Friday, August 7, 2015

A Physical Manifestation

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder about four years ago. I thought I have been pretty open about my illness, even from the beginning and progressively more so as time has passed. I really broke the barrier when I wrote about it here. I have considered pursuing the role of a Certified Peer Specialist in the Mental Health Field; in this role I would have to be extremely open about my experiences with my depression and anxiety throughout my life. I thought it would be easy for me to do that, especially because it would be a means to help another individual.

All of those theories were challenged about six months ago when a friend of mine who also struggles with a mental illness gave me a bracelet that symbolizes awareness for depression. I immediately put it on when she gave it to me, but, even then, it didn’t feel quite right. The next morning I saw my therapist and told her that I didn’t like having this physical reminder of my mental illness. Soon after, I took the bracelet off and put it in my jewelry box.

Fast forward to about a month ago when I saw an intriguing post on Facebook:  It was about the semicolon project The semicolon project is about getting a tattoo of a semicolon because “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.” Multiple friends of mine were posting links about it. I thought it was very interesting. I’m not really they type to get a tattoo, though – I don’t even have any piercings, not even my earlobes. Something about the idea of getting a tattoo to symbolize everything I have gone through and to make a commitment to not give up on my life journey, as well as to show solidarity to all the other people in the world really spoke to me.

So, I showed up to my next therapy session wearing the bracelet my friend had given me. I told my therapist about the semicolon project and explained to her that I was wearing the bracelet to see if I felt any differently about having a physical symbol for my mental illness. Even though the bracelet is somewhat annoying (I don’t really wear jewelry), and it’s in a much more obvious place than where I plan to get the tattoo, I also figured it would be good practice in case anybody asked me about the bracelet to see how I dealt with explaining its meaning. She smiled and said that she thought it was a good idea.

It’s been about three weeks now, and I’ve only taken the bracelet off when I had an x-ray and an MRI done (yes, people with mental disorders still have physical disorders too). I haven’t committed to getting the semicolon tattoo. I’m pretty sure I know where I want to get it, and I think I want to go simple and classic with the style. I plan on waiting until Christmas time to go through with it. I think that would be sufficient time to decide if I want to permanently turn my insides out.

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