On December 11th 2015 at 6pm EST, I went into a tattoo parlour in East Village, New York, and paid $54.44 for a tattooist to permanently ink a semicolon on the inside of my left wrist.
I did this because 4 hours later it was going to be exactly two years since I last gave up on life. On that same day in 2013, I was in my room in Northern Ireland, feeling isolated and abandoned. I was watching a constant stream of negativity and hatred appearing on Facebook. I was being bombarded with messages asking if I was okay, asking what had happened, and asking me if the things being said about me were true.
I didn't know what to do. I was hurting. I thought I'd done right in avoiding an uncomfortable situation, but, in true scared teenager fashion, when I was confronted about my reasons for not being where I was meant to be that day, I lashed out. I felt like I was being attacked for my valid discomfort.
It didn't take long for this to blow up into full blown conflict. So at 3am GMT on December 12th 2013, I took an overdose in an attempt to escape the all-consuming feeling of loneliness and fear.
Obviously, I survived. I felt sick and groggy for a few days, but I got through it. In 2014 I heard about the Semicolon Project. The basis is simple: you are the author, the sentence is your life. A semicolon is used when the author could have ended the sentence but didn't.
Since that night in 2013, I have experienced more trauma, more hurt, more betrayal. However, every time, I've decided to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and take life one day at a time. I have chosen to use a semicolon, to pause, rather than use a full stop and end the sentence.
This is why I have a semicolon hidden on the inside of my left wrist. This is why I use a semicolon in my logo at the top of this website. This is why this website exists, and why I'm determined to ensure that no young person ever feels so lonely and hurt that they feel the need to use a full stop.