I was diagnosed formally about four years ago with a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD). I have family members that have things like OCD and family members that have suffered from depression and even substance abuse. More importantly, this past summer we lost a family member to suicide. Mental health is definitely an issue that I feel very strongly about.
There is still this stigma in society that because it is in your head or that you can’t see it, it’s not there or that you’re weak. It’s hard to talk about even with my friends. Even visiting them in Kansas City, we would go out to dinner and I would have an anxiety attack. To them, it would be, “oh she’s sick again”, not understanding that it is really something that I deal with. So no, there’s few people that I will chat with. I am more open about it now that I am a teacher because I know that students deal with anxiety. So if they know it is something that I deal with too, it opens up that door for communication.
Since this past August, mental health has become a big thing for my family. It’s actually what led me to get my first tattoo. My younger sister and I went and got this [semicolon tattoo] the morning of my uncle’s funeral. This stems from a national program, it’s a non-for profit called the Semicolon Project, it basically raises awareness for mental health issues. Whether or not they get the tattoo or even just drawing it on their wrist in support of those with mental health issues, it basically represents what a semicolon represents in the English language: the author could have chosen to end a sentence, but chose to continue. That’s the whole idea, that you are the author and the sentence is your life. You can choose to end it, or you can pause and breathe and continue. So she and I got it to remind ourselves with our own mental health issues to pause and say, ‘Ok. This is just a thing and we are going to get past it’, but it’s more in memory of our uncle.