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Project Semicolon - A New Way to Discuss Mental Health

mashable.com
Semicolon tattoos are a new way to encourage discussion about depression, addiction, and self-harm. Thousands of people are drawing semicolons on their bodies and posting pictures of them online. But the tattoos are not just an Instagram fad – they are actually part of a faith-based movement called Project Semicolon.

The Project Semicolon website explains the meaning behind the tattoos. ‘Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire. A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.’ Through the semicolon, people can relate to depression, self-injury and suicide and the power of choosing to continue on.
The founder of the project, Amy Bleuel, battled with depression during her youth, leading to multiple suicide attempts and instances of self-injury. Her father also struggled with depression, taking his own life in 2003. The project began 2 years ago when Amy posted a message in honour of her father on social media, encouraging people fighting with depression, addiction or anxiety to draw semicolon tattoos on their wrists. The symbol quickly gained a following bigger than she could have anticipated: ‘We heard from people longing to continue their story and live a life that would inspire others to continue on as well. I believe that the semicolon tattoo is huge inspiration to others as they know they are not alone.’ The message gained thousands of participants on the first day and has especially gained traction in recent weeks.

focusnews.com
Through Project Semicolon, those who live with depression and self-harm can connect with each other using the hashtag #ProjectSemicolon, encouraging one another through recovery. ‘It’s almost like knowing they’re not alone, knowing that others are out there,’ Bleuel told Mashable. ‘They aren’t just another person in the crowd feeling alone anymore.’ Heather Parrie is one of many people who have a semicolon tattoo. Heather has written a blog post about why she got the tattoo and what it’s like for her to live with depression and anxiety which has now gained 7 million views. She told BuzzFeed: 
Now that over seven million people have read my story, the tattoo still feels intensely personal, but every time I look at it I’m reminded of how many other people are struggling in the same way and how many people are on my side. Depression has a way of convincing you to believe you’re the only one who has ever felt this way before in the world, but my tattoo reminds me daily that, above all, depression is a liar.
buzzfeed.com
Last month, HuffPost posted a story about Australian artist Janelle Silver, who sells tattoos which act as positive reminders to love yourself. The ‘Note to Self’ tattoos have uplifting slogans like ‘Be Kind to Yourself’, ‘You Are Loved’ and ‘I Can Do This’. ‘There’s a lot of negativity online and in society in general, but I believe we all have the ability to offset and change that,’ said Janelle, who has struggled with depression and anxiety since she was a teenager. ‘It can be a really lonely and isolating experience, when it doesn’t need to be.’ Janelle hopes her tattoos – part of a range of homemade gifts aimed to encourage self-confidence which she sells on her online shop, Hearts and Hands – will remind people that every cloud has a silver lining, and that everyone has the power to find it.

huffingtonpost.com
The simple message that Project Semicolon and others like it are aiming to promote is that you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out, whether you suffer from depression, anxiety or self-harm. Even if you're just plain unhappy.


Aaron Waterhouse


Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Project Semicolon - A New Way to Discuss Mental Health Reviewed by Aaron Waterhouse on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 Rating: 5

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