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I Hate Needles. Here's Why I Still Got a Semicolon Tattoo.

I don’t like needles. I don’t like the idea of a permanent commitment. I certainly don’t like doing things that make me nervous.

So why would I choose to get a tattoo?

There has been a lot of news lately about the Semicolon Tattoo Project — a moment that encourages people affected by mental health issues to get a tattoo of a semicolon as a daily reminder their story isn’t over.

At first, I thought it was a great idea. It spreads awareness and reduces the stigma about depression and suicide. Sharing your story and picture of your tattoo commemorates how far you’ve come. I really thought the whole idea was quite impressive.

However, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I have never publicly talked about my experience with depression, preferring to tell my story to a close few. I said I was open about it, yet I never really discussed it. I didn’t think it was anyone’s business or that anyone would want to hear a sob story.

But one day I posted a Facebook status about the project, touching briefly on the fact I had experienced depression. I was shocked by the amount of love and support that followed. The generosity and kindness of the people who took time to say nice things to me was overwhelming. I felt like I had opened a new door, allowing people into my life in a way I’d never let them before.

When my cousin saw my post and asked if I would get a semicolon tattoo with her, I knew I had to jump at the offer. I finally understood why so many people had joined the movement and shared their stories. It was liberating without the weight of secrets holding me back.

A semicolon is used when an author could end their sentence but chooses not to. In this case, the author is me; the semicolon is my decision to continue my life. I chose to get the semicolon tattoo because it’s a daily reminder I have a life ahead of me beyond the depression I’ve lived through. It’s a permanent commitment to myself that I will not let depression take over my life. This tattoo is in honor of those who experience depression and to me, it means I’m part of something bigger than myself. I’m part of a community made up of survivors and fighters, people who have learned the value of their life by choosing to live each and every day.

When other people see my tattoo, I want them to know they are not alone. People have depression and come out on the other side. I am living proof. I purposefully put my semicolon on my right wrist because when I shake people’s hands, I want to pass on the legacy of this movement. I want people to talk about their depression and be able to share their stories without fear.

So yes, I still don’t like needles. And yes, the idea of a permanent commitment still scares me. But I’ve gained so much more than what my fears have held me back from. My story could have ended a long time ago. I could have been another tragic statistic. But I’m not, and I’m here. Instead, I have a small print on my wrist that reminds me I’ve let go of feeling unworthy and letting depression run my life. This tattoo is so important to me because it’s a symbol of my story that continues each and every day.

I used to carry the weight of my burdens. Now I carry a semicolon because my story isn’t over.

Follow this journey on Life After Fog.