Give us Hope of Recovery
Relapse Happens: Never Give Up Hope of Recovery
It’s not very often that a recovering addict gets treatment, quits using drugs and/or alcohol, and never looks back. Addiction simply doesn’t work that way.
Addiction is a disease. And any disease, even effective treatment doesn’t guarantee that it won’t relapse after a certain period of time. In fact, drug addiction has similar relapse rates to that of type 1 diabetes and asthma. About 40 to 60 percent of those treated for drug addiction will relapse.
And you know what? That’s okay. Recovery from addiction is a lifelong process, and the steps don’t always go in order. True recovery from drug addiction isn’t just a matter of removing the person from the drugs. The habit, stresses, and conditions that created the addiction in the first place are often deeply embedded and difficult to change.
That’s why the most important thing to do in the face of relapse is to keep your hope alive. So much of recovery is a mental process, and giving up hope means falling back into drinking or drug use, and potentially even suffering a deeper descent than before.
Relapse Statistics: You’re Not the Only One
It’s not enough to say that relapse is a common occurrence. It’s more appropriate to say recovery without relapse is UNcommon.
Many people will relapse into drug or alcohol use within a year of treatment. Some, actor Phillip Seymour Hoffman, relapse after decades of being clean.
It’s true that the risk of relapse decreases the more time you spend clean. One study found that for people who were able to stay abstinent from substance abuse for more than a year, the relapse rate shrunk to less than half.A survey of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) members showed that the relapse rate for people within their first year of recovery was around 75 percent. However, for people who managed to stay sober for over five years, that rate reduced to seven percent.
But the feeling never truly goes away. Addiction changes your brain chemistry and makes it so that you’re never completely free of the influence of drugs and alcohol. Your body will always remember the euphoria of using, regardless of how destructive it has been on your life. That’s what makes it an addiction.
Why Relapse Happens: Debunking Myths About Addiction and Relapse
There’s a common misperception about addiction and relapse that it’s all simply a matter of willpower. That people fall into addiction because they’re not “strong” enough. That relapse is about succumbing to “weakness.”
Not only is that not true, the presence of that idea actually causes relapse in some cases. When people think that beating addiction is a simple matter of willpower, they are more ly to take themselves treatment or support, thinking they’re “strong enough” to beat the disease themselves. But that’s not how this works.
This isn’t an issue of strength and weakness. When cancer comes remission, it isn’t because the patient wasn’t “strong” enough to keep it at bay. The same is true of addiction. Strength and weakness have nothing to do with it. Relapse isn’t a failure – it’s often part of the recovery process.
Drug and alcohol recovery is a process, and part of that process is understanding exactly what effect the use of those substances has on you. If you’re early in the recovery process, you probably haven’t noticed the positive effects of recovery, and are instead focused on the negative – you miss drinking, or using drugs. The temptation is there, and it’s hard to ignore.
Sometimes a relapse is how you remind yourself why you wanted to stop using substances in the first place. Falling back into that pit, remembering how hopeless and powerless you felt, this can be one of the best ways to keep you sober for good – so long as you hold onto hope and don’t give up on recovery.
Relapse doesn’t mean treatment has failed, and it doesn’t mean you have failed. It just means that you may need to return to treatment, or take a new approach to it.
If you previously stopped drinking or using drugs through support groups, perhaps you want to try a professional rehab program. If you quit using outpatient therapy, maybe you need to try inpatient treatment.Or maybe simply returning for more of the same treatment is all you need to get yourself on the right track.
There’s no one right answer. with any disease, sometimes treatment has to be adjusted and changed to get the right results. Sometimes that means a different kind of treatment, and sometimes it means the same treatment, but for a longer period of time. Regardless, the only wrong answer is to give up and let the disease win.
How to Stop Relapse, and What to Do if You Can’t Stop it
Relapsing, recovery, is a process. Many people think it’s an event, and a sudden one at that, but it isn’t. Relapse isn’t something where a recovering alcoholic sits down in front of a glass of wine, and is back in rehab the next day. Relapse happens in stages, and many of those stages are mental and internal.
Emotional relapse is the stage in which you start setting yourself up for trouble. You’re not thinking about a relapse, or using at all, but you start to become emotionally volatile, defensive and isolated. You stop going to support meetings and stop accepting help from friends and loved ones. You stop taking care of yourself, and your sleeping and eating habits suffer.
If you know to look for these signs, then you also know that they’re a precursor to worse things to come. If you can get support from someone close to you, or talk to someone about what’s happening, you can correct your course and prevent your relapse before it happens.
Emotional relapse, when unchecked, sets you up for mental relapse. Mental relapse is when you start thinking about using in the past, and you start missing it. You glorify your past use, thinking back on it positively and magnifying the good times, rather than the damage it caused.
This is the stage at which temptation begins to grow uncontrollable. You may start falling into the old habits that surrounded your addiction, hanging out with the friends you previously used with, and lying to your loved ones to give yourself an opportunity to use.
The best thing you can do to here is to talk to somebody, and be honest. Tell them what you’re feeling – that you’re thinking about using again, and you’re bargaining to make it seem okay.
In your mind, you’re thinking that this time will be different, that you’ll be able to control yourself. But the whole point of drug and alcohol use is that it takes you out of control of your own body.If you can’t remember that and convince yourself of it, tell your family or a support group, and let them talk you it.
Because the next step is a physical relapse, where you fall back into your drug use and return to your old habits. But even at this point, all is not lost.
If you’ve physically relapsed, the next thing to do is to get yourself back into treatment. Don’t let yourself fall any deeper into addiction when you can start digging out immediately. Contact us today if you’re in the middle of a relapse, and we’ll help get you back on track.
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“Clown” by Marcia A. Murphy 1972
During my early teen years I developed a mental illness. Since then my life has taken many turns, some towards recovery. I have written about my experiences so that the lives of others who have a mental illness might be improved.
I hope that my insights will stimulate new thought concerning the meaning in psychoses, the forces of stigmatization, and the search for survival.
My experiences and attitudes have implications not only for the psychiatrically disabled, but also for those who support the ill: their families, therapists, and physicians.
pax vobisMarcia A. Murphy[A Prayer of Advocacy] [Marcia’s Photos: Her Own Road to Recovery]
Part I: An Integrated Approach
The resources in this section are evidence and support for an integrated approach to psychiatric care in treating the body, mind, and spirit.
Through my writing I explain how spirituality, alongside of biology and other factors, is an integral part of recovery and is essential for healing the emotional, psychological, and physical suffering inherent in illness.
Research has shown that spirituality in particular or, religious faith, play an important role in the recovery process.
Resources on Spirituality and Health: Compiled by Marcia A. Murphy, September 2009 (PDF). These resources consisting of articles and websites provide evidence and support for an integrated approach in mental health care in treating the body, mind, and spirit.
Research has shown that spirituality in particular or, religious faith, play an important role in the recovery process. This list can be a starting place for health care providers or anyone interested in this topic.
A brief summary of the resource will precede each reference.
As a Christian and a person in recovery from a mental illness, Marcia is advocating for people with a psychiatric illness within the church and broader community.
The purpose of her presentation is to increase awareness of the plight of people who have a mental illness and the challenges they face.
She hopes to call attention to the inaccessibility of the healthcare system and, thus, the unavailability of effective treatments resulting in further deprivation and suffering for the ill.Marcia hopes to show how spirituality and religious communities are important for improving the quality of life and functioning for people with a mental illness and to offer ways the church can aid and support this population. Click on title to download file for viewing. This is a large file–allow time to download.
Breathing Life into Dust: What it means to be made in the image of God in terms of our mental healthis a PowerPoint slideshow created by Marcia A. Murphy. This includes her voice narration.
She says that mental illness is an unplanned detour on the road of life and that healing begins with faith, hope and love–transformation into mental health, reflecting God’s image.
Click on title to download PPt file for viewing.
LifeStoryRF From Death to Life: My Life Story by Marcia A. Murphy.
How do we survive psychosis? What pulls us through? In this PowerPoint slideshow with voice narration, Marcia tells her story about suffering, mental illness, and being restored by God’s grace.
It is a story of spiritual death, survival, of overcoming obstacles to find a new life through faith in Christ. Click on “LifeStoryRF” to download PPt file for viewing.
Marcia’s Channel: Spirituality & Mental Health
Breathing Life Into Dust https://www.slideshare.net/yellow37/from-dust
From Death to Life: My Life Story https://www.slideshare.net/yellow37/life-storyrf
Allbooks Review International Editor’s Choice Award for 2011 Finalist
My memoir, Voices in the Rain: Meaning in Psychosis, is the story of my experience with mental illness through which I find spiritual meaning and, ultimately, God. As a person who has experienced severe psychiatric illness and landed on my feet, I believe I offer a unique first-person perspective.
I tell what such illness is , its symptoms, stigmatization, hospitalizations, and daily life. I take you into my world where I found insights into the spiritual meaning of my illness.My story may give desperately needed hope to others who are ill, their families, psychiatric professionals, as well as to those who know someone who is ill.
Wipf & Stock Publishers
Click here to order from Wipf & Stock PublishersEmail: firstname.lastname@example.orgPhone Customer Service:
Also from: Amazon
More God, Less Psychiatric Illness:Devotions for those in recovery from mental illnessby Marcia A. Murphy & Friends
Eagle Book Bindery Publishing Co., Cedar Rapids, IA. 2017
To place an order–Place an Order Form
Book Web Page Here
Grand Rounds, Schizophrenia Bulletin by Marcia A. Murphy (internet advance access May 4, 2006), Vol. 33, No. 3, 657-660 (2007). This short story is a work of creative nonfiction and is real events from my life. Dr.
Gingerich (a pseudonym), my psychiatrist, put on a Grand Rounds on the topic of recovery from schizophrenia. During the Rounds, I am interviewed and I talk to an audience of mainly psychiatric professionals, i.e., medical students, psychiatric residents and psychiatrists.
I give my view of my experience of schizophrenia and what I believe brought about recovery.
First Person Account: Meaning of Psychoses, Schizophrenia Bulletin, by Marcia A. Murphy Vol. 23, No. 3, 541-543 (1997). In First Person Account: Meaning of Psychoses, I address the scientific community.
I encourage mental health professionals to go beyond the biomedical model of brain dysfunction to consider the devastating impact of psychosis.
I describe the psychotic symptoms I experienced as a young adult, problems I’ve had over the years, and factors that led to improvement in my condition.[Coping With] The Spiritual Meaning of Psychosis, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, by Marcia A. Murphy Vol. 24, No. 2, 179-183 (2000). In [Coping With] The Spiritual Meaning of Psychosis, I present a thematic analysis of the meaning of psychosis.
This is interviews I conducted on individuals who were taking part in a rehabilitation program. In this article, I ask the psychiatric community to consider these persons’ interpretations of psychotic phenomena.And I urge counselors, therapists, and doctors to recognize how spiritual attitudes and lifestyles give direction and meaning to the lives of those with psychiatric disabilities.
Rejection, Stigma, and Hope, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, by Marcia A. Murphy Vol. 22, No. 2, 191-194 (1998). Next, Rejection, Stigma, and Hope describes the pain caused by stigmatization of the mentally ill.
I share my own experience of stigma as well as the experiences of those at the rehabilitation center where I conducted interviews. I also give examples of discrimination and prejudice.
To conclude the article, I tell of how I found hope in the face of rejection, and how I believe mental health professionals and organizations can restore dignity to the lives of those with psychiatric illness.
Psychiatric Illness from the Religious Perspective. Unpublished manuscript (1997). by Marcia A. Murphy Psychiatric Illness from the Religious Perspective was written with the intention of promoting spirituality in medicine.
Using a combination of personal account and theory, I describe the transformative impact of psychosis. Standing alone, I feel the biomedical model of psychiatric illness is reductionistic. Instead, I believe a holistic view of mental illness is needed that merges secular psychiatry and religion.
This validates the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit. I describe how adopting this perspective brought healing to my life.
Before I Started to Serve. In Sharon Kutz-Mellem (Ed.), DIFFERENT MEMBERS ONE BODY: Welcoming the Diversity of Abilities in God’s Family (pp. 27-28). Louisville, KY: Witherspoon Press (1998). by Marcia A. Murphy Before I Started to Serve is an essay published by the Presbyterian Church, (U.S.A.).In this one I state what any psychiatrist will tell you that schizophrenia does not involve split or multiple personalities. This misconception has been fueled by the media and Hollywood. I explain that schizophrenia is a term that covers many kinds of symptoms such as, thought disorder, hallucinations (auditory or visual), delusions, apathy, and withdrawal.
A person can have some or all of these and individual cases vary enormously. This essay also provides examples of activities I undertook in the church which led to fellowship and a sense of well being.
By involving myself in the religious community, I found that the love of Christ–through the Christian people–counteracts stigmatization that often breaks the heart and crushes the spirit of those with psychiatric disabilities.
Part II: “Come now, let us reason together…” Isaiah 1:18a
In this section I hope to encourage rational thought and discussion about controversial topics with the hope that such reasoning and communications will result in greater understanding.
Christian Apologetics and Postmodernism: A Rebuttal (2009). By Marcia A. Murphy. With this paper I hope to clarify various theological and philosophical positions that divide religious communities. Opposing camps often sit side by side on church pews.
When we say we worship God what exactly is the focus of our worship? Can it matter to God as to who or what we think He is? Should it matter to us? This composition is just a brief preliminary sketch of a more complicated debate that I may develop elsewhere.
Reflections (2013). By Marcia A. Murphy. What is the church? Who are God’s people? This essay contains my reflections upon the apathetic condition of many who profess Christ. What does the Bible show God to be in regard to the afflicted, poor and oppressed? And, is the Christian community reflecting this God of the Bible and the example of Jesus Christ?
Letter to My Therapist (2013). By Marcia A. Murphy.
Originally written because of a request from a person putting on a graduate school symposium on the topic of suicide, I wrote this letter to show the depths of problems that may compel a person toward suicidal thoughts and actions. These thoughts are my own, taken from my own experience. The answer from the therapist is authentic—my own therapist responded.
Eugenics & People with Disabilities: The Roots of Societal Rejection, Neglect and Indifference (2013). By Marcia A. Murphy. Who can decide who is worthy of life or death? How do we judge a human being’s worth? How do we treat those that society sees as weak and dependent? What is the Christian response? What is yours?
Professor of Philosophy William Lane Craig, Ph.D, D.Theol, states that“If God does not exist, then it is plausible to think that there are no objective moral values, that we have no moral duties, and that there is no moral accountability for how we live and act. The horror of such a morally neutral world is obvious….” Read about why embracing theism is so very important.
We Become What We Worship at Amazon.com
Author G.K. Beale, Ph.D., in We Become What We Worship: a biblical theology of idolatry
describes how we take on the characteristics of what we are most devoted to or worship.It is what we value the most that shapes our lives and loves, be it God or the dark side, good or evil.
Our habits, our lifestyles, our priorities: do they point to God or another way?
Past Stories of Hope and Recovery
A:I discovered that I was living with Bipolar Disorder II at age 30 in 2013 after being diagnosed, but I knew I suffered high’s and low’s all of my life which I thought was routine. There was never much ‘middle ground’ with myself.
I knew I was different to others and I realised this when I looked in to bipolar disorder and I learned that I had some traits and signs of the condition but not all.
I can now relate to others that are sufferers as their characteristics are similar to mine.
Q: Describe your support network and positive influences.
A:My positive influences are the people that surround me and that matter most to me. My friend, soul mate and lover helped me become the person that I am today and for this I will be forever in his debt; I am eternally grateful.
Without my nearest & dearest, I would not be where I am now.
My support network is my page called ‘Me, Bipolar & I’ that has over 5,350 followers since October 2013 (without the help of ads) that is recognised and followed by IBPF!
Q: Describe the key to your triumphs.
A:The key to my triumphs for example was running a fish & chip shop from 2002 – 2008. This was my drive and passion to not only succeed in life but to excel in what I do and continue to do. I don’t do anything by halves, I never have nor will. Failing is not an option no matter how low I can get in a mood. I have been very productive in some of the darkest times of my life.
Q: What is your message of hope to others?
A: My message to others would be to never give up in life. If you feel extremely low and that you want to end it all then please read this: http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ Try to see the good in every bad.
If you are feeling down, think of what you can do to pick yourself up or talk to somebody. Things don’t happen for a reason, they happen because of a reason. Be inspired by small things, also take time out for yourself now and again. Smile and the world will smile with you.
A winner never quits and a quitter never wins. Remember there is always somebody that cares about YOU.
Q: What is your favorite color and why?
A: My favourite colour is blue because it gives me a sense of calm. People may see it as being cold, but I see it as being an ‘earthly’ colour!
Q: When did you first learn of your diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder?
A: I had given birth to my second daughter, Marilla, at age thirty-seven. Immediately after her birth I became hypomanic and experienced the rare condition of hypergraphia, which is compulsive writing. Two months later I had full-blown postpartum mania and admitted myself for hospitalization, where I was officially diagnosed with bipolar one disorder.
Q: Could you describe your support network, positive influences and how you find balance and stability?
A: A few years ago I founded the DBSA Chapter (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance) for our county and I created a women’s support group. It was there that I met two women with bipolar disorder who have become close friends. I also find support online through ’s miscellaneous private bipolar groups and the Mental Health Bloggers network.
BP (Bipolar) Magazine’s bloggers are a great resource. (www.bphope.com) The International Bipolar Foundation’s page offers a newsfeed’s that shares inspiring pictures and quotes.
That really brightens my day! I find balance and stability in five key ways: seeing my “team” (psychiatrist and counselor) regularly, medication, steady exercise, writing, and of course enough sleep! My goal this year is to improve my diet and try meditation.
Q: Who is your greatest inspiration and why?
A: My two daughters Avonlea, age 9, and Marilla, age 6. The love I feel for them is ineffable, and their unconditional love for me makes me want to be stable with bipolar more than anything.
After all the trauma they’ve been through (I’ve been hospitalized five times for this illness since Marilla was born.
) I am motivated to do all I can to show them that one can live well with this mood disorder.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: As a writer I can’t resist quoting my favorite author the late Madeleine L’Engle. I had the incredible experience of working with her at a writer’s workshop. It was impossible for me to choose just one quote, so here are two short ones: “Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.
” This quote is from her best known work A Wrinkle In Time: “Don't try to comprehend with your mind. Your minds are very limited. Use your intuition.” Speaking of the mind, I love what author Melody Moezzi (Haldol and Hyacinths) said in her recent IBF webinar.
While Melody asserted she didn’t want to glamorize bipolar, she noted, “There’s something extraordinary about a mind that works differently.”
Q: What is your message of hope to others living with Bipolar Disorder?
A: The beautiful Peter Gabriel song “Don’t Give Up” comes to mind as I write this. There were many times I wanted to give up. I know this will sound a cliché, but if you are feeling stuck and hopeless, please reach out to others.
Seek a therapist and/or psychiatrist. My Dad always told me that by the time I was older, a cure would be found for bipolar. Although that hasn’t happened yet, we shouldn’t rule out breakthroughs with the tremendous amount of research happening.
I was cynical about feeling hopeful regarding my recovery for such a long time, but that finally shifted. We can hope together for medical advancements, and in the meantime, do all you can to ask for help so you feel supported, not isolated.You don’t have to suffer needlessly — there is hope for each and every one of you!
Hope and Full Recovery From Addiction
I was asked the other day “is full recovery from addiction possible?” and that is the question that consistently is asked, and needs to be consistently addressed, because those who struggle with addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, etc.
truly need to hear an answer from those whom are in recovery from addiction or recovered. Anyone who follows me on , or reads my blogs, knows that I believe in full addiction recovery.
I know it is possible not only because I am living proof, but because I see people daily who are also living proof.
Addiction Recovery Means Facing Our Fears
I believe the question is asked because people are scared, struggling, and feel lost and dismayed that their fighting is getting them nowhere.
Perhaps a person is struggling more, facing a relapse, or deep within their tenth full relapse.
I cannot repeat enough, nor loud enough, that I absolutely believe addictionrecovery is possible, and believe that hope in that is a key cornerstone to those fighting for recovery.
«Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life than any single realized joy could be.» – Friedrich Nietzsche
Life in general can be hard, we face struggles, and the point isn’t to avoid them, it is to find a way to help cope with them in a healthy way, in both mind and spirit. When in recovery from addiction, hope is a key perspective to embrace.
Recovery From Addiction Means Embracing a New Perspective
When I was in early recovery I struggled, tripped, fell over and over and thought recovery just wasn’t for me. I wasn’t willing to give up my old behaviors and was able to rationalize that they weren’t that bad, anything to avoid the fight for recovery.
It took a long time to see that the perspective I was choosing wasn’t one of hope.Once I started to look around me with clearer (and sober) eyes, I started to see people surrounding me at all different levels of recovery, and saw myself piece by piece within their stories, their feelings, and hope built more and more.
I realized that having strong hope in recovery from addiction, was just as important as embracing a “one day at a time” perspective, seeking therapy, seeking a support system, having courage to change, and determination to never give up no matter how many times I fell. There are many ways to help you embrace an attitude of hope:
Take time to write down all that you have done in your day!
I think acknowledging the progress we are making is so important. Often we get stuck thinking we are making no progress in the recovery journey. If you keep a list, and look back over a few months you will see progress happens, just one day at a time and builds over time.
Relapse does not mean you are a failure, or aren’t still moving forward in your recovery
I think a lot of people get tripped up over relapse, they lose hope, and worry they are back at square one, but this is not the case.
You are constantly learning in recovery, and with each relapse you learn new triggers, and can apply new tools to help you stand back up and fight for recovery. We never start in square one; we just may have stopped moving forward.
Keep pushing forward knowing that you have learned from the past, will continue to learn, and there is hope that with each new day you are moving farther in your recovery.
Hope isn’t static – it will grow over time
Every day, you may learn to embrace a little more hope. Do not be so hard on yourself for not feeling you have “enough” hope.
Your recovery path is different from others, and the hope we are building will take time. After years of addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, etc.
you may have lost any hope you ever had, and it will take time to build a reservoir of hope you can tap into on the hard days.
Manage your expectations in recovery
I know that many people may be overachievers, perfectionists, and want to be recovered fast, and with little effort. You may feel frustrated when you see others doing so well, and you feel you are fighting harder and harder and not getting anywhere.
It is important to stop comparing to others, and lower your expectations in recovery. You will be progressing at your own speed, and having hope and accepting a mindset of being present in the moment will help you take one step at a time.
This isn’t a race, and finding a support system to help you along the way, can help slowly build hope in the recovery process.
I believe embracing a mindset of hope is returning more and more to our authentic selves, working with and embracing who we really are.
Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are.
Rachel Naomi Remen
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Sebelius, K. (2012, January 5). Hope and Full Recovery From Addiction, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 17 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/debunkingaddiction/2012/01/hope-and-full-recovery
28 Tattoos That Give Us Hope for Self-Harm Recovery
While most tattoos have a story, a tattoo that represents a journey with self-harm is more than a symptom — it’s a visible reminder. Maybe it’s a way of reclaiming your body, giving the story your scars tell more context.
Maybe it’s simply a way to cover, to start fresh and move on from a painful part of your life.
Whatever the reason, tattoos can sometimes be a way for people who’ve self-harmed to commit to their recovery, and act as a reminder that stopping self-harming behaviors is possible.
To show some examples, we asked our mental health community to share tattoos they got in honor of self-harm recovery.
Here’s what they shared with us:
“This is my tattoo! I got it once I graduated high school to symbolize me being the woods and being free from the abuse and manipulation as well as the bullying I faced growing up.” — Abs H.
“My tattoo is basically a ‘f*ck you’ to suicide. The semicolon represents the times where I could have ended everything, but I kept going instead. The birds represent each very important person to me who kept me here on this earth. Those who never give up on me no matter how low I go. Trying means you’re fighting. I want to fight every day.” — Ashley N.
“I just got this tattoo a week ago, and still have to go back to the artist to color and finish it. I designed this tattoo as a way to reclaim my body and skin from self-harm.
I’ve had these self-harm scars for years, and hated how they drew attention and identified me. This tattoo is a promise to myself that I will ride through the waves of life, and I won’t jump ship when the tides get high.
I am on my way to adventure, and I won’t my scars get in the way.” — Melissa K.
“First one at age 52. Literal heart on my sleeve. Not giving up hope by symbolic attached key. Jewels are tears. The gold is nearly rusted shut. It took three and a half hours. It was no pain compared to what I continue to feel daily. To be truly honest — I d the sensation and the damn control of needing no ones’ input.” — Dayna L.
“I have two, they are both Twenty One Pilots related, but that band has helped me through my darkest times.” — Braelyn S.
“I used to scratch and just think horrible thoughts of dying constantly. But this helps remind me I need to love myself every day. No matter what happens, if I don’t love myself, I can’t love anyone else the way they need it.” — Keelya G.
“My latest, a little reminder. I had depression and social anxiety when I was young and I never realized that.
Recently, I noticed every time a youth comes to me to talk about some mental disorder (now I’m a youth group coordinator) one of my favorite phrases to say is, ‘You have to fight back for your life.
’ So, this is a little reminder to myself of that… Doesn’t matter what… I have to fight back!” — Alejandro B.
“The large one is lyrics from La Dispute, ‘Scars will fade away but never disappear.’ The one on my wrist is a semicolon, to remind me to keep going and my story isn’t over yet. The AKF is for the campaign by Jared Padalecki, Always Keep Fighting.” — Jey S.
“This photo was taken the day I got tatted, so excuse how red my arm looks. This tattoo is actually a quote from my favorite song by my favorite band (“Reaper Man” by Mother Mother, just in case anyone was wondering!).
Mother Mother’s music was sometimes the only thing I could truly relate to in my darkest hours; they helped me feel less alone in my struggling, and gave me hope that I could succeed in life despite being a mess in the head.
” — Carson Eileen A.
“I’ve recently started opening up about my mental health and just got this tattoo this week. It’s not just a reminder — warriors never stop fighting. So it reminds me to never stop fighting.” — Chelsea S.
“I designed this tattoo to cover up the first cluster of scars I made in my early high school years. I got this after two years clean of self-harm, to symbolize the strength and resilience I needed to fight my way through recovery. I am still recovering every day, and having this reminder of the struggle I already endured helps me from falling into old habits.” — Melissa K.
“I got this tattoo of a pencil, a pen and a paintbrush over old scars. For me, it represents my recovery and how I learned that writing and painting helped me cope.
The pencil symbolizes my time in an inpatient psychiatric hospital, where I was only allowed to have small golf pencils to write with.
The pen symbolizes when I got inpatient and was in outpatient (finally allowed to use a pen!) and then the paintbrush symbolizes my recovery as a whole since I learned that painting helped me cope with emotions.” — Ashton P.
“Started self-harming when I was in middle school. I’m now completely school, haven’t self-harmed in forever and about to be a momma! I’ve learned through the battles I still face every day that the bad moments, thoughts, emotions, feelings… everything negative basically, they pass. Even when I feel it’s the end of the world, it’s going to pass.” — Julia D.
“This owl covers a huge scar across my wrist so I don’t have to share my terrible secret with everyone who always asked what happened. I am not ashamed of what I did, but I don’t also want to remember the dark time that lead me there. My life is so full of love and joy now I don’t want to taint it with the bad.” — Kim M.
“I got this tattoo a couple weeks ago but have wanted it since I can remember… I got it on my left wrist where most of my self-harm scars are, so it’s a reminder of the bad times I got through and it’s also I reminder I can get through even more hard times. I also have a small hope that the tattoo is motivation for my brain to produce more serotonin lol.” — Kate M.
“I got this tree to remind me to not beat myself up in my head and think positive and compassionate about myself. It‘s also a reminder to treat myself well and give my body what it needs: good food, rest, exercise, sleep. The tree is a symbol we worked on in therapy. It‘s a place where I can sit and rest and get away from my negative thoughts.” — Kerstin S.
“The ‘hope’ and ‘love’ were written out by the drummer and lead singer of We The Kings respectively. They cover old scars and are reminders there is hope and love in the world. That band got me through the worst years. Additionally, I get tattoos on my arms to prevent relapses.” — Grayce R.
“I to think that anything beautiful can go through bad things. a rose can have a few thorns, but can still be beautiful. We can have a few scars but are still beautiful.” — Kailey D.
“My latest tattoo is a quote from All Time Low’s song, ‘Missing You.’ It talks about how when you feel so alone and lost in the world, to never give up and to keep fighting. It was released after I met the band, and they hugged me so hard when they saw my arms and spoke to me about it.
Alex and Jack told me to never give up, and that things will pass with time — and that I can recover. When the song was released, it spoke to me on every level. I now look at this tattoo every time I feel giving up, and remember my heroes are supporting my recovery 100 percent.” — Abby A.
“Song lyrics from two songs that get me through some dark hours.” — Jess D.