So I've been thinking of getting another tattoo and here's my thoughts. I've had issues with depression for about as long as I can remember. I've come to the conclusion that it is probably something that will never be "cured" just as an alcoholic will always be an alcoholic. I will, someday, learn to control it and not let it rule my life but there will probably always be episodes where the black dog will return from the shadows and haunt me again. This is where the tattoo comes in. I've been trying unsuccessfully to find an image of a black dog to have inked to serve as a reminder of my tendencies and that I need to be proactive in my habits so I don't fall back into a slump. Churchill called his depression his "black dog" although, interestingly enough, he didn't coin the phrase. I found a paper on the etymology of the phrase as a term for depression and it actually goes back quite a ways. Winston certainly brought it back to the popular vernacular, however.


Just as the tattoo will never go away, neither will my tendency toward depressive episodes. Placement and the actual image are still things I'm trying to figure out. I like the images below but want something else. Something a bit more stylistic. I want something slightly menacing or sad (it is the black dog of depression after all) but nothing horroresque. I really wish I could pick up a pencil and design my own but, alas, the limitations of my skill set preclude me from doing such a thing. Hopefully I can find a good tattoo artist who will work with me on the design and come up with something unique as well as meaningful. The next step is convincing my wife to let me get more ink. She hates the one I have.


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Comment by Will on March 10, 2010 at 9:42pm
Well, it varies. I put on a tattoo symbolizing the good father within who drives away the abuser.

And I am considering another one, symbolizing strength. I may use the Chinese ideograph for this.

Both of these are personally meaningful, and have taken a lot of thought. I don't know what would be right in your case -- of course! -- but I hope you find it!
Comment by Chris Hamm on March 10, 2010 at 3:07pm
Thanks guys.

Will, you may be right, focusing on the positive rather than the negative. I guess my stumbling block there is what symbolizes the solution? Not sure about that. Either way this isn't going to be something that happens tomorrow. I'm excited by the idea now but want to make sure it's something I really want to do before I permanently mark up my body.

Shields - I agree, I like the abstractness of the 2nd picture. The others are far too realistic but I grabbed a few that caught my eye as a starting point. I don't need a show ring dog on my arm but as far as breed and some of the details (the tail in the 3rd picture, the chest fur on the 1st, some of the detailing in the 4th) I wanted to have a few thoughts before I walked into a tattoo shop and said, "Uh, can you, like, put a dog on my arm?".
Comment by Steve Dallas on March 10, 2010 at 2:33pm
Spend some time finding artists, talk with them, get a feel for their work and I can guarantee you will find one that can make this materialize for you. Good luck and hope for the best.

I like the idea behind the second picture. I would personally say try to get something that tends away from the realizm of the rest, a little more abstract.
Comment by Will on March 10, 2010 at 1:42pm
Your call, of course, but... what if you made a symbol not of the problem, but of the thing you did or do to overcome it?

(And: I was clinically depressed for 10 years. Now I'm not. There is hope, if you go after that hope like a bulldog after its prey.)

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