…this one, especially so.
As soon as I learned about the semicolon tattoo, I knew I had to get one – and not just because I’m a huge grammar nerd. Because I’m bipolar and want to spread the word about mental health issues.
In writing, the semicolon indicates a place where a writer could have finished a sentence, but instead chose to go on. This makes the semicolon an effective and beautiful symbol for suicide prevention efforts and those who struggle with mental disorders.
Every day we choose to get out of bed; choose to take our medications; choose to make and go to our therapist appointments; choose to live another day; and choose to go on with our story.
This is not something I invented. Here are the people behind it: http://www.projectsemicolon.com/. And here are some stories about the phenomenon that have been working their way through the media and around the internet.
Here is my story.
I am possibly the last person you would ever expect to get a tattoo. I am probably the last person I would ever expect to get a tattoo. I’m in my 50s, a former English teacher, married for over 30 years, fond of reading and word puzzles and cats.
Nevertheless, the professionals at Monkey Bones Tattoos in Beavercreek, OH, did not seem surprised when I showed up one day and presented my wrist.
When I explained what I wanted – to put down a deposit and book an appointment to get a semicolon tattoo – I learned that they had a cancellation and could ink me right away.
What the hell, I thought. Might as well. I had learned about the tattoos about a month before and had thought it over plenty. It was by no means a spur-of-the-moment (or drunken) impulse.
Mike Guidone showed me into his studio and explained the procedure.
He presented me with stencils of three different sizes of semicolons. I chose the in-between one. My wrist is fairly small, so the big one would have looked out of place, but the small one wasn’t noticeable enough. The idea is for people to see it and ask, so you can share the meaning and talk to them about mental health and combatting the stigma.
I sat in the dentist-type chair, listened to a brief explanation, got answers to some questions, and was ready to start.
Did it hurt? Not particularly. It was a feeling between a scratch and a sting, and took only about ten minutes. Some aftercare instructions and I was done.
Then I paid ($80, the shop minimum), tipped Mike, and was on my way. Now I care for the tattoo while it heals, anointing it with unscented lotion several times a day, avoiding sunlight or soaking, and trying my very best not to scratch or pick at it.
Am I happy with it? You bet!
And, like I said, it’s for life! My story isn’t finished yet.