“I have dealt with mental illness for as long as I can remember, and that is not an exaggeration. My earliest memories are traced with clear signs and symptoms of depression, even as young as 5 or 6 years old. Growing up, I was not allowed to receive any kind of help with these issues. Despite overwhelming feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, I was determined to keep going.
For the majority of my life, I have battled with suicidal thoughts. Yet, I was determined to keep going. In high school, I found two symbols that came to mean a lot to me.
The butterfly: A symbol of hope, change, transformation; The Butterfly Project challenges those who struggle with self-harm to draw a butterfly on themselves when they want to hurt themselves, name it for someone, and not engage in self-harm while it’s there.
The semicolon: Used when an author could have ended a sentence but decided not to; Project Semicolon says that we are the author and the sentence we choose to continue is our life.
I have held these symbols close for nearly a decade. Last year, when I felt like I was drowning in the pain of mental illness, I mentioned to my friend Rachel that if I ever got a tattoo it would be a butterfly with a semicolon for its body. Rachel, a graphic designer, told me she’d design semicolon butterflies for me.”
Rachel is now the founder and designer for Butterfl;es For Better Days. She acknowledges Melissa’s influence as the greatest inspiration for her work.