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.

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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.

I am Falling

I am falling. 

When it comes to my depression and anxiety, I never know what each day is going to look like. Some days I feel like I can live a functional life, while some days I can barely get out of bed.

I am falling.

Just as I thought everything was starting to look up, I realized that I was starting to come back down.

I am falling.

Internally I am screaming for help as loud as I can, but as desperate as I am to reach out to others I am afraid to burden them.

I am falling.

There is a tiny voice in my head that keeps taunting me. “Here we go again. Brookana is falling into another low.” I want to grab my mind and shake it, I want to scream “SHUT UP” and “LEAVE ME ALONE” but I know whatever I do I won’t be able to quiet the voice. 

I am falling. 

I haven’t cut in a decent amount of time, and the only reason I am writing right now is to distract myself. I see my scars on my thighs, the marks that represent that desperation to feel something, to satisfy my mind. I don’t want any more of these reminders, but the amount of strength that it is taking to not pick up my blade is exhausting. 

I am falling.

I haven’t left my house in three days.

I am falling.

I am isolating.

I am falling.

I am not sleeping.

I am falling.

I wonder what it is like to not have to experience depression and anxiety. Is it as sweet as I imagine it to be? Not having to worry about sinking, not having to worry about bleeding, not having to think about how your own mind is trying to sabotage your life. How freeing it must feel to not have anxiety that dictates what you can and can not do, to have this warden in your own personal prison, to have the power to literally take your breath away and make you feel like you are dying.

I am falling.

I imagine my life is a giant rabbit hole. I keep falling and falling until I can finally grip something and pull myself up, and then out of nowhere I slip and I am falling again. If I hit the ground, that means I am gone, but if I can eventually pull myself up I could finally experience living.

I am falling. 

My cat won’t leave my side. I think he can sense something is wrong.

I am falling.

This time around, I refuse to say that I am fine until I actually feel fine.

I am falling.

I am breathing. With each breath that I inhale and with each movement of my chest reminds me that I have more life to live. 

I am falling.

I need time to work through this.

I am falling.

Just like every other time I sink into a low, I know I will be okay.

I am falling.

Furchildren

Animals are the gift that we are given so that we can experience pure love and happiness. I have three animals, Luna, Gimli, and Arya, and every moment that is spent with them is more valuable than platinum to me. The bond that I have with my furchildren is unlike any other bond that I have ever had with another living soul. That may sound odd to some people out there, but truthfully I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Every human being has flaws, and I am definitely not excluded from that, but the way that my animals look at me makes feel me as though they can only see the good that I offer. Perhaps they are aware of my faults and they love me unconditionally anyway, and for that, I will always be grateful. 

Luna, my golden retriever mix, is the sunshine that has been missing from my life. She brings me warmth when I am feeling down. She soothes my fears and my worries when I feel absolutely consumed by them. She makes me laugh and smile even when I am in my darkest moments. It truly feels as if she knows me better than most people out there, and I know I can count on her to be there for me whenever I need her. Luna, or Luna Belle, has a personality that everyone can fall in love with almost immediately. She is so loveable and accepting, and I thank the universe every day for allowing me to be her mom.

Luna1

Gimli, one of two cats, is a sweet little daddy’s boy that has us both wrapped around his little paw. Gimli is one of the most easy-going cats I have ever known, and yet he is almost always ready to play. When it comes to playtime he really only goes crazy for a few things. Nail files, rubber bands, and lasers put him into a frenzy, and we can’t help but laugh hysterically while watching him play. (No need to worry, we watch and monitor him in a controlled area when he is playing with these items.) Gimli is the biggest snuggle bug that has ever existed and is the only cat that I know of that loves to have his belly rubbed while he is taking a snooze. He loves to give kisses, and when he wants a kiss he will put his nose on your lips. He is the most handsome little man that I have ever seen, and I love him so much. 

Gimli1

Arya, my second cat, is my crazy furbaby. One of my favorite qualities of Arya is her ability to entertain herself. One of her favorite past times is playing with wool balls. She loves to dig her nails into them and then toss them so she can run after them, and then she will put the ball in her mouth, run back to where she initially was, and do it all over again. Aside from her wool balls, she tends to get the zoomies. She loves to run around and basically parkour off of furniture, and she is so fast that I often end up asking myself “Was that Arya?” When she is not in play mode she usually is looking for affection. Arya only really likes to be touched when it is on her terms, so it always feels like an honor when she comes up to you. She loves when her head and butt are scratched, and her purr is so loud that you can feel the vibrations coming from her. She can be feisty at times, but her loving and spunky personality makes up for it.

Arya1

My animals are my world. I frequently question how I became deserving enough to have them in my life. I look at all of their little faces and I just melt every single time. The love that I have for them is so indescribable, and sometimes I just sob because I am so grateful that they are mine. Animals are amongst the greatest of gifts, and I will love mine until the end of my days.

Furbabies

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate for many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is because I am a furmommy to three beautiful furbabies. When Stephen and I first moved into our apartment, Stephen was working third shift. So he would work from eleven at night until about eight in the morning, then he would come home and sleep until five or six. For a solid few months he had to work mandatory overtime, so he would work every single day. I was appreciative of how hard he was working, but I was lonely. I don’t really have any friends in Texas, so I spent most of my waking hours by myself. Stephen and I always talked about how we wanted to adopt a dog as soon as possible after we moved into our own place, but the fact that I felt so alone made us decide that we wanted to adopt even quicker than we had originally planned.

We spent a good month going to different shelters and adoption events looking for a dog that we had a connection with, and even though we thought that all of the dogs that we saw were adorable, we didn’t feel that instant draw. One day we saw a puppy at a shelter down the road that was as cute as could be. She was a pit-bull mix, and she still had her puppy personality. She was so happy and playful, and showered us with affection and kisses. We spent about a hour playing with her, and although I felt that connection, Stephen did not. The dog that we were going to adopt was going to be primarily for me, but it was important for both of us to feel that draw. I was crushed. In that hour that we spent with her I already felt close to her, but I knew that we had to move on. That night I was looking into more shelters near us when I came across a no kill shelter. I was looked at their list of adoptable dogs and begged Stephen for us to go the following morning. We had a couple of dogs that we had picked out from when we were looking online, and we were so excited to meet them all. When we got there, they pulled up the application that I had filled out the night before, and set us up with someone who would help us see a dog if we found one that we were interested in. She then explained to us where all of the dogs were, and then we were off. The first room that we looked at was the medium dog room. All of the dogs looked surprisingly happy and content, and we wanted to adopt them all. We found most of the dogs that we had wanted to see, but then we came across a dog that wasn’t online. Her name was Angel, and she was a Golden Retriever/German Shepherd mix. She was one year and two months old, and she was gorgeous. She was shy, but she was still intrigued by Stephen and I. She kept smelling us and attempted to get closer to us, and I think instantly we both knew that she was going to be the one.

We decided that we were going to look at the small dog room as well as the big dog room, and although all of the dogs were adorable, we still had Angel on our minds. After we were done looking at all of the dogs, we told the lady that was helping us that we wanted to spend quality time with Angel. So they took her out of her kennel and put her on a leash, and off we went. We went to the back of the shelter where they had a beautiful trail as well as blocked off sections for play time. First we took her for a walk, then we went to a play section. When we were in the play section was when I officially knew that she was going to come home with us. She had a playful yet calm temperament, she was already being affectionate, and she was a really good listener. So we told the lady that we wanted to adopt her, and that was when we found out that Angel had actually just arrived at the shelter from Houston the night before. Apparently everyone who worked there all said that Angel was going to be adopted quick, and they were all sad to see her go. I guess this is one of those instances where “everything happens for a reason” becomes a true cliche. The day before when I felt that connection with the puppy and Stephen didn’t it actually worked out because Angel was on her way to us at the very same second. We knew the whole time that Angel was not going to stay her name, so while we filled out the adoption paperwork Angel became Luna. The day of Lunas adoption is still one of my favorite days in the world, and every day my love for her grows.

We adopted Luna in March of 2016, and by November 2016 we knew we wanted another furbaby. This time though it wasn’t going to be a dog, it was going to be a cat. So we knew that we wanted to adopt a kitten, but the issue was that in December we were going to go back up to Chicago to have our wedding reception with our friends and family. So we didn’t want to have a newly adopted kitten that we would have to board in Dallas while we went back home for a week. So we called the no kill shelter where we adopted Luna, and asked for information for adopting kittens. The person that Stephen ended up talking to was fostering a long haired kitten, and she was trying to find a family that would adopt him. His name was Odin, and he was about two months old. After sending us a bunch of pictures and videos of him, we knew that we just had to meet him. So a couple of days before we left for Chicago, we set up a meeting at the shelter to meet Odin. He was the cutest kitten that I have ever seen. He was so teeny tiny, had long stripped hair, and those huge kitten eyes. The moment he was in my arms, I fell in love. He was so calm, and just sat there. Eventually he fell asleep, and Stephen basically had to rip him from my arms. After spending a good amount of time with him, we told his foster mom that we wanted to adopt him. She was so ecstatic for us, and had zero issue with keeping him for an additional week. It worked out anyways because he had an appointment to be neutered three days before we officially adopted him. The following day that we got home from Chicago, we ran to Target (not literally) and purchased most of the kitten stuff that we needed. Then we went straight to the shelter and officially adopted Odin. Just like Luna, Odin did not stay Odin. Odin became Lupin. Lupin is such an incredible cat. He is still down to earth, but when he wants to play, he plays hard. He likes to be touched, but only when he wants to be. He likes to follow you around and wrap his paws around your legs, and sometimes if you’re  not paying attention he likes to jump from the counter tops onto your back. That kind of hurts because we decided against declawing our cats, but that’s okay because he is just trying to get some attention. He is beautiful and wonderful and we love him so much.

With that being said, Lupin needed another cat to play with. So in July of 2017, we adopted another kitten. I had always wanted a black cat, so I had been looking at the shelters around our area for a black kitten. I finally found a two month old black kitten at a different animal shelter from where we adopted Luna and Lupin, and the following day Stephen and I went to meet him. We weren’t able to physically touch him yet because he was a new in-take and they were giving him medicine, but they told us that if we came back in a week that we would be able to play with him. That was such a long week, but then the day arrived where we were able to go and see him. We got there right when they opened, and there he was. He had just gotten neutered a couple of day prior to then, and he looked like he was kind of out of it, so I felt really bad. We saw another cat that wasn’t there last time, so we also took sometime to play with him. This cat was super sweet, but there was something about that little black cat that we were once again just drawn to. While I was filling out the paperwork to adopt him, I was actually able to name him because he didn’t have a name. So the little black cat became Gimli. Gimli was super shy and would hiss at us when we got too close to him, so we were really worried. But as I was filling out the information, the lady that was helping me told me that Gimli had had a rough start. Apparently a little over a week before Stephen and I adopted him, he was actually adopted by another couple from a different shelter. When the couple adopted him, they put him in a box that was cut in half, and while he was in the car he escaped from the box and they weren’t able to find him. So the next day, they went to the shelter where we had adopted him to adopt a different cat, and when they were leaving with their new cat they heard some meows. That was when they found him under the hood near the engine. They decided that they no longer wanted Gimli and wanted to keep the new cat that they had just adopted, but that’s okay because their loss is our gain. After about a week, Gimli was comfortable with Stephen, Luna, Lupin and I. When I tell you that he is the sweetest cat in the world, I mean it. Gimli gives us non-stop kisses, loves to cuddle, and loves constant affection. I will make a kissy face to him and he literally bops his little mouth on to mine to give me a kiss. He is such an amazing little guy, and we are so lucky to have him.

I think every pet owner thinks this about their animals, but I am pretty convinced that Stephen and I have the three best furbabies that have ever existed. They are all so loving and happy, and every time I look at them my heart explodes with love and happiness. I am absolutely in love with our little family of five.