Tattoo on an arm of a face coming out of a building

I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole.

I had to drop out of school at one point because of my mental health. Growing up has always been quite challenging for me. I have bipolar.

I went to university in Norwich and had this transformative experience of finding myself for the first time.

It was there that I found my voice, found my identity.

I came out.

I graduated in 2013 but got this tattoo about 2 years ago. I wanted something to commemorate the people I had met and the place.

It's a tattoo of a university building.

The building is coming out of the person’s face. It’s a bit of an homage to the things going on in my mind. Also the hand cupping the face is a comfort. It could be the hand of a friend or someone just holding someone and saying, ‘You’ll be alright.’

It’s on the top of my arm. I’m a fat person and I have spent so much of my life hating my body and hating the bits of me that everyone wants me to hate about myself. So to have something that is beautiful on a part of my body that I don’t like or didn’t like, has been so good in loving that part of my body. And showing it off. told by amy uk

A hand with abstract and simple tattoo marks on the fingers.

This tattoo is of symbols meaning I am greater/more than the ups and the downs.

I did it in a dark time, where it felt like I was an emotional roller-coaster, life being a constant up and down with twists and turns due to a combination of complex ptsd, bpd (borderline personality disorder) and autism.

I knew I was going to a specialist placement to get better, and I wanted it known, mainly to myself, that I was more than my emotions, more than my illnesses.

It spurred me forward, pushed me to use what I could to find more of myself and my life than just the ups and the downs.

I did it, I recovered from bpd, and greatly improved how I cope with life, but I also found parts of myself I'd lost.

I’m autistic and have complex ptsd, but I'm also compassionate, kind; a sister, a daughter and a friend.

I enjoy walks, cooking, craft, crochet, deep conversations, shopping and naps.

I'm a disability campaigner.

I'm more than the ups and the downs - I'm Lizzi.

written by lizzi


Two swallows on the inside of my thighs. Facing each other. Two little birds. Swallow tattoos have an incredible history. Sailors used to get them when they’d go on ships hundreds of years ago. They believed that if you were out at sea and drowned, swallows would carry your soul up to heaven. A lot of prisoners have swallow tattoos as well. Mine hardly get seen by anyone. They’re like my own secret.

When I think about it deeply, which I do on a daily basis, I think sometimes that depression is the best thing that ever happened to me. I went through really bad depression and really bad anxiety. It was all murky. But there was a moment where I realised I needed to appreciate the here and now. If I’m so dependent on my happiness “starting” at some point, I’ll constantly be in this horrible place. In that moment I thought no, I’m going to choose how to live the rest of my life and I choose freedom. Even if my financial or material circumstances don’t change, I choose mentally to be free.

Your own happiness and your own destiny can come from within. It feels particularly relevant to right now thinking about it.

No matter how bad the storm gets, as a collective, as a nation, as a planet, or how bad that storm gets for me, or how trapped I feel mentally, we’ll always be free again at some point. It’s just a matter of time until we get there.

I only got taught that lesson through the worst of my depression and anxiety. told by reece uk