Stories from our Project Semicolon Community

"lc"

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.

"Story Subject To Change, I Hope"

I heard about project semicolon a long time ago when I was given a wristband. The general idea was explained by someone who also experienced mental illness. My friend didn’t have much more information to share, but I wore that wristband every day until it fell off. The idea meant something to me. I needed some kind of reminder.

I had looked for the project online some years ago, but I guess it was being updated, I found an under construction notice, I think.

I am introverted. Telling anything on a site I just found isn’t something I think I can do easily or right away, but this is a first step.

My healthcare providers do what they can. I’m lucky to have them. I am not sure if they can help more than they have. They keep having their hands tied by funding problems and so many people needing help from a small staff. I know at least one of the workers there is having a hard time because they blurted it out. I thought things must really be bad when the professional is talking to the patient. We’re all human, we all have hard times. Maybe I even helped by listening. I hope so.

I think I really need an online support group because I am isolated geographically. I have no idea what kind of story belongs here. I have a couple diagnosed mental illnesses and I have fought them all my life. It’s not a fun or inspiring story and I don’t have special effects to make this more interesting.

The middle of the story is just this: my life is spent fighting a monster and it hasn’t won.

None of the friends I had in the in-person group I was sort of connected to are alive anymore. They didn’t all kill themselves, some fought cancer and lost. They were kind people who were willing to reach out to me. They understood. I can’t wish them alive again, and I don’t know how to make that kind of friend; every single one of them found me.

This is an attempt to reach out. To find people out there. People who understand that faking a smile and nodding doesn’t cut it for deep-seated depression or other illnesses. That playing a cheerful little tune and “looking on the bright side” isn’t a cure-all for genetic disease or a lifetime so full of fighting to stay alive that there was very little energy left to live that life.

I would list more under my mental illness selection, but the site or my brain is not cooperating. It’s not depression alone that I battle, but I guess that’s a start as introductions go.

I hope to update this story once I figure out how this organization works. I hope this story has more chapters, and that they hold something good.

 

"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

"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. 

"What’s it like"

Bipolar
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.

"Stay"

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.

"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.

"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.

"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

"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.

Anxiety

A Story of Redemption

Addiction

It gets eas;er

Bipolar Disorder

What’s it like

Depression

I tried to take out my life in Atacama desert

Suicide

Story of Loss When things Fall Apart

Borderline Personality Disorder

Staying Strong!