A few days ago in Amsterdam, another girl on the trip and I decided to get a tattoo. What better place than Amsterdam, right? Since this was my third tattoo, it wasn’t too big of a deal, but the meaning behind the tattoo is a big deal for me.
A few months ago, a post went viral iabout a girl getting the very same tattoo and starting a conversation about depression, self-harm and suicide. I have been wanting this tattoo for years now, and it’s about time that I start my own conversation – a really hard conversation to have.
Ten months ago in October, I was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder. A nice lady with a clean office and a pearly white smile told me that I had a lot of stuff wrong with my brain and how I approach situations differently than everyone else.
So I walked out of the CAPS office with my head down and a prescription for anti-depressants in my hand. I went home with tears streaming down my face all the way down State Street.
I had been struggling with these impossible thoughts and feelings for years. I would get sad – overwhelmingly sad – for no reason, and there were days where I couldn’t fathom getting out of bed and interacting with anyone.
My anxiety ate me alive in the strangest of situations. I was constantly paranoid about things that were absolutely harmless. It made me physically sick at times – to the point that I would just stay in my bed instead of hanging out with my friends.
Now, talk to anyone I went to middle or high school with, and they would probably describe me as being really happy and involved – and I was. I was involved in every possible club and organization I could. I was always with my friends, joking and Olaughing. But through all of those years, I was not the same person I was behind closed doors. Depression and anxiety forced me to question everything that made me happy. Behind closed doors, I harmed myself to make me feel alive. In the silence of my mind, I would rather have been dead than alive.
That’s not okay. None of that is okay. And that is why we need to start a conversation about depression, self-harm and suicide. In the United States alone, an average of 12.1 per 100,000 people commit suicide a year. Depression affects 1 in every 10 Americans, and 80% of those pople are not receiving any type of clinical help.
These numbers can and must be reduced. Depression is such a common diagnosis, but medication and therapy are not magical cures. What has helped me the most with my diagnoses is not the medication or the therapy – it’s the support I get from my friends and family. Awareness and support are the true medications for this, and the conversation needs to start now.
“A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The sentence is your life and the author is you.” – Project Semicolon
If you are worried that you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, please call your local authorities (911), contact a mental health professional, or call and talk to someone at 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433).