Tattoos that Symbolize Battles with Mental Health

We get tattoos when we want to use our body to commemorate something that we stand for. Five individuals who made the decision to get tattoos to embody their  journey with mental health share their stories below. We invite you to also check out Project Semicolon, an initiative that uses the semicolon tattoo to symbolize hope and to remind everyone that their story isn’t over.

1. Merel | Cape Coral, FL

I have been suffering with depression and anxiety since I was twelve… It wasn’t ever something that affected my life dramatically until I was fifteen and my childhood best friend passed away due to Leukemia. It took me a good six months to get out of the depression that I was in. .. When I was younger and tried to cope sometimes I would harm myself in some way, now I get tattoos or piercings. I figured that this time it was only fitting to get one to symbolize my fight with depression and anxiety. This poem by Rupi Kaur really hit home for me:

“And here you are living
despite it all.”

because here I am, fighting day after day to live, despite it all.

2. Amy | Southampton, UK

I got this tattoo as a last minute , I need to do this now or never type of moments… I suffer from anxiety and depression. My social anxiety is so bad I can’t leave the house some days due to my anxiety ….hundreds of possible bad/dark situations get put into my mind to make me fear doing anything, so it’s just a little reminder for myself, just so I know how bad life may get to remember to look for the beauty within it, to find the positives to the bad situations as well as the negatives my anxiety will make me think of! The semicolon is there as a medal in a way to know I have had many chances to end my life, but I chose not to but instead to move on past that bad time in my life and become stronger from what happen and to know I don’t need to go down that route again. 

3. Maddi | Toronto, Canada

I got my tattoo in Sept 2016. I got my tattoo on my arm in a place that I can always see it. It’s got a few meanings to me — first, it reminds me to be a warrior, not a worrier. It’s an oversimplification, but it helps me. It also reminds me how far I’ve come, and that my journey has branded me a warrior (that’s why it looks like a stamp). Lastly, it’s a semicolon, representative of the semicolon project. It reminds me that my story’s not over, I made the choice to continue.

4. Anonymous

I got my tattoo almost a year ago (~Sept 2016). I have really bad depression and anxiety, and had relapsed into self harm a few months before my tattoo. I have always loved music and have always been proud of the bands I like, The Amity Affliction being a band I related to so much. They recently had released their newest album and when promoting it had this image going around. I got it as a tattoo over my scars because without them I’d probably be gone.

5. Anonymous

I got the tattoo about 6 years after the incident, but I attempted suicide by slitting my wrists, leaving scars from my wrist to my elbow on both forearms. I miraculously… survived the night of blood loss, by the painkillers that slowed my circulation… I don’t have any pictures of the before but you can still kind of see the scar in underneath the tattoo on my right arm, and my left is still uncovered. Just getting that one scar covered has tremendously turned my confidence around, and now I’m wearing short sleeves in public for the first time since the incident. I thank my lucky stars everyday now that I lived and I’d like to share my story, especially with shows like 13 Reasons Why that are out there glamorizing suicide to the susceptible. It’s not as pretty or peaceful as Hollywood makes it out to be.

6. Lisa | Exeter, Devon

I got my tattoo after I was given the all clear from having skin cancer. I was given 6 months to live if they didn’t operate. The tattoo is to remind me to live each day as if it’s my last. The heart locket means I wear my heart on sleeve.

This post was written by Deepika Dilip. Please send any questions or concerns to

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