A Quandary Regarding Mental Health + Tattoos + Modern Etiquette

“NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. We are the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.”

Thanks to the efforts of NAMI it’s Mental Illness Awareness Week here in the USA. This year’s theme is #CureStigma. 

In light of this theme here’s something I’ve been thinking about. I’m unclear about what I should do when I’m in situations like the following one.

I was at a doctor’s office, in the examining room, with a medical assistant who was settling me onto the examining table, getting things ready for the doc.

When she reached across me to grab the blood pressure cuff I noticed that she had a tattoo on her inside left wrist.  What caught my eye was that the tattoo was of a semicolon.

As you probably know, that is the tat one gets when you have, or someone you love has, engaged in self-harming behaviors;  OR when you or a loved one have attempted to commit, or possibly in the case of a loved one succeeded in committing, suicide.

[More on the semicolon tattoo meaning here and here.]

In general I’ve found that people with visible tattoos seem pleased when you notice the tattoo.  They often have a story to tell about their tattoos and I’m willing to listen.

However, in this particular case I was reluctant to say anything, so I said nothing and just smiled like I didn’t know what I was seeing.

So my questions are:

  • Would you consider a visible semicolon tattoo to be an invitation for conversation about what it means to the person with this tattoo?
  • Or would you not say a word about it unless the person with the tattoo brings up the topic?

Anyone got any experience with or advice about how to handle this type of situation? I feel like there might be some kind of modern etiquette involved here, but I don’t know what it is.

Tattoos, Doodles & Unfinished Projects

file6941266100445-1A most peculiar week, this one.  Blue moon and all.  Must have had something to do with it.

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A friend is thinking about getting a tat.  3 of her 4 children have at least one tattoo, and she feels like an old fogey without one.  She wants something meaningful with a bit of color, but not gaudy.  Nothing wordy.  Wordy ones, we agree, are too much like work.  Who wants to read themselves?

I’m of the tats need to be organic and flowing school of thought.  She’s of the tats need to include all family members, somehow, school of thought.  Will let you know what she decides on… if she ever does.

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Besides contemplating theoretical body art, this week I’ve watched Dr. Who.  Did you know that I was a Whovian?  Well, now you do.

I’m on the 10th Doctor with Donna Noble as his companion.  I’ve read that she comes to some lousy end, so I’m finding this season to be rather bittersweet.  She’s one of my favorite companions;  I do so love her attitude and spunk.  Noisy woman with a heart.  Doesn’t travel light, that one.

Oddly enough, watching Dr. Who this week has me doodling.  I don’t know why, but every time I sit down to watch an episode, I pick up pen/pencil + paper and commence doodling.  Lots of swirls and flowers– and boxy faces composed of rectangles, triangles, stars.

Perhaps I’m creating a tattoo for myself and don’t even know it?  Or maybe I’m more lost in thought than usual.  Regardless, I’m happy listening to/glancing at the Doctor and Donna.  And doodling.  Must. Draw. Doodles.

~ • ~

Sometimes I’m amazed by how I decide to do something productive [like paint the bottom pedestal part of our kitchen table] and how the weather decides to be uncooperative [like hazy/rainy/stormy/humid all fricking week].

This is a project, if it is to be done properly, that requires lots of sunlight and low humidity and a very happy me.  Yet not one day this blue moon week have I been able to work on my project.  Do we not all believe that effort should be rewarded?  Am I not trying here?  

They tell us that the weather isn’t personal, but this week it has seemed personal.  That I’m being thwarted for no good reason whatsoever.  That all my plans have fallen to dust and I’ve been left alone to work around the mess that unfulfilled plans create.

But as we all know: you live, you learn.  Which, from what I can tell, means that some weeks you live with a huge unfinished project smack dab in the middle of your kitchen.  And you learn to not whine about it.