Today is World Semicolon Day. It seems like just about everyday of the week you open up your Social Media platforms we are being inundated with people celebrating some kind of a day. Many of these days are super silly or fun and many of them just give us the perfect excuse to honour someone we love like our pets or family members.
Today on World Semicolon Day I am celebrating a community, a community that I now belong to and a community that many others do too. And in its honour I am continuing to do what I have been doing now for several years which is sharing my story with you and reminding anyone who is suffering with a mental illness, along with all those who support you that we are not alone.
Most of you have probably never heard of World Semicolon Day or Project Semicolon but over the last few years it has been a very significant part of my world. For those who have been following my journey over the last couple of years through my blog may recall that I have talked about Project Semicolon before. This organization was founded about 6 years ago by Amy Bleuel who wanted to honour her late father for whom she lost to suicide. Since her foundation began, the semicolon (;) has become known worldwide as a symbol to many people who struggle with depression, addiction, self-harm and suicidal ideations “to believe that this is not the end but a new beginning.”
Sadly, two years ago Amy lost her own battle with Mental Illness too but her foundation continues to bring hope and inspiration to many others through awareness and suicide prevention using the semicolon (a punctuation mark ; indicating a pause in a sentence, not an ending) symbol. Hundreds of thousands of bodies have become permanently inked with this symbol as a daily reminder that their story isn’t over yet (;) and many others have done so in memory of a loved one who they have lost to a mental illness.
Three years ago this coming July as Rich and I were casually strolling through Kensington Market and enjoying a hot #summerofrich day we passed by a tattoo parlour. I had been thinking for some time about getting a tattoo (for the first time in my life) in honour of my mental illness (and Project Semicolon) and had been holding onto a photo in my phone representing what it symbolized to me and its significance that my story isn’t over quite yet either.
I went for it. I got the tattoo and although it’s tiny and only visible on a hot summer day when I am wearing a tank top or bathing suit, it’s truly meaningful to me which is what I believe a tattoo should be. It’s a “Chai” which I added a dot on top of in order to make a semicolon symbol as well. Chai is a Hebrew word that when translated to English simply means “Life” but also possesses a numerical significance in the Jewish religion as well. It represents the number “18” which has become a longstanding Jewish tradition of gifting, contributing or donating in increments of $18 and is considered a Mitzvah (a good deed in English) meaning “a gift of life”.
Along with its meaning of life it also carries many symbolic principles too, including kindness, thoughtfulness and selflessness which are three of the greatest characteristics a person could hold during their time on this earth. So you see my tattoo has a lot of meaning behind it and a permanent reminder of my daily struggle to continue living and how important it is to continue sharing my story with you.
*Stay tuned for the upcoming #summerofrich (it will be somewhat of an abridged one) because I have been designing another tattoo for sometime now and you never know where our journey may take us next*. And lastly, who thinks Rich and I should get matching ones?