Tag Archives: mental health

The Semicolon

In terms of grammar, a semi-colon is used in place of a period when the sentence could have been ended… but was not.

In terms of my mission and life, I am the author, the sentence is my life and the Semicolon is the conscious decision not to let my mental illness dictate when that life ends. The Semicolon is a beautiful and simple motif for continuing to survive despite how difficult it is to live with mental illness. The Semicolon signifies that although I could have taken the choice to end my own life… I chose (and continue to choose) not to.

This simple idea comes from “The Semicolon Project“, a nonprofit organization started by Amy Bleuel after she lost her father to suicide. The following is taken directing from their Facebook page:

Through the semicolon symbol many related to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. The title, “Project Semicolon,” also represented a goal – to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.

As the days passed and the project was developed further, it became clear that this symbol was not just about one person. We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well.

Over the years Project Semicolon has become much more than just one person honoring a parent. Through musician support and social media, the message of hope and love has reached a big audience in many different countries, more than we could have ever anticipated.

Project Semicolon is honored to be a part of those continuing stories, and to be an inspiration to those who are struggling.

The path I tread is not an easy one. I recognize that. I have good and bad days. I am not always the best at staying on the prescribed treatment for my depression. I do not always want to recognize that I suffer from an illness. And even though I do my best to spread a message of hope despite depression, I am not always successful at believing my own words.

I have an indomitable will to survive. Through even the most difficult days, I refuse to give up.

The design featured at the top of this post is a new tattoo design (a rough one) I hope to have etched into my skin soon. It will be a permanent reminder that I am the author of my life… and I refuse to let it be ended prematurely. I refuse to be beaten. I will continue on. My message of hope will continue.

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Not The First Time, Not The Last

I don’t know the exact date of when it started, but I know I was very young the first time I knew I was a little different from everyone else. I didn’t always feel the same way everyone else seemed to feel. Sometimes, I didn’t feel at all. I would go long bouts of time with nothing. No motivation. No sadness. No happiness. No feeling. Nothing. And if I did feel something, it was rarely good, and it was always magnified. Everything “bad” in me was multiplied ten fold. If I made a mistake, I was inept. If I had a blemish, I was ugly. If I gained a pound, I was morbidly obese. If a loved one was unhappy, it was automatically my fault. If I was recognized for doing a good job, that was a fluke or it was no big deal. These moments would go in fits and spurts. Sometimes I felt like a perfectly normal girl. I laughed, I loved, I smiled, I cried, I railed at my parents when I thought they were being unjust. But then the “dark” time would come. I never knew how long it would last, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It didn’t always feel like there was a trigger. I didn’t know when to expect it. It was almost like a switch inside my brain would flip and I would be different. I wouldn’t be me anymore.

I was very young the first time it happened, but I was twenty-two the first time I let someone give a name to what I was going through. I was twenty-two the first time I sat down, looked at myself in the mirror and seriously said, “You need help.” The months leading up to that moment were awful. I was constantly fighting with my husband. I could not get myself out of bed unless I had to go to work. Little things sent me into fits of anger. I was bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. At first I attributed it to my husband being away on military assignment. I waited it out – hoping that as I adjusted to him being gone, I would settle into a more “normal” me. I didn’t. It got worse. So I did something I had never done before up until that point. I reached out to a friend and told them I needed help.

I was terrified. I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t know what to expect. I was scared of so many things. Judgment, censure, anger. Out of everything that was going on in my head, an intense fear punctured through the fog. Even when I sat down with a counselor, I was terrified to let down my walls just for the period of an hour to discuss my feelings. Why did this person care? Why should I make myself vulnerable to someone I had only just met a few moments ago? But I did. I expressed what I had been feeling and I talked about my past history. I discussed some of my darkest thoughts – and I let her in. She was one of the very first people to say the phrase “mood disorder” to me. That moment was when it clicked. When I left her office, I made an appointment to be seen by a doctor. The doctor diagnosed me with Depression (not a mood disorder by the way) and prescribed me medication to treat it. I had been silently suffering for many, many years – walking out of that doctor’s office was like walking out a new person with a weight lifted off of my shoulders (although I will have to say I walked out with a whole new set of fears – would people still love me if they knew? was I damaged goods now? would I tell people? how would I feel on medication?).

Medication helps. Talking in a professional context doesn’t often help me. I tend to try to tell people what they want to hear and that is a mighty hard habit to break. If someone asks me if they can borrow money, my instant gut reaction will always be to offer whatever they need. If I only have one piece of candy left and someone wants it, I’m more likely to give it to them than I am to keep it for myself. I’m a people pleaser. I have always been one and I will continue to be one. Which is probably why when someone asks me if I’m “okay” I’ll always tell them “yes”, mainly because I want to make people happy.

I wrote this entry today because I have been struggling. It crept up on me slowly this time. Out of nowhere, I was in it. I wasn’t feeling anything and if I was – it was magnified and it wasn’t good. I have not been motivated. My house is a mess (for me) and getting out of bed has been a chore. Whereas a month ago, I was chomping at the bit to get out the door for a run a few times a week, these past few weeks have been a struggle to get even one 40 minute run in. I’ve been hard on myself. I’ve been plain mean and hurtful to myself. I’ve said things to myself that I wouldn’t say to someone I disliked. I preach being kind, loving and wonderful to those around you – but I have been the exact opposite to myself. I’ve been struggling to get out of it. I want to talk to someone – but I’ve been struggling to find the strength/bravery to be that vulnerable with anyone. When I’m not in one of these “periods” talking about my Depression can be absurdly easy. When I’m stuck in one, talking about it can be the most painful and frightening thing I could possibly do.

So I am writing about it. I’m getting it out – lying it on the table – wearing my heart on my sleeve. I’m still not sure if I am going to hit “publish” because I am thinking about the possibility of the judgment, censure and anger that might come from this. But I suppose I’m risking that. Not because I want a volley of “I love you”, “Feel better”, “it will be okay” or support. Not because I want people to worry about me or pity me. I’m writing this because I need to get it out – and right now, its the only way I know how.

Even When It Hurts

Today started off bad.

Today, I didn’t want to run. I didn’t sleep well. It was too hard to get out of bed. I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. But I rolled over and there he was. A thirty pound ball of black and white fur. He looked at me with his liquid brown eyes and wagged his tail. He was waiting to go. It hurt to get out of bed but I did. I got dressed and loaded him into the car.

Our entire run (a little over a mile and a quarter in a little over twenty minutes) was at first a “struggle”. My body wanted to sprint. I wanted to tear through the woods to exhaust my mind against the “crazy” thoughts but I had to pace myself. Gabriel is less than a year old and has awhile to go before he can run at my pace.

I found that a lot of my run consisted of “you can do this, baby” and “come on Gabriel, just a little further and we’ll walk for a few minutes”. It dawned on me that I was encouraging him in much the same way I encourage myself when I run alone. Just a few more feet. Run until this song is over. Run until you pass that sign. My encouragement brought him into step with me, his ears and tail up.

My day to day life is like that, too. Just get through today and tomorrow will be better. Be strong. You only need to get through the next few hours and then you can let it go. Even when it hurts I tell myself it will be okay.

Things will always be okay if I can just get through the next few steps.

Today started off bad.

But today ended on a good note because I can do this.