Stories from our Project Semicolon Community


I would like to share a poem:

Today is the day, I was to say “Bye”.

On the inside, the waves toss and turn
Who am I?
Why is this so hard to learn?

Feelings come and go
Some big, some small
Often times though, I feel nothing at all.

I face this world on my own
I have to suffer alone.

I don’t believe that there would be pain at my death
I see it as the ultimate gift, to everyone I have been burdening,
To take my last breath.

A mind that’s often loaded
And a quiet mind is what I seek.
The day I would meet my end
04.16.21, that would be my mend.

How ironic that the day,
coincided with “World Semicolon Day”.

But through this maze
I discovered true and unconditional love
There must be a plan for me, sent from above.

I humbly ask, of all of you now,
Please be kind to one another
I believe in you, I know you know how.

We don’t know the struggles and heartache, that people hide within.
We may not see their sight.
But we can help be the light in their darkness.
We can help be the moon in their night.

I did not say bye, today.

Today I say, CONT;NUE.

Today I say, STAY.

This poem was written by a suicide survivor.

That survivor, is Me.

I wrote this poem, early in the morning of April 16th, 2021. I chose this date for a few reasons and I focused on it for a very long time. I had a plan for that day, but thankfully, that plan never happened. It was a good day.

On May 4, 2021 at around 5:30 A.M., I tried to end my life. I ended up in the hospital that day. But as you can see, I also made it home.

Today is the first time, in any sort of public setting, I have acknowledged this journey that I have been on. And it’s been quite the journey.

As much as I hate some of the places and experiences my mental illness has dragged me down to, I’m grateful it’s put me in the valleys, only to show me there are peaks. It’s dragged me through the dark, but it also reminded me that there is light. My pain has given me perspective and my hurt has forced me to have hope and to have faith. Faith in myself. Faith in others. Faith that it can get better.

And it does get better. It gets way better.

It has taught me that yes, we can speak up, speak out and fight back against ignorance and break the stigma that surrounds mental health and suicide.

Here are some questions for you:

What would you do if your family member, friend or loved one was suicidal?

What would you say? Would you know what to say?

It’s not just the talking that you do, but the listening.

Listen, to actually listen.

Listen to understand.

Listen without judgement.

Don’t argue, don’t blame.

For most suicidal people, or those contemplating suicide, they wouldn’t think of hurting another person, especially the people they love. They just want their own pain to end.

Listen. Let them speak and listen.

By just being there, by just listening, you may just be the turning point that they need. That connection, that bridge that’s made, is something that each and every one of us should strive to do.

If you are someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide, please talk about it; please get help. It’s a conversation worth having. Please don’t be afraid to speak up and shatter the silence. There is help. There is hope. 

The world I believe in, is one where embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark. The world I believe in, is one where we’re measured by our ability to overcome adversities, not avoid them. We are people and we struggle, we suffer and we cry, and if you think that true strength means never showing any weakness, you’re wrong, because it’s the opposite. We’re not perfect, and that’s okay. 

I don’t know what the solution is, but I know that part of it has to start with me and it has to start with you. We all know what it is to hurt. We all know what it is to have pain in our heart, and we all know how important it is to heal. Right now, mental illness is like society’s deep cut, that we’re content to put a Band-Aid over and pretend it’s not there. 

But it is there.

Mental illness is not a choice. But stigma and ignorance are.

So, we need to stop the ignorance, stop the stigma, and stop the silence. Take a look at the truth and start talking, because the only way we’re going to beat a problem that people are battling alone, is by standing strong together.

Thank you, to all of you who shared your stories today. By sharing your stories, we remind those with mental illness and their supporters that, You are not alone and Your story isn’t over. You are so beyond loved, and your life matters so much to everyone around you – including me. So many others out here care for you and want you to live. So many people can’t imagine their life without you in it. Please stay.

To the ones we have lost. I promise to never stop shining a light on the darkness that stole you from us.

To everyone here today, I leave you with this message:

Bring love wherever you go.

Leave blessings wherever you’ve been.

Shine light wherever it’s dark.

And remember, please be kind, wherever you are.

Thank you for listening.

"My story starts before I was born…"

A mother that didn’t want to be pregnant at a young age that led to her to a hatred of me. I fell into trying to be perfect to gain her attention. Failing at every turn. Alone, different, and rejected. This spiraled out of control. I tried to kill myself multiply times before 12. I was sexually abused, verbally abused, emotionally abused and physically abused my entire childhood existence. I was raped, and abused by parental figures and boyfriends. I was cold, bitter, and angry, unfulfilled, and didn’t care whom I stepped on in the ladder to be the best of the best to earn approval. Never touched drugs, and didn’t drink until well into my 20’s. I had many relationships with women, and men. Still always looking for approval. I aborted a child at 19, after a rape. I locked my heart into a cold tomb for safety. I miscarried a baby at 25, which spiraled me to try to kill myself four times in the same week. As I was trying the 5th time, I stopped and told myself “THIS ISN’T YOU.”

At this point I was well into a career with government, on top of the world, so to speak. I hated my life. I hated not feeling. I put myself into a behavioral health center and began the journey to heal. When I was done I found myself at a church… this is when God began helping with my healing. A Pastor pressed my buttons until that cold tomb broke open and God has poured my heart out since. Am I perfect? No. I have a long way to go, but I am nowhere near where I was. It has taken me 10 years of solid hard work to get to where I am.

With God’s grace and direction and people to support me along the way I have grown. I can now have healthy relationships with people. I can display an array of emotions instead of just angry and happy. I know my worth and I know what is ok and not ok. I feel incredible peace. I am not on any medicine of any sort. I still battle with depression on occasion, and find that gratitude and appreciation to God has helped tremendously in this department. I don’t desire to die and for the first time in my existence I have purpose on this earth. I am a missionary. I share love across the world and I love people that don’t get love. I have learned the true meaning of Love through Christ and I have never felt more “full” internally then I do now. So, if I can encourage you… keep going, don’t give up. Find someone to talk to, there are resources. God will provide people. Your story is not over.


life is filled with blessings. as hard as it is, perspective is contentment’s friend. we know these things yet i’m so sad. i’m content with life. i’m grateful for all that i’ve been blessed with and for every breath that presents me with the here and now. yet my here and now feels like it’s melting. sometimes the universe collides us with an intergalactic soul that both balls of light undeniably recognize as a moment in time that may mean just about as much or more than any other interaction fate has dealt them with. soul bond feels too discharged of a term to describe the intertwining. almost as if this intertwining was a member of our wiring from the v beginning. we had just yet to stumble upon the first leaf. now it’s a forest fire. and there’s no going back. and she feels our paths will inevitably cross once again. should they? i certainly would be enchanted if they did. but for now everything is clouded and hazy. like trying to walk through a maze when it’s rainy. little did we know each foot step tilled the soil for new grains to grow. the tears flow. hand in hand with a smile as we think about her glow. radiant, luminous, my heart’s foe. peace and blessings below. i hope i never brought her any pain. and i hope i never ever do. she wishes to never hurt me either. we are both in a dark place. darkness is now my friend. we are content. a symbiotic relationship arranged. with time love conquers all. i pray her heart finds the peace and solace it seeks. if i never see her face, i’d mind. but less so if i just know that she’s okay. she cares about me a lot. i care about her a lot. time and place are only friends of space. travel through the galaxies here and now. you are the strongest person i know. you have a light that would dampen the glow of a thousand suns. you are the moon. the ever present glow i see when i look up. i adore you but am not attached to you. my attachment is only to God. for peace, love, community, and sanctuary for all. you are my second favorite thing. i hope that’s okay. you are the present embodiment of my favorite thing. a way in which He shows himself to me. through you. by showing me that such magnanimous energy truly exists in the world. and that you are just a glimpse of that. you are my v special glimpse. and this glimpse is my whole view. shining through and through. lc, hope you see it too.

"My story is far from being finished."

My story is one that has been in the making for close to ten years now.
Like the seasons, it’s ebbed and flowed. Some seasons being shorter and sweeter than others. But tis life I suppose.

In it’s simplest form, I’ve struggled with depression and self harm for almost ten years now, with two suicide attempts in that time span as well.

I buried my dad when I was 13. I buried my mom when I was 25.
I’m now 26. And an only child. So as you can imagine, I’ve had to bear the brunt of the reality of being without my parents for the rest of my days on this earth.

Self harm became my way of escaping when I was 17. By the time I was 23 and still struggling, I realized that self harm was much more than I ever thought it would be. With some scars faded and others still very much visible, it’s taken a long time to lay this in it’s entirety at the feet of Jesus.

Hope was something that I never thought possible. It was something that I never thought I could have. Recovery seemed like this fairy tale and I figured out at a young age that fairy tales didn’t exist.

But then I met an incredible group of people that made my story part of their own. And with that, recovery became intentional. And messy. And beautiful.

Through every slip and relapse, they have been there. They were living out the mission of the church. They were my hope on the days that I had none. And when I buried my mom, they were my strength. They refused to stop loving me and refused to let go. The fought. Some days harder than others, but they still fought. For me. For my story.

There is something so simple and yet so peaceful about feeling a breeze blow through the trees. It’s refreshing. It’s renewing. It’s healing.

I feel the love of my parents and other loved ones that I’ve lost in those breezes. I feel His love in those breezes.
I see His love in the face of my students.
I see His love intertwined in the precious stories I’ve had the privilege of hearing.

I am more than the scars that are scattered across my body.
I am more than the two suicide attempts.
I am more than every relapse I’ve ever had.
I am more than those moments.
And I am more because of those moments.

My story is far from being finished.
Hope is very much alive.
It’s alive in all of us.
Sometimes it gets hard to hear, but it’s always there.
Always whispering.

"Mental War Veteran"

I always had extremes of emotions as a child. What I felt, I felt with my entire being, deep in my gut, chest, mind. I was a strong-willed, stubborn, fearless girl with an acute sense of  justice that I advocated for with the same passion I had for stories and art. I could feel what others were feeling; if they were hurting, I hurt too. So I did whatever I could to ease their pain or make things right. When I was seven, a classmate told me that her mother had hit her over the weekend and I took her by the hand and strode into the staff room and demanded a word with our teacher. When I was eight or nine, two girls who used to bully me had a falling out and one of them mobilised the rest of the class against the other, chasing her around the school yard and throwing pebbles at her from the climbing frame. I sat with her as she cried behind the school building, with my arm around her shoulders and told her things would be alright. By lunchtime the two girls had made up again, and I was the one being pelted with pebbles. I don’t remember minding it all that much.

I had many friends growing up, more than I wanted. I remember feeling hounded when other kids came knocking on my door or called the house phone, or insisted we ask my parents at the end of the school day if we could arrange to play after school. And it wasn’t just because it takes a lot out of me to connect with people, because I always give a person my all while I’m with them and take on all of their emotions on top of my own, which can be exhausting. It was because most of the time I preferred to be alone, because my inner life was usually richer than the outside world, especially when I felt forced to engage with my peers for too long. I usually found that they weren’t as imaginative as I was, and their minds didn’t seem to run as fast, so to be on the same page, we usually had to focus on physical play, like games and sports, or climbing rocks and trees, or building treehouses, or swimming, all of which I enjoyed, but not as much as my favourite game, which was to make up stories or travel in my mind. That’s literally all I did, whenever I was left alone. Whether I was in my room, or in the backyard of our house, all I did was walk around in a circle and escape into mind.

It never occurred to me that we didn’t show or talk about feelings in my family. I was very emotional growing up, without my parents modelling the behaviour, but I never needed to talk about my feelings, they were just there. Then my grandmother died, and everything changed. I was experiencing emotions and thoughts I’d never encountered before, trying to wrap my eight-year-old mind around the concept of existence and non-existence, whilst subconsciously taking in my parents’ reactions to their own grief, which was to hide and repress. And slowly but steadily, a new emotion started growing inside me — shame — and it felt heavy and sticky, smothering all the others and weighing me down.

By the time I was twelve, my once impenetrable self-esteem bordering on grandiosity was demolished, my tears had dried up, my chest and gut gone into lockdown. The existential thoughts and questions were still prominent in my mind, stirring up all sorts of emotions in me, but shame shot them down before they could reach me and replaced them with anger and self-harm urges. I was diagnosed with depression and sent to a child psychologist, but I didn’t trust him or anyone else with my thoughts and feelings. I started building a wall around myself, so that no-one could get too close. If they managed to get inside, I left. I dissociated.

My teens and early- to mid-twenties were tumultuous, I had recurring depressions with suicidal ideation that sometimes escalated to suicidal behaviour and attempts, interspersed with undiagnosed hypomanic episodes that gave me bursts of passion and creativity that were like echoes of my childhood self’s inner voice unchained and confident, that kept pushing me to stay alive and stay creative, ambitious, stubborn.

The storms in my mind got really bad sometimes, and there were several times when I nearly didn’t make it. But I always got back on track. I always dusted myself off and re-focused on my path. Over the years, before and after I finally got my diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder at the age of twenty-five, I developed several coping strategies and most of them were very unhealthy, some even destructive.

I was twenty-eight when I fully realised all of this on a conscious level and twenty-nine when I started working on changing this. I was thirty when I thought I had it all figured out and thirty-one when I realised I’d been outwitted by my own brain and had simply replaced the obvious outrageously self-destructive strategies with more subtle ones. I was frustrated, to say the least.

In the Doctor Who episode “The Rebel Flesh,” as Miranda Cleaves is radioing for help, she figured the clones (called the Gangers) might be listening in and takes the precaution of giving the mainland a code word for future transmissions, so they’ll know it’s really her and not her Ganger trying to make contact. She says, “I’m typing it, in case they’re listening in.”

Her Ganger, who is indeed listening in to the transmission, comments: “Oof. See how smart I am. That’s why I’m paid the big bucks…” and later on, when she and the other Gangers are trying to change the orders and she is asked about the code word, she instinctively knows what it is, because her brain is an exact replica of her human counterpart. Cleaves thought of the code word, so she can think of the code word. This is what it’s like battling an enemy set on destroying you, when that enemy lives inside your head.

It was a long and arduous process to unlock my emotions after having spent over a decade repressing them and it’s been an even longer process to learn how to have those emotions without shame and to regulate and manage them without resorting to my old, self-destructive strategies. At thirty-five years old I’m still figuring out how to do this half the time, but with the help of my slowly but steadily  growing support network and a couple of years of therapy with a councillor who would call me on my shit, I have all but replaced all of my unhealthy coping strategies with healthy ones.

Things were really bad for a really long time, and I had about five close calls. It genuinely feels like I’ve fought my way through Hell and come out on the other side battered and bruised but ultimately reborn as the person I was meant to be, the person I started out as before the war in my mind started. It’s been almost two years since I thought about killing myself and today I finally got my semi-colon tattoo. 

"This Is My Story"

Everyone has a story to tell, what’s yours?

"Don’t feel guilty about your struggle. Embrace it. Let it make you stronger."

There is freedom waiting for you,

On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask ”What if I fall?”

Oh but my darling, what if you fly?

– Erin Hanson

The way I view life now, at 31, vastly differs from the way I viewed life at 10, 16, 21… and I think that’s the beauty in this crazy world. As children, we don’t know what life is about. We aren’t born with an innate understanding of our existence. We don’t hold all the answers about our future. Most of us don’t even have the answers as adults. We learn as we go. With life lessons at every turn, we can stumble along the way. Some of us are pushed harder than we think we can handle. We all have our personal threshold. It’s getting past that threshold and finding the power to persevere that allows us to see the strength within ourselves. This isn’t a story of depression or loss. It is my story of struggle and celebration. I am one of many girls who has conquered her demons and views life as something to be cherished. HOPE IS ALIVE.

I grew up in the Midwest, in a nice community, with minimal crime and plenty of opportunity. I had decent clothes. I participated in sports and music clubs. My dad read to my classrooms and my mom was a room parent. My little sister is a naturally gifted student. We had a seemingly great life. Like all households, we also had our fair share of secrets. To the outside world we probably seemed like a happy little family. Sometimes this was true. Often times, not.

Life was extremely hard in our house. It was a constant roller coaster. My once funny, energetic dad grew tired and drained over the years. My mother teetered between a supportive, soccer mom and a pill-popping zombie. From one day to the next, I never knew if my parents were going to be amazing, fun-loving parents or drunk, drugged, resentful, and angry. It became easier to assume the worse and in an effort to avoid the chaos, my sister frequently locked herself in her room and I took the opportunity to be out of the house as much as possible.

Outside the house, I tried hard to fit in and be accepted. I wanted to be happy but the pressure I put on myself to be anything than who I was, put me in a constant battle with myself. As a little kid I let myself get pushed around in an effort to go along with the in-group. Going through those awkward preteen years, I was mousy, brace-faced, and had the WORST haircuts. I put on a happy little face and jumped into conversations and hung out with everyone I could but I never really “fit”… or at least I never felt like I did. As an adult, I am learning that so many kids feel this way. Often times, the most talented, creative, special kids are the ones who don’t fit the mold.

The first time I remember thinking about hurting myself, I wasn’t much older than my own children. I was so dramatic at that age. The scary thing is that while I was young, what seemed like childish tantrums, turned into something darker. I became someone who used self-harming as an escape. As I got older, I beat myself up more and more about how worthless I was. The problems at home grew worse, and as high school went on and teenagers develop as they do, trying to find their place among friends within social circles, I felt even more alone. I hung out with more people than ever, but I never had one group. And while I wasn’t a “loner”, I was a floater. What I am coming to realize is there are SO MANY of us out there. For those of you who don’t know what I am talking about, next time you are out, take a look at a group of kids. See that girl or boy that seems happy but is standing just a few feet back, out of the circle, and looking around or uncomfortably smiling…. you found her/him. We’re EVERYWHERE blending in like happy little teenagers, when in reality our head is screaming. I don’t know why. I still don’t have that answer.

So what changed? One of my attempts, became bolder than usual and there was no turning back. For a buildup of reasons and problems throughout the years that I never really faced or got help with, combined with an isolated incident of teenage heartbreak, my beautiful disaster of a brain became so overwhelmed. I was DONE. First, I sat on a railroad track, I felt guilty for the train engineer that would have to live with the repercussions of my choice, so I bought a couple bottles of OTC drugs and started swallowing. When I started to feel sick, I would wait a few minutes, swallow back down the sickness, and keep at it. It took me over an hour to take that many pills. Of course, I didn’t research any of this or know what would happen, so when all I felt was a little nauseous, I assumed my attempt had failed. I drove around aimlessly, upset, crying, and feeling even guiltier. I felt worse about myself. The rest is a jumbled mess of confusion. I told a friend what had happened, and that it hadn’t worked. What I didn’t realize was that during those past hours, my liver was getting pushed to the limit. I started sweating, my heart was pounding, I was dizzy, and it all kind of became a whirl-wind. I drove around, to a friend’s house (where my dad tried to get me help and I kept refusing), and then home, dangerously confused and dizzy. This is when I realized that I probably was dying. I didn’t want help. I just wanted to be left alone. My friend had followed me to my house, pulled me out of my car as I was passing out and sick, put me in her back seat, and brought me to the ER. They did everything they could to prevent liver damage and told us that we’d have to wait it out. A week later, after psych evals and blood tests galore, it was determined that my liver had started to regenerate and I was lucky. I didn’t feel lucky. I felt even worse because now I was a freak show. My closet-kept depression became fully public. I felt judged and miserable. Something needed to change.

The years between that horrible week in 2002 and now have brought so many changes. I joined the Army that year and I became a suicide prevention advocate. I started a little self-help group in Basic Training and AIT to help people talk through depression. The more I let others share their stories with me, the less guilty I felt about my own. Helping others started to help me feel like it could be possible to find happiness. I still battled feelings of worthlessness and emptiness here and there which I filled with bad choices and parties but in 2004, I was met with the challenge of becoming a mother. A single mother was not a title I ever saw myself claiming, but I knew God had put this together for me and when I saw my son’ face, I knew my purpose. Now it is 2015, and I am a wife to an amazing man and a mother to three beautiful children. I find happiness in helping others and helping teenagers find their place in the world. I decided to go back to school to base a career around this outlook. I am choosing to love life. I am learning to use the pain and turn it into something beautiful.

Do I still struggle? Absolutely. Is it worth it? No question. I wish someone would have told me when I was younger that even though life would be a series of struggles, the darkness would eventually lead to a better understanding of the light within myself.  Don’t feel guilty about your struggle. Embrace it. Own it. Let it make you stronger. Know that hope is alive and you are so worth the fight.

Photo Credits: Brett Brooner

"A Story of Redemption"

This is a story of redemption. Of how one man finally gave way to the force of the death drive to be reborn with purpose based in passion. Being an empathic person can be exhausting and overwhelming. In this culture we’ve elevated reason and thinking and denigrated feelings so we’ve lost a lot of our natural abilities. Some people are still extreme sensitives when it comes to feeling emotions. As you can imagine this can get overwhelming. When you don’t understand what is happening or how to manage the experience this becomes a great weight rather than the gift it ultimately can be. In our modern world, it’s easy for a young man to get lost and hard to find himself. This is that story.

From an early age Jimi had an innate curiosity coupled with a core desire to create. This was his identity. Being an introvert Jimi observed people intently to understand them better. He would take things apart and rebuild them just to see how they worked. Math and Science came naturally to him, but school wasn’t his strong suit. Not feeling accepted or understood and being a headstrong teenager, he took what he calls a “hiatus from life”. Looking back, he can see much of this was a reaction to the underlying core issues from his childhood and his ambivalence about his own self-worth as people get measured in our society. He tried anything and everything to numb out this core existential pain. Drugs, alcohol, partying, sex, acting out without regard to his own wellbeing or for the impact on those around him. When you don’t feel that you matter or that you belong you might have the same attitude: burn it all down. Jimi proceeded to take it to the bottom and found himself addicted to heroin, shooting up to numb out the underlying emotional pain.

The call to create continued to simmer even beneath the outward destruction of his life. He happened to see a commercial for the Art Institute and decided he might like to become a designer. This evolved from making graphics and ads to designing tools and processes to simplify the human experience. Jimi found he had a unique ability to combine the creative with the logistical – how things work. He spent countless hours interviewing people, facilitating workshops, and trying to understand the psychology behind what makes people tick. What he discovered was that feelings are what guide most decisions. Jimi happens to be an INFP – the natural empath – they feel other people’s emotions in a tangible way. They easily absorb them as well if they haven’t been taught to set healthy boundaries or if they don’t realize what is actually happening. This readily explains why he spent so much of his early life avoiding and self-medicating all the feelings that were such a constant presence. Overwhelming. The addictions and isolation were the moments of temporary relief. Coping mechanisms that became maladaptive behaviors over time.

Eventually things catch up. Eventually things go sideways. Eventually it falls apart. There is only so long and so much one person can contain before they can’t handle it anymore. The death drive once again came knocking. In an attempt to end his own life, he injected almost 20 times the normal dose of narcotics. The attempt would leave Jimi convulsing on his garage floor near death seeing it all happen. Everything. Up close and personal he saw the struggle pushing and pulling him from this physical existence into the spiritual realm. The pull back to his physical body won out and he woke up in the hospital with a full memory of everything that transpired even though to the medical team he wasn’t awake or aware.

Near-death experiences can be life changing. Well this got Jimi’s attention. He was determined to let go of the compulsion for financial success – an addiction really – and find what purpose he is still alive for. To find where he would find emotional meaning, his passion. He now knew two things he actually needed other people and he wanted to create.
Paint reveals on the surface what is happening inside. Creating art is now what keeps Jimi sane in the craziness of our culture. He learned that he no longer has to keep feelings bottled up as his personal perception shifts to make room for his expression. Painting has become as necessary to him as air, food and water. It’s his constant reminder to stay in the present and go with the flow. It allows him to give expression to the things he doesn’t have words for, and has taught him to stop hiding who he is, who “Jimi” is at his core, and to step beyond the fear of rejection. There are layers above and below; there is always something more than meets the eye. Jimi paints so that the eye can see what the inner eye knows. Each piece tells a story, provides release, and allows him to process emotions.

Just as you might not know it just by looking at Jimi, nothing exists as it appears. You wouldn’t begin to fathom how he actually got to where he is today, through the darkness and destruction to creativity and connection. So, with his art. The flow of paint is informed by feelings and experiences, intentions, and the will of the Universe. Using colors and motion…” What gives him the most inspiration is observing how people react to his art. Most will see various objects, people or animals in his work. Jimi likes people to interpret his art in their own way because, at an emotional level, everyone sees different things that come through that connect to them as an individual. In the end Jimi’s art is redemptive. His own ongoing reclamation of himself, but also a redemptive payment towards facilitating the experience of others. Jimi’s work offers a space that allows the art to speak to the soul. Emotionally. A conduit of connection to themselves and their own inner world of meaning and purpose.

"I have a blessing that God gave me; running."

It all started when I was in Jr. High. Nobody could understand how a kid who was always happy, smiling and telling jokes, suddenly started being afraid of everything and depressed about “simple” things. My mom decided to take me to the psychologist and after some treatment; the psychologist thought it’d be a better idea to go with a psychiatrist who started giving me anti-depressants.

Things didn’t change much as I continued with suicidal thoughts and going from medicine to medicine, I felt like I was a guinea pig for the doctor. I started going out more but only so I can have an excuse to drink, it was a long-term suicide but as the drinks kept coming the mood swings got bigger and bigger until I started seeing other doctors who all agreed that I didn’t have depression but bipolar disorder type two.

My family supported me but somehow didn’t give my disorder as much attention as they would give to any other disease. I screamed quietly for help while drinking to hide from myself. I saw many other doctors but I kept bouncing from one to another because they all said that I should be in a mental hospital but my parents weren’t ok with this idea. This is where the stigma started to kick me hard and I couldn’t find a way out but only ending with my own life.

I remember that day when I had my first suicide attempt; I was at my brother’s house and I was feeling at peace with myself. My job in this life was done so after a talk with my brother, I took a bottle of rum and some anxiolytics I had hidden in my backpack. I took them and swallowed them with almost half the bottle, then I waited for everything to kick in. I woke up in a hospital with some tubes inside my nose and the image of my brother crying.

After that attempt my parents watched me closer but still refused to put me in a mental hospital. I kept dealing with alcohol and some drugs came to seduce me. From wine to wine, bed to bed, party to party I was lost inside my pain but the outside wasn’t a day in the park either. It was no one but me calling death, I took dangerous roads trying to find a feeling that would kill the one I was having. So one day, out of the blue, I took my car and drove while drinking a bottle of whiskey, I stopped at a strip club to watch a “friend” dance and also, of course, the rest of the girls. I got drunk and decided to hit back home but on my way out some guy started pushing me for no reason. He then took a small baseball bat and hit me with it… I don’t remember much but some pieces in my memory tell me that I woke up in some street, hurt and with my face all disfigured, I looked like a monster, now not only from the inside.

I had some brain damage and stayed in the hospital for one week and a half, my sense of smell and taste don’t work the way the used to and since then I became more aggressive and started hallucinating.

After trying different kinds of medicine and my parents still refusing to follow the doctor’s advice to put me in a mental hospital, I found on the Internet a 10k race. To be honest I still don’t know why I chose to do it, maybe it was the eco of my parents and ex-girlfriend saying that I was so unstable that I couldn’t finish anything. It wasn’t a big deal but I wanted to show them that I could finish a race. I prepared for it, ran it and finished it.

I noticed that running kept me motivated and away from alcohol, I followed racing plans to finish other races but in one of my trainings I broke my ligament. I had a surgery, an implant and terrible news; after my knee rehab I couldn’t run but only short distances… so my demons came back with bottles of wine.

A year after, I got tired of it all, tired of not being able to run, not being able to feel stable. I began to run again and thought that if I could handle inner pain, physical pain wouldn’t be a thing and if I could drink to death, I could run, either way I was harming my body.

I can say now that alcohol isn’t an issue now and I’ve ran 6 marathons, an ultra marathon and tons of half marathons without having to visit the doctor again. My knee is fine and I’m better, I still struggle with hallucinations, my bad temper and mood swings, but now I have a blessing that God gave me; running.

"My life in a nutshell"

I started out as well a typical kid

  1.  7th birthday afterwards I was walking my good friend and brother home, he got shot and killed in a drive-by
  2. Transgender male to female unaccepted by her parents killed herself in front of me
  3. Lost the woman that raised me, my grandma
  4. Tried to kill myself at 15 using a .22 Ruger Bearcat revolver
  5. Years of prescription meds that made it worse than it was
  6. Started living on the streets day by day never knowing if tomorrow would come
  7. After 6 long years of that I fell in love with a man I never would have in my wildest dreams thought I would find

I still have spouts of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. But at least now it’s manageable

"Staying Strong!"

Hello Everyone!

I’m 36, divorced, I haven’t seen my kids in years, and I have a history of substance use, BPD, Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD. I have been in an out of therapy and hospitals since I was about 12 years old. I have early stages of fatty liver disease, and I have spent the last week in and out of hospitals dealing with cardiac events ;

My story begins in a the mid 80s where I grew up in a small town that was very “conservative”. Most of the children I went to school with were born and raised farmer-kids, or other labour intensive, and primary resources industries. As such I was bullied CONSTANTLY for being a “nerd” and a “gaylord”. I didn’t even know what gay meant at the time, but I got beat up for it regularly from about 1990 to about 1999. The school discounted it as “boys will be boys”, and I actually got in trouble several times for being too disruptive, for standing up for myself, and/or crying after getting beat up. My father was cold and sort of stoic about the whole thing. He used to call me a baby, and a pussy, and a girl, and told me to stand up for myself. He would often tell me to “stop crying, or he’d give me a reason to cry”. He very rarely actually hit me, but the messaging was very clear. I wasn’t accepted at home, or at school. I wasn’t safe anywhere, and my mom was in denial, and refused to believe me when I told her about school and about dad ;

Staring in about 1995 I became very depressed. from about the ages of 12-19 I was in and out of therapy. I started using drugs and alcohol during this time period as well. I became a huge rebel with(out) a cause. I withdrew from everything other than video games, which I used as a form of escapism. I became “goth” in my late teens, and would self harm in many ways. Anything just to feel something other than the unending numbness and sadness. I attempted to overdose for the first time when I was 19 or 20 ;

Also during this time period I was attempting to come to terms with who I am as a person. I knew my whole life that I “liked boys and girls” and that I related more to women than men. I didn’t know what it all meant, but I always felt like I was different and ostracized because of it. I learnt what bi was when I was around 12, and so I adopted that label for myself, despite not coming out. I also accepted that fact that I am deeply empathic, and that I’m a feminist, and that I just really like fashion, Boy/Girl Bands, pop music, dance music etc. I actually wanted to be a fashion designer for awhile, but people kept telling me that my drawings of women’s fashion were “gay”, so I closeted that ambition ;

My mental health spiraled out of control in the 2000s and 2010s. I spent my time drinking, using substances, smoking cigarettes’, and drinking coffee and energy drinks. I have four beautiful children now, partially due to unsafe sex practices relating to my mental health and addiction issues. I used to go to clubs, raves, and bars almost weekly, and I would get extremely intoxicated. My now-ex-wife threatened to leave me if I didn’t stop using drugs and going to parties all the time, so in about 2012 or 2013 I quit using, and drinking, for approximately 18 months, and my mental health deteriorated rapidly because I felt like I was isolated, and I felt like a captive. I had crazy victim mentality, and I had never properly addressed any of my mental health issues. I felt like I woke up from a 10+ year “dream” from all the drugs and alcohol, and I felt like a child trapped in a man’s body. And I had four kids and a wife to try and support and care for! My ex-wife tried to play the parent role for awhile, she wouldn’t let me see my friends, she wouldn’t let me drink, or smoke cigarettes etc. Any time I’d slip up she’d threaten to leave me and take my kids from me. She blamed me for everything that was wrong in our lives. She was a total gas-lighter. Eventually she got fed up with it. She started having an affair, which she denies, but it was unofficially confirmed by staff at the Carleton University health center when I had to go get tested for the Herpes that she suddenly acquired.  I didn’t have it though, so clearly it came from somewhere else. She then left me for the guy I thought she was having an affair with, and they now live together ;

With my ex-wife’s betrayal I had a severe mental health breakdown. I began using and drinking more than ever before. I often felt like my body was trying to “shut down” because of the amount of chemicals I was using. I was prepared to do anything to “feel better” and/or “stay numb”. I eventually stopped doing anything other than drinking and using. I wouldn’t leave the house, I had everything ordered in, and I stopped doing any sort of self-care, I was praying for death because I was “too weak” to actively attempt to self harm again. And this is when things got even worse ;

My now-ex-wife started calling CAS on me any time she heard from anybody that I was drinking, regardless of whether I was with the kids or not. And eventually she was granted “temporary full custody” as I was a “risk” to my children due to my use, and my depression. Removing my children from me caused me to spiral even further, and I attempted suicide by vehicle. I got drunk and intentionally crashed into a highway underpass. I was ejected from the vehicle, the vehicle flipped on top of me, and caught fire. I don’t recall any of this, but it was described to me as such by the police when I came to. They had to use the jaws of life and a fire crew to save me. I spent the next month or so in the hospital recovering from my injuries, both mental and physical ;

My ex-wife used this information to continue to keep my children from me for awhile, which caused me a great deal of mental anguish, and made it next to impossible to focus on my recovery, or my sobriety, and as such I kept having episodes of depression, and binge drinking. Finally after what felt like years of fighting we got a Final Divorce Order which stated that I could see the kids every second weekend, and keep in touch with them over the phone/email/etc.  I was sooo excited to see the girls again that I “needed” to have a couple of beers before I picked them up “to calm my nerves”. I was then pulled over for a DUI. My ex-wife used this as evidence that I should not be allowed to see my kids, and was granted full custody, access at her discretion. She has used that to mean that I shouldn’t have any access to my children for the last 5 years. This sent me into yet an even deeper spiral ;

I spent from about 5 years ago to this year in and out of hospitals, on disability, in and out of rehabs, and homeless or couch surfing. I started going to AA, got back into churchy stuff, I addressed my mental health issues, such as my PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. I was helped by The Ottawa Hospital, The Royal Ottawa Hospital, The Salvation Army, The Shepherd’s of Good Hope, and most importantly The Ottawa Mission. I had people from all of these places working with me to help me finally get better, and more importantly I WANTED to get better, I WANTED to be able to be there for my kids. In February of this year I had what I am hoping was my final major mental health crisis. I landed myself back in the hospital for about a month during COVID. I used all this time of isolation with only medical staff, my phone, and myself to comfort me, and it was here where I finally grasped that if I was going to get anywhere in life, I was going to have to start taking care of me ;

My work from home job fired me for “attendance issues” despite me providing them with constant updates from my attending physician, but instead of dragging me down that empowered me to advocate for myself. I started searching for the job I deserved instead of the job that would take me, and I managed to land an absolutely amazing gig at a local animal hospital! My years of therapy and self-reflection have made me well suited for helping people with their pets, and now that I’m clean and sober, and weened off the myriad of meds I was on my empathy can shine through. It is extremely challenging dealing with some of the sicker animals, I often cry when a pet passes away, but I wouldn’t trade my new career for anything ;

My work, and my family is also very accepting of LGBT+ folks. One of my sisters is trans and bi and several other people in my family identify as or are partnered with LGBT+ folks in one way or another. It is because of my little sister that I learnt about gender identity, and the “newer” LGBT+ letters, so I started to do some research on my own, and came to believe that pansexual suits me best. I love hearts, the parts are secondary. I also identify as sapiosexual, because other than hearts, I find intelligence extremely attractive. I’ve been trying to reach out to the LGBT+ community, and I volunteered at Pride the two years prior to COVID. My new colleagues also seem extremely accepting, and I finally feel comfortable with who I am ;

Most recently, I started having cardiac issues on August 12th, I spent Friday in the Civic Hospital where I was discriminated against for my mental health issues, even though they are completely managed. I advocated for myself and was seen and helped by my family doctor. He advised me to go back to the Hospital, I went to a different hospital, the QCH in Ottawa, and I was again incorrectly triaged due to my history of mental health, but I stayed, I waited about 5 hours to see a doctor. I insisted that I was having cardiac issues, and he AGREED! We couldn’t figure out the root cause though, so I am still in distress. I was referred to the heart specialists at the QCH, and I am awaiting there call from home ;

So this is my coming out story, my mental health story, my advocacy story, and my shout out to you all, “You are loved. I love you. Things can get better if you just keep on trying. Take it one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. Just remember to breath! Take deep breaths, focus on your heart, tell your heart to relax! Tell yourself that you’re OK! Even if you don’t believe it, just keep telling yourself! And if you need help, keep reaching out until you get it!! You are not alone. Every single person that suffers from mental health issues is in my thoughts and prayers. I’m sending good vibes out to the universe. I’m sending good vibes to you!” ;



"I felt like a lost cause, Damaged beyond repair."

Hello, my name is Dillon Tate and I am a musician. I have struggled with my health since I was young; constantly battling depression and exhaustion, which has plagued me with night terrors, self-esteem issues, negative thoughts and suicidal tendencies. Throughout my teenage years I pursued relationships, in hopes that their acceptance would drown out my discomfort in which I felt towards myself. No matter how much time I heard the words “I love you” I rejected them. How can anyone actually love me, when I can’t even love myself? I forgot what happiness felt like. In fact, I believed I was incapable of it; for anything that brought me joy in the past had been taken away, or became unappealing. I was unable to engage myself with anything; the weight of my depression stopped me. I became consumed in despair, bitter and frustrated, and believed that no one understood, and that I was a lost cause, Damaged beyond repair. I first considered suicide at the age of 20 in hopes to put a rest to these thoughts. The people surrounding me made me think twice about it, but instead of accepting their love and support, in my ignorance, I came to the conclusion – They needed to go if I was going to go through with this. I then became reckless, purposely destroying friendships and medicating myself in attempt to numb the pain and escape how alone I felt. But escaping the pain became harder as time went on and my tolerance increased, taking away the last bit of control that I felt I had. I felt sheer panic. I then fell into trouble with the law, which took 4 years of my life. I rejected support groups that were offered. I was convinced they wouldn’t help. I had been put on medication but gave up on it and stopped seeing my doctor out of frustration. When I was 25, I attempted suicide, in hope to end my struggle. Since then, my life has been spared twice, in two fatal car crashes; I miraculously walked away from both with minor injuries.

At the beginning of April 2015 I reached out to Amy, founder of Project Semicolon. Through the semicolon symbol, many relate to the struggle of depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide and their will to continue on. The title, “Project Semicolon,” also represents a goal – to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.

After seeing the amount of support and people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well, I was encouraged and made the decision to continue mine as well. I am now currently under the care of Fraser Health taking steps towards recovery. MY STORY ISN’T OVER YET.

"It gets eas;er"

My name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic.

My story is not far different than others that deal with addiction. I grew up in a divorced family with alcoholism in both sides. From the age of 12 I’ve never felt I belonged anywhere. Being half Mexican in a small town made me an outcast in all social circles in grade & middle school. Too brown or too white for my peers. That all changed when I began drinking. I was a fun guy who liked to party and used alcohol & drugs to fit in.

In my early adult years I worked at a brewpub my disease took off. Being “the kid” there I again was again using to fit in with the older crowd. I eventually married and had two kids and stopped drinking for eight years.

My sobriety though took a very hard toll on me as I had no recovery program and became a very depressed & resentful dry drunk. I gad threatened suicide to my wife several times and at one point slit my wrists but in a way that was not life threatening. I romanticized death often.

Eventually I started drinking again and it progressively got out of control. My wife despised me and my parenting suffered. I had an affair and gave up on my marriage. In a Hail Mary attempt to save our family after a brief separation we tried to give it one last try. My wife ended up having affairs with several men while in a vacation as what she felt was revenge. That night I tried to drink myself to death. I was done. Fortunately I failed yet again at suicide.

Three days later I went to rehab and a month later graduated and went back to an empty home. My wife left me. I started a long distance relationship with a woman I felt understood me like nobody could. She stuck by my side for 3.5 years but after 2 relapses I was too much for her. It wasn’t the drinking but my mental health.

Looking back now I clearly had no self esteem. Every time good things happened to me I felt I didn’t deserve it. I actively sabotaged myself even in what seemed the strongest of recoveries. I felt suicidal again for the first time in many years. Through therapy and AA I’ve now that if I never forgave myself for my past I will never love myself. And no matter how hard anyone tried I could never accept their love until I accepted my own.

Since then I’ve truly eliminated my self loathing by facing the trauma that made me who I am today. I am truly happy for the first time ever at 43 years of age. I understand I’m not a bad person, I’m just a person that made some very bad choices. I am also redeemable and prefer to live for others now while also finally looking out for myself. Life is a healthy balance for me now instead of chaos.

There’s an episode of Bojack Horseman that has a quote I tell myself daily.

”It gets easier. Every day it gets a little easier. But you gotta do it every day. That’s the hard part.” Today I have a daily reprieve because of all the hard work I put in.

I hope this helps anyone that reads this and I’m sure it’s relatable as other people’s stories are to me. I’m grateful that I accepted that it wasn’t the physical act of drinking that was destroying me but instead the untreated mental health or as I say the “why do I drink?”

Thank you for letting me share,

Jeremy N.

"My best friend"

Recently my best friend killed herself, and for a while I just felt so, broken. Like I’d never be whole again. That was until I started getting help, my psychiatrist told me that it wasn’t my fault and that It’ll get better, and it did. And I’m grateful

"Story of Loss When things Fall Apart"

When things fall apart.
It was Saturday July 2, 2016 it was supposed to be a normal drive to pick my son Nicholas from the airport for his summer stay with me in New York, but this was different. My son was in crises and I had plans in place to help. A session with my therapist, meeting some sober folks from the rooms of AA, a mind, body, spirit escape to Letchworth State Park and a beautiful Catskill wedding in a few weeks were meant to be a fresh air mind reset, mental health retreat if you will. He had been struggling with becoming a teenage Dad, juggling a football career and being a senior in High School. I had been sending him to a therapist a few times he said to me Nicholas was “making bad life choices”. Unfortunately, Nicholas never got on the flight that day.

No one completely understood that there was a storm brewing of paramount magnitude. It was an uncomfortable, stressful and heart wrenching the feeling of not being able to reach my son as he was in such despair. I felt as if Nicholas was drowning in complex emotions and situations and I was cemented to the land not able to help. I engaged South Carolina Dept. of Children Protective Services (CPS), certainly they would be proactive in getting my son help. Especially since he didn’t make that flight. I told the CPS worker that he was 17 he was going through many intense life issues on many fronts and I didn’t want him to “fall through the cracks.” The CPS worker did a brief 2 ½ week investigation and came up as “unfounded” and said chances are Nicholas was turning 18 soon and most likely was going to “Fall Through the Cracks”.

Nicholas was this larger then life kid he was 6’4 215 pound with a size 14 shoe, dubbed “Lil Gronk”. Nicholas was a beast of a tight-end for the Fort Dorchester Patriots #85. Nicholas was built to play football he had the passion and preservence for the game. The team went undefeated (15-0) were State Champs of SC and ranked 7th in the nation his junior year. He spent many off seasons training at Clemson Football Camp and had aspirations of attending Clemson after graduation Nicholas was a popular kid not just from being a star athlete but had an amazing light of friends both on and off the gridiron he had a heartfelt compassion and kinship for life. Nicholas had genuine purity and quality about himself, with the sort of wisdom of a beautiful old soul. Nicholas sense of humor could lite up even the darkest of days. This was all spinning, colliding together all the while he was becoming a teenage Dad. Yet, inside Nicholas he was struggling with staying grounded as wanting to be a Dad and wanting to be a raging teen in his senior year.

That storm was fast approaching like no other, it was beneath the surface. Nicholas was starting to numb himself with alcohol and xanax from the pressures of adulting. He was going through tremendous stress and anxiety dealing with heavy life choices. I believe Nicholas also had misdiagnosed TBI from a skateboarding concussion suffered a year or so earlier, not to mention all his football years playing BOTH sides of the ball. Nicholas was also having issues with possible fatty liver syndrome, no one would ever guess he was a Chefs kid, but the connection to the mind gut put him at further risk. Not to mention having many unhealthy life dramas surrounding him. Nicholas started to not enjoy things he once did, he was becoming further detached, feeling as a burden, feeling alone, isolating and taking riskier behaviors.

On August 26th 2016 I called 911 around 1 am in a desperate plea to the North Charleston Police Dept, please help my son I’m worried about him self harming himself. I’ve had many conversations with Nicholas over the years about sex, drugs and rock n roll but never spoke about the demons that plagues us in our heads about self worth and suicide. The Police Officer essentially scolded me on what it means to be a “good father” and never pursued looking for my son that night. Nicholas needed a 72 hour physic evaluation to get safe and work through this moment….It never happened.

On August 28th 2016 that prefect storm was about to happen. In a moment when he was trying to get off xanax, a series of life events happened. Nicholas was already feeling depressed, feeling of burdened, full of guilt, shame, not being worthy life and somehow life would be better without him, his own mind was twisted against himself. In an emotionally charged impulsive moment my son went into his garage and took his own life. He hung himself, he had struggled to get out but he couldn’t and all the lines of help failed him. I know in my heart that night was just a horrible accident, the effects of the xanax with the withdrawals and he took something to far and it can never be undone nor ever walked back. Nicholas’ future was so bright it was just a rough hard time he was going through he never meant to leave this world and his children everything just became completely unwound in that moment and became something he couldn’t walk back. My son’s life and mine are now a cautionary tale.

What happens when things just fall apart and the person you once where no longer exists? When you get throat punched by the universe? When all of your happy day dreams seem so tiny and your nightmares seem so huge? On that one the day horrific day the worst “what if” already has happened. You just keep driving around in the circles of your mind of all the should’ve hv u, could’ve, would’ve and what ifs. It becomes a complete mind fuck and a scar you will always carry.
Over time it ini him doesn’t get better, it just gets different. As a Dad I don’t know what else to do. So I just try to be strong even though I feel weak and completely shattered, I learn to move forward with baby steps one breath at a time. I know I must carry on even though I get lost. There are things in life you never will get over; you’ll just learn to get through and to carry on. There will some-days it rains, some-days it pours but even those storms there is movement and there and again a few rainbows it that is his love. So as I say Goodbye to my son in one form I embrace his LOVE in another form. Nicholas’ light will continue to shine long after his passing beyond the veil.  I will continue to honor my son by telling his story in hopes others can realize that you are not alone and if I stay silent so does the stigma. #85ForLife

"What’s it like"

What’s it like? Let me give you a quick snapshot. On the upswing everyone is your friend. You fear nothing, can do anything, and you are delightful company. Money is no object; sleep – unnecessary. This euphoria continues for a time until your adrenals throw a rod, or something; then, when you least expect it, your mind and body become oddly detached from one another, and you begin to caper around your environment like a racehorse on drugs, unable to prioritize tasks yet unable to sit still. You begin to drop pieces from your daily life so you might manage a smaller and smaller range of obligations; so you occupy less space, like an ever – diminishing target.
Your short term memory becomes approximately one word long. “To do” lists become indispensable; then, one afternoon you find three such lists in your pocket and can’t remember when you made them, or even read parts of them. No activity that normally would be pleasing seems in any way interesting, and you simply idle on high rev, filled with unspent, nervous energy. Your mind is no longer an integral, obedient, friendly companion, but a fearful and errant child that must be beaten into submission day and night.
The routine of your daily life becomes increasingly unpredictable until the day you find yourself in a drug store or a market and can’t remember how you got there or for what purpose. But there you are, trying and failing to count out the change for some incidental purchase, and you think, “Just, damn it! What the hell’s wrong with me? Am I going crazy?”, and you realize you’ve said it aloud. And the lady next in line at the register smiles, locks her eyes on yours, and reaches down slowly, fumbling for her daughter’s hand.


A Story of Redemption


It gets eas;er

Bipolar Disorder

What’s it like


I tried to take out my life in Atacama desert


Story of Loss When things Fall Apart

Borderline Personality Disorder

Staying Strong!