If you have never experienced depression, it is a dark place. It hurts and it's lonely. It is a cloud that follows you through the day although the sun shines brightly around you. You attempt to come out from underneath its gloomy shadow yet it's so hard, too hard to get out. As the numbness consumes you, rather than wrapping yourself with love, you wrap the sheets tighter around you, creating a cocoon for yourself to hide from the world.
I found little joy in the every day things, including time with my kids. I would find myself crying throughout the day for no reason at all. My children would give me hugs saying, "it's okay Mommy." As if feeling low isn't enough, having your two and three year old try to comfort you is devastating. I wasn't calling my friends. I was avoiding phone calls. I had zero appetite. I would put the kids to bed at 6 o'clock and walk straight to my room and slide into my own bed for the night.
I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to feel better but so was so deep in the pit of fear, sadness, worry, unsure of my path and purpose in life that I didn't know which end was up. I simply existed in a numb state, wishing my days away. (My Journey to Live from the Inside Out)
I wrote those words above a handful of years ago about my biggest pit of depression I sunk into in 2009.
I am sharing this with you today because this week I learned of another person who passed away who struggled with mental health issues. It is not certain what caused her passing, but her struggle was real and her impactful life needs to be known. If you haven't heard of Amy Bleuel, she founded Project Semicolon. The mission of this project is to remind people who struggle with depression and other mental health illnesses that when you think you are at the end, "choose a semicolon instead of a period and know it is not the end but a new beginning." (Project;)
Sadly, Amy passed away, and even though I didn't know her personally, I know four people from different times in my life who chose a period this year instead of a semicolon who needed to hear her message.
My heart breaks for these souls, for their families and friends.
I too have been there. Wanting to insert a period at my lowest point...
I chose to reach out for help.
With the help of my family (and therapy, meds and my faith) I have come out on the other side, with a transformed life.
I know every person and struggle is different but we need to raise awareness that a period is NOT an option - at ANY age.
I am transparent with you about my struggles in hopes that we can work together to continue Amy's mission and share with people to choose a semicolon. Let's...
- talk with our families, our friends, our children and tell them that if they are feeling low and need help all they need to say, or text us, is ; and that they know we will show up to help them.
- be sure the mental health numbers, like 911, 211 and 1-800-273-8255 or websites like https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/immediate-help/ are known to those who struggle.
- lead by example and teach kids that bullying is unacceptable.
- thank veterans so they know they are seen and heard once their service is complete. (22 veterans choose a period every day)
- err on the side of caution and even if it doesn't make sense, if we are concerned, let us say something and do what we can to help whoever it is we believe is at risk. (75% of suicide victims share their plans)
- share of our struggles more openly so others don't think that we are these pretty packages all wrapped up and we are more approachable.
I personally prefer to be seen as a mess than a tidy package because it's the truth. I am not all together. My natural tendency has always been negative self talk. I have been practicing renewing my mind for seven years. And who you see today, is someone who has come a long way but who still needs to put Truths into practice daily to stay on track.
So when you read my posts, remember that I have had my struggles. I am not this tidy package. The reason I write is to hopefully connect with others who need to be encouraged. That they hear the message hope and it gets rooted in their heart so they know that the low points are not the end; they just strip us down to a new foundation on which we can build our new beginning on.
I hope you will join me in doing what we can to help someone else choose a ; instead of a . And if you are the one who is feeling low, PLEASE reach out and ask for help. I beg you...
With love and hope,