My Tattoos Represent My Battle With Depression


As I was scrolling Instagram the other night, I saw a post from someone I was following who wrote about going to a consultation to get her tattoo removed.

Her tattoo, she said, represented a particularly low point in her life, and used to remind her of the demons she’s fighting. When she looked at it, she felt the courage to keep going, keep fighting. That tattoo has since served its purpose, and now when she looked down at it, she said it brought her a lot of pain. It reminded her of all of the time she wasted in that negative headspace, and all of the negativity it brought along with it.

I thought it was interesting, as she made valid points, and having been there myself, I could definitely relate.
I thought about how after I got my first tattoo, I felt a feeling of strength, I would have a constant reminder of what I wanted my outlook on life to be. To be happy, to keep fighting my demons, and not to let them take me underwater.

“Life is too important to be taken seriously,” it reads.

Immediately, my mom suggested I seek consultations for removal.

Her disapproval almost made me do so.

The quote has always been my motto for life, what my mom and nanny had always reinforced in me; if you take life too seriously, it will kill you. You have to laugh and you have to have fun. Also, my favorite author, Oscar Wilde, once said, “Life is much too important a thing to ever talk seriously about.”

I’ve since gotten four more tattoos, and I am proud of each and every one. They’re part of my story, and for me, that can never be erased. I want to be reminded of every chapter. I believe we get tattoos to represent significant points of our lives, or memories. For me, they serve as constant reminders of everything I’ve been through, and everything I will continue to go through, and come out the other side of.

The waves on my foot, the tattoo I’m most proud of, represent the cycles of depression, that I’ve fought for most of my life.

Above it reads “War of My Life,” which is quite literal, and also, my favorite John Mayer song, that I constantly seek comfort in when I am feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or hopeless.

“I’m in the war of my life at the core of my life I’ve got no choice, but to fight ‘til it’s done.”

I put this song on and I sing at the top of my lungs. I think of the old cliche ‘fake it til you make it,’ and it reminds me to keep fighting. It reminds me that I am not the only one who has been through this fight and unfortunately will not be the last. I sing along and feel a connection as if there are others wearing my team colors, and I’m wearing there’s.

It’s one color. They fight for me, and I fight for them. We fight together, as one. It reminds me that I will keep fighting. This is a fight that I can never win, but one I will never lose, either.

I have always used waves as the metaphor for my depression, because I believe depression will never really go away, in my case, at least. In moments I feel particularly low, they might be over my head, looming like a dark shadow, a constant threat, and in moments when I’m feeling OK, I’m floating along, and sometimes, I come out on top for a period of time, and I ride that wave into shore, until the inevitable crash comes again. That’s how it’s been for years, and believe me, I’ve tried everything: holistic and non-holistic alike.

It’s not negative, it’s not a scar, I’ve accepted it as part of my life, and have come a long way in learning how to cope and navigate those waves.

I have a tattoo of a skull that matches my sister, which makes me feel connected to her.
Lastly, I have a bunch of wildflowers, after the Tom Petty song,

“You belong among the wildflowers You belong somewhere close to me Far away from your trouble and worry You belong somewhere you feel free.”

I listen to Tom Petty and I feel free. Like John Mayer said, he covers Tom Petty, because he wanted to feel what it feels like to fly. I think this song represents how I want my life to feel, and kind of ties up the theme of my tattoos in a nice little bow. While most represent where I am, this is where I want to be. I want to feel free; free from demons, free from troubles, free from worry.

I understand why some people might choose to get their tattoos removed if they don’t want to be reminded of a particular memory or point in their lives. And that’s OK. If it served its purpose at one point, that’s all that matters, and you do what’s right for you, not anybody else. That’s why it was tattooed on your body, not anybody else’s. It was part of your story, and no one can tell you otherwise.

I like to be reminded of my story, I feel connected to my depression at all times, because at some points, it has kept me safe, felt like a comfort, and other times, I feel the width of my strength when I break out the other side of it and ride the waves.

My story is my own, and I would never want to alter it by removing any of the chapters.