Tattoo anxiety…

Just when I think I’ve done all the therapy I need to “fix” the anxiety that ails me – I’ll have another bout that makes me feel oh so delightfully hopeless.

This time, there were life factors that contributed – my husband has recently taken a job that has him traveling Monday through Thursday of every week – and since he used to be the stay at home parent to our two boys – it has been a difficult adjustment.

Of course, work is stressful at times, and that can contribute to any symptoms I feel – but what set me over the edge was a new tattoo.

I had wanted it for years – a tattoo on my forearm that said “Saint” when looked at one way, and “Sinner” when looked at the other way.

It looked good, I was happy with the art – but the tattoo shop had a “demonic” bathroom and played that special inward-singing heavy metal that scares me – and I was on edge the entire time it was being done.

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It wasn’t my first tattoo – not even my second – but it was my first visible tattoo – and it was BIG.

And as soon as it was done, I had what those in the business call “tattoo regret”.

All I could do was fixate on it – how clearly I’m not a person who is able to be trusted with decisions, and I should be locked up for fear of harming myself and others.

I cried hysterically for several days off and on – much to the perplexity of my husband – who was confused by my reaction.  He loved the tattoo, and I had wanted it for years.

I continued to be a wreck about it for at least a week.  It felt like people started to look at me like a side show – “tell me about your tattoo” – which was genuine interest – and most people loved it, but when I was feeling like such a wreck, it was hard to be excited and talk all about it.

I heard it was normal to have a big reaction to a highly visible tattoo – but I felt like anything but normal when I was so stressed I wanted to rip it off my arm…

It’s been a few weeks now – and my anxiety has once again become it’s normal, manageable level – but it was a harsh reminder that I’ll never be done with these panic attacks.  No matter how much therapy and breakthroughs, there will always be life happening, and as long as life happens, there will be times of anxiety.

I’m taking solace in the fact that I know what to do to help myself – and I know how to climb out of that black hole that my mind digs for itself.  For me, it’s talk therapy, a steady dose of anti-anxiety meds, and a support system of family and loved ones who are willing to be with me when all I can do is cry.

I’m hopeful if you suffer from anxiety that you are able to find a way to cope -because in those moments it’s at its worst, it’s hard to remember that there is life beyond this time, but there will be.  No matter what, it can and will get better.

For me – the tattoo may get removed, but I no longer freak out when I look at it.  If I do remove it, I promise to keep you posted!

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