Getting a tattoo, such as a semicolon or favorite quote, is a way that many people with schizophrenia honor their mental health journey.

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Tattoos are becoming more and more common in today’s world. While many people get tattoos as a way to adorn their bodies — which is perfectly OK — others may want to honor life experiences through getting a tattoo.

Before you get a tattoo, it’s important to know the risks of getting inked. Although most people who get tattoos do so with no issue, there are some medical risks and side effects to consider. Always do your research, and talk with your doctor if you have any worries or concerns.

Here are some ideas for schizophrenia tattoos. Some of them represent schizophrenia itself, while others represent healing and empowerment.

A schizophrenia tattoo should make you feel hopeful and confident when you look at it. Although it’s completely your choice, you may want to avoid designs that make you feel fear, such as a tattoo of a frightening visual hallucination you had.

Many health conditions use the symbol of a colored ribbon to raise awareness. For example, you may know that a pink ribbon is used to symbolize breast cancer awareness.

A silver ribbon is used for schizophrenia awareness, and a green ribbon is used for mental health awareness in general. Getting a tattoo of one of these ribbons could be a way to proudly spread awareness about the condition of schizophrenia.

You could also get a tattoo inspired by an art piece that was created by an artist with schizophrenia.

For example, although people have gone back and forth on his exact diagnosis, many historians agree that Vincent Van Gogh probably had schizophrenia. Bryan Charnely is another, more modern artist that created art depicting schizophrenia.

These art pieces could represent the inner world of schizophrenia as well as the knowledge that people with schizophrenia can become very successful.

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Many people who’ve experienced suicidal thoughts or have survived a suicide attempt get a tattoo of a semicolon. This was started by Project Semicolon and Amy Bleuel, who got a semicolon tattoo after her father died by suicide. She wrote:

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.

PS: Your Story Isn’t Over”

2021 research suggests that people, especially young people, with schizophrenia are at higher risk of dying by suicide. This could be a meaningful tattoo if you have had a suicide attempt or if you’ve lost a loved one to schizophrenia and suicide.

If you’re considering acting on suicidal thoughts, please seek professional support immediately.

Calling or texting a crisis helpline will connect you with a trained counselor 24/7, any day of the year, completely free of charge:

Many people get inspiring or meaningful quotes tattooed on their bodies. You might consider getting a tattoo of a quote on living with schizophrenia.

For example, John Nash, a mathematician and Nobel Prize winner, said: “It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found.”

Zelda Fitzgerald, who was rumored to live with schizophrenia, wrote: “She quietly expected great things to happen to her, and no doubt that’s one of the reasons why they did.”

The butterfly is often used as a symbol of healing in the mental health community. It’s a representation of coming out of a cocoon and emerging as your beautiful and whole self.

There are also many musicians who’ve lived with schizophrenia, and you could consider getting a tattoo of a lyric from one of their musical pieces.

Perhaps one of the most famous musicians with schizophrenia is Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys. Although the Beach Boys’ lyrics don’t represent schizophrenia, getting a tattoo of their lyrics could be a way to remind yourself that you can be successful while living with schizophrenia.

For many people, the symptoms of schizophrenia are difficult or even impossible to describe in words.

You could get a tattoo of a visual representation of what it’s like to live with schizophrenia so you no longer have to struggle to describe it. An example could be a tattoo of a person covered in many eyes to represent paranoia.

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You could also get a tattoo of a visual symbol or words that serve as a special reminder to yourself.

For example, many people who live with a mental illness get tattoos that read “I’m okay” or “Breathe.” This could remind you, every time you look at it, to keep going.

Mental health benefits of tattoos

Tattoos, like most other things, aren’t inherently “good” or “bad” for your mental health. Whether your mental health benefits from getting a tattoo depends greatly on who you are and your unique and individual circumstances.

2017 research has found that tattoos can:

In addition, for many people living with mental illnesses like schizophrenia, tattoos can symbolize strength and survival, and be a reminder to yourself and others of how much you’ve overcome.

If you’re getting a tattoo to honor a loved one with schizophrenia, it could help you to cope with the grieving process.

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If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo to represent schizophrenia, you may want to talk to both a reputable tattoo artist as well as your mental health professional. Trusted friends and family may have some valuable input as well.

At the end of the day, though, it’s your body — so your opinion matters most. As long as your schizophrenia tattoo doesn’t make you feel fearful or distressed, a schizophrenia tattoo could be a very meaningful way to honor how far you’ve come.