I have bipolar disorder. I experience massive mood swings with little to no warning, massive shifts to anger, despair, anxiety, hyperactivity, and mania. In what was probably the worst of these experiences, I cut my arm quite deeply. I now have two very large scars on my forearm from that night.
Before that night, I often cut myself. “Self-harm,” it’s called, though the reality is much more vulgar. It’s such a sterile-sounding term, but there’s nothing sterile about it. So let’s be plain: I took a knife and cut myself.
A semicolon is not an end to a sentence; it is a pause. In grammar, it often starts a whole new thought while continuing a single sentence.
After that night, I never cut myself again. (Not intentionally, anyway. I am still sometimes clumsy.) The semicolon tattoo I now have on my forearm is positioned directly over those scars, signifying that that period of my life is done, but my life is not over. I have a lot of life to go.
My sister-in-law asked me how getting the tattoo felt. As I was getting it done, I know exactly what it felt like — it felt like when I was self-harming. Is that irony? Perhaps. I like to think of it as poetic: one more time, and the pain is done forever.
Of course I know I’ll always have my depression. It is the darkness in my life, my old friend. Except it’s not my friend — it causes me pain and misery. My true “old friend” is my wife (though she won’t appreciate being called “old,” she knows what I mean), my daughter, and all my other family and friends. They bring light to my darkness and remind me that I am loved.