I want to say this sharing is because of recent events. In honesty, these losses are indicative of a pervasive reality. Mental illness is tucked in many corners of humanity, no one is immune. In a little more than a week I am sharing the story behind my tattoo. My story has much to do with my mental illness and my victory in my journey. However, yesterday in the physical pain, fatigue, and mental frustration, I know all too well how quickly I could slip. Therapy, chemical stability aid, inspiration, and reminders are necessary. My tattoo is my permanent reminder.
The largest part of my tattoo is a Lotus. This flower is unlike many others, its survives in a wide range of temperatures and muddy waters. I am a wife, mom, advocate, friend, artist, writer, sister, daughter. Roles built over time and ones that I cherish. With that I am a survivor of abuse and the social taboo it comes with. I’ve been told that I shouldn’t share that part of my life because it would make others uncomfortable. Then I became further isolated. Anxiety and depression were the roller coasters of much of my life. Panic attacks and withdrawn. I felt voiceless. I am a medical illness hurdle jumper with stumbles here and there. I am an ADHDian. It’s been a wide range in my life. As a conqueror, I am not just blooming. I am changing. The butterfly right up on my shoulder symbolizes that crucial mindset of transformation. I can and do choose to change how my past and current situations are used. They do not wholly define me. Written below all of this is 2 Corinthians 5:17. Those are words I have held dear to for years. Those words remind me that my Creator designed me for a great purpose and, like a lotus, my roots are deep to thrive despite the mud. The act of creating is a process. It takes time, effort, and there are mistakes. Through the transformation and healing in mental illness, it is a similar process. My creation is flawed, but valuable all the same.
Here’s the thing. There was a time the darkness was deep. I didn’t believe in the value of my life and my silence festered the wounds. It was baby steps, but I found that last shred of strength and sought help. In the battle we need allies and professional ones. If you are in that darkness, keep one foot in front of the other with hands out. We need you. There’s isn’t another you. Seeking help isn’t weak, it’s boldness. You have it in you. To take it further, I have taken medication in the past to help me. I found a natural path that works best for me. It doesn’t matter the means: talking, breathing, medication, supplements, or do all of it. Grab a hold of your life line. My hope is that one day your story will become a tattoo, artwork, song, writing, oral story that will empower you and empower others.
Additionally, we need advocates. Our perceptions on people with mental illness need to change. Perceptions on the illnesses themselves need to change. The health care system needs to change. Our interactions with each other needs change. A simple start is giving grace, checking in with those around us, and be present. Compassion and deeper connections are imperative. Become aware of yourselves, others around you, and share resources for help. Be that shoulder. Make that call.
As always, my soul honors your invaluable soul
National Suicide Hotline
- 1- 800- 273- 8255 Hotline
- 1-800- 799- 4889 TTY Hotline
- Suicide Prevention Website (online chat option and specific areas of help)
Crisis Text Line
- Text Home to 741741
- 1-800-799- 7233 Hotline
- 1-80-787- 3244 TTY Hotline
- Domestic Violence Website
- 1-800- 656- 4673 Hotline
- RAINN website with Live Chat option
Postpartum Support International
- 1-800- 944- 4773 Hotline
- PSI website
- Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
- Out of the Darkness You can Google for local groups
- National Association of Mental Illness
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America