Friday, November 16, 2012

Tattoo Story #6 - Emergency Tattoo

Disclaimer: I don't think tattoos that aren't well thought out (for years if you are in your 20s, months if you are over 30), are the best idea. This one was an exception. I have Val's permission to post, to be honest about what we are struggling with, to open a curtain of stigma and fear, and maybe in the next week or so, I will post more on this topic. Given the title of this blog though, this seemed a fitting way to start, while the ink is still fresh and the tattoo is starting to heal. Hopefully healing continues...

We battle an illness in our house that is chronic, can be debilitating and at times is life threatening. It’s a triple threat of OCD, anxiety and depression. I say we, but I’m just the support person. I’m not the one who has to suffer at the hand of a genetically inherited illness, that while classified as mental, has real physical causes and effects. It feels physical too. It comes with a crushing weight of fear and sadness, and though I may not be the one with the brain wiring and chemistry that is off, I feel that.

This illness sucks the life out of us sometimes. It exhausts us when it goes on for weeks at a time.  It isolates us from others as we fear what they will think of us, what label they will put on Valentine or on our family. Sometimes as we struggle to deal with it together it even makes us battle each other.  It sucks soooo bad, but there is more to our lives than this awful, gut wrenching cloud of sadness.

There are good parts of our life, really good ones. Friends, people who don’t look at Val like he’s crazy or me like a drama queen when we tell them what’s happening. Friends who may not get it, but they get us and they love us no matter how sad or scary things get. Friends who know what’s wrong just by looking at my face. Friends who clear their higher paying tattoo client schedules to fit us in and put a tattoo on my husband’s wrist, so he won’t obsess about cutting it and he can battle those horrible thoughts.

Whatever is good, noble true etc, whatever is praise worthy and excellent. It’s an edited for skin space version of Philippians 4:8. It is beautiful script but tiny, and packed into a small space, it breaks some standard tattoo rules. It isn't a tattoo for aesthetics or art, It is a tool for coping, for healing. We will think on these things. We will think on these things when the fears of suicide seem to overwhelm us.  We will think on these things when we cannot get out of bed or off the couch because there is so much sadness.  We will think on these things and we will fight like crazy against this suck.

I will fight for you Valentine Hellman, because you are totally worth it. My life is better EVERYDAY because you are in it. Everyday that I can hug you, that I can laugh about our kids, or the ridiculous new horse of a dog that you were generous enough to let me get, my life is better. Every time I get a text from you, even if it’s one that tells me you are struggling, my life is better, because you are a part of it. You amaze me with your strength, with your ability to work and provide for us even on your worst days. Everyone that meets you (well the ones that are worth your time anyway) thinks you are wonderful, and you are the best part of the Hellman family. You are sweet and creative and sensitive and kind. Your playful spirit brings wonder and excitement to our house. You may struggle with depression, but that is not who you are.
All work done by Michael Facchini
at Blackhole Tattoo (West) in Beaverton, OR
That’s why I got the tattoo too. I am on your team. I will grieve with you and I will rejoice with you, and I will never give up on you. Ever. Your tattoo faces in so that you can read it. Mine faces out, so you can read it.  I know others will read it too. I know there will be questions. I Thank you for letting me share our story. Thanks for letting me reach out for help as I support you. Thank you for being bold enough to help others find a voice too.

Actual text of tattoo: Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.


  1. Heather and Val,

    They are tattoo's that are certainly worth your both getting.

    Dan and I have issues also, and I feel your ache and the joy that you have.

    Dan suffers to from depression and some other things too, and the days that he just stays in bed and watches movies on the computer, I now am O.K. with. It took a long time to get to that place, but he is worth it, just like Val and I will fight with all my heart and strength for him. You are right people do not understand it, but those that do are completely understanding, and apperciate Dan.

    You both have a fabulous family and God has placed us with the mates that we have a purpose that he knows and that we learn from.