Last week something important and, in a way, life-changing happened. I’d been planning on this for quite a while. I’d always wanted to do it, but I never really had the guts. Or maybe I was just lacking inspiration to deal with it any further. Until Christmas, when the boyfriend surprised me with the most amazing and, for me, totally unexpected present of – a tattoo voucher. He knew how much I wanted to have one because I kept talking about it whenever I saw someone with permanent ink on their skin walking by. I was SO excited! I went to the website of the studio he’d picked to take a look at the works of their artists – and I immediately knew who I wanted to make my tattoo. There was a girl which had done really amazing work, not just the average tattoo you can find on so many other people, but something that looked unique and had a style that was exactly my taste. Check!
Next up I needed to find my design. I wanted to have a design that meand something to me. That reflects a piece of myself. I wanted a piece of art to stay with me forever, not just something I picked on a whim. For the longest time, I was thinking of getting a tiny tattoo on my wrist. Something along the lines of “Believe” or something. Because that’s what I am. A believer. But I could instantly name at least 3 people I know who have something like that. And I didn’t want to be one of them. Then, one day in March, I came across what I’d been looking for. A picture by Jason Byron Nelson that had always spoken to me whenever I saw it. A girl that’s holding a gun to her head and the blood that drips from her wound is morphing into butterflies flying away. I just wanted to have the blood (or something similar) and the butterflies. So badly. I found it reflected so many times I’ve gone through in my life. Which were tough. And painful. But in the end lead to something beautiful. In fact, I think it’s a great metaphor for life in general. There’s good times and there’s bad times. The latter leave their traces on us, but they can’t stop us from letting the former dominate.
So I found my piece of art and went to the studio to make an appointment. May 7th was the day I was supposed to get inked. And that day came quicker than I thought. Suddenly it was time to head to the studio. I was pretty nervous. Not so much about the pain, but about the way it was gonna turn out. Something that was going to stick with me forever. I think that’s definitely something to be a little nervous about. I was glad the boyfriend came with me. And even more glad that the tattoo artist turned out to be as amazing as I thought she would be. She really took the time to work out the design with me. After a while I had a tattoo drawn on my arm and was ready to get it inked. My dream of getting a small tattoo on my wrist turned out to be a colourful painting stretching from my lower arm to my upper arm in the end. It is also pretty different from the original. We just took it as an example and developed it into something really unique. And I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I always knew I wanted to have a tattoo to show a piece of myself. My view on life. I also wanted something to be noticed by people. But also something I could hide from those who shouldn’t see this side of me. And that’s exactly what I got. Just like the message of said painting, I had to go through 4,5 hours of pain which was sometimes more, sometimes less bearable. And in the end, something beautiful was born.
It took me quite a few days to realize that I’ve really done it. That this picture is now going to stick with me forever. I have to giggle everytime I look at it. I know some people think I’m crazy (either in a good or a bad way) because I picked a fairly big tattoo for a first-timer. But it’s perfect to me. It’s a dream come true and I couldn’t be happier about it. Just look at it!!!
Yay, I’m finally back online! I was planning to be back a week ago already, but thanks to German customer service which is anything but reliable I had to wait for another week to be connected again. The past 2 weeks have been busybusybusy. And suddenly we’re almost one week into February! Can you believe it? I couldn’t help but remember a post I wrote exactly a year ago in which I was surprised at how fast the first month of the year had passed – and I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything at all. Again this year, I feel like time is racing at the speed of light. But unlike last year I’ve accomplished a lot during this first month of the year already.
First of all, there was the move to our new apartment = loads of work. But everything went surprisingly well. We managed to move all our stuff to the new place and to clean and refurbish the old one in just one weekend. Thanks to our amazing family who helped us where they could. We’re still pretty much living in chaos, but the boxes are getting less and less and this week our brand new kitchen arrived. We only had to live without a kitchen for a week which was bearable, but I’m so glad that from now on it won’t take us ages and 5 trips through the whole apartment to make coffee in the morning. We’re both madly in love with this new place and I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finally finished in a few weeks. I might even share a few impressions soon.
As if a move wasn’t enough, I was also pretty busy at work. We had a presentation for a new client last week which had to be set up within a ridiculously short time frame. I was really keen on working on this project because it was a challenge and something different from the usual. But as an introvert I hate nothing more than speaking in front of people. I just hate it. I know it’s part of my job and I also know that nothing bad can happen. But just the mere thought of holding a presentation in front of strangers makes me feel really uncomfortable. This whole situation, with the move on the side, was a pretty big test for me. It was the first time I was thrown into a somewhat stressful situation at work after my breakdown. It was my time to prove that I’m capable of handling stressful situations again and that I’ve overcome that fear of failure which used to put so much pressure on me.
I have to say it wasn’t easy. Deep down I was a little scared I’d get back into that vicious cycle it took me so long to get out of. There were a few days where I could feel my stress level and the pressure on myself rising again. So much so that I wasn’t able to sleep very well. It worried me. But I knew what I had to do. I breathed, I calmed myself down and took care of myself. And in the end everything worked out fine. Heck, It worked out brilliantly because: We won!!! Of course, I was completely exhausted after the presentation was over. After all the tension had fallen off. But in a good way. I managed to handle this challenge in a healthy way. To face my fears and get over them. It might not look like something big to others. But it’s a big success for me. I’m very much looking forward to everything going back to a little less stressful level. But I’m sure the next challenge is right around the corner. And I won’t be scared of it.
Recently, I stumbled over a song by Biffy Clyro I could absolutely, totally connect with. I’m sure you’ve experienced something like that before. When you listen to the words of someone, be it in a song, a book or whatever, and you just wanna scream “yes” from the top of your lungs because you feel like that person is exactly speaking your mind. In the case of that song (which is called “Machines”) it doesn’t feel like my current self is speaking. But the self of a couple of months ago. When I was going through my rough patch.
I’ve started falling apart, I’m not savouring life
I’ve forgotten how good it could be to feel alive
That’s exactly how I felt only a while back when I was trying to cope with the aftermath of my breakdown. I don’t think I realized back then how little I was actually living. And how much I was just functioning. I recently talked about that time with the boyfriend and he said that I seemed sad all the time. And I think I was. Even though I tried to have a good time. I tried to enjoy life. But it was SO hard. I seemed fine on the outside, but inside there were demons fighting. Those demons are called panic attacks and I was no stranger to them.
After my grandpa had died when I was 13 I had my first encounter with them. And they accompanied me for years. Years in which I gave up on almost all my hobbies and social life. I was still trying to do things teenagers normally do, but fear was a constant companion for me. Until I decided that this wasn’t the way I wanted to lead my life. And they magically disappeared almost completely. I can tell you the human psyche is a tricky thing! To be honest, I didn’t expect these attacks to ever come back again. Yet they did. During the worst time, I had minor attacks on an almost daily basis, usually on the way to or from work (which tells you a lot about the reasons, I guess). It felt like a weight was pushing on my chest, I wasn’t able to breathe properly and I felt like I was gonna pass out any second. I was close to crying many times. And I just wanted to go home and curl up on my couch. Instead I went to work and functioned the way I was supposed to. In a way, my breakdown came as a relief because it was telling people something wasn’t right with me. It was a cry for help of some sort. People at work were very supportive and I had the greatest support from the boyfriend I could ever imagine. Especially since we hadn’t been together for a very long time back then and I am forever grateful to him for sticking by me. But despite all this the panic wasn’t completely gone for a long time. I forced myself to ignore it. To just do what I wanted to do despite the fear lingering in the background. Sometimes it worked well, others it didn’t. And it took months until I felt that I didn’t have to be scared of life anymore.
When I’m trying to think back to my last panic attack now I can’t even remember the time it happened. It must’ve been some time in early summer. I got through this rough patch. And I can tell you it wasn’t easy. I think the fact that I need to talk about it here now and then speaks for that. It’s something I still need to process. But I gained back my grip on life. I can live my life to the fullest again. I enjoy it with all my heart. I can smile and laugh and fool around again. I wasn’t able to do all these things a while ago. But things have changed so much for the better and I’m glad I didn’t give up hope. And I want to tell you that you shouldn’t either. Whatever it is you’re going through, don’t give up. Hang in there. Get some help if you need to. It’s ok to not be well. There’s no shame about it. It would only be a shame if you gave up on this beautiful live. So just don’t. And let me know if you need to talk.