I’ve finally done it! It may surprise some people but I’ve finally been inked and I have some permanent body art I absolutely love! For me, it’s been a long time coming. I thought long and hard and whether I wanted one at all and I considered very carefully the content and placement of said tattoo.
I’ve had cats as pets all my life. I don’t just love cats, they’ve been an integral part of my mental health recovery. When in a dark place, a cat does not judge you or treat you differently, they do not worry about what to say or how to treat you; if they want food or fuss, they pester you, they lead a simple life but I love their individual characters. At times when getting on with humans has been too difficult, I’ve always found comfort in the companionship of a cat.
Milly has taught me to be more laid back. Rosa taught me to be content with the small things. Figgy teaches me everyday that being an idiot is ok!
The cat in my tattoo represents the comfort and relief I find when in the presence of a cat. But from my position of comfort I can reach for…
A symbol of freedom. As a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis and dries out its wings, it’s undergone and incredible transformation and now has the freedom to fly. Mental health recovery is a fragile entity, not to be taken for granted. As a butterfly has the freedom to fly, it’s also vulnerable to the slightest insult.
Butterfly is also a symbol of hope, bravery and commitment.
The semi colon
The body of the butterfly is a semi colon and represents the idea that my story is not over. It was coined by the semi colon project to be shared by people who’ve been touched by suicide. I have attempted to take my life on a number of occasions but I live and my story goes on.
I’ve joined a community of people who believe we have a collective responsibility to prevent suicide by sharing information and resources. If I can have just one more conversation about suicide prevention, it’s worth it. Hopefully, it’ll start many conversations!
Designed by me
After looking at numerous pages of Google images and trawling Pinterest, I knew what I wanted, I hadn’t found the exact image, the best way to explain it was to draw it myself so that’s what I did! It took a lot of drafting, I’m no artist! But I got there eventually. The final design’s a combination of the cat drawn by me, refined by the tattoo artist and the butterfly designed and drawn by the artist.
I think there’s beauty in the simplicity of the lines. I didn’t want it to be any specific cat or species of butterfly – what they represent is more important.
Placed on my back
To represent my perseverance to put my mental illness behind me.
While I’m glad to have serious episodes of mental illness behind me, I can’t say that about physical illness. I continue to have serious neck and back pain caused by arthritis in my spine and fibromyalgia. I feel like, by putting something pretty on the area that’s causing me grief, I’m doing something to counteract my feelings of annoyance and frustration.
Hidden by my clothes
Because I know there are people out there who judge: People with tattoos, people with scars, people with mental illness.
I did wonder about having it visible and laughing the face of judgment but I’d rather people get to know me and then they find out I don’t fit the stereotypes they’d expect. That way I can challenge the judgments they hold. I do, also, need to consider my professional life. It’s a shame that people make judgments and assume stereotypes but in my professional life, I’m in a position of trust and I need to put my clients first and consider how they feel – I don’t want them to be distracted by my tattoos.
Visible on occasion
While my tattoo is for me, I didn’t get it for anyone else, I not averse to positive feedback! I’ve chosen a position that I can choose whether or not I have it on show. I think it’s quite pretty and while there are people who’re against tattoos in general, I think if people see mine, on the whole, people will not be offended by it, so I’m going to enjoy choosing clothing based on how low the back is!
Represents how I live my life – in an incredibly careful and considered way! Maybe I overthink things sometimes but then I’m able to step outside the box into the unexpected too!