I want to open up to you guys about a very special tattoo of mine called “Freed Mind” that I collected from my good friend Stefano Alcantara. Not all of my tattoos have a meaning behind them, but this one definitely does!
I collected this piece because I have battled most of my life with depression, anxiety, and OCD. I wanted to get something to symbolize the fact that if I take the correct steps, and make a very conscious effort to do so, over time, it is possible to free even the most trapped and unhealthy of minds. It reminds me that if I train myself to have healthy and productive thinking and behavioral patterns, that I can achieve massive success and happiness.
The depression I’ve battled with started when I was in middle school. I still live with it at times, but far less intensely since I have been properly medicated and since I have been doing plenty of things to keep my mind healthy.
They say that depression comes from living in the past and anxiety comes from living in the future. But I am starting to realize and believe that pure and genuine joy comes from living in this very moment, and realizing that there is always a sh*t load of stuff to be stoked about. But not everyone has the ablility to just “be happy” when they want to. Believe me, if it were that easy I would have not stuggled like I have.
Depression is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, think, and handle daily activities like sleeping, eating, and working. I remember when I was in school how difficult it was to function at times. Depression can defintely be debilitating and can affect so many parts of a persons life. It can make you feel extreme sadness, irritability, anger, low energy, feelings of guilt/hopelessness/worthlessness, trouble concentrating, physical pain like headaches etc, and other symptoms.
I got into a lot of trouble when I was younger and had a lot of behavioral problems. I was beat up, laughed at, used by people I thought were my friends, talked down on and about constantly, etc. I felt like a villain of some sort most of my life growing up in the public school system. I literally felt like it was me against the world.
I suffered some injuries due to fights and other stuff that caused me to do some unhealthy things- which definitely hurt my confidence and had me feeling down on myself often. I turned to alcohol and weed in high school but that definitely did more harm than good ,and I embarrassed myself too many times to count.
The OCD I’ve battled with started in middle school at age 14 or 15 ish. If you’re not familiar with OCD it stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is an anxiety disorder that causes people to have uncontrollable reoccurring thoughts called “obsessions” and behaviors that make a person have an urge to repeat something over and over-called “compulsions.”
I remember I’d take my hat off and put it back on 10 times in a row to get it perfectly straight and at the right angle.
I’d adjust my sweatshirt hood five times so that it wasn’t leaning to one side or the other. In my closet I’d make sure every pair of shoes I had was perfectly straight on the shelves (I used to be a diehard sneakerhead before the tattoo addiction began.) These are just a few examples, I had some more complicated ones as well.
I get a lot of love on my tattoo collection from people and it means a lot. However, I still battle with the OCD shit, and I have developed this type of perfectionist “Just Right” mindset about my collection, as well as other things in my life which is definitely a big obstacle for me at times. Whether it’s the way a few of the pieces connect to eachother, gaps I have to fill, pieces I need (I mean want) to remove and redo, etc.
I have been realizing lately how unhealthy it is to focus on the negatives when I really am so blessed. But I realize part of this thinking comes from the fact that I have OCD, and sometimes intrusive thoughts enter my mind. I have overcome a lot of my symptoms of OCD, but sometimes it creeps back into my life.
I love tattoos with all my heart and soul, and I just hope I can inspire some other collectors to pursue this passion whole heartedly and learn to love your work regardless of any imperfections you might have concluded in your mind (which nobody else probably even notices).
My “Freed Mind” tattoo reminds me of my struggles, but more importantly all that I have overcome. It reminds me to take care of myself by making healthy choices. I am proud of myself for the things that I have overcome, and I plan to continue to work on my brain health.
I hope that we can talk about this sort of thing more, and learn to be less ashamed of the struggles we face in our minds, because concealing these issues can only make matters worse in my opinion. The more we share about our mental health issues, the more we begin to break down stigma. Shame and stigma often prevent people from seeking treatment, which is so sad to me. Please help break the stigma by starting the conversation.
Our brain is the most important organ in our body. Why should we be ashamed to talk about brain health? I hope that my story inspired others to speak up as well.