Words by Leona Morelock
One day, a girl told her story, that story changed the world.
I highlighted a tattoo on my wrist in The Mind, issue 12 of Holl & Lane; a semicolon. That semicolon represents that my story isn’t finished and is part of a much larger mission than my own.
Project Semicolon is a faith-based nonprofit organization. Its mission is to inspire and encourage people who live with mental health concerns, fostering hope and empowerment. It is a strong testament to the significant impact a single person with vision and hope can have on others.
Amy Bleuel founded Project Semicolon in 2013 to honor her father who died of suicide 10 years earlier. About the symbol, she wrote: ‘A semi-colon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.’ Project Semicolon's tagline - "Your story is not over" - gives hope and inspiration to countless people.
Amy died of suicide on March 23rd which is a week prior to the debut of Issue 12. For over 20 years, Amy battled with and suffered from depression. To say she had a rough life is putting it lightly. Mental, physical, and sexual abuse (causing a pregnancy which she later lost) were some of the things that Amy endured in life.
Have you ever had someone that you never met but feel so close to? When I first learned about Amy’s death it seemed like the death of a close friend. I could not shake wanting to know more about her life and I didn’t want our friendship to end. This shows the legacy that she left and the amount of lives that she touched without ever knowing. In turn, there are many lives that we change without knowledge. Smiling at a stranger may be what he/she needed at that moment. We are meant to be for a reason.
I admire Amy’s transparency with her story. I fully believe that we go through trials in our life so we can walk along side those who need their own survival. To me this verse says just that:
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' 'Neither this man nor his parents sinned,' said Jesus, 'but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.'" John 9:1-3 NIV
The reason for tough times isn’t always related to our behavior, but so that when God helps us through, it is a testament to the strength we had only through Him. We can’t get through this world alone and were never meant to. Jesus loves community and friends. He had 12 best friends that he did day-to-day life with.
Just like everyone, I’ve had severe trials that I never thought would end, but always came out that much stronger for it. And in sharing my story, I seem to always gain more wisdom from it. When we say things out loud to others the story becomes real and also gives us more freedom from the past. Being transparent doesn’t mean that we show our failures, insecurities, or vulnerabilities but that our past has defined the person we are today.
I have never been suicidal, but have a constant struggle with depression. I’m so glad that we are talking openly about mental health and sharing without the stigma. You are never alone and the more people we know who battle with our same struggle, the easier it will seem and the less isolated we will feel.
This phrase is on Project Semicolon’s website and I believe it will have been some of Amy’s last words - "Just don’t let them forget why I was here, because that’s what is important."
You can read more about Amy, the project, and mental health at www.semicolonproject.com.
Leona Morelock is a Life Celebrationist. Along with that title comes mom to Bronson, wife to Chad and child of God. One of her passions is designing and planning meaningful weddings and celebrating all of life’s milestones. Empowering women in faith, life and business is another.