three tattoos inspired by depression

I often like to think my tattoos are pieces of my soul and my journey on my skin. For years, depression made it’s home in the one place I was supposed to call my home. It created a huge disconnect between my mind, body and soul. By engraining my skin with reminders of where I’m from, where I am and where I’m going, I felt liberated from depression’s invisible grip on my physical being.

That is why we asked people in our Mighty mental health community to share with us tattoos inspired by their struggle with depression. Because depression may have molded us into the people we are today — but those people are some of the strongest, most compassionate, most courageous people I have ever know.

Here’s what they shared with us:

1. “My girl Mina, my kitty, got me through a lot of tough times. Whenever I look at my scars and consider doing it again, I see her paw prints and the bright happy colors that remind me of the positives.” — Tegan F.

colorful cat paw print tattoo

2. “Unalome tattoos are first spiritual symbols. In Buddhism, they are the visual image of reaching enlightenment. The spiral means our struggle with life, while the straight line shows that we have finally found harmony. Unalome are the ‘crowns’ of the Arahants, the enlightened saints.” — Marissa L.

unalome symbol tattoo on arm

3. “This one covers my suicide attempt. It reminds me that, even in darkness, there is something beautiful. And life can be a beautiful thing” — Toni E.

skull and rose tattoo

4. “I got the silhouette of a semicolon in watercolor on my wrist to cover my first attempt scar. My father and sister got the filled in version, also in watercolor, to show their support for me and my struggle so far.” — Amber V.

semicolon tattoos in watercolor

5. “It’s my mom’s hand writing saying “you are enough.” It’s a reminder. I’ve always felt I wasn’t enough for anything or anyone.” — Jaclyn C.

you are enough words tattooed on wrist

6. “I got this one as a reminder of all the things I’ve learned and all the people who care about me — my daily reminder that I am able to get through it. That I am allowed to stay alive. That I want to stay alive. It’s also related to Twenty One Pilots. Music helped me more then anything to get to the point where I am now.” — Celine S.

stay alive tattooed on forearm

7. “The shadow represents my depression and how I always feel suffocated by it. The girl is holding a ball of light, which is hope and finding the light in the darkness.” — Rachel A.

shadow and girl holding ball of light tattoo on shoulder

8. “Reading has helped me through a lot. My first ‘nerd’ love was ‘Lord of the Rings.’ It says, ‘even darkness must pass’ in elvish script. I also wanted to incorporate a semicolon, and I thought it’d be perfect on the book.” — Kailey W.

book with semicolon and elvish script tattoo on arm

9. “I have three. The first one is Princess Leia to honor the late, great Carrie Fisher who was my mental health hero. The second is the serotonin molecule.The third is my companion dog’s paw print because she saves my life every day. She is a reminder every day to keep fighting.” — Alyssa K.

dog paw print with writing tattoo on arm

10. “I have a cross for faith and a sunflower as they always grow towards the sun. The meaning to me is to keep strong and have faith that the days won’t always be so dark. Every time I feel like giving up, I look at this and it reminds me of how much I have overcome.” — Christiana W.

sunflower and cross tattoo

11. “A raven shattering through my struggles. I find hope and strength. No matter what my mental illness or life has thrown my way, I still manage to persevere.” — Samantha S.

shattering raven tattoo on arm

12. “I got this to remind me that although I have scars, they are proof that I didn’t let my depression ‘demons’ win and take my life. I’m still living and I still struggle with multiple mental illnesses now, but I’m still conquering my demons and I’m here! ‘She conquered her demons and wore her scars like wings.'” — Dara B.

conquered demons quote and wings tattoo

13. “It says, ‘Fall down seven times stand up eight.’ I’ve had depression for six years and anxiety for two. I’ve been suicidal and have been in stress centers. My tattoo reminds me to get back up after something difficult. Always get back up.” — Ciara S.  chinese symbols and flowers tattoo on arm

14. “My lion king inspired tattoo reminds me no matter what people or the voices say, I am me, only I can change myself and most importantly I am loved!” — Toni E.

lion king inspired tattoo

15. “I’ve got two, both designed by me. Peter Pan on my right, to cover my scars. It reminds me that there’s a part of me that’ll never grow up and I can embrace that. I can place it in my past, in the film it says to die would be an awfully big adventure and so would be living.” — Emma P.

peter pan inspired tattoo

16. “This covers my self-harm scars and is a constant reminder of how the ‘Harry Potter’ books were my ultimate companion during the worst of my depression.” — Olivia H.

harry potter always tattoo on arm

17. “It’s a quote from ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story,’ by Ned Vizzini. It was the first book I came across that made me feel like someone else understood how my mind worked.” — Dominick L.

breathe in, breathe out words tattooed on wrist

18. “During art therapy in hospital, balloons became my theme. In my head, I could relate them to my mental health — they can pop, fly away, be blown up, squeezed and so many other things that my head felt. ‘Hope’ gave me something to believe in, and a reminder things will get better.” — Emma L.

hope red balloon tattoo

19. “I’ve only shared the meaning of this tattoo with a single person, but I figure I can share it with people who would understand. Contrary to what most people think, when they see what my tattoo says, it does not mean I will live forever. It means that I will not succumb to my depression and I will stay strong. The skulls represent the pain and the roses represent the beauty in it.” — Nash V.

skulls and roses tattoo on upper arm

20. “My partner has the top half. He’s with me on this journey. To me, it means we’re all living the same life at different stages, dealing with problems some different then others.” — Lettie H.

partners matching tattoos of quote

21. “;IGY6 22 it’s in my fathers hand writing who [died by] suicide. It reminds me daily to keep pushing. ;IGY6 22 means ‘pause,’ ‘I got your six (or back),’ the meaning 22 is because he was a veteran and so am I, and 22 veterans a day take their lives. I got this because I wanted others to see it in the military and know that I would help.” — Tanner M.

;IGY622 tattooed on wrist

22. “It says, ‘Some of her journey was not very nice of course but sometimes, it was beautiful just the same.’ It’s a quote from my grandmother’s eulogy that my dad wrote. My grandma passed in the midst of my struggle with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. It reminds me that our journey’s are never perfect, but despite my imperfection, I am still loved.” — Haley Q.

quote tattoo on back

23. “It’s a lotus flower, which represents my struggle with depression because it is rooted in all the bad and blossoms into the great! It also incorporates the semicolon to show suicide/mental health awareness” — Emily W.

lotus flower tattoo design

24. “Got this when I was at a very low point in 2015. I have followed To Write Love On Her Arms and this phrase came just at the right time. It really helped me when I couldn’t find a way to help myself. It reminded me of what I offer this world and the people in it. Now it serves as a reminder every time I see it. I am important. My story is important. I matter. And so do you.” — Bernadette C.

no one else can play your part; tattoo

25. “I designed my tattoo. It has a huge personal meaning. It looks grim, but it reminds me every day how much I’ve endured and gotten through on my own, always coming out stronger in the end. I wear my heart on my sleeve. My art also helps me deal with my illness as well.” — Sophie D.

tiger and heart tattoo on forearm

26. “This is my recovery tattoo. To me, a treble clef is more than just a music note. Music is my refuge, whenever I feel like self-harming or laying in bed all day, I turn to music. It makes me feel alive, it shows me I’m not alone. The ‘so it goes’ is a Billy Joel quote that represents just letting life be, things are going to happen that I have no control over. And that is OK.” — Courtney A.

treble clef and words tattooed on wrist

27. “I got the tattoo to remind me that ‘my story isn’t over’ and my battle continues! I will fight every day, harder and harder, to win.” — Renea C.

wings and words tattoo on forearm

28. “It’s a ‘Harry Potter’ spell that casts off Dementors, and Dementors basically suck your soul. With the spell you have a patronus, which is basically what fights for you and saves you. The Dementor is a metaphor for depression and the patronus is the feelings of love and hope that fight against it. With this tattoo, I am reminded that even though I struggle, I still have hope.” — Sydney T.

expecto patronum tattoo on arm

29. “I got this on top of my scars to remind myself that although the battle seems endless and I have an anchor weighing me down, I will not sink to the bottom because I am stronger than that.” — Bree N.

anchor and infinity sign tattoo

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, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.


29 Tattoos Inspired by Life With Depression

RELATED VIDEOS


The term self-care seems to be a common buzzword these days. It might even conjure up the image of people lying around with their feet propped up, sheet masks on their faces, while they eat ice cream right out of the carton and watch a reality TV show.

While this can sometimes be the truth, as I can absolutely attest to, sometimes self-care isn’t so extravagant— especially to someone with depression.

To many people, including some people with mental illness, getting out of bed and showering is an everyday occurrence. Brushing your hair, changing your clothes and making breakfast is often routine.

But for some people with depression and other mental illnesses, completing routine tasks can feel impossible. Even the thought of getting out of bed feels like a monstrous effort, never mind doing anything else. Maybe the dirty laundry is piling up and you don’t even want to think about the state of the kitchen. It’s not that anyone wants this to happen, but they can’t always control it.

What many people don’t always realize is that the act of simply getting up and brushing your hair can make a world of difference in how you feel that day.

It might not seem like much, but if depression is your mind’s way of keeping you stuck, doing such a simple thing for yourself can help get you unstuck, even just a little bit. It can sometimes be a little bit easier to feel better when you face the world with clean hair and clothes.

That is self-care – looking after yourself when your illness doesn’t want you to. It’s making the things around you just a little bit better, and getting up when all you want to do is crawl back to bed.

Of course, there will always be days when the thought of picking up a hairbrush seems completely impossible. That’s OK. But on days when things seem bleak and hopeless and stretch into nothing, maybe, just maybe, doing something simple for yourself can ease it and help you feel more in control. And maybe that will help you feel just a little bit better about yourself so you can tackle the rest of the day.

Let’s redefine self-care. We are more than our illnesses, and we can be strong enough to pick up that hairbrush.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via ChesiireCat


For me, this is what depression looks like:

Eating three-day-old pizza because while you don’t really want to eat, you already wasted your money on takeout, so you kind of have to. It’s staring at the avalanche of tissues and scribbled pages and oily boxes and wondering when you let yourself slip so low. It’s sleeping in to the very last moment you can before getting up and forcing yourself to go to work, because you need to pay rent and you need to feed your cat and you need to be a functional human being.

Maybe if you go, you’ll kickstart your brain into being “normal” again.

Depression looks like soap scum on your shower curtain, because you didn’t clean it last week like you’d planned to, and you haven’t been in there since. It looks like the pieces of rubbish on your floor that you walk over every day and never bother to pick up, even though tell yourself you should every time you nearly slip on them in your socks. It looks like the spider webs joining together the dry, dead leaves of your Japanese peace lily that you haven’t watered for four months. You haven’t taken the plant to the dump yet because it’s there to remind you that you can’t take care of anything, even yourself.

Depression is 18 mugs in your sink — some growing cultures of bacteria, some hosting bundles of spores — because you have the strength to fill the sink with water, but not the strength to actually wash the mugs in it. It’s stagnant and it stinks, and every once in awhile you drain it to try again. Depression is a filthy fridge, because you try to have healthy food in there to eat, and then forget what eating is for and it rots.

Depression isn’t pretty. Depression isn’t inspiring. Depression isn’t aspirational. Depression is heavy and tiring and seemingly endless. Depression does not make you a better artist or a better writer, it doesn’t give you “cred” or an “in.” It doesn’t guarantee your immortality or that your work will be seen. It is such a dangerous stereotype to put on people seeking to express themselves creatively, and it really needs to stop. The stigma needs to be broken around those people who struggle with their mental health, and the underbelly needs to be turned to the light. People fighting depression are warriors. They are much stronger than anyone thinks they are. But even they wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone, not a single human being.

Depression shouldn’t be seen as a stepping stone to becoming stronger. It is an obstacle, it is harmful and it is hurtful. It’s a road that some people accidentally veer to.

I have depression. I have anxiety. I have borderline personality disorder (BPD) and I am not ashamed to admit it. But I will not hide behind the shiny false masks of how it makes me a more creative individual, and I will not stand for people using it as a trend piece.

Follow this journey on Val Prozorova Writer.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via eranicle.


It’s the pink elephant in the room. It’s the black cloud that covers me everywhere I go, and I feel it, even if others don’t. I’d like to be able to forget about it. Sometimes I try to pretend it isn’t there, but it’s sneaky and strong and always finds a way to make its presence known. What is it?

Depression.

How does my depression manifest itself in social situations? Well, it happens in several different ways. Some of those ways are blunt, while others run the gamut from mildly noticeable to quite subtle. The determining factors are my current mood and the comments other people make.  The more nervous I feel, the more likely I am to blurt out something that is much closer to the blunt side of things. For example, at a cookout with people I’d just met, I told them I’d recently been hospitalized for suicidal thoughts. I knew they were aware I had depression, so I felt it was best to “clear the air” and see if they would still like to be my friends, even after knowing the full details of my “dirty little secret.” Also, I have a dark sense of humor and will sometimes make jokes about depression at my own expense. I can tell it makes others uncomfortable, but I keep doing it anyway. It’s as if I am testing them to see if they truly care enough about me to stick around for the duration. My level of bluntness is directly proportional to the amount of nervousness or perceived judgment I feel.

Sometimes I’m around people who don’t know I battle depression or that I was hospitalized for a near suicide attempt. They will say things about “crazy” people or “lazy” people who refuse to “just snap out of it,” or they will talk about some “selfish” person who took his own life. Then I give them quite an earful, which, in all actuality, they deserve. Yet still, it makes for an awkward situation. I end up being the one who makes people uncomfortable, yet again.

Then there are the times when I’m with friends or at a social event in which I don’t talk at all. Even though people try to have a conversation with me, I find it too difficult to converse back. This happens on days when fighting my depression has gotten the best of me, and it’s taken all my energy to just get out of the house. When people try to talk to me, and I don’t really talk back, well, let’s just say that makes for some very awkward silences.

On my worst days, I turn down invitations to go places. That’s when I find it too exhausting to fight the depression and also keep up appearances. This leads to isolation, which only makes things worse when I finally do go out again. Plus, if you keep turning down invitations, eventually people quit extending them.

Being socially awkward as a result of my depression has been difficult and painful. It has cost me some friendships. Sometimes it makes me hate who I’ve become. I am working on it though, through therapy and with the love and support of the family and friends who have stood by me. I am learning to be patient with myself, and I am also learning to reach out to others who appear to be struggling. I’ve gained empathy for other people, and that’s all I ask for myself as well. After all, I feel awkward in dealing with my own depression sometimes, and I could use a friend.

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.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via IG_Royal.


It is known in our modern society that mental illness isn’t just a fling or a phase someone goes through, but rather a real condition just like any other visible illness. Yet the fact it’s almost always invisible comes with a price in the shape of anxiety. But how does it relate to depression?

1. The stigma around mental illness.

People who haven’t faced mental illness tend to mistake depression as someone exaggerating a certain feeling, rather than actually acknowledging it’s a real illness. This actually drives people to be cautious regarding who to open up to about their struggle, when it should be totally fine to talk about it with anyone in your orbit.

2. Not everyone can handle someone with depression.

While it may be just like any other illness, it can be hard to deal with someone who’s going through depression. Mainly, this is because those with depression tend to curl into their own bed for days and might end up not answering calls. That can be when people start to leave. This makes your friend circle even smaller and makes you stress even more about any other decision you’re about to make.

3. The good days.

Now don’t let the title deceive you; the good days might actually be a helpful way to fight depression, but sometimes it simply doesn’t work because of the constant pressure you might feel to “act OK.” You might see people genuinely laugh, something you can’t do that at the moment, which leads you to ask: “Why can’t I be normal, just like them.”

4. Work/School/University.

While achievements can make you feel good about yourself, no one can deny the amount of pressure that comes before it. For a person dealing with depression, missing a deadline or getting bad grades might affect their mood, which eventually adds more pressure and keeps your mind buzzing with ideas of how you feel like a huge failure.

5. Insomnia.

People with depression sometimes experience insomnia of some kind, and while it can sometimes trigger creative thoughts, that’s not the case every time. Sometimes it can be a reason for negative thoughts, leading to falling into anxiety.

Depression can hit anyone, and it’s the fact anxiety can follow depression that makes it even more painful to deal with. So if you or someone close to you lives with depression, don’t hesitate to help or ask for help.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via SanderStock


5 Reasons Why Depression Can Trigger Anxiety

What is depression?

I’ve heard it described a million different ways by a million different people. It is a “crushing sadness” for some yet an “overwhelming numbness” for others. It’s a “pessimistic attitude that can easily be changed” and also “complete apathy you have no control over.” It feels like loss and pain and nothing at all.

For me, depression is a sun shower… the cool rain on a warm, sunny day.

Have you ever experienced a sun shower?

Rain falls from a clear, blue sky. The sun shines and there’s not a cloud in sight, but you feel the mist on your face and watch the droplets flash as they fall. That smell, that beautiful smell of damp earth fills your nose and the flowers sway in a gentle breeze. The world around you is warm, light, summer and peace.

But it’s raining right over your head. You know there are clouds just beyond the horizon –the dark, looming storm clouds that send rain and thunder on the wind. And you feel their presence even on a perfect summer day. While everyone else enjoys their picnics and casual strolls through the park, you sit alone in a bubble… a snow globe where it only snows on you.

So when people ask, “What do you have to be depressed about on this beautiful sunny day?” tell them it’s a sun shower. That when all you see is sunlight, you can still feel the rain on your face.

And when all you feel are rain drops… remember to look up at that bright, bright sun.

Depression has a way of convincing me that all I know is rain.

But hope is my ever-present companion, like a shadow to a flickering flame.

You can’t have a sun shower without both the sun and rain.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via phive2015

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.