I'm not the type to get ink just because I want ink, though. I generally want it to have some meaning. The dragon on my right foot had more meaning 24 years ago when I got it, and not so much today.
The entwined bass clef and treble clef on my left shoulder still has meaning, because music is still very much a part of my life.
The right shoulder is more a bit of a personalized statement and a subtle affiliation marker.
But, it's time to get a new one.
A very close family member has dealt with depression for most of their life. As part of my family, that's taken a toll on not just them, but on me and the rest of the family as well, but we've endured. Sometimes, we just took a step back, took a deep breath, and pressed on.
Yesterday, someone posted a link on Facebook that nicely summarized this idea that has kept us all going in a very unique way, or at least I believe it so.
It's called the Semicolon Project, and I heard about it from the blog of a young woman at hpwritesblogs.
It tells the story of depression and how it has affected her life, and how she has learned to cope, deal, and live with it, because it doesn't just "go away"; rather, it's a relentless engine that never quits...but it can be paused. It's become, for her, her normal way of living.
Now, "normal" is a societal construct that is, ultimately, meaningless. "Normal" is the roughly 90% of humanity between the (again, roughly) 5% endcaps of aberrancy that prevent someone from safely functioning in society...and by that I mean the clinically insane, violent psychotics, serial-killing sociopaths, etc., the ones you can't cure but only lock up for their and everyone else's safety.
Depression isn't as "abnormal" as society likes to stigmatize it; MANY struggle with it to a greater or lesser degree. I don't mean a passing "blue mood", but a real invisible illness that can utterly control and destroy your life. Doubtful? Most people wouldn't know what a CPU is or have even seen one...but many know there's one in their computer. It's the "brain" of the computer. If it has a problem, NOTHING works right, even the physical parts.
That's depression, folks.
Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it can't break someone down and destroy them, and even those around them when they fall apart.
But it's treatable. Don't dismiss odd signs, or cries for help. "Oh, he seemed so happy!" But after, there's always signs that people ignored, dismissed, or simply didn't recognize for what they were.
Support. Avoid platitudes like, "Oh, it'll be fine", "Just get over it", "it'll pass", or any other such. They. Don't. Help. In fact, don't you think they've TRIED to just get past it?
LISTEN. Absorb what they're saying; you may not be able or trained to fix anything, but you can be there for them to lean on, be a shoulder, be a FRIEND. Don't judge or condemn; if ever "walking a mile in someone's shoes" applied, this is certainly it. If they don't have the strength, lend them yours. It's hard enough living in today's world without adding in something like depression; don't make it harder on someone with it.
Help them take that little "pause", and BE that little "pause" if need be.
I'm going to look into getting one, to remind me to take the pauses I need to continue being supportive for those that need support, and to remind me that sometimes others need that pause too. If someone is suffering from depression and never speaks to me, if they know of this project and see it it might just be the pause to let them know they're not alone, to take a deep breath, to take a step back, and when ready to press on with the rest of their life.