I have known for many years what having a semicolon tattooed meant, yet the idea of having every person that sees the tattoo assume that I’m weak, turned me off of the idea. Although I sit here with a semicolon inked into my skin for the rest of my life, and to be completely honest there are days that I regret it. I regret it because it reminds me of the time where I was at my worst, it makes me believe that I was pathetic allowing the thoughts in my head control me, and how powerless I was. However, it reminds me that I survived through it.
For those who don’t know, Project Semicolon is a non-profit organisation for mental health and anti-suicide who believe that “a semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life”. Which is why the semicolon is a prominent symbol of hope, awareness and solidarity.
Now for most people, they plan for months about getting a tattoo, yet from the time I said ‘I want that tattoo’ to when the tattoo was completed was about 12 hours, sorry mum. The main reason why I believe that I got it done so quickly was that I wanted everyone (besides my parents), to know two things, one that I’m so badass that I have a tattoo and two that this tattoo is a symbolisation of my resilience. Getting this tattoo was the first step for me to open up discussions about my mental health to others, and that is something I don’t regret.
Of course, I had to post a photo of my new tattoo on my Instagram, cause did it even happen if it’s not on there? But with only having a handful of people know of my mental illness, I was petrified of the response. In spite of those thoughts, the relief I felt was overwhelming, knowing that there wasn’t this cloud of secrecy anymore.
Having this tattoo can often remind me of the struggles I have faced, and remind me there are more struggles to come. But most of all remind me that I survived that dark period and that I will continue to survive in time to come. I could have decided to stop my life, but I choose to keep going, the same way how an author has the ability to end a sentence, but decides to continue instead. The semicolon is symbolic of the decision I made with my life, that I hope starts the conversation surrounding mental illness and to break the stigma circling it.