It's been a little over a year since I publicly talked about my battle with depression. There have been many positives about writing that post. Besides making me feel better about what I was going through, the post gave courage to others to share their stories with me and for some to even share them publicly on their own blogs. The outpouring of support from friends all over the Internet really made a difference to me. I made it through this past ISTE without a single panic attack or bout of depression. I would not have been able to do that without my friends. I never would have received the support I did if I did not let people know that I needed support.
A few weeks ago, I came across Project Semicolon. According to their website, "Project Semicolon (The Semicolon Project) is a faith-based non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire." This really caught my attention, but this quote really struck the Nerdy English Teacher in me. "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."
I've never had thoughts of self harm or suicide, but I have had friends take their life. I've known students who have taken their life. It has always been painful to see these special people make these decisions. I will always feel like I could have done something. What if I shared my story earlier? What if they knew I battled the same demons they did? Ever since I came out about my battle with depression, I've committed myself to being more vocal in support of mental health issues. I've connected with so many people who have reached out to share their story it has helped me in my battle.
I've been so happy to see people start to speak up regarding Mental Health. Joe Mazza shared his battle with depression during a great a TEDx talk at TEDxYouth@BHS and has written a beautiful post on it as well. An amazing young lady named Bryn also shared her story. Sharing the story is important. More people need to hear these stories to help spread a better understanding of what dealing with depression and anxiety is like.
Joe and I have talked over the past few weeks about doing something to support all of the educators out there that are battling depression on their own because they fear the stigma that comes along with depression and anxiety. Joe and I wanted to show that there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to mental health. So we went out and had a tattoo of a semicolon placed on our wrists.
I want people to ask us about this punctuation mark on our wrists so we can share our story. The more people know about mental health issues, the more we can get rid of the stigma. The more we get rid of that stigma, the more people will feel comfortable sharing their stories. We need students to feel comfortable sharing these feelings with their teachers and we need teachers to better understand mental health so they can support these students and their colleagues. It is not a fun conversation, but it is one we need to have if we want to help people and possibly save lives. There is something all of you can do to show your support.
I would love to see pictures across the Internet from all of my PLN on Tuesday July 14th with a Semicolon drawn (or tattooed if you are up to it) on your body to show support for all of the educators dealing with mental health issues. Use the tag #semicolonEDU to show your support on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Let's show the world that we can come together and fight mental health stigmas by showing our support for one another. I know we can do it.
Thanks for all of the love and support.
Hugs and High Fives,