As many of you may or may not now, dealing with Bipolar Disorder has transformed and consumed my life in the past four years since my Health Leave of Absence from Cornell’s School of Hospitality Administration. Because of my recent success in compartmentalizing this disorder without letting its symptoms define me, I now suffer from what I can only call “Survivor’s Guilt.” Some common thoughts that regularly cross my mind are: Why was I chosen to survive this illness when countless others have lost their lives or loved ones to it? What can I do to assist those who are currently undergoing severe manic or depressed episodes? How can I help? When can I help? Despite spending 11 months in mental hospitals and halfway houses, trying every medication/therapist/psychiatrist on this planet, and attempting suicide over a handful of times, I am happy now…that is, until my Survivor’s Guilt creeps its way back into my daily life.
For now, all I can say is I am digging the semicolon tattoos in support of Project Semicolon, Amy Bleuel’s brainchild. The latest and hottest tattoo trend has taken over the nation and hopefully the world in efforts to raise awareness of suicide prevention and to decrease the stigma associated with mental health. (Most semicolon tattoos can be found just under the wrist, as depicted below.)
The idea behind the semicolon is that when one is suffering from suicidal ideation, instead of ending one’s life with a period, one simply needs to pause for a moment before continuing on to the next phase in life. To put it gently, the semicolon is the brink of our episode, and the sentence is our life. We do not need to end our lives with a period…we simply need to allow ourselves to experience the pain, process the pain patiently, and gather the strength to move on.
I personally got a tattoo right when I hit 18 years old, and I thought it would be my first and last; however, with all the exposure Project Semicolon is receiving and how much good its exposure is doing in our world, I might just need to get some more ink. What do you say? You too?