Content warning: The following story contains references to eating disorders and self-harm ideation, which may be triggering for some survivors.
"Or, so They Say," Emily Tipple
Last year around this same time I got inked with this butterfly and quote to symbolize my recovery journey. It was a tattoo I had drawn up for myself to celebrate the best place I had been in in a long time. After battling anorexia and other eating disorder behaviors for years (without even realizing it and being in complete denial), I had been forced into treatment a year and a half prior to getting this tattoo. I was extremely resistant and denied that there could be any possibility of having motivation to get better. I saw no point in living and became the most depressed and suicidal I had been in my entire life.
The summer I got this tattoo was a turning point and still to this day I don’t know why. I was motivated and positive and put everything I had into recovery. I went back into treatment for the 4th time and was determined to get through all my struggles.
I tried to be an example to not only myself who once believed that life would never get better, but more importantly to other girls who have similar struggles. I began a recovery Instagram and gained a lot of companions in the journey.
Why a stereotypical butterfly?!
In one of my first residential stays, I met a girl who became my best friend. We had similar personalities and interests as well as a very similar life story and history. We bonded over making art in all our spare time and started calling each other “beautiful butterflies” for encouragement. After our time together, we stayed in touch and she contacted me to draw her a butterfly tattoo with the recovery symbol. I loved the idea and drew one for myself as well. I planned on it being something I would get if I ever got to a stable place.
By the end of last summer, I was back living on my own in my first apartment and all set to go back to college for my junior year – I even caught up on credits while in treatment! In only a few short months, I basically made a complete turn around in my life. I was feeling accomplished, independent and completely invincible.
So what better way to celebrate than to get a permanent reminder on my body?
After such a great turn around, I wish I could say things stayed that way. My positive mindset deteriorated and the eating disorder crept back in. Right now, I am not in a place to even be proud of last summer. I don’t believe that things will get better.
Hopelessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and everything else that comes with the eating disorder and mental illness have consumed my life yet again. But at least I still have this tattoo to serve as a reminder of a better time. I can only hope that one day I will be able to look down at this beautiful butterfly and open myself up to the idea of recovery. After all, I am what I choose to become (or so they say).
Tattoosday is way to demonstrate the storytelling quality of tattoos as well as the healing quality of tattoos.
If you would like to share the stories behind your ink, send us a picture of a tattoo or tattoos that have a significant story tied to your survival in life. Then write at least 400 words (you can write as many as you'd like) about the tattoo, it's meaning, and what it means to you today.
These stories will all run on Tuesdays!
One per week! So you have plenty of time to submit them to us!
The caveat with TATTOOSDAY is that we will not be making you a free piece of art, instead, your ink IS the art we will share with the story—which makes the most sense. BUT we will send you some stickers for sharing your story with us!