May is Mental Health Month. 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness, making it the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. *Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness.
As someone who has battled depression, I've seen firsthand the dark places it can lead to. I've also seen the opportunity that presents itself when we begin to open a dialogue about topics that so many prefer to change the subject on as soon as they are brought up.
While our current society may tell us otherwise, mental health is not something to be ashamed of. It certainly should not be kept behind closed doors any longer. Helping one person get the support they need because everyone needs help, can only happen when we have a conversation about conditions that affect our wellbeing.
This month, we are excited to be working with Project Semicolon and The Huffington Post to share stories of mental health, depression and hope. When I first shared my story about depression and contemplating suicide, it was not easy. I was surrounded by the fear that by being vulnerable, I would expose myself to people who would be uncomfortable with this information and judge me. Although I had published hundreds of blog posts before this one, I couldn't bring myself to click the publish button on this post. I sat on it, shared it with close friends, and finally shared my secret with my sons. For years, I had even kept it from them. When I finally brought myself to press the publish button, I started to see that I was not alone. There were dozens of people who shared their story of mental illness with me publicly, and even more who shared privately. The feeling of knowing you helped someone, just by sharing your own story and then took the time to listen to theirs, is the greatest gift you can ever give and receive. Sharing my story was one of the scariest and most impactful steps I have taken in my life.
I first became aware of Project Semicolon when a friend of mine shared some pictures of people with ; tattoos. As someone who had always thought of getting a tattoo, but only if I found one I could live with the rest of my life, I finally found one. As Project Semicolon describes: A semicolon is used when an author could've ended a sentence but chose not to.
You are the author and the sentence is your life.
PROJECT SEMICOLON IS A GLOBAL NON-PROFIT MOVEMENT DEDICATED TO PRESENTING HOPE AND LOVE FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, SUICIDE, ADDICTION AND SELF-INJURY. PROJECT SEMICOLON EXISTS TO ENCOURAGE, LOVE AND INSPIRE.
The vision is that together we can achieve lower suicide rates in the US and around the world;
That together we can start a conversation about suicide, mental illness and addiction that can't be stopped;
We envision love and hope and we declare that hope is alive;
We envision a society that openly addresses the struggle with mental illness, suicide and addiction;
We envision a conversation embraced by churches and addressed with love;
We envision a society that sees their value and embraces it;
We envision a community that comes together and stands together in support of one another;
We envision a world where an escape is not found within drugs or alcohol;
We envision a world where self-destruction is no longer an escape to be used;
We envision a revolution of LOVE and declare that our stories are not over yet;
- Amy Bleuel
Founder & President Project Semicolon
- Submit your story to Project Semicolon for a chance to be published on The Huffington Post.
- If you are Huffington Post Blogger, submit your story during the month of May.
- Share your story on social media using the hashtags #NotAlone and #MHM16