Day 904

Depression2_Ashely

“Ut amem et foveam” (To love and cherish) reads one of the tattoos on David Beckham. “Quod me nutris, me destruit” (What nourishes me destroys me) reads one of Angelina Jolie’s. Dragons, spiderwebs, birds, butterflies and many other forms and words cover many a body, silently relaying many stories. Mine simply reads ‘Saagar’ – an uncompromising statement, ink sealed beneath the skin as a permanent marker of what matters most. I got it in this very town on the 3rd of October 2016 (Day 718). Yes. It was painful but well worth it.

Tattoos once signified tribal affiliations and hard line expressions of devotion to a particular gang or cult. They serve as potent conversation starters and quiet sources of strength and hope. Some people with depression pick themes such as ‘Amour’, ‘Stay strong’, the picture of an anchor, “Grace’, a butterfly signifying if I could get through this I could become something beautiful on the other side, a dream catcher and ‘Sometimes you’ve got to fall before you fly’ and many such quotes and song lyrics.

They are a form of self-expression but when all over, I wonder if they are also a form of self-harm as they do hurt, especially when combined with multiple piercings. They certainly are an effective way of covering up scars from self-harm and may inspire people to invest in treatment and recovery.

A 2015 survey of tattoo owners in Britain showed that 40% of them regretted at least one of their’s. It is no surprise that tattoo removal parlours are the largest growth sector in the cosmetic industry.

I suppose it means different things to different people. Some say you can never stop at one but I am happy with one and I know that I will never regret it.

 

Day 541

“Hate drumming inside of me
Hate dying to get out.
Sinking into a pool of blackened hate.
Hate drinking me.
Hate consuming me.
Hate isolating me.

Hate me.

Hate controlling me.
Hate inspiring me.
Hate defining me.
Hate denying me.

Hate me.

Indescribable hate.
Hate scarring me.”

This poem was written by Laura Miles when she was a teenager. It described how she felt. She started self-harming when she was 13. She didn’t know why she was doing it. She didn’t know anyone else who was doing it. She didn’t even know what it was called. It was just something that she had power over, something that gave her a sense of control over this ever-changing world. It calmed her.

Laura went on to self-harm extensively throughout her teens and early twenties during which time she studied GCSEs, A levels and a BA in History. She was diagnosed with depression and developed obsessive compulsive traits which ruled her life. In May 2008, after a decade of poor mental health, she decided to end her life. This is when she read the Bible and had a significant encounter with God. That changed her perspective and started her on the road to recovery. She spent 7 months in a residential unit and learnt to manage her feelings and her life well.

She went on to complete a Master’s degree in Social work and now works protecting vulnerable teenagers. She can listen to them with empathy and give them hopes and dreams for the future. She shares her experiences and techniques she has learnt to help others get better. She understands better than anyone that self-harm in only ever a symptom and never a cause.