Why I Got Tattoo at 18
YAYYYY I AM FINALLY BACK AT SCHOOL!! I tried to keep up as best I could with work, and I think I did an okay job. Bless my professors for being so incredible understanding about the whole thing, which I’m now calling the Visit. Because I ended up visiting several places I didn’t want to. I’m super creative, I know.
So I am still muddling through getting everything all tied up with a bow, but I wanted to say a massive thank you to all of you who are reading this, have liked our Facebook page, and all the super awesome and really sweet messages both my mom and I have gotten about it. It means so much to us. If you have anything you want to hear us answer or discuss, please message us, leave a comment, anything. We even have an email! Whenever we get any comment or like, we do a happy dance. Like you dog when you come home from work or school and WE’RE JUST SUPER HAPPY THAT YOU’RE HERE.
Recovered, recurrent, or if you’re just starting your journey, your story is invaluable. 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health concern, and only 41% of them received treatment in 2015.
I believe that’s hugely due to the stigma. I hate this thing with a burning passion because humans are social creatures and we need the support of others around us. I can go on a whole rant about it for, seriously, like 10 minutes. But it’s a common feeling, so I try to contain myself. But I wanted to do more beyond talking about it. I wanted to show that I was more than some mysterious thing that no one ever wants to talk about. When I heard of the semicolon project, it felt perfect. But permanently inking my skin with something that happened three years ago just didn’t feel right. I felt more removed from my past, like it was just some bad, out of the blue, incident that will never happen again. I’d been fine for years (when you’re 18, 3 years ago feel like a whole separate lifetime), and I didn’t want to consider it any more than I had to. Yes, the stigma prevented me from getting a stigma-fighting tattoo. I know, the irony of that sentence.
But then I was back in the hospital, and the beautiful tattoos of my roommate convinced me to turn my own pain into something meaningful not just to me, but to every person I encounter.
I can remember the worst year of my life. During it, I did some pretty nasty things to my own body, and I will carry those marks for the rest of my life. I’ve always been self-conscious of them, afraid that all my nasty history is inscribed for all to see. I’ve been told that they’re hardly noticeable, but I can’t look down without seeing them. I felt marked as broken, unworthy, and unlovable. Those scars made me damaged goods that I felt no one would want.
When I first started working with my therapist here in Chicago, she confronted me with a great question: “what is the story you tell yourself about you?” To me, those scars were proof of every bad thing I ever thought about myself. They were telling me that my story was pain and suffering.
I can’t rewrite history, but I can change what I tell myself about me. And I can help others see that their stories they told themselves were not who they are. I decided to mark over the story I told myself then with the story I tell myself now, and I wear my new story proudly. It’s the story that I want to tell the world that every single person struggling with anything. We are warr;iors. Our story doesn’t end at the war, it’s simply the beginning of a new chapter.