My Story Isn’t Over Yet


shaley hoogendoorn -my story isn’t over yet-3By Shaley Hoogendoorn | Instagram:@messybeautywithshaley

To watch Shaley’s full video, click here. Below is an edited transcription. Email subscribers, please click through to the website to watch the video. If you are struggling with any mental health issues, we hope you will reach out and seek professional help. 

Several months ago I got a tattoo with my very best friend.

She was the perfect person to get this daring tattoo with. She was the perfect person because she was my sister in very many things, but most importantly she was my sister-in-mental-illness.

We had waited a few years to get this tattoo because we needed to be ready. We needed to be ready to share our journey, a part of ourselves we once held dear and didn’t share with a lot of people. We needed to be ready to share our history without shame. We needed to be ready to share this part of our story with any who would ask.

Our tattoos say, “be st;ll.” The [semicolon] symbol means so much to me. It speaks of a journey through and with bipolar.

The semicolon was inspired by the Project Semicolon, a suicide prevention project. If you’ve ever been asked the question “Are you a harm to yourself or others?” you would understand why The Project Semicolon needs to exist.

I’ve been asked that question several times and my answer was always a quick no—no, I am not a harm to myself or others. But if I’m really honest and I dig deep, I don’t know if that’s fully true.

Would I take my life? No. But did I want to disappear sometimes when the pain was too much? Yeah. Did I want to sleep through all the anxiety and anger and the confusion? Did I want to crawl into my bed and sleep and possibly never wake up? Yes.

I sometimes felt like I wanted to a erase myself a little bit. Just to erase myself in the parts of the year when I was not fully present and when I was not fully myself, when the very worst part of me came forward. The question is not as simple as you think.

Project Semicolon was started to inspire people to tell their story. All of us can take part in this. All of us can raise public awareness and educate communities. The project believes that we can equip every person with the right tools to face the next day and the next day and the next.

It is a beautiful project that was first started by a woman named Amy who suffered from depression. She went on social media and asked anybody who suffered with mental illness to draw a semicolon on their wrist and show it to the world. This caught on fire. Everybody did and eventually it turned into a worldwide movement of tattoos. Ours is one of them.

My friend was the perfect person to get my tattoo with because she has been asked these questions too. She has had to dig deep and figure out the answers for herself. She is the type of person who I can call and I can text and I can tell my deep ugly truth to. She is the type of person who can send me texts that fill my heart and make me want to face all of the tomorrows.

She writes things like, “Remember in your anxiety that you are not alone. In your place of stillness lies a friend, a friend who is sad you suffer but is thankful for your deep understanding.”

These type of messages and and movements like Project Semicolon make all the difference. Knowing that you were not alone, knowing that there are hundreds if not thousands of people who suffer from the same thing, knowing that I have people who understand fully what I go through means the world to me.

We chose the word “be still” for several reasons. We chose those words because it reminded us to be still, take a breath and think of only the truth instead of the lies that are telling us we’re not good enough, that we are not OK and that we shouldn’t be around.

shaley hoogendoorn -my story isn’t over yet-1

Our tattoos say “be still” because we’re choosing to stay alive and be here still. We are choosing to be fully present in the now, and taking it moment by moment. We are choosing to be here still tomorrow and for the future.

The semicolon is the perfect symbol because in literature it’s used to continue the sentence. It’s used as a way of saying my story is not over yet. There is an ending and it is just as important as the beginning. To me this is a beautiful thing because I know I have so much to share. I know that in sharing I can reach someone else and show them that you can live with this illness and you can thrive with the right tools and the right support.

My tattoo reminds me that my past does not dictate my future.
My tattoo reminds me that I am still here. I am scarred, and sometimes scared, but I am still standing.
My tattoo reminds me of the warrior I have become.
My tattoo reminds me of Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”
My tattoo reminds me that I am loved by the most high God and there is a bigger plan for my life that I can imagine.
My tattoo reminds me to be here, to be still and to be alive.
My tattoo reminds me to keep telling my story, to share my truth because by ensuring my truth, others will become aware of these illnesses. Other people will become aware of the people around them who are suffering right now. It reminds me that there are others out there who care and there are others out there who feel just like me.
My tattoo reminds me that what is to come is equally as important as what has passed.

April 16 is World Semicolon Day. It is a day to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide prevention. I hope that this day will help us move towards removing the stigma. I truly hope that my tattoo will inspire and give voice to those who are suffering, to those of you that are stuck in the mess, murkiness and despair. I hope you see that this semicolon represent something for me and something for you. My story is not over yet and neither is yours.

I hope you know that if you want to share your story your journey that SheLoves is a safe place for you to land. If you want to comment you can make an anonymous account and comment on our blog. If you want to share your story and send it in just know we will hold it with the utmost care.

I hope you know we’re with you today, and God is with you always. 

*photography by Emily Collacott of Flourish Photography. website | instagram*


shaley About Shaley:

Shaley grew up in Northern BC in her family-built log home with loads of brothers. Her childhood was filled with snow, skates, hockey and huskies. Shaley has always had a small town heart with big city dreams. She is married to Rob and put down roots in PoCo with their smart and sassy tween girls. Shaley has no inner monologue, never follows a recipe and has the biggest hair in any room. Hands down.
Shaley invests her heart into her family, her community and her world. She works as an elementary school teacher and an event planner. She is fiercely passionate about helping the next generation become peacemakers and world changers. She brings beauty and order to Women’s Events and everyday life. She believes in sisterhood and women telling their stories without judgement. She follows Jesus and believes that love always ALWAYS wins.
Come follow her ramblings on Instagram at @shaley_hoogs and @messybeautywithshaley