I posted the above photo on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter this morning. Afterwards, I had a number of people ask me what the photo was all about. Why on earth did I have a semicolon drawn on my wrist???
The answer is simple. The semicolon on my wrist is in response to a request from The Semicolon Project. On their Facebook page, The Semicolon Project posted this photo:
A semicolon represents a sentence the author could've ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.
Wow. That's powerful stuff.
In January of 2006, my son attempted suicide. It was during a manic episode he had while being weaned off of one anti-depressant and onto another. He intentionally overdosed on anti-depressants and aspirin. For what it's worth, despite its mild-mannered reputation, aspirin can be fatal when taken in large quantities. Fortunately, one of the things our son had going for him was that the aspirin he took was of the enteric-coated variety, which slows down the dissolving and absorption of the aspirin. This may have actually saved his life.
My wife was the one who found our son in the attic at about 1:30 a.m. He was crying and explained what he had done. When my wife woke me up and told me what had happened, it was like I was having the worst nightmare ever. A hurried trip to the emergency room ensued, and doctors pumped our son's stomach. After being given a clean bill of physical health, our son took an ambulance ride to a psychiatric hospital, where he would stay for a few days (mandatory for a teenager after a suicide attempt).
Physically, our son was okay. Mentally, he was not.
My son's severe depression and anxiety preceded his addiction, which is very common among people with substance abuse disorders. He began self-medicating in order to feel "normal." He simply wanted to make the negative feelings he was experiencing go away.
That night in January of 2006 was the beginning of a long and tumultuous period, not just for my son but for our entire family. It would be July of 2012 before things finally settled down and a sense of normalcy returned to our world. As I type this, my son is 2 years, 9 months, and 2 weeks clean and sober. And you know what else? His depression is under control and he's happy.
Mental illness can come out of nowhere and kick you in the ass. But no matter how bad you feel, suicide is not the answer; instead, it's a permanent solution to a short-term problem.
If you are experiencing depression or some other form of mental illness, please seek help. Please, please, please find a professional to talk to. Or, if you're too scared to do that, at the very least find a friend to talk to. The important thing is to talk. Let somebody know how you are feeling. They can assist you in getting the help you need. Believe it or not, you can feel better again.
Remember: The author is you and the sentence is your life. Make use of that semicolon and keep that sentence going. You are so worth it.
P.S. I invite all of you to draw a semicolon on your wrist, to remind you of the struggles many people are dealing with. Even if it's not April 16th anymore when you read this, put a semicolon on your wrist for one day. And feel free to share a photo of that semicolon with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.