This Girl's Tattoo About Depression Is Cleverly Opening So Much Helpful Dialogue On The Condition — PHOTOS

Bekah Miles’ leg tattoo carries a surprise. Read from one perspective, it says “I’m fine,” but turn it upside down, and it reads “Save me.” Miles’ new tat is more than a cool visual gimmick; it sends a powerful message about depression, reminding us that appearances can be deceiving, and that even the happiest-seeming people can be secretly suffering. Since Miles posted an image of her reversible tattoo on Facebook a few days ago, it has gone viral, garnering almost 300,000 shares and sparking a much-needed conversation about mental illness.

Miles, a student at George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon, was diagnosed with depression a year ago. In a Facebook post about her tattoo, the 20-year-old writes, “Today, I am coming out with something that only few of you know. I am ready to have a conversation about my mental illness.” She explains of the reversible “I’m fine” / ”Save me” image:

To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all. It reminds me that people who may appear happy, may be at battle with themselves.

The CDC estimates that 7.6 percent of Americans suffer from depression. A 2010 study found that only about half of those suffering from depression seek treatment. One major barrier for many people is the stigma that exists against mental illness in this country. Miles movingly explains why it is so important for people to discuss depression and other mental illnesses openly and without shame:

Mental illness is serious, but so shamed in our society. We care so much for our physical health, but hardly a thing about our mental state. And that is seriously messed up. Mental illness is not a choice and will likely hit everyone at some point in their life. If it’s such a huge issue, why aren’t we having this conversation about it?

Miles has received thousands upon thousands of positive comments from people around the world. In a followup to her original post, she writes:

I am completely and utterly in awe of how far this has traveled. This is exactly what I wanted--to reach out to people and let them know that they are not alone.

She ends by stressing the importance of a continuing, open dialogue about depression, writing, “Please, please, please don't stop the conversation. It needs to keep going.”

To find helpful resources for dealing with depression, click here.

Bustle has reached out to Bekah Miles for comment and will update once we hear back.

Image: Pexels; bekahmiles/Instagram