Tattoos and Depression

I wouldn’t say that I have an addictive personality. I hardly ever drink, I don’t smoke, I take edibles, but not often, I don’t do hardcore drugs, I have sex, but just with my husband, and I guess you could say it is a “typical” amount of copulation for a couple who has been together for ten years, and I usually don’t overeat. I am not used to having that feeling of needing something so badly that it is all that you can think about, that is, until now.

I got my first tattoo when I was eighteen years old, and I regretted it immediately. It was a larger piece on the inner part of my left forearm, and when you are used to seeing a blank canvas to suddenly having something there that is permanent it can be a bit of a shock. I just remember waking up the next day in tears thinking “what have I done?” I promised myself that I would never get another tattoo for the remainder of my life, and I was going to try to save up enough money to get the one tattoo that I had removed. Then, six months later, I found myself in a tattoo shop getting another one.

Tattoo9

I love tattoos. I love piercings. I love the adrenaline rush that I get when I pull up to my favorite shop and see my favorite artists. I love the smell of the ink and the buzz of the tattoo gun. I love sitting in the chair and wondering what my next piece is going to be while I am getting something done. The music, the laughter, the swearing, the connections that you make with the person who is working on you, it all just makes my serotonin levels rise. I feel like I am in my own personal euphoria, and I soak up every moment of it. I don’t crave a lot of attention from others, but getting work done is such an intimate experience. You’re putting your trust into someone to alter the shell that holds you in it. They are changing not only your appearance but in a way, also your life. To me, that is beautiful.

Altogether, I have nine tattoos. I have gotten four tattoos in less than ten months, which is a lot for me. Two of those tattoos were done in the last twenty-four hours. I used to average one tattoo every year and a half to two years, so this is an interesting change of pace for me. I have been doing some thinking, and I think I have figured out why this flux of ink has been taking place. 

Although I am always thinking about tattoos, I tend to want them, even more, when I am either approaching or in a low. Interestingly enough, just a few days ago I had a therapy appointment with my therapist where we were talking about some newer feelings that were arising, and she expressed that she was worried that I was taking a step backward. I do feel like I am starting to revert to what my norm has been for all of these years, but I am desperately trying to nip it in the bud before it takes me down too much. Anyways, I think I have a correlation between my depression and my tattoos. You see, as stated in previous articles, my coping mechanism for a severe low or anxiety is cutting. I am proud to say that it has been a good stretch of time that I have gone without hurting myself, but that is where the tattoos come in.

Tattoo6

The moment the needle touches my skin I get giddy. Even when I am not in a great place mentally, I feel better. Whenever I would cut, it felt like a release. A break from feeling the way that I have felt for so long. I can breathe, and all my worries escape my mind, even if it’s just for a moment. Sometimes a moment break is better than no break at all. I have learned that tattoos give me that same relief, but it is even better. Instead of marking my body with scars, I am marking my body with images that bring me joy. There is only one tattoo that I feel “eh” about, but it will be an easy cover-up. 

Tattoo7

So here is my justification for my tattoos: They help me feel better. Mentally it is an escape, physically it helps me relax and my pieces have helped build my self-esteem. I would rather have my body marked with art rather than scars, so as long as I have the means to continue with my pieces, then you can expect to see me sitting in my favorite shop with my favorite artists.

Self-Esteem

I often wonder if the way that I physically view myself is the way that others view me. When I look at myself in the mirror, I try to avoid looking at myself because I am sick of always going through the list of things that I would like to alter on myself. I’m constantly comparing myself to others, and I am always wondering what I must have done in a previous life to look the way that I look.

My husband always tells me that I am beautiful, but let’s be honest, you’re not going to believe anyone who tells you something that you don’t believe. There is always a part of me that thinks that he feels obligated to tell me things like that because he is my husband, but usually I just respond with a casual thank you and call it a day. I know that Stephen probably really thinks that I am beautiful and it is my own issue, so I try not to allow my insecurities to get in the way of our relationship. I am extremely fortunate because I married someone who is very pleasing to the eye, so I always feel guilty that Stephen had to settle for a creature like me.

The list of the things I would want to change about me is long.

  1. I wish I wasn’t as pale as I am.
  2. I wish I was taller.
  3. I wish my hands weren’t ugly.
  4. I wish I had pretty nails.
  5. I wish my hair wasn’t so frizzy.
  6. I wish I had better control of my weight.
  7. I wish my feet were cuter.
  8. I wish I didn’t have a gap in my front teeth.
  9. I wish that my hair was lighter.
  10. In fact, I wish I had less hair.
  11. I wish my boobs were perkier.
  12. I wish I had those really cute back dimples.
  13. I wish that my lips were fuller.

There are several things that I wish I could change about myself, but alas, I am pretty much stuck with this body. I guess I should say that I highly doubt that I, Brookana Tempera, is the ugliest creature to have ever existed in the entirety of the universe, but I definitely am not what society says is beautiful. So is it societies fault that I feel this way about myself? Is it societies fault that I have a habit of comparing how I look to others? Is it societies fault that I can’t bear to look at myself sometimes? Maybe. I grew up around people who have always cared about what they looked like, and I think being around that made me conscious of my physical appearance. But even though I grew up in an environment where how someone visually looks was a significant factor, I still think that I would have had self-esteem issues. Unfortunately, I am pretty much convinced that mostly everyone has a list of things that they would like to change about themselves, and that is pretty sad.

At the end of the day, I remain grateful that I love who I am as a person. I once had a family friend refer to their body as a shell for their soul, and that still resonates with me to this very day. I truly feel like my soul, the energy that is me, does not have a correlation to my body. My body is the armor for my soul, it is the physical matter that allows me to walk alongside others on this planet, but it is not who I am.

I have another list that I think about whenever I start feeling self-conscious about how I look.

  1. I am kind
  2. I am loving
  3. I am selfless
  4. I am funny
  5. I am intelligent
  6. I am analytical
  7. I am organzied
  8. I am determined
  9. I am quick thinking
  10. I am sympathetic
  11. I am someone who fights for what they want
  12. I am fun
  13. I am adventurous

There is more to me than just my body. I am a good person with good intentions, and it is such a shame that I allow myself to get upset about what I see in a mirror. I wish that there was a way that the way we look wasn’t even a factor in how we view ourselves, because for the most part, we all have positive attributes that we often forget about. Think about who you are, not what you look like, but who you truly are, and write it down. That way, when you are feeling down because of what you look like, you can be reminded of what actually matters.

Keep in mind that they way that we view ourselves probably isn’t how the rest of the world views us. We have a tendency as human beings to exaggerate things, and I would like to think that we exaggerate our insecurities. When you constantly focus on something, it becomes easier to blow that thing way out of proportion.

Just remember this, who you are is not what you look like. If you have a beautiful soul, than that is beauty in its purest form.