depression

My tattoos and their meaning

I’ve wanted a tattoo since I was about 16/17 years old, however, back then I didn’t know what I wanted but I did know I wanted something that meant something to me. I didn’t actually get any tattoos until this year, and the reason for that was because I have a problem with self harm and in my head I thought ‘if I get a tattoo, what happens if I have an episode and cut over it? Ruin it?’. Worried by this thought, I delayed in getting one.

But at the beginning of this year, despite having self harm urges and acting upon these urges, I decided that I wanted to get my first tattoo because I wanted to give myself a permanent reminder of something deeply important. That brings us to tattoo number 1. The lotus flower with the three dots beneath it.

FullSizeRender I think I got this done in February of this year, but I can’t remember if that’s right. It was around that time, anyway. The lotus flower has always stood out to me for a variety of reasons, but the one main one being this: lotus flowers begin their journey beneath the murky water, and they grow there until they blossom above the water’s surface, blossoming into beautiful flowers that decorate the darkness of the water. I like to think of it whereby we are the lotus flower, and the murky, unclear water is our struggles and difficulties that we face in our lives, causing stress, discomfort, sadness and general negative feelings. However despite our surroundings, we continue to grow, and one day, we rise above it all and flourish in our most beautiful state, having fought the darkness and come out the other side.
The three dots represent my favourite quote from the Buddha. And that is this, “three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth”. Buddhism interests me greatly and I enjoy reading and researching about it, and this quote in particular made me think and resonated with me.
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My second tattoo I got last month. This one in particular I adore. It was quite a spontaneous decision but the design itself is something I had been looking at for a while. This tattoo in particular, for me, is sort of a reminder. A reminder to stop, take a breath, close my eyes and remember that urges pass, the bad days pass, it all passes, I just need to hold on tight and ride it out. The flowers represent life, the hand is my grasp on life, and obviously the words ‘hold on’ mean just that! This tattoo helps me during the dark moments. The moments where all I want to do is self destruct. I’m really glad I got this tattoo done and already it’s stopped me from self harming a couple of times. Well, it’s helped me stop myself from self harming, which I think is a good thing.

Thank you for reading,

Ellie.

The Weight of Depression (TW)

I was diagnosed with depression when I was 12 years old. That was 9 years ago. A lot has happened since then, changes in medications, diagnoses, therapies, hospitalisations and so on. But one thing that has not changed, is the overpowering shadow of depression that stalks me. Sure, I handle it much better now, I cope with less self-destructive mechanisms and I think it’s fair to say I put up a stronger fight. Because whilst my psychosis has been the reason I’ve ended up in a lot of tricky situations that could have potentially killed me, depression is the one that actually intentionally tried to kill me. Depression put me in a place where death was the warmest, safest, most appealing of options and so I took measures to ensure my own demise. If you’d asked me, say, just over a year ago if I felt relieved, or lucky, that I am in fact still alive today, I wouldn’t have answered honestly. Today, however, I can truthfully tell you that I am happy that my suicide attempts did not work. Does that mean I’m all better? No, not fully. Not really. Because even though I’m now in a place where I’m not acting on suicidal thoughts, it doesn’t mean I don’t still get them every now and then. And I’m not trying to overlook that, because I recognise that is progress and I am proud of how far I have come. I am. What I’m saying is that, still, 9 years on, 9 years fighting, I still to this day will have hours, days, weeks, where depression is the solid anchor dragging me down into murky waters. Where depression is a bully on the school playground beating a child over and over despite them already being down.
To say depression is ‘heavy’ is an understatement. I’ve found that lately people are utilising the word depression as a daily adjective in their lives when really what they mean is sad, or down, or upset. “My favourite show got discontinued, I’m so depressed”. “I spent Friday night inside watching movies, my life’s so depressing”. And you know, I sit and a listen and nod, when really, what I want to say is this: “I woke up this morning with a feeling of disappointment and heartache because I didn’t die in my sleep, I’m so depressed.” Or, “I haven’t left my house in three days because even the thought of showering, getting dressed and going out makes me physically sick, my life’s so depressing”. There is a difference between being sad and being depressed. That’s the point I’m trying to make here. Depression is an illness. Depression is lonely and scary and ugly and often deadly.
You know, I’m someone who is genuinely stunned at the fact that there are people out there who don’t know what it feels like to actually want to die. There are people out there who have never got so emotional that they didn’t even contemplate dragging a blade over their skin. Because for me, I cannot fathom a life without those things plaguing my mind. And why? Because of depression.
Now obviously I’m not naive, I know depression impacts different people in different ways, this is just my experience of it all. However there are similarities in most cases of depression, such as the lack of energy, the consistent low mood, anger, lack of self care. It’s an all consuming darkness that is relentless.
This post is even quite difficult for me to write because as I’m typing I’m remembering the times where I truly was trapped in the pits of depression. And how utterly unbearably painful those times were. Times where I would physically and tightly wrap my arms around myself because my stomach was churning and twisting from emotional pain. Times where I would scream and cry for hours and hours because everything just hurt.
Depression will wrap it’s cold body around you and trap you in its embrace. It will make its way into your brain and manipulate your sense of self, your feelings, your actions. It’ll blind you from positivity keep you in the shadows. I became a shell of myself when my depression was at its worst. I felt like an empty vessel, not living, merely existing. It was numbing.

But, with all that being said, it isn’t a life sentence. People recover from depression. And even those who don’t are able to find a place where they can live comfortably with their depression, like me, for example. I know my depression is still there. I’m on 2 different antidepressants currently. But I only get dragged into the darkness on rarer occasions. And even when I do get dragged back, I manage to keep the light in sight and can claw my way back to it. It may take a couple of days staying in bed, a couple of days not seeing anyone, but I always find my way back. Because depression is strong, but I am stronger. I’m going to say that again. Depression is strong, but I am stronger. And this goes out to anyone and everyone who is suffering from depression. I’d like you to read that statement. You may not believe it straight away, and that’s alright. I didn’t believe it at first either. But please, please trust me when I say there will come a day where you don’t just believe it, but you know it as fact, and that day will make all the pain and fighting worthwhile because you will see that you have a life that is worth living, and you are so, so capable of making it such an amazing life.

In August 2014 I lay in a hospital bed connected to monitors and IV drips truly believing I had finally done it. That I was going to die. I look back now and I feel thankful for the doctors for saving my life, I feel grateful that my body fought so hard for survival.
Because things may not be perfect still, but they’re much, much brighter than they used to be.

Hold on. Have hope. Keep fighting and stay strong. I promise you it will be worth it in the end, and if it feels like it isn’t worth it, then that means it is not the end yet. You will get there. Be kind to yourself, look after yourself and remind yourself that your illness is not as strong as you are.

Sorry if this was an intense post. I just really needed to get that all down.

Thanks,

Ellie.