Katie Marie

What If…Semicolon Movement

What if Goob wakes up and I don’t get enough sleep.  What if I don’t get the boys to school on time.  What if I look fat in the yoga pants I chose for the gym.  What if I don’t have as good of a workout as I hope.  What if I don’t have the motivation to clean the house like I planned to.  What if I don’t finish my master’s degree.  What if no one reads my blog.  What if I never live up to the expectations of my husband.  What if Mr. Man deploys soon.  What if we can’t sell our house.  What if I never lose the baby weight.  What if my parents suddenly die.  What if one of the kids get sick.  What if the car breaks down.  What if…what if…what if!  I have what-ifs running through my thoughts all day, every day.  I have since I was young.  I thought that was a normal occurrence for everyone.

In high school, I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression.  It wasn’t terribly surprising with my family history of mental illness.  I have a great grandma who had a nervous breakdown, became catatonic and underwent shock therapy.  I went through talk therapy, began taking medication and life started to feel normal.  Through the years I had lows, but I hadn’t had any severe depression episodes since high school.  I was always able to pull myself up from my bootstraps and get back to homeostasis.  Then Mr. Man deployed for the first time.  Before he left, I was concerned I would fall into a deep deep depression, but I was able to hold it together.  In fact, I think I functioned pretty awesomely at the time with it being our first deployment, being married 10 years, and mothering 3 kiddos while Mr. Man was away.  Looking back the anxiety was there.  I didn’t get a full night’s sleep the whole time Mr. Man was gone.  It took me forever to fall asleep, and then I would wake up multiple times each night short of breath.  I began exercising routinely, and that did help quite a bit.  Running was my outlet, I could put on my favorite music and zone out.  It was my only release.  But all of that repressed anxiety spilled out as soon as Mr. Man came home.

I had never had a panic attack before, when they started post-deployment I sincerely thought I was having major hormonal issues.  The anxiety would build and build and then something so little would cause the dam to break.  The worst panic attack I had was triggered by my attempt at trying to fit the newly washed ironing board cover back onto the ironing board.  It had shrunk in the dryer and would not fit.  Looking back, it was such a silly thing to break down over, but mental illnesses are not rational, they cannot be convinced to be.

When I finally realized that the panic attacks were in fact not hormone related, I sought help.  I saw a therapist that looked through my entire history and my family history.  She determined that I never had Chronic Depression.  I’ve always had Generalized Anxiety Disorder with minor OCD and when that overloaded my system I would shut down and become depressed.  Or at least I did in my younger years.  As I grew the depression turned into survival, repression, and then would spill out into anxiety and panic attacks.

It’s been almost 6 years since my first panic attack.  I still exercise almost daily, I still take anxiety medication, and I have begun meditation/yoga.  But, those what-ifs never completely go away.  Shortly after we married, Mr. Man gave me some amazing counsel that I still try to live by to this day…if you can’t do anything to change your circumstances today, or tomorrow, or next week, or next month; then why worry over them?!

Mental illness used to be something most wanted to keep secret.  There was a certain stigma behind it like you were weak if you had depression, anxiety, bipolar etc.  Believe me, I have lost count how many times I’ve thought myself weak.  Prolonged insignificance is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

The first time I had made a plan to end my life, I was 14 years old.  I was moving, I was ending middle school and beginning high school, I felt like the weight of the world was on my shoulders as the oldest of 6 kids.  It had been 2 years since my younger sister had passed away and looking back I know I didn’t fully deal with all of those emotions at the time.  Without going into detail, my plan never came to fruition.

The second time was my Jr. year in high school.  At that time, life was difficult.  High school was not kind to me.  I went from living in a large city with what would’ve been a graduating class of 500-750 kids to a small little town that barely had 1000 kids total in the whole high school.  No one ever moved in, no one ever moved out.  The yearbook even had a special page dedicated to the 13-year club, which was filled with students who had gone from kindergarten all the way through high school together.  I was 100% an outsider.  I had tried filling my extra time with sports, a job, I even was actively volunteering at a hospital as a candy striper.

Instead of actually ending my life, I finally sought help.  Honestly, I don’t think I would’ve had it not been for my mom.  At the time she was going through therapy to help her cope with the loss of her daughter.  Her example to me was what caused me to completely stop dead in my tracks and switch directions.  She literally saved my life.  I don’t think she knows or has really ever thought of it that way, but…she did.

While I have definitely had some really low lows since then, I never let myself get to that moment of despair again.  If I feel myself slipping down that rabbit hole, I begin writing down everything I am thankful for and all of the blessings I have been gifted.  If that doesn’t work, then I tell myself all of the situations I’ve endured that have made me strong…going through infertility for 5 years, carrying and then birthing twins, deployments, birthing two more kiddos, running half marathons, etc.  I’ve physically and emotionally endured so much and it has caused my strength to grow more than I ever thought possible.  I have an amazing husband (who has put up with a whole hellofalot from me), 4 children who look up to me and love me in spite of all of my flaws, parents who think the world of me and taught me most all that I know, 5 younger siblings who are my best friends, and an amazing group of friends with whom my relationship with is thicker than blood.

Your life is not over!  Even if you think that you have no one who cares for you, or that you are alone, you ARE NOT!  There is always someone who needs you, a friend, a family member, spouse, child, teacher, coworker etc.  If you are seriously feeling like there is no way out, that you have reached your end, call someone.  At the very least, go here.  The semicolon project specifically helps those who are in the middle of deep despair, who don’t see the way out.  They are a non-profit organization for suicide prevention and mental health awareness.  The semicolon by definition is “a punctuation mark (;) indicating a pause.”

I never thought I would get a tattoo, in fact, I was raised to believe that my body is sacred and although tattoos are beautiful pieces of art, it was something I shouldn’t engage in.  Over the years, I’ve formed my own opinion about body piercings and body art, but I still always thought I would never love something enough to make it permanent.  When I heard about the semicolon project, I realized I wanted a constant permanent reminder of not only what I’ve overcome, but something that would cause me to stop, take a moment to reset, and then to move on with a better outlook.  I’ve had this tattoo for years now, but I would do it all over again.

Writing this post took me a very long time.  I’ve been wanting to tell my story for years…not only to put it in writing but also if my experiences could help just one person, it would be worth it.  I sincerely hope that you reading this, changes your perspective about mental health, enables you to seek help, or even just realize that if you’ve ever felt the same way I have, you are NOT alone!  If nothing else, if you feel like you have no one else…email me!  I care, I haven’t met you yet, I may never meet you, but I still care.  You are important, you are strong enough to feel the light on your face again and the world off of your shoulders.  If you need someone email me… kmboggess@gmail.com.  I promise that I will listen, I will respond, and I will be your friend…no matter what!


  • Serena

    Thank you for sharing something so personal. I love your outlook and they way you have handled your challenges. I wish neither of us had moved away in high school and that we’d kept in better touch as I think we would have been great helps to eachother, as parts of your story could have fit into my life too. Beautifully written…love you Katie!

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