I went and got my second tattoo today…here is why I joined the #semicolonproject

It started 23 years ago, this month, when my grandmother, who I learned later suffered from bipolar, made the choice to end her life.  I was a teenager and very close to her, I was devastated.  It changed our family dynamic in ways I am only beginning to understand.

Fast foward about 8 years, I was in my fifth year of pharmacy school and found myself struggling.  I couldn’t get out of bed to go to class, I didn’t have the attention span to study, and I was drinking too much on the weekends.  I did seek help with the counseling center at school and started on antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. However, I still failed two classes which caused me to have to repeat the year. I was so embarrassed and kept my feelings to myself and tried to put on a brave face to my friends and roommate who were moving on.   I already had a job offer from the Public Health Service after my sixth and last year. However, because I had to repeat my fifth year, I was told I would need to reapply.  Yet an other disappointment.

By the middle of that summer, I was so depressed and anxiety ridden I could barely leave my apartment to go to work. It was at this point I hit rock bottom and overdosed on my anxiety meds. This could have been my period instead of my semicolon. Instead,  after about thirty minutes, I panicked and called a friend. She rushed me to the ER where they proceeded to give me activated charcoal (so gross).  I stayed overnight and saw the psychiatrist. He recommended an outpatient treatment program for the rest of the summer.

I successfully completed that program and pharmacy school two years later. I should have been happy but I was still struggling at times and still drinking too much at times. Another year later and I made a horrible mistake driving home after drinking too much was one night. Thank goodness I was stopped before I had gone too far for not having my headlights on. This was another time it could have been a period on my life sentence. I did get a DUI charge and spent a night in jail.  I ended up only having to complete a couple classes, attend AA for a period of time, and undergo alcohol and drug testing for a year.  It could have been so much worse.

The next 9 years, saw the beginning and end of one marriage and the beginning of another.  I saw counselors off and on but had no major issues to speak of.  I then had my beautiful son. I had  few post partum blues days but not anything I would consider worrisome until a year later when I stopped breast feeding. The change in hormones once again caused a major depression to set in and the anxiety to rise. Thankfully this time I recognized it for what it was and sought treatment immediately. I have been able to control my symptoms first with medications and then additionally with essential oils.

Everyone sees the outside perception, I am a pharmacist,a manager, a mom, an active member in several organizations. They don’t see the inside that is sometimes so black and heavy it’s hard to move. They don’t see how terrified I am of having to even speak some days.  And it’s ok that they don’t see it, this is my battle. But I do want them to see my tattoo. I want them to be aware of everyone that may have this silent fight. Not for pity, but for understanding. I could have placed a period on my life, but I chose and I choose everyday to use a semicolon instead. Sometimes I need to pause, but I will go on.





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