worst to happen, and in a way I welcomed it. I felt like I deserved it. I felt hopeless, joyless, and numb. I was horribly depressed and desperate not to be, but my mind was so clouded with self-doubt and revulsion that any attempt to make positive changes seemed futile. So, I made no changes for quite a long while. I just slumped through my life taking each blow that I believed karma had planned for me.
If I could have snapped my fingers to magically feel better I would have. Maybe for some, suicide is like snapping their fingers, but I still don’t know how it could have been that bad for them.
After all, here I am — holding tight to who I used to be.
I have been in a constant battle with my mind and my erratic emotions for seven years now. I have tried varied combinations of medication, counselors, journaling, yoga, new hobbies, animal-assisted therapy, and more. Finally, a year and a half after the moment I hopelessly sobbed into my rug, I moved back to Massachusetts from California putting 3000 miles of distance between me and the place where my depression began.
Making such a big move back home in the midst of such despair was challenging, but it’s when I realized that I could again feel excitement, happiness, and optimism. It was this two-week trip across the country that the connection between travel and my own happiness finally clicked. I am truly happiest when on the move.
The decision to get the tattoo was a spontaneous one that I made while visiting a tattoo studio in Provincetown, MA. I was there to plan another tattoo for later in the fall, but the artist I wanted to meet wasn’t in that day. The woman at the front desk asked me a simple question – “Can we do anything else for you today?” Just like that I was filling out the paperwork, choosing the size of the semicolon, and in the seat waiting for the needle to make contact with my skin. Exactly one and a half minutes later (maybe less, actually) this powerful symbol was officially branded on my wrist.
This might sound strange, but I’ve only had the tattoo for only a few weeks now and I already feel more confident and at ease. It is a daily reminder of the progress I have made since making the decision to improve the condition of my mental health.
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