anecdotes and reflections on life with depression and anxiety
Yesterday, I did something I have been talking about since I turned eighteen. I got a tattoo! (Exclamation points in this blog are scarce, I think, so I'm using them here because I'm excited!)
I have always known that I wanted a tattoo in some form of the word "joy," for a few reasons. First -- it's my middle name, and one I've been grateful for ever since I was little. It's a wonderful feeling to know that my parents incorporated part of what they felt about my birth into my name (thanks, Mom and Dad!).
As a Christian, the concept of joy as an enduring spiritual condition due to God's grace, rather than a fleeting emotion of happiness, is important to me and has become more so as I've been learning to live with the psychological condition of depression. One of my favorite Bible verses is from the book of James: "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." (James 1:2-3, English Standard Version). For whatever reason, one of my biggest trials in life is (and, I imagine, always will be) mental illness, and I choose to believe that God will use it to make me into a more patient, steadfast person so that I become what I need to be for others.
I decided to incorporate the semicolon into the tattoo primarily because of Project Semicolon, a nonprofit organization that promotes honestly and openly confronting mental illness and addiction with love and encouragement by using a semicolon as its symbol. The idea appeals to me as both a sufferer of mental illness as well as a writer: the semicolon is what an author uses when the sentence she is writing isn't finished yet. In other words, the story continues on, rather than coming to an end. To me, the semicolon preceding the rest of the word "joy" in my tattoo represents that my sentence, or story, will go on with joy, despite the days that depression and anxiety make me feel like everything is over. I choose the semicolon, not a period. This girl's not done writing her story!
oh, hey --
My name is Lauren. I'm thirty-something, and I like to take naps and read good books and watch bad television. I love my husband and I love my cat, and I live with depression and anxiety, which is mostly what you'll read about here.