Dealing with a brain disorder like depression or anxiety is often a lifelong journey. There is no quick fix or miracle cure. Sometimes, every minute can seem like a battle for your life, but for those who seek treatment there can be relief and days of hope and joy.
Because depression and anxiety are often episodic, a period of relief, which can be years, may be followed by bouts of extreme turbulence. There is no predicting when an episode may occur, but stress can be a trigger. I once read an account of someone battling depression in which the author stated, “It felt like my brain was trying to kill me. Being afraid of being afraid consumed all my thoughts.”
I am one of the lucky ones. I have never battled depression or anxiety. My brain has never betrayed me. My life hasn’t been easy, but I have been blessed to not be challenged by an endless chain of dark, spiraling, relentless thoughts about how useless and worthless I am. My brain has remained firmly on my side.
My son T.J. was not so lucky. Neither was Amy Bleuel. Both T.J. and Amy battled depression and died by suicide. Both T.J. and Amy had their brains hijacked by the disease of depression. Both were exceptional human beings who did much for the world during their short stay here.
Amy Bleuel was the founder of the Project Semicolon which calls for, "presenting hope and love to those who are struggling with depression, suicide, addiction, and self-injury". Amy chose the semi-colon as the symbol of her organization because “In literature, an author uses a semicolon to not end a sentence but to continue on. We see it as you are the author and your life is the sentence. By using the semicolon you’re choosing to keep going.”
While Amy’s life here on earth is now over, her legacy lives on. For all those battling depression, I hope they continue to look to the semi-colon as a sign of hope and a reminder to keep going, keep pushing, keep moving to get over the mountain that is depression to reach the other side of light, love and peace.
As a mother who lost her precious son to suicide, I know that life can be hard and filled with hopeless despair, but if you can ride out the difficult moments there will always be moments of peace and joy. No ones’ life is a continuum of happiness. Happiness is moments—if you can ride out the difficult times, good moments are ahead. This is not to minimize the battle that depression presents. It is not a choice and most often needs the help of a mental health professional to work through the episode.
If you or someone you care about is battling depression, please seek help. And remember to always be kind because we never know who is suffering and how they are suffering. Many of life’s most difficult hardships are invisible on the outside. The pain resides within. Through love and kindness we can save lives and maybe make someone’s day just a little brighter. Don’t end the sentence; keep the story going; your story isn’t over;
If you are concerned about someone you know who is displaying warning signs of suicide, do not leave them alone alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. The Lifeline provides free, confidential support for people in crisis or emotional distress, 24/7 year-round. The Lifeline also offers an online chat for people who prefer to reach out online rather than by phone.
Written in honor of the late
Founder of Project Semicolon