Yes, I wrote a children’s book inspired by a tattoo. Actually, I wrote, edited, commissioned art for & stubbornly self-published a children’s book inspired by a tattoo.
*Content warning: reference to mental health crises & suicidality*
For those who don’t know, semicolon tattoos are special. While every tattoo has personal significance, generally a semicolon tattoo is a profound statement of survival, hope and solidarity in the face of mental health struggles. It may pay tribute to someone who lost their life from a mental health crisis. Often, it means the wearer themselves struggled so severely with mental illness at some point that they considered “ending their story” but kept going. As the late Amy Bleuel, who popularized the tattoo, explained, “A semicolon is used when the author could have ended their sentence but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.”
I don’t have a semicolon tattoo… but only because I opted for a different kind of ink.
A decade ago, I experienced my first major depression. People tend to assume that time heals grief, or trauma, or heartbreak, but that’s not always the case. It wasn’t for me. As time passed, I got worse instead of better. By autumn, it was swallowing me. By the new year, I was ready for my story to end.
I was lucky; someone intervened. Time didn’t heal the wounds, but treatment did. It was not an easy or linear process. Most days, progress was not even obvious.
When I learned about semicolon tattoos years later, their message resonated at once. I’d been at those crossroads. I knew these tattoos were anything but skin-deep.
And I was blown away by how much was packed into this tiny symbol… Resilience. Perspective. Hope.
I wished I’d known about it sooner. Looking back on that first depression, what stands out is being in adulthood yet struggling with basics like “thoughts aren’t truths” and “feelings don’t last forever.” I simply had no framework to understand there could be more ahead while my mind insisted it was over.
The semicolon offers a solid plank in that framework, one we can start building early in life – no tattoo required.
So… I began writing what would become The Semicolon.