Not That I *Needed* A Reason, But My Tattoos Helped Me Cope With My Mental Illness

Not That I *Needed* A Reason, But My Tattoos Helped Me Cope With My Mental Illness

It's a way to relearn to love your body after fighting to get healthy.
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There are many different reasons for people with mental illnesses to get tattoos.

Sometimes, it's simply because they enjoy thaat tattoo aesthetic and nothing deeper. For others, it's a coping mechanism. There are an infinite amount of coping mechanisms people can use, so it isn't too much of a surprise that some people may use tattoos in that way.

Plus, regardless of whatever coping mechanism their using, it shouldn't matter what it is as long as it is healthy and keeps them safe.

Personally, I lived in a body that gave me a great deal of suffering.

Tattoos are a form of taking back control of my body.

It's a way to relearn to love my body after fighting to get healthy. Each tattoo symbolizes a time and place in my life worth remembering. This can be said for many people who face mental illnesses on a frequent or daily basis as well.

I spoke to my best friend, who started a massive back piece as his first tattoo. He told me that his tattoo "boosted a lot of [his] self-esteem. It makes [him] smile when [he] or someone else sees it. It also helped with [his] depression and stopped him from self-harming entirely. It also allows an easy way for a friend to calm [him] down: just trace the tattoo lightly with your hand." I also spoke to a girl in one of my college courses who gave herself a small stick-and-poke tattoo that "is a little confidence booster and conversation starter." It makes her "feel cuter about [her] body" as well. This train of thought for getting tattoos is a more common one, but there are other reasons as well.

Another example of how tattoos help mental illnesses is that many people who self-harm may see tattoos as a positive, healthier alternative. I talked to a Facebook friend about how her tattoo affects her mental health. She told me that her "tattoo has helped [her] a lot. [She] got it because [she] has bad tendencies to cut and other forms of self harm. [Her] tattoo is a semicolon and anytime [she] see it, especially if [she's] upset or depressed, it reminds [her] to stay strong and that is possible to fully recover." Another reason for tattoos could be for anxiety or panic attacks. An internet friend said that one of her five tattoos is a "constant reminder to breathe when in an attack and getting tattoos is kind of a therapy."

I also talked to an internet friend I've known for several long years now, and the story of her tattoo is too beautiful not to share. She had been developing signs of OCD as she entered college, going as far as repiercing her spetum three times because it wasn't absolutely perfect.

Later on, she got a matching tattoo with her dad of a little ocean wave on their feet. After getting it, she fully realized the extent of her OCD when she went as far as to "try and scratch it off in the shower" because it wasn't absolutely perfect. This forced her to get help and overcome her anxiety and OCD. She's able to look at it now and remember the healing that came from it and loves it. She was even able to get a second tattoo, which further strengthened her to fight her OCD and anxieties, and plans for even more in the near future. This is a unique experience but an absolutely beautiful one.

Tattoos can also take the place of something the person may feel is missing. They can fill a metaphorical hole in their heart they may be experiencing. They can bring beauty to a scar, such as surgery or an accident from long ago. They are an enhancement and esteem booster. Thankfully in our modern day society, they are becoming more acceptable and in turn helps those that use tattoos as a coping mechanism. Sadly, it didn't always use to be this way.

There was originally this idea (and some people today still believe) that people with tattoos have more sexual partners and unprotected sex in adolecents . This originally made tattoos offputting in the workplace, but are thankfully now more accepted as things other than that train of thought. It was also thought that tattoos only signified some sort of personality disorder, which is also false. While tattoos can help, there are so many reasons for them. Going forward, it is always a good idea to accept people for who they are and the tattoos they may have. It's best to accept them for how they are and not judge a book by its cover.
Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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The Only Difference Between A Summer Body And Your Winter Body Is Your Attitude

Your love handles need love, too.

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Summer is coming and for most, this is a very exciting time. The weather is warm, school is out, and the beaches are packed. Although summer is great most of the time, it can also be super stressful for people who aren't confident in their bodies. There is a body ideal that is set on media sharing sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and VSCO that makes people feel like they need to fit that image to be considered attractive.

My first problem is, well, these images are unrealistic in the first place. Most of the time, people posting photos of them in their bikinis or swim trunks have edited the photo in some way. Whether they've edited it to appear skinnier, more muscular, or tanner, odds are they've doctored the photo in some way. Even if they haven't, who cares!

I know I've personally struggled when it comes time to buy a bathing suit. Honestly, it's the worst thing ever. Looking in the mirror and seeing what you look like after the holidays and 4 months without the sun can be shocking. It's time to embrace this! I've seen so many people posting "working on my summer body," or "getting ready for bikini season," and it's honestly just sad.

A person shouldn't have to change their everyday lifestyle to want to "look good" in their bathing suit. What's wrong with a little extra weight on the thighs or some cellulite on your butt? As long as you feel confident with your body, you should want to embrace it and show it off!

Feeling confident in today's world is harder than ever for women. The media is pushing body positivity, but it doesn't seem like it applies to everyone. If a celebrity is a little thicker, everyone applauds them and talks about how beautiful they are, "even though they're bigger," and that is exactly where the problem lies. Shifting the standard of beauty because someone is bigger totally discredits whatever compliments they receive. It's a backhanded compliment and it's not fair to include a comment about their weight while trying to compliment them. Someone's beauty should not be defined by how big or small they are and saying people are an exception to the rule probably hurts them more than you think.

I don't know about you but I won't be doing anything to prepare my body for this summer because these people are going to take what I give them! All in all, love yourself first and it'll give others the opportunity to do the same!

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