Monday, July 13, 2015

Those Semicolon Tattoos

My journey toward positivity this summer has helped me become more focused on what I have been trying to pinpoint for quite some time now. I have always said things like, "I want to make a difference." "I want to help people." "I want to be a voice to be heard or an ear to listen." Without having a clear picture of where I was headed with this or how I can help, I have come to the realize much while this journey toward positivity has helped me to be more mindful of the things around me. I have been looking for opportunities to help, ways I can feed my desire to make use of myself for the greater good.

Something I hold very dear to my heart is Mental Health Awareness. I believe that there are many silent pains that are being ignored or swept under the rug by society because they are just that--silent. Not a lot of people talk about the ugly truths of maintaining a stable mental state so it is not common to be openly discussed. Often times, people are ignorant to the truth of what it's like to live with these problems such as depression, PTSD, etc because they have never (thankfully) had to live it themselves. I think it is time we open our eyes and see those that are hurting, those that are in pain day in and day out, or even those that have "bad days" sometimes because of whatever is going on in their messy heads. I think my biggest thing I would like to get across is depression is not a choice. Depression is just one symptom of many mental health disorders as well as its own diagnosis in itself. Depression is a real battle everyday for many people. It is not just "being sad". It is a state of mind. A constant battle--an exhausting battle that is without an escape because, in fact, it is a battle within yourself. How do you fight that war? Many times when life gets stressful or chaotic we plan a vacation or a day trip to just "get away from it all". We clear our minds by clearing our schedules and just focusing on ourselves and those that mean the most to us--we re-center ourselves and come back as more whole people prepared to jump back into the stress with a clearer mind again.

Now imagine you are at that point, so stressed and chaotic and needing an escape, needing a way out away from all the things bringing you to that point--imagine not being able to get away from it because all of the stress, anxiety, etc is coming from within your own mind. It is your own mind bringing you down, beating you up, causing you to drown. Imagine sinking lower and lower and knowing what is happening but being unable to stop it because it is nearly impossible to win a battle with yourself. You are your own worst critic. You know your faults more than anyone else can even dream, and your mind is constantly on replay of those negative aspects of yourself. Constantly telling you over and over all the things you should've done differently, all the ways you are a failure, all of the ways you should be different. Your mind refuses to let you believe that you deserve peace or that you are worthy of love because of all these faults you have. So, in turn, your mind continues replaying these things, beating you down, and pushing you farther away from people you love because you don't believe you deserve their love. You feel worthless--as a constant state of mind, not an occasional passing thought. Now imagine never talking to anyone about this because you think they won't care or you think you should just be able to "snap out of it". So, you continue having this silent battle no one knows about. Eventually you get so tired you just want it to stop. You just want that voice inside your head to stop being so mean to you. You want to shut it up. The only way you can see yourself shutting it up, the only way you can see being less of a burden on those you love because you feel like such a failure--the only way out of the darkness is to end the pain. That is what leads people to suicide. Not the "selfish" reasons most people associate with it. It comes from selflessly wanting to be less of a burden on those around them because they believe they are not worthy of being loved or getting better. They think they deserve all the bad because that's what their mind has told them. That is what depression is like--not being sad on the couch crying because you went through a breakup--it is a constant state of numbness while feeling everything so deeply all at the same time. It is a constant dialogue within a person beating themselves up, feeling unworthy, and hopeless.

Because I have seen it first hand in those that I love, I know these facts to be true. I have, thankfully by the grace of God, never experienced it within myself, but that does not change the fact that I hold this very dear to my heart and have a passion to find all those people fighting that battle and showing them that they are not alone--they don't have to give up--they are worthy of love and acceptance--that there are ways to find light in the darkness. I want to be an advocate for those people stuck in that dark messy place in their minds. I want to be a life preserver to those that might be drowning. I want to bring a bit of hope in their hopelessness. I want to show them that a semicolon is an option for their lives.

Recently, all over the internet is The Semicolon Project (click the link for more information). The project dedicates their efforts to reminding people that your story doesn't have to end. Much like a semicolon is used when an author could end a sentence but chose not to, the same is true for those that have been in the depths of despair and could've ended their lives but didn't. Whether it was an unsuccessful suicide attempt or an active choice to not end their life even if their mind was screaming that it was the only way out, this project is to give a voice to those that for whatever reason did not end their lives, their stories, or their sentence. The semicolon is a perfect example of hope.

 This project has hit my heart very deeply, and I hope to soon be able to make a difference or help be a voice with this organization or another like it. I want to help shed light on this dark battle. If just one person better understands the battle of depression or chooses to seek help instead of ended their life because of my words someday, my efforts will be worth it. I want my voice heard, but not for myself. I want to be the voice for those unable to speak out for themselves because they are too busy having to fight that battle. I want to bring awareness to the ugly truth that is going on around us or within us every single day.

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