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The Semicolon tattoo has been floating around the minds of people and their social networking sites, wondering what is the representation of it. It is a global symbolic representation of mental illness; the moving efforts of an individual who suffers from it, making him not only functional again but a Survivor. The semicolon is especially used to show support for those who struggle with depression, suicide, anxiety, addiction and self-injury. The idea of this tattoo’s symbolisation stemmed from the fact that in the english grammar when an author could have ended their sentence, but chose not to.
These mental illnesses are not very different from diseases like Diabetes or Blood Pressure. An insight needs to be gained at first, along with coping and treating it on a daily basis. It is easier said than done, because it not only injures a person’s self image but makes him/her hostile and sometimes passive to the world outside.
I Sonya Nanda, am a Psychologist in process, and I suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder with Panic attacks, with mild to moderate episodes of Depression. It was almost 6 years ago that my symptoms often landed me in the hospitals’ care units. To my father this distress was an effect of mere “Politics” as he called it. Two years of no insight and helplessness, intensified my passion for psychology. In the 4th year my own mentor at the time, who was a psychiatrist I had been working with diagnosed me. I refused to take medication because I had uplifted myself in the year before that by understanding my conflicts and finding ways to solve it. But there came a time where it overshadowed my judgement and I took support of alcohol and indulged in self-harm, which to a psychologist refers to Suicidal Ideations or Tendencies. It injured my Social activities and Self-confidence tremendously. I still kept fighting it until I couldn’t anymore because I kept failing and these ideations became stronger and persistent. I then started my medication, which affected my work cycle for the first few weeks, when my body started getting used to the medication I stopped because I didn’t think it was essential. Two months later I had my second episode of self harm, which changed my life. I woke up the next day to find myself alive and breathing. I was disappointed thinking of the fact that I had failed yet again. But after a few days when I got better, I started to think that maybe this wasn’t a sign of failure but a sign to be determined towards success. I made a promise to myself, that I would make it my mission to fight these urges. So I began my medication again, regardless of the difficulties that came with it. And 6 months later when I sat alone in my room, I suddenly felt a slight euphoria where in my mind and body felt happy and healthy, they told me that I had done it. It was the perseverance that had got me where I am today. Been in two colleges since with good grades and I sit here planning to change my country by the end of 2016 for my career.
I inked myself with a permanent tattoo of a Semicolon, on the 10th of July 2015, firstly I wanted to acknowledge it myself and not be ashamed. I want this effort of mine to at least be a start for the decline in the stigmatisation of mental illness. Secondly, it is my very own souvenir that I will now carry for the rest of my life. A souvenir that reminds me of the hardships that I fought in order to be able to start a sane life. I didn’t get it in a place where I could always see it, because it is not there for design or to be shown off.
It is there because I, on the 10th of July, pledged to not let mental illness make me put a full stop to my life, I rather continue it with a SEMICOLON. I want my story to continue and motivate others who have suffered like me or seen a loved one suffering.
– Sonya Nanda
Sonya Nanda, is a psychology graduate from Delhi University, with a post-graduate diploma in criminal psychology. She is currently volunteering for mental health foundation and preparing for M.Sc. in Psychology from abroad. She likes to volunteer for pet shelters along with her passion for psychology in human and animal behaviour.