Why I Didn't Get My Semicolon Tattoo Touched Up


Like many others in the mental health community, I got a semicolon tattoo in November of 2016. For me, it represents how far I’ve come and how far I still have to go. When I look at it during downswings of my depression, it reminds me I’ve been there before and survived it. I got out of bed that day, and I can get out of bed today. It was my first tattoo — as I spent my whole life saying there wouldn’t be anything important enough to put on my body forever.

Anyways, I thought about it for years, and even drew them on my wrist to see if I liked it. Well, I did, and I went one night to get it. It came out bigger than I wanted and not quite as high as I wanted it to be on my wrist, but I was OK with it, mainly because I had to be. It was permanent and I was too nervous to speak up. There was no going back.

As it was healing, I was meticulous about the care instructions. I used unscented soap to wash in the exact way the instructions provided, patted it dry with a paper towel and didn’t pick at it despite wanting to. It still didn’t heal correctly, which made me think constantly about the tattoo on my wrist, and not for the reasons intended. Here’s a small glimpse into my thought process:

People probably already think I got it for attention or a cry for help, and now they are going to point out how bad it looks. Why in the world did I get this? Maybe I should’ve thought about it a little more.

This kind of thinking went on for a couple months. Eventually, my thought process changed. Maybe it didn’t heal properly for a specific reason. Maybe it was supposed to tell me being perfect isn’t the main goal. I believe the journey to recovery in mental health, or any illness for that matter, is anything but perfect. There are ups and downs along the way. There’s a light spot in the center of the tattoo that clearly did not heal as intended, but in a weird way, it’s my favorite part of the tattoo. Unexpected events can cause anxiety and be really scary at first, but you can eventually learn and grow from them. It’s strange that one little dot — a dot that could easily be touched up — has made me think this much.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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