Honoring Project Semicolon
My thoughts and prayers are with Amy Bleuel's friends and family. For those asking how this could happen to someone who made it her life’s work to raise awareness, please keep in mind that depression is a deadly illness and it was one Amy openly struggled with.
On January 25, 2017 Amy posted a live video titled, “The raw, real truth about the battles I fight daily to live another day.” This is one of many messages Amy had posted about her ongoing battle with depression. It saddens me to read posts about people who are considering covering up their semicolon tattoo because they now view Amy as a hypocrite.
The work Amy did with Project Semicolon inspired many to get the help they needed and it opened up a nonverbal dialog which allowed people to feel more comfortable in talking about mental illness. We must continue the work Amy started by changing the way we talk about depression and suicide. It is vital that we recognize suicide as the result of an illness and not as a choice. Amy died from an illness she had publicly fought with the hope of making change.
As someone who has had experience with depression and feeling suicidal, I can tell you that it is not easy to openly share about fearing yourself and what you might do if you don’t get help. Sadly, too many of us can relate to the idea of being depressed and even worse, many can relate to feeling consumed by the depression – no longer feeling in control, no longer knowing who you are, no longer trusting yourself, no longer believing that someone will be able to help you, and no longer having hope to get better.
Before experiencing my own depression I had been a crisis counselor and public educator on suicide prevention. Depression shouldn’t have been an issue for me to understand and overcome. The longer the depression persisted the more I felt like a failure which only added to my depression getting worse. I had struggled with thoughts of suicide for nearly two months before I finally found the courage to ask for help. Even then, I felt defeated in having to admit that I had become suicidal.
Based on my own experience working on The Lotus Project, I can imagine how difficult it would have been for Amy to work on Project Semicolon while coping with her own depression. I was just talking to my husband two nights ago about how difficult it is to maintain an emotional balance while working on The Lotus Project. It couldn’t have been easy for Amy to continuously strive to get better while focusing so much time and effort on work that involves such darkness.
When I first started The Lotus Project I was working on it at all hours seven days a week. I quickly learned it was too much - I started to feel consumed by the amount of pain and sadness that was being shared by so many. My struggles with depression have not been an issue for over ten years, and yet, as I worked on aspects of The Lotus Project I found myself slipping into a place I didn’t want to return.
I knew I wanted to help others but I had to recognize my own limits and boundaries in order to stay in a healthy mindset. I believe in the work I'm doing with The Lotus Project and I hope it can make a positive impact on our community but I've realized it can’t be my primary focus because I'm not confident I'm in a position to "work" full time on material which often leaves me feeling isolated and unbalanced.
Amy was a huge advocate for being comfortable in recognizing when intervention is needed and when treatment is necessary. Unfortunately, the treatment Amy was receiving didn’t work and sadly, we lost her to her illness. I support Amy’s stance on seeking help, but I’d like to take it one step further and encourage everyone to get educated on alternative healing options.
I was introduced to the practice of acupuncture after losing my dad to suicide. It helped me in dealing with my grief and in overcoming the panic attacks I began experiencing after losing my dad. Five years later, after experiencing postpartum depression, I overcame being suicidal through working with an acupuncturist. I never took medication, not because I don’t think it can work for some people, but because it wasn't what I felt I needed to truly heal. I believe holistic methods allow us to fully heal instead of becoming dependent on pills with the hope of one day feeling normal again.
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please explore alternative healing options. I would also like to ask that we all make an effort to show our love and support for Amy and the work she did. Our lives should not be remembered for how we died, but for how we lived.
Sending love and prayers to all who struggle with mental illness and to all who are intimately impacted by the pain it causes.
Through this blog, I speak from my heart ... I have made myself vulnerable to others with the hope that I can offer a sense of love and support to those who feel alone in their depression and/or in their grief. Far too many people are living in darkness and feeling forsaken ... depression feeds on isolation. Please help in my effort to bring people together by sharing this post. No one should ever feel alone. -Jenny Landon
Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic
It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.
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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide.
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