This blog is an extremely personal one, some people may find it upsetting and I did question whether I should post it or not but I'm doing it for 2 reasons:
In this day and age it's still a subject that isn't quite understood because unless you know someone who suffers with it, I imagine it's very difficult to understand. I actually envy people who don't suffer from this invisible yet crippling affliction. I long for a day when I can look back and it's just a distant memory. Unfortunately for me and thousands upon thousands of people, it's something that never will be. We just have to learn coping mechanisms to get through each day. This is just a little insight to me, my struggles and how I get through them.
I wrote this first section last month when I was at one of my lowest points.
TATTOOING SAVED MY LIFE
Today is Tuesday morning, today I want the world to stop so I can get off. Less eloquently put..
FUCK YOU LIFE!!
Yes I actually mean it, I don't want to be here anymore. Ok let's look at the situation.
I have my own business ✔ ,
I am financially stable ✔,
I have a happy but mainly dysfunctional family ✔
Yet despite all this I still feel like I'm stuck in a wooden box in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a great big hole letting all the water in. I'm drowning.
You've seen all the Facebook/Instagram/twitter memes ......
Who the fuck is unknown? I really hate unknown, unknown is a CUNT!
Depression quotes for me are like someone saying 'cheer up, it could be worse'. Condescending much? They give me equal amounts of rage. What they should say is "Hey, share this completely pointless quote on your wall if you're a massive wanker who wants some social media sympathy'' In fact social media has just become a virtue signalling platform for so many people now, it's fucking ridiculous. Anyway I digress....
Yet while I write this I am aware that it will be posted on social media but let's side step that.....!
Whilst in my depressive state I've decided to write down this blog, let's at least get something out of this shit day. It might help, it might not. For as long as I can remember I've suffered with this debilitating, selfish, drag everyone down around you illness. I would really love to say that over the years I've learnt to deal with it, to have a relatively 'normal' life but the truth is I haven't. My depression has become such a normal feeling to me that I honestly don't know any different. Now that's not to say I'm never happy, I have weeks, maybe months of feeling ok, not unmedicated I may add, but still, it's a nice level to be on.
This morning I wake at 6am, the night before totally ready to do some exercise, 'I'm on it, I'm doing it'. Hahahah honestly, I wake up and like a punch in the face my brain says 'Fuck you Abi, you ain't doing nothing, you're a FUCKING JOKE!'.
My brain is a right wanker sometimes. So I lay there arguing with Me AND The brain.
Me: 'Abi get up, do your workout'.
The brain: Don't kid yourself you loser, you ain't doing shit, you useless twat'.
I say THE BRAIN, because I kind of look at it like a separate entity. It's part of my way of coping....anyway.....TEN MINUTES I do this until I sit up, put my gym stuff on and start working out. Ha that's a little win for Abi,
Abi 1, the brain 0.
I take the dog for a walk, come home, make a brew, have breakfast, chat to Joe....... I break down..... full mental breakdown.
I can't stop crying, my head is spinning. The guilt, self hatred, the feeling that I want to go back to bed just so I can sleep and forget the pain. The hopeless feeling of just not being able to get through the day.
Ok so this isn't an average day but lately it's happening more frequently. When your Brain is giving up but you have people relying on you and so much stuff to do, it's mentally exhausting. I berate myself.
Why the fuck am I so weak?
Then I hate myself that little bit more......
On the days like today when I'm battling with myself just to get up and do the basics, these are the worst days. I mentioned how selfish depression can be. I'm here in my own little bubble of hell, and whilst my guilt is prevalent, I'm also consumed by my own self pity and self defeat. I'm snappy, incoherent, a shell of a person who one minute is aggressive and the next a crying mess. I can be unreasonable and in no uncertain terms a bit of an arsehole. ( and that's on a good day) :p I can however look back after emerging from the gloom of my brain, I will say that I'm sorry but at the time I'm at my worst, my feelings are 100% relative to me and completely justified. What's my point? I'm not sure I actually have one...
I barely remember a time when I wasn't depressed. It's been over 18 years now. It's effected my ability to be a good parent, my ability to be a good partner and my ability of being a good friend, I was close to a dead end road. Then I found tattooing, or tattooing sort of found me. Nearly 10 years I've been in the industry now and I can honestly say that tattooing saved my life. It gave me focus, I put as much energy as I could into it, I felt like I was finally able to provide me and my son a good life.
Art and being creative has always given me a happiness, or at least an outlet. Tattooing gave me not only a positive focus but a way of earning a living. Now I am the queen of procrastination, Miss Mañana. It's a running joke in our house, I have unfinished projects in every space and every corner of the house, It drives Joe mad!.... But tattooing is different, I look forward to giving my customer something that makes them happy and makes them smile. And I'm good at it, bonus! Don't get me wrong, it's not a magic fix and it's by no means easy. It's not a 9-5, it's a lifestyle. I never switch off. I'm always looking for the next idea, painting, drawing, designing. But I love it. And the days where I wake up and I want to die just so I don't feel anymore, I'll sit down, set my station up and go through a little routine that I have developed, Things start to look up albeit for a short time. The days where I'm not feeling particularly great, I can immerse myself in whatever tattoo I'm doing and as soon as I start, the dark cloud that looms over me evaporates. It's a bizarre yet comforting feeling. I'm so lucky, I have some wonderful customers, some of who I can talk to who also suffer with some form of mental illness or know someone who does, talking helps...
I'm still trying to find a perfect harmony, a lasting feeling of calm. I know it's a struggle for everyone and not just people with depression, I just want more than anything else to be happy, Seems like such an simple request doesn't it...
Some people suffer a lifetime with mental illness, some people are lucky to never experience it. I hope one day we can find a cure.
Out from the darkness
In Japan the lotus flower is known for its ability to rise from the dirty, murky waters to bloom into a beautiful, bright flower......
Many of my customers come to me with remnants of their past still etched onto their skin, as a reminder of times they would rather put behind them. For whatever reason people are desperate to get rid of their old tattoos and tell me to just black it out or that they don't care what they have over the top just as long as it gets rid of their tattoo. I feel it's very Important to do justice to a cover up and not just stick any old shite on there. It's not just about removing memories but removing the marks that remind us of them and giving the customer a new piece of art that they can be proud to show off. Allowing them the confidence to go out in public showing their tattoo with pride instead of being embarrassed by what was there.
My first blog is about a customer of mine who came to me nearly 2 years ago, a bit desperate after being told by numerous tattooist that nothing could be done. The tattoos she wanted covering up where not particularly bad tattoos but they were done many years ago when shewas a different person. You see L was born a female in a males body. She spent her youth hiding the true person she knew she was, disguising it by trying to be more masculine. Old school dagger tattoos with snakes, think black lines, heavy and on the forearms.
L and I have had many conversations about her past and how things were back then, after her transformation and finally being able to live the life she knew she always should have, these tattoos, for her, where holding her back. She had not shown her arms to anyone for 20 years. I've had tattoos that I have regretted and I've had them covered so I know ever so slightly how good it feels but for L this was a monumental thing. Getting rid of the past and finally moving onto the future.
The tattoos she had where done so long ago that you could see the body had already started to break down in the skin, faded and spread, when I look at potential cover ups I always like to have a really good look at them so I can judge the direction I need to go in order for it to work. I knew I could confidently do something for her and we started not long after her initial consultation. It's been a long process but we are nearly there and every time we have done a new section I can see how happy it makes her. She is always so thankful and yesterday she told me I have given her freedom.
It's a humbling experience and I'm so happy I can change people's lives in a positive way. As a tattooist I sometimes forget the impact It can have. It's a journey and so many people go through it, I'm just grateful that people choose me to be a part of it.