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Old 04-07-2018, 02:42 PM   #1
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Frown BDD and Tattoos

Apologies for the lengthy post....


Iím a 48 yr old male. Iím a full-time, single parent raising two teenage daughters. I donít really have any friends. I spend most of my time taking care of them and working. Iím terrified of whatís happening to me and it's all my own doing only making the guilt, embarrassment, shame, panic and depression that much worse.

I recently got an old tattoo covered up (havenít been tattooed in 25 years) and itís a large, colorful tattoo designed to go from ankle to knee on my left leg. Iíve wanted to cover my old tattoo for a long time because I was self-conscious about it. It was ďtribalĒ style and wasnít a very good design. I had thought about this for a while and felt confident that it was what I wanted and that was mentally prepared for it and that I was confident enough to pull it off. However, since starting the tattoo in early February (it isnít finished yet), Iíve suddenly in the last couple of weeks become negatively obsessed with it. I have moments thinking that itís just not good quality (I posted it an online forum for tattoos on Reddit and didnít really get many Ďlikesí and no positive comments). Other moments, I thinkÖis this really me? Iím a corporate professional in HR and surrounded by people without large tattoos on their body.


Iíve always had self-confidence issues about physical appearance at different times in my life. I exhibited some BDD type symptoms even before the tattoo. I frequently ask ďhow does this lookĒ, I buy clothes and return them a lot thinking that I liked them, Iíve often felt unsure about my choice in clothes, style and appearance. So, why did I think I knew what I was doing with this tattoo? Despite these symptoms, I had never felt I might truly have BDD until this tattoo came along. Iím driving my kids crazy, asking them about it. Itís unfair to them but my brain is craving the constant reassurance. Iím not sleeping well, hardly eating, and having waves of internal panic, feeling like I canít breathe and severe depression.

Complete remove is likely not possible due to the heaving color saturation color choices and it takes years, costs thousands and may scar. I feel like Iím never going to be oaky with this. I feel like Iíll never wear shorts in public again. Iím terrified of being laughed at and judged. Iím terrified that maybe my artist isnít doing a good job. Iíve only shown the tattoo to a few people and they tell me it doesnít look weird on me, that it looks good, etc. But then I think, are they only telling me that to avoid hurting my feelings because they can see I have doubts about it? Iím worried no one is telling me the truth about what I see and feel.

Anyone else every experienced something like this? I donít know how to cope at the moment. Now that these thoughts are in my head, I donít know how to stop them.

About the tattoo if youíre interestedÖ
Itís meant to be a tribute to my love of the ocean. The front of the tattoo goes up my shin and is a traditional style lighthouse with a rope border and three small purple flowers. Itís a replica of a lighthouse my daughters visited in Mexico last year on vacation. The backside of leg (calf) is an old school style diverís helmet on top of anchor. The remaining empty space on the leg is being filled in with waves (only outlines so far, no shading). It isn't finished yet. For now, I'm moving my next appointment until I can get my mental state sorted out.
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Old 04-10-2018, 02:50 PM   #2
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Smile Re: BDD and Tattoos

I'm sorry you find yourself to be in this most difficult situation. I don't have tattoos myself. So I cannot relate to this personally. Hopefully there will be some other members, here on PC, who can.

I'm certainly not in a position to suggest to you whether or not what you are experiencing could be considered to be BDD. This is really something that would need to be addressed by a mental health professional. My thinking, with regard to this though, would be that whatever the diagnosis might be the tattoo you're adding has caused some perhaps longstanding self-concept issues to arise that you've previously been able to handle. Additionally perhaps might this be a symptom of some underlying generalized anxiety?

I'm an old man now. But I can dimly recall having once been 48. One thing I will say, with regard to your situation, is that it was around that age when I began going off the rails. I've struggled with a lot of mental health issues all my life. But until around the age you are now, I was still able to function & keep it all under wraps. However, in my late forties & early fifties, things just began to unravel. They've been slowly coming apart ever since. It is my personal opinion. based on my own experience, that it just becomes progressively harder to "keep the cork in the bottle" so to speak as we age.

So, from my perspective at least, might part of what may be going on here be something akin to that age-old bug-a-boo the mid-life crisis? However, whatever it is that is causing you to have the reaction you're having to your tattoo, I think the answer may be to seek the services of a mental health therapist with whom you can explore what you're going through, why it's happening, & what you can do about it. The thing is (and I don't want to scare you needlessly but...) for me at least the problems I began to experience when I was around your age didn't just gradually fade away. They just slowly kept piling up. Unfortunately in my case I didn't know enough to seek help... & would probably have been too embarrassed to do so even if I had. Hopefully in one way or another you can avoid treading the same path. I wish you well...
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:17 PM   #3
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Confused Re: BDD and Tattoos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeezyks View Post
I'm sorry you find yourself to be in this most difficult situation. I don't have tattoos myself. So I cannot relate to this personally. Hopefully there will be some other members, here on PC, who can.

I'm certainly not in a position to suggest to you whether or not what you are experiencing could be considered to be BDD. This is really something that would need to be addressed by a mental health professional. My thinking, with regard to this though, would be that whatever the diagnosis might be the tattoo you're adding has caused some perhaps longstanding self-concept issues to arise that you've previously been able to handle. Additionally perhaps might this be a symptom of some underlying generalized anxiety?

I'm an old man now. But I can dimly recall having once been 48. One thing I will say, with regard to your situation, is that it was around that age when I began going off the rails. I've struggled with a lot of mental health issues all my life. But until around the age you are now, I was still able to function & keep it all under wraps. However, in my late forties & early fifties, things just began to unravel. They've been slowly coming apart ever since. It is my personal opinion. based on my own experience, that it just becomes progressively harder to "keep the cork in the bottle" so to speak as we age.

So, from my perspective at least, might part of what may be going on here be something akin to that age-old bug-a-boo the mid-life crisis? However, whatever it is that is causing you to have the reaction you're having to your tattoo, I think the answer may be to seek the services of a mental health therapist with whom you can explore what you're going through, why it's happening, & what you can do about it. The thing is (and I don't want to scare you needlessly but...) for me at least the problems I began to experience when I was around your age didn't just gradually fade away. They just slowly kept piling up. Unfortunately in my case I didn't know enough to seek help... & would probably have been too embarrassed to do so even if I had. Hopefully in one way or another you can avoid treading the same path. I wish you well...
Thanks for taking the time to read and respond. I've reached out to a counselor to start that process. I had thought about getting tattooed for a while. It was a coverup of some older tattoos that I thought were the problem. However, after this experience it would seem that my own self-acceptance was the problem. I am devastated to have put myself in this situation from own doing. There are waves of panic, depression and feeling hopeless. Yes, I know things could be worse...it's not a terminal disease by any means. It is devastating nonetheless. Prior to this, I felt happy and wasn't experiencing any significant issues. Like I said, i was quite excited about this but suddenly it has flipped 180 degrees in the last few weeks.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: BDD and Tattoos

In my workplace I wouldn't know if any of my colleagues had any large tattoos - the dress code allows women to wear (short) skirts but frowns upon men in shorts. I suppose this wouldn't be different at your work, in which case you are perceiving a feature of your appearance that (literally) no one else can see as a severe flaw, and assume without base no one else around you has that flaw.

This could be BDD. I hope seeing a counsellor will help you and meanwhile, please do not beat yourself up for having put yourself in this situation. You didn't. You were concerned about your old tattoo before deciding to have it covered, so you were preoccupied and anxious about looks all along. For me, worries about looks come in episodes and you may have triggered one by shifting your attention to that tattoo. That would be a symptom of a mental health condition and *not your fault*.
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:27 AM   #5
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Default Re: BDD and Tattoos

Quote:
Originally Posted by PsychoPhil View Post
In my workplace I wouldn't know if any of my colleagues had any large tattoos - the dress code allows women to wear (short) skirts but frowns upon men in shorts. I suppose this wouldn't be different at your work, in which case you are perceiving a feature of your appearance that (literally) no one else can see as a severe flaw, and assume without base no one else around you has that flaw.

This could be BDD. I hope seeing a counsellor will help you and meanwhile, please do not beat yourself up for having put yourself in this situation. You didn't. You were concerned about your old tattoo before deciding to have it covered, so you were preoccupied and anxious about looks all along. For me, worries about looks come in episodes and you may have triggered one by shifting your attention to that tattoo. That would be a symptom of a mental health condition and *not your fault*.
Thanks for replying. That actually helps me feel better. I find myself constantly playing through future scenarios where others would see my tattoo and it freaks me out. I have feelings that it's not good quality, that it's not "cool" like others and host of other possibly irrational thoughts. It's hard to eliminate the thoughts from head. I rarely go more than a few minutes without thinking about it. Whether I choose to continue finishing the tattoo and deal with my BDD/self-esteem issues or whether I pursue removal, all roads out of this feel insurmountable, difficult and potentially financially costly as well.
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Old 04-17-2018, 11:59 PM   #6
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Default Re: BDD and Tattoos

I have many, many tattoos. I love tattoos. And I was 42 when I got my first tat. I just had some work done on my hands (I'm 55 now).

I'm not exactly sure what it is about your tattoo that's bothering you. Is it that you have a tattoo? Or is it the image itself? Are you unhappy with the rendering of the image? Because form your description, your tattoo sounds gorgeous and very meaningful. I would absolutely love to see a pic of it.
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Old 04-19-2018, 05:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: BDD and Tattoos

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hindsight View Post
Thanks for replying. That actually helps me feel better. I find myself constantly playing through future scenarios where others would see my tattoo and it freaks me out. I have feelings that it's not good quality, that it's not "cool" like others and host of other possibly irrational thoughts. It's hard to eliminate the thoughts from head. I rarely go more than a few minutes without thinking about it. Whether I choose to continue finishing the tattoo and deal with my BDD/self-esteem issues or whether I pursue removal, all roads out of this feel insurmountable, difficult and potentially financially costly as well.
I noticed at some point in my early 40s that the more I worry about appearance and possibly stare into mirrors, the worse the worry and self-esteem issues get, which makes me worry and stare longer to go down a vicious spiral. In my case these thoughts follow an OCD pattern. There is an obsession about appearance and false belief that somehow perceived issues could be improved by checking and worrying, which are OCD/BDD compulsions. In fact, just like in regular OCD, performing BDD compulsions only worsens issues.

bddfoundation has a lot of helpful info on this.

It may help you to read up on OCD intrusive thoughts and how to manage them.
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Old 04-30-2018, 06:01 AM   #8
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Default Re: BDD and Tattoos

I had the same issues recently with a half sleeve! I'm 37 and suffer from body image issues, anxiety, depression... the list goes on. I had 2 tattoos covered up at the same time with the sleeve. It caused a LOT of anxiety and questioning myself and others if it was what I really wanted or needed. It's hard to place that much trust into an artist without seeing the whole picture at one time and knowing it'll be permanent. The more appointments I went to and the more compliments I received, the better it was. I absolutely LOVE the finished product and am really happy I went through with it. You should be happy you thought long and hard over the idea and you came up with a beautiful and meaningful tattoo. I really do think you'll love it when it's all said and done. It is already YOU and people will respect that. It doesn't have to be anyone else's style or liking. Tattoos are for us to show the world who we are. Chin up! I'd also love to see any pics when you're comfortable.
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Old 05-06-2018, 02:24 PM   #9
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Hi Hindsight!
As it's been almost a month since your initial post, I was curious to know how it's going with the counselor. I know it's early on yet, but do they feel like a good fit? Like things are off to a good start? Any symptom relief? (Even a little counts -- it's a process.)
Hoping good things for you...
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