I have struggled with mental illness for about ten years now, and the journey is not easy. The journey is an everyday battle that I always have to prepare myself for, because I never know what life could throw my way. Over the years, my struggles have made me stronger and more of a fighter. While I have my moments of weakness, I have learned to keep pushing through no matter what. It's never easy, but it's possible.
I have shared openly about my struggles with anxiety and depression, but I have yet to share in depth about one of the deepest struggles I have ever had. I have always wanted to get vulnerable about this part of my story on here, but could never find the words or the right feeling of when it was the right time to share, but today is that day.
Depression crept its way into my life when I was in the eighth grade and ever since, has tried to linger around. That cold, hollowed-out feeling hit me hard and always kept me knocked down, and before I knew it, it was convincing me to only see the negative things about myself. Growing up I was always a happy girl, so I was confused as to why I was feeling so empty and alone. I had my faith in God and was pursuing it like never before, so why did I feel so far?
After a few months of feeling so low, I began cutting myself to help ease the pain. What started off as an innocent experiment turned into almost a daily, negative habit. I was so ashamed of myself all of the time and the thoughts floating around my mind were driving me crazy. I was always overwhelmed and on the verge of a breakdown, so I turned to cutting as my outlet. Even though I was hurting myself, I didn't feel the pain. I was so emotionally numb that my body became numb, as well. I kept cutting to feel relief; a moment of rest from the constant distress I was always in. I even took to burning myself a couple times to try and get some relief.
Over time, I would have seasons where I got better and didn't turn to self-harm to ease my pain. I turned to positive outlets like dancing and writing to help take my mind off of the constant negativity that would try to cloud my focus. I would do so well and would even try and tell myself that the struggle was over, but before I knew it, I'd relapse again.
And again. And again.
I felt like a constant failure to myself. How could I let my mind convince me to inflict harm on my body? I was a mess. I was broken. I felt as if my worth was completely gone. My mind would convince myself that I would never climb out of the pit that I was in. I was confused. I felt lost.
Though, deep down, I knew I wasn't lost. I knew that this was only for a season and that one day I would be pulled out. After each breakdown, I'd catch my breath and remember truth...that I had God to cling to. God was my hope. He would always be my hope.
Some days I would wonder why God was letting me suffer so deeply. Sometimes I would get angry with him. I would scream at him or turn the cold shoulder to him. But, I knew I couldn't harden my heart. And I knew it wasn't his fault that I was suffering. We live in a fallen, sinful world. Not everything that happens here is of God or by God. Though, God has the incredible ability to turn the most dark situations into testimonies of light and grace, if we allow him to break down our highest walls. God's grace is indescribable and we're not worthy of it, but still, God extends it to us. Where I am weak, God is always strong.
Because God's grace is greater than anything in this world, I am standing here today over three and a half years clean from self-harm.
For me, the only way out of the darkness that was consuming me was to keep on trusting in, resting in, and pursuing God no matter what. Of course, I had my days where I would ignore his rest and love for me. Of course, I wanted to give up many, many times. Of course, I still today get the temptation to relapse. But, somehow God and his grace will always keep pursuing me even though I am weak, which in the end, will always make me strong in him.
Project Semicolon is a movement that was started in 2013 and grabbed my heart's attention as soon as I first learned about it. I have always been extremely passionate about ending the stigmas of mental illnesses and and all that can go along with them. Project Semicolon is dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love, and inspire. A semicolon is used when an author could’ve ended a sentence but chose not to, making it the perfect symbol for such a movement like this.
I always knew that one day I wanted to get a tattoo that symbolized my story, so that I would be able to easily share it with others. At first, I was apprehensive to get such a "mainstream" tattoo, but then I realized that it would be the perfect little way to let others know they're not alone in their struggles. I decided to add a cross before my semicolon, as God was and will always be my anchor and strength through my personal battle with mental illness and self-harm.
If you're struggling with mental illness or self-harm, know you're not alone. But more importantly, know that you can break through it. Mental illness does not own you. Self-harm does not own you. The thought of suicide does not own you. You are more. You are strong. You are a fighter. Choose to continue your story. You are worth it.
Your story is not over.
My story is not over.