Unhindered Conversations: 5 Stories Behind Mental Health Tattoos
Every ink has a story. Find out how getting mental health tattoos proved to be helpful for these women.
Different strokes for different folks – so the saying goes. When it comes to personal wellness, people have various ways of coping. One popular route is through creative expression, which includes body art, specifically mental health tattoos.
For some, getting inked may only be an artistic outlet, but for others, it’s a form of therapy – a way to commemorate, remember, grieve, or find joy. Here, five women talk about how their "mental health tattoos" serve a deeper purpose when it comes to their well-being.
A Symbol of Protection
Digital media maven Sky Gavin, 31, had always wanted a tattoo with a significant meaning, not something you get on a whim. “In 2018, after a brief mental health crisis, I decided to get a tattoo to celebrate surviving my dark days,” she shares.
A confessed Potterhead, her choice of ink is a line that reads, “Protego Maxima.” “It’s a protection spell from Harry Potter,” she reveals. “I wanted to have a little something that will signify [my] protection from all that.”
To Honor Loved Ones
“My dad was a Pisces, and he called me Fish. It was his lambing nickname for me, something he made up out of gigil,” recalls Nikki Sindiong, a PR, content, and communications manager.
In 2012, when Nikki was 21, her father passed away. “I got a tat after his first death anniversary – a watercolor fish on my hip – in remembrance of him.” She adds, “I’m planning to get one eventually for my mom, who’s also passed on.”
A Reminder of the Important Things
PR and marketing head Anya Reyes was 23 when she got her very first tattoo: the word “Infinite” and the infinity symbol on the side of her wrist. “It was when I realized that material things won’t make me happy. It was my loved ones and friends and the experiences that I have with them that will,” she recounts.
“I got the tattoo to remind me that ‘What you can’t count are the ones that do,’” says Anya. “As someone who’s always had a FOMO and is always so hell-bent on achieving and earning a lot, I needed a permanent reminder of what truly matters.”
And it worked. “Looking at it constantly has helped me be more content in life and made me happier in general,” she shares.
A Mark of Self-Love
“In 2015, I that affected my mental health and self-esteem,” says 38-year-old Charisse Vilchez, a marketing and global responsibility manager. “The time I got this tattoo was when I started seeking professional help from a counselor.”
Her ink: A colorful paper plane. “It serves as a reminder of ,” she says, adding that the location was intentional, too. “[I chose] to put it on my chest, with the plane going towards my heart.” Moreover, it signifies Charisse’s love for traveling. “Every time I embark on a journey, I always discover something new about myself. It makes life pretty much more interesting.”
To Celebrate Oneself
Branded content production officer Mariel Carpio, 28, has 23 tattoos (and counting). Most of these mental health tattoos are pop culture references. “I get tattooed when I’m not feeling good, and it usually brings instant gratification,” she says.
Her first one was a peace sign inspired by Lady Gaga's. “But it immediately turned into a keloid because the artist wasn’t good,” shares Mariel. She admits being bothered at first, but then it turned into a story. “And that’s why I love getting tattoos – they’re great conversation pieces.”
Some of her favorites: a Tina Belcher (a character from the cartoon Bob’s Burgers), a three-dot design from Kalinga tattooist Whang Od, a random duck with a baguette (“I simply liked it because it was cute and it matched my partner’s!”), a Mom tattoo (“because I adore my mom”), and her latest, a Mushu-inspired dragon. “I loved Mulan as a kid, and I also loved how Mushu was there to protect her.”For Mariel, her body art reminds her of where she's been and where she’s going.
Self-Care and Mental Health
If you’re not ready to commit to mental health tattoos, there are other ways to nurture personal wellness through your body. One is through self-care. Here are some ideas:
- Treat your skin to a pampering session. Instead of your usual rushed shower, schedule a long, unhurried bath, and don’t forget to slather on your favorite body moisturizer afterward. It’s a great way of , too! Vaseline Gluta-Hya Serum Burst Dewy Radiance hydrates intensely while delivering glow-getting Vitamin C.
- Don’t rush your hair care. Take your cue from salons and make shampooing an experience by massaging your scalp in the process. Enjoy extra benefits with Sunsilk’s Strong & Long Shampoo, which makes hair stronger as it grows longer.
- Be intentional about oral care. Having good can easily make you feel good about yourself. For all-day freshness, brush with Closeup All Around Fresh Soothing Menthol Toothpaste, which has zinc antibacterial mouthwash to protect your mouth from bacteria.
Are you thinking of getting mental health tattoos? Give it some serious thought before you sign on. Tattoos are meant to be permanent, and they’re difficult and costly to remove). Do it because it makes sense to you. If it makes you happy, protected or empowered, look for a reputable artist and book your appointment.