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The inspiring reasons people are getting semicolon tattoos

Sarah is a lifestyle writer and travel blogger who can often be found loitering in a cafe with a pot of tea and a good book. Over the last eight years Sarah has lived and worked abroad in the United Kingdom, Spain and Colombia and has tr...

Here's why getting a semicolon tattoo is breaking down mental health stigma

From SheKnows Australia
If you'd asked author Kurt Vonnegut what a semicolon was, he probably would have told you that it's an unnecessary punctuation mark that has little to no value and only really shows that you paid attention during English class at high school.

To a new online community, though, the definition of a semicolon is quite different. It's poetic and unifying and even links people through their shared experiences and difficulties with mental health.

How? Well, a semicolon is used in a sentence to signify a divide. The sentence could have been finished at the semicolon, but the author has chosen to continue the sentence instead of finishing it.

The same can be said of life. We have a choice. We can end our story — or we can chose to go on.

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And, now, people are seeing the power of the humble punctuation mark and getting it tattooed on their bodies as a way of representing how they, too, decided to carry on — that despite their struggles in life, they also choose to continue, because they are the authors of their lives.

It all began with Project Semicolon, which is a "faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury".

Inspired by what the semicolon represents, people are sharing their incredible life experiences and personal stories along with images of their semicolon tattoos. Here are just some of the inspiring reasons people are choosing to get semicolons tattooed on their bodies:

1. Project Semicolon founder, Amy Bleuel, got a semicolon tattoo to honour her father, who took his own life when Amy was just 18 years old

2. Sometimes our most difficult moments make us stronger and more capable of dealing with what life throws at us

Very few people know how much I've been battling with depression, anxiety, and suicide. I was officially diagnosed earlier this year, but I know I've been dealing with these issues for years. I chose to get this tattoo on my wrist to represent the past, present, and future of my mental disorder. The semicolon represents the many times I could've and planned to end my life, but chose to walk away from that situation and push through the pain. The word warrior proves that I have, am, and always will be continuing to fight through the pain. And finally, the arrow explains that even when life is dragging me back into this painful state, I have faith that I will be launched into something new and great. I'm going to focus and keep aiming towards happiness, following my arrow to wherever it points. Nothing in my life has ever been more painful than being in this suicidal state that I'm currently in, but I'm giving every last bit of strength I have to keep being the fighter that I am. #projectsemicolon #suicideawareness #depression

A photo posted by Katie Schmidt (@keighteee) on

3. Mental health issues affect many people, and talking about our experiences is the first step to breaking down the stigma associated with it

4. We may feel lonely, but we are not alone. We are part of a larger community that can help and support us

A few days ago I posted a picture of a drawing of the semicolon on my wrist. It means so much to me that I had to get it tattooed. Not many know my story, even some really close friends and family. So I'll go ahead and tell a short version of it. For a few years I dealt with depression and carried on an act of trying to make others smile and carry a fake smile myself. I dealt with severe concussions that seemed to turn my life upside down. I developed a small stuttering problem, that if it wasn't for the ram, I wouldn't have been able to work on my speech. I medically withdrew from school for a quarter. And my grades suffered for a long time. I contemplated suicide multiple times and even had dark thoughts of just crashing my truck. Or to cut my wrists. Even though I had people around me I always felt alone, felt like I had no friends, felt like I had no one. 2 things changed my life. The first, is a person that came into my life and made me realize that even broken people can be loved too. Showed me that I can feel other feelings besides being depressed. That I could smile and it actually mean something and not it just be fake to make others think I'm happy. I didn't start becoming happy until I lost the person that meant a lot to me. When I lost this person I realized a whole lot in life and decided to practice positivity. To practice being a good person. And to get back in shape. I lost over 50 pounds and grew confidence all because of this one person. They were my motivation every single day. To show myself I could become better in every way possible. They didn't know it but it didn't matter. If it wasn't for that person, there wouldn't be a me today. The second thing is church. I developed a relationship with God and weekly went to champions centre and it helped change my life. The positive encouragement and the positivity in general radiates from that place and it gave me hope every single week and every single day.

A photo posted by Brandt Bruzas (@bbruzas21013) on

5. Beauty can come from darkness and difficulty

6. People and organisations are there to offer support and help when we need it most

7. How we march on, despite our difficulties, shows our strength and willingness to grow

8. It's always worth remembering that this, too, shall pass

So it goes; This Too Shall Pass ~You just gotta have #faith Support #ProjectSemicolon I know I do ;) #selfies for semicolons! #instapic #photooftheday #instagood #igers #instalike #instadaily #TattoosOfInstagram & if you're not into #tattoos grab a sharpie! As of 2015, NAMI states that "350 million people suffer from #depression worldwide; 16 million in the U.S." #MentalHealth #awareness is crucial. "Alone we can accomplish much, but together we can conquer so much more." Let's do it together. #Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. Fear can hold you a prisoner; *hope* can set you #free #qotd #instaquote #inspirational #spirituality #enlightenment #encouragement #healing #strength #truth "A semicolon is a sentence the author could've ended, but chose not to. The author is YOU, and the sentence is your life." ~Project Semicolon416 #peace #positivity #love #light #goodvibes to all XOXO

A photo posted by Jessica & (@jwalkinmyshoesxo) on

9. It's time to break the stigma and raise awareness about mental illness

#ProjectSemicolon #mentalhealth #sucide #awareness #tattooswithmeaning #tattoolove

A photo posted by Tia Alicia (@misstiaalicia) on

10. Never be afraid to ask for help

Have you joined Project Semicolon? Share your photos with us on Twitter. If you or someone you know needs support with anxiety or depression, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.

Here's why getting a semicolon tattoo is breaking down mental health stigma

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