Last weekend (thanks to my wife) I got my semi colon tattoo. It’s something I have wanted to get myself for a long time, but have put off time-and-time again.
Maybe I put it off because I did not feel ‘worthy’; because I thought how I feel was not ‘as bad’ as those who suffer worse than me.
I think I was (and still am sometimes) in denial about how I feel and how my anxiety takes over so much of my life and happiness on a daily basis. Which is why this inking (sorry mom) means a heck of a lot to me.
I am not going to get down and deep and talk about every single part of my story, I am just going to tell you that I have struggled with my mental health for a long time and it still impacts me today.
However, now that I have this tiny inking, it feels right and I feel it’s the perfect reminder – for me – to remember that every day is a gift, I am so lucky to have wonderful people in my life and that I am loved so very much.
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So I got my semi colon tattoo yesterday. It’s something that I have wanted for a very long time, but put off doing until now. I’m not sure if it was because I was in denial that I fought so hard for so long with my anxiety, or that I have realized lately that I’m still struggling here and there, but it’s really hard to manage sometimes even today. So this little semi colon (sorry, mom) – with a heart instead of a dot – symbolizes my struggle AND stands as appreciation for all of those who have stood by me, loved me and helped me along the way. Thank you to @tarniaarendse and @tattooatstudio52 for hosting a semi colon day, and for spreading awareness about mental health and the stigma involved. For those who struggle and need a daily reminder that they are strong, powerful and great, it means a lot. And for those who got a little heart like me, it stands as a big thank you. A thank you for not giving up on me and taking this long and hard journey with me.✨ • • • • • #semicolon #semicolontattoo #semicolonproject #tattoo #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness #wellbeing #wellness #health #capetown #mothercity #southafrica #heart #inked #anxiety #love #support
Why a semi colon?
Project Semicolon, an organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide, was founded by Amy Bleuel (who tragically died of suicide last year) as a way to help others after dealing with so many tragic obstacles in her own life. (You can read her full story, here).
The semicolon has been described as ‘one small character’ with ‘one big purpose’ and, in the word’s of Amy: “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. You’re choosing to keep going.”
Where did I get my semi colon tattoo?
Jeanne saw an advert on Facebook for a ‘Semi Colon Day’ being held at Tattoo at Studio 52, a local tattoo parlour located in Parklands.
Their tattoo artist, Tarnia Arendse, started the tattoo marathon at 6.30am on Sunday morning and only finished at 6.30pm, working on 30-minute slots to ensure they could fit in as many people as possible.
They were running a ‘special’ that day, offering four specific designs that you could choose from (pictures below) for R400 (the normal price being R700). Their reason behind hosting this day? To raise awareness, not money!
Each of the semi colon designs pictured above have a specific meaning, as does where you choose to have your semi colon placed. You can find out more about their meanings and the different placements, below.
Note: Every year, Tattoo at Studio 52 choose a different cause. This year was a semi colon day for mental health and suicide, last year was ribbons for breast cancer.
What each design means
A semi colon with an arrow: ‘An arrow needs to be pulled back in order to go forward’. The arrow combined with the semi colon always reminds the wearer to pause, and then move forward with strength and energy.
A semi colon with an animal: A semi colon combined with an animal acts as a symbol of the unconditional love given by animals/pets and that they are another reason for the wearer to continue living. The animal could be a dog, cat, bunny or a variety of other animals.
A semi colon with a heart: A heart shows that ‘love carries the wearer through life’. The heart symbolizes the love and care of those who helped the wearer when they needed it most. Without the love and care of those people, the wearer might never have chosen to continue their journey or life. To the ones who helped, cared for and possibly saved the wearer’s life, the heart accompanying the semicolon tattoo acts as a ‘thank you.’
The classic semi colon: The classic semi colon tattoo simply reflects ones fight through their struggles (as does all of the the above) and their want to live and continue their journey.
Other designs include incorporating birds (representing freedom), religious symbols, infinity sign, heartbeat, significant words or phrases (l;fe, warr;or, cont;nue, ‘my story ;sn’t over and more) and family member’s names.
Semi colon tattoo placement
There are three areas on the body where semi colons are placed most. These include:
Behind the ear: This shows that the wearer always (tries to) listens to the lessons of their past, choosing to act, be and live differently.
On the wrist: This is the most common place for a semi colon tattoo, this is because the wrist serves as the most common spot for self-harm. Placing the semi colon tattoo here is a reminder and incentive not to self-harm again.
On the finger: This placement keeps the wearer from acting against themselves in their daily life, and ensures that they instead act in their best interests.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons one might choose a specific placement. I chose to have mine on my wrist because of its visibility. Other popular areas people chose to have their semi colon tattoo include the ankle, foot, forearm and more.
Have you got a semi colon tattoo? If so, what design did you get and where did you have it inked? Show me photos of your semi colon tattoo on my facebook post.