My Tattoo Story #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

For as long as I can remember I've struggled with my mental health. I don't remember a time when I didn't feel like my own mind was conspiring against me. I know there was a time when it wasn't an issue because I only started having mental health issues when I was fifteen but I honestly can't with perfect clarity recall any of it. I have the memories but there's no emotional connection to them. Like looking at a picture book of pretty scenes and thinking "That's nice" but not feeling anything. I've had mental health problems for so long that they just feel like they've always been a part of me.

I realised at age eighteen that I was suffering from depression and that I had been suffering with it since I was fifteen. I have a tough ongoing battle with depression. When I go low, I go so low I think there's no way out. I've had suicidal thoughts. I suffered from severe anxiety due to depression to the point where I physically couldn't leave the house. My mental health story is messy and someday I'll be able to write it all down and share it but not today. I'm not ready yet.

Instead I'm going to share the story behind my tattoo.

I've been an avid Harry Potter fan for years. I lived and breathed Harry Potter as a kid. I devoured anything to do with it, including interviews with JK Rowling. She described how she created Dementors when she was depressed, basing them on the despair she felt and then creating Expecto Patronum, which is a spell that focuses on your happiest memory for its power, to combat them.

I can't remember the exact interview I read but I've found a quote from this interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010 which sums it up pretty well:

"It’s that absence of feeling – and it’s even the absence of hope that you can feel better. And it’s so difficult to describe to someone who’s never been there because it’s not sadness. Sadness is – I know sadness – sadness is not a bad thing. You know? To cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling – that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what the Dementors are."

Her description of Dementors always stuck with me because that's how I felt at my worst and darkest. So at sixteen when I decided that I wanted a tattoo, I knew it would be "Expecto Patronum" to always remind me that my depression could always be beaten.

Now, it took me nine years to actually get the damn tattoo! I'm a wuss with pain and the idea terrified me! But in November last year I made the appointment for January past and I got my tattoo.

As it happens I booked the tattoo when I was in a very good place in my life. Everything was going swimmingly. However when I actually went and got the tattoo it was during a really dark period which I've mentioned before here on the blog.

It was a hideously bad time for me and getting a tattoo that represented how I always would kick my depression's ass felt so fraudulent to me. But I got it and it actually helped me so much during that bad time.

Doing the aftercare and constantly looking at the tattoo helped lift me. It made me remember all the reasons why I wanted that spell tattooed on me. It made me remember that I was strong enough and that depression would never win.

I'm so glad I got this tattoo. It's beautiful and whenever I'm having a bad day or bad thoughts swirl around in my brain, I press my thumb to it and remember that my patronus, the light inside of me, will always chase the Dementors in my brain away.


Share your thoughts :

  1. Omg Sarah-Louise! That's such an incredible story and a gorgeous tattoo!! I also love HP and I'm glad to hear the strength you've gained from the stories.

  2. Love your tattoo! It looks amazing!

    Britt |