Nicola got her rose tattoo at the start of her mental health beginning to deteriorate. At that time, she was undiagnosed, struggling and chose to have it done as a form of self-harm. Now she’s ready to have the painful reminder removed. Here is her story.
I got this tattoo around 2008. It was right at the beginning of my mental health starting to deteriorate. At that time, I didn’t know I had a mental illness. I was undiagnosed and I was struggling. Now when I look back, I realised that getting this tattoo at that time was a form of self-harm. I got it done because I wanted to feel some sense of release for the pain I was looking for. It was either that or cutting. So I got the tattoo.
I knew I wanted a rose that went from my elbow to my wrist and get it tattooed just to feel the pain of getting it done, and the excitement of having something new. It was impulsive. I didn’t think it through. I was in one of my crises when I got it done. And I’ve been stuck with it ever since.
Why did you choose a rose?
At that time I thought the rose meant regrowth, rebirth, blossoming into something from nothing. Unbeknownst to me, at that time my crisis was about to get worse. As time has gone on, I started to get treatment. I’m not 100% yet, but I’m getting there.
Now, the rose is a constant reminder of where I’ve come from. It’s not that I want to forget those days and pretend they never happened, but it’s something I’m forced to think about and remember seeing this tattoo. Having it removed would allow me to move from that time in peace.
Do you see the removal of it as part of your journey to recovery?
Yes—no doubt about it. Having this tattoo removed would help me move beyond it. While I’m going through treatment and having therapy, having this tattoo as a reminder is a big trigger. There are a lot of memories and pain associated with that time of my life when I had the tattoo done. I want to move beyond it.
“The rose is a constant reminder of where I’ve come from. It’s something I’m forced to think about and remember when I see this tattoo. Having it removed would allow me to move from that time in peace.”
“It is like the end of a bad journey for me. The beginning of the end. There is so much negativity associated with this tattoo. It’s not my life anymore.”
How did you find NAAMA?
I was interested in having it removed, so I subscribed to NAAMA’s newsletter emails. I got a newsletter for Second Chances, asking people to fill out a form and tell us about their tattoos and why they want it removed. I sent mine in, but I didn’t think I’d get chosen. And here I am about to start my treatment. I’m overwhelmed, I don’t think it’s sunk in. But once I start the treatment and see my tattoo disappear, I’ll be in happy tears.
How did you feel at the start of your removal journey?
I was nervous and excited; a good nervous. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and that my tattoo would finally start to go. I’ve wanted it removed for so long. I know I got it done from a place of desperation, hurt and pain. I’m not there anymore.
I didn’t think I would have been able to have it removed, so having it done through Second Chances is a dream come true.
SECOND CHANCES is here to help
To nominate yourself or someone else for our SECOND CHANCES program, complete the submission form with your tattoo story and what it would mean to you/your nominee to receive treatment with us.