I have a family history of mental health issues, addiction, anxiety, depression and suicide.
We never talked about it.
But 6 years ago I was ready to start talking about it. That’s when I discovered the semicolon project.
I got the semi colon tattooed on my wrist in a small tattoo shop in Bad Windsheim, Germany with a dear friend. It is now a conversation piece that allows me the opportunity to speak about personal experiences, strength and hope around the topic of mental health.
My spiel sounds like this,
“ Yes, it is a semi colon. Yes I did tattoo it on my hand. I did it to stand in solidarity with those who battle mental health issues. That when you could of ended your story you chose to continue.”
I chose to continue.
I think of the eyes that look back at me after I speak about something we do not talk about enough. I tell them my experiences dealing with family members who are struggling and those who have lost their lives to mental health issues.
Sometimes they look back at me knowingly. Some have love, empathy and warmth glistening in them.
I remember sharing my experience with my mother with a co worker. In that moment when her eyes found mine I knew she had a story to tell. She shared her own experiences with her mother. I felt welcomed in her presence. We had joined this unspoken alliance in our vulnerability to share this personal journey with each other.
Other eyes carry the weight of judgment. They look away from me as I have now made them uncomfortable.
Good. Nothing grows in comfort.
I was in the doctors office not too long ago. When asked my family health history. I said well I have a signification family history of addiction and mental health issues. I also have an exceptional therapist and handling life well these days.
I saw his weight shift in the chair. I could see that he was relieved that he wasn’t looking directly at me as I said it. The pause, though momentarily, was noticeable. He picked up a second later and asked me, ‘Mother or father?’ I answered and he moved the interview along. Welcoming that we were now done with that topic.
What I wished would of happened in my preventative care visit was to ask more questions on the matter. Ask me questions like you would have if I would of told you they had cancer or heart issues.
It is still a disease. It requires treatment. Maybe even more of an approach than any other. As when one person in your household suffers, everyone suffers. Everyone is triggered.
Mental Health awareness has come a long way. I have seen that in my own generation.
I know there is still so much more to learn. To uncover. So much more I’d love to share in hopes that in my vulnerability someone trust me enough to share their struggles with me.
Kindness goes a long way. With this reminder, I am working on being a little kinder today. We’re all battling or know someone who is battling these demons that we don’t know enough about.
Be kind. Be brave. Be vulnerable.
Signed: A Healing Woman
#memoirsofahealingwoman #addiction #semicolontattoo #mentalhealthawareness