Fighting depression: Are you part of Project Semicolon?

Saniya Yousuf Jul 15 2015

When a person deliberately wants to harm himself and he thinks it is the only way of dealing with difficult situations, such a phenomenon comes under the category of self-harm. It can make you feel better for some time and it might help you cope with your problems temporarily, but this ‘solution’ is short lived. In the long run, it might just make you feel worse and it can put you in danger as well.

Of course, finding a permanent solution to self-harming activities is not that easy. Since self-harm becomes an inherent habit, it is hard to let go of in difficult situations. It takes time to recover and relapsing is a big possibility. Self-harming can take many forms such as cutting, burning, puncturing, bruising, picking, scratching, embedding or just hitting yourself.

People who self-harm themselves are very secretive about their behavior. They shroud their secrecy and avoid people finding out about what they do to themselves. They often cover up their wounds with jewelry, bandages or clothing. In a manner of speaking, self-harming or deliberately injuring yourself is a method of communicating with what cannot be spoken.

For such people, having a strong support system is very important.

To self-harmers, their skin is the canvas and the cut, bruise or burn is the paint that illustrates their inner turmoil. Self-harmers have difficulty in expressing themselves. They struggle with internal conflicts, they suffer with anxiety and depression, and sometimes they go through sexual or physical abuse which leads to serious psychological concerns.

Depression also leads to this act of silent communication. Therefore, we should understand that this is a serious illness.

Amy Bleuel, who lost her father after he committed suicide while battling depression, got herself a tattoo of a semicolon. Soon, this expression took the form of a social campaign for people who suffer from depression or other self-harming disorders. In proper punctuation, a semicolon is used when an author could have chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. Amy’s campaign was based on this idea: the author is you, and the sentence is your life. Your story is not over yet.

This movement is now being termed as Project Semicolon.

The semi-colon tattoo now represents the struggle of people suffering from mental health. While it started out as just a tribute, Project Semicolon has grown into something greater as this tattoo has become a reminder of struggle, survival and victory.

Although tattoos have gained popularity around the world, as Pakistanis and Muslims we of course cannot permanently ink our skin. It is in fact a form of self-harm and damaging your skin. So what can be done if you want to be a part of such a movement?

We can surely get a henna tattoo of a semicolon or a temporary tattoo to show our support. We can also start an Instagram page called “Pakistanis for Semicolons,” and let the rest of the world know we are going strong as well.

We can put stickers of semicolons on our cars.

The point of this movement is to create awareness of depression, anxiety, self harm and other psychological issues which can become life-threatening.

For those who are struggling with psychological issues and fighting the battle of self-harm, first you need to see a therapist or a psychiatrist to talk out your problems. Talk therapy is great.

Replacing your self-harm tendencies is of course another way. Here are some of the things you can do if you want to stop yourself from self-harm:

  1. Draw, paint or scribble with paint or ink on a big piece of paper
  2. Write as much as you can, express your feelings on a writing pad
  3. Try to compose a poem to express how you feel. Talents are always appreciated and they make you feel better
  4. Write your negative thoughts on a piece of paper and rip the paper, or crumble it up and throw it away
  5. Listen to music on loud volume
  6. Call a friend who is always ready to listen to you (don’t call a person who judges you)
  7. Take a cold shower as it helps to release stress
  8. Hold an ice cube in the crook of your leg or arm


If you know someone who is going through these disorders, let them know that you are there for them by drawing this tattoo and becoming a part of something bigger than yourself. Let these people know that you are with them, in their struggle, no matter what happens.

Saniya Yousuf

Saniya Yousuf:

Saniya Yousuf is a student of Media Sciences at Ziauddin University and an Internee at HTV who has a love for art and writing. With the immense love for writing, words grew from a mild interest to an integral part of what defines her.