Tattoos With A Story

People matter. Mental health matters.

The story behind the person and the mind matter. Recently, we had the opportunity to collaborate with Texas-based photographer Autumn Dorrough, owner of Keta Photographs. She got real and personal with a few folks from her state about heaviness and hope, and captured it all on camera. 

Here are those people. And here are their stories.

"I used to be a real mess. I used to cry at any given time. I used to find myself in the shower with a leg razor pressed against my left wrist, but my left wrist wasn't enough. The back of my legs and under my breasts would have to do too. I used to flinch any time a man walked behind me, because I just knew he'd be the next one to assault me. I used to wake up screaming from night terrors. I used to think the world was an ugly, dirty, scary place. But then Jesus. Yahweh. Abba Father. And that's why I USED to be a real mess.Everyday just gets better and better. The depression didn't win. The borderline personality disorder didn't win. The PTSD didn't win. I did. I won and I continue to win every day that I continue to breathe." - Kendra Cook


"When I was 16 I self-harmed quite a bit and struggled with depression and anxiety. My 17th year was filled with low mental-health days, including the day I came out. When I was 18 I got this tattoo to remind me that even when things get tough, 'Carry On,' because maybe tomorrow will be better. To this day it's my daily reminder to help me keep those problems in check." - Haley Collette


"My struggle with anxiety began in middle school. As if being a 13-14 year old girl wasn’t hard enough, both students and teachers bullied me, which I believe were the largest contributors to my low self-esteem and lack of confidence. The bullying led me into a journey through depression and social anxiety. I no longer enjoyed activities I once loved. I also stopped maintaining friendships and avoided making new ones. Before high school began, I had quit piano, saxophone, gymnastics, cheerleading, ballroom dancing, and my Web Design/HTML class - all of my hobbies. My closest relatives told me to “just snap out of your funk”, but it wasn’t that easy. I hit rock bottom 7 years later when I attempted suicide and landed in the psych ward for 3 weeks.  The doctors helped me realize I was suffering from an “invisible” illness – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  I realized if other essential bodily organs are capable of failing (kidneys, liver, heart, lungs), then why not the brain? I did CBT Therapy for over a year, but recently began treating my OCD with medication. After filling my first prescription on November 4th, I got a Henna tattoo of the words “Just Breathe” along my collarbone, inspired by Anna Nalick’s song. I maintain it in between sessions with Sharpie marker. This morning routine serves as a daily reminder that while I’m unsure about my future, I will just breathe and take it one day at a time. #dermatophagia" - Kristin


"I've struggled with depression and anxiety for a while now. It's never something someone really gets used to, or at least I haven't. When I got to college though, things for worse. For the first few years, I had an extremely controlling and mentally abusive boyfriend. I thought all boyfriends were like this so I never put much emphasis on this being a problem. 

Coming to the end of the relationship I realized how much it was affecting my day to day happiness and mood so we broke it off which is really when I hit my downward spiral. I was constantly worrying if whether or not we did the right thing and if he was the one that got away or not. 

Luckily, I met a few great friends who pushed me to go to church and get to know Christ. The weight on my shoulders was immediately lifted and I felt like I could finally deal with my anxiety. After this life reform of becoming a Christian and committing my life to Christ, I got this tattoo to represent all that I overcame, and will continue to overcome. 

All that being said, don't let a condition like depression, anxiety, or anything else that may be holding you back get you down. Life is too short." - Kailey Corpman


"In addition to an affinity for tattoos representing the Southwest US, I really identify with cacti. Just like people who believe that a song or a piece of literature is an accurate representation of their life, or their thoughts, I believe that a cactus is a good rendition of mine. 

Cacti, from twenty yards away, can appear pretty attractive, especially when they're blooming. It isn't until someone is in closer proximity that they recognize the potential for getting stuck by its thorns. When they finally do get too close and get stuck, they're frustrated to discover that it's both painful and difficult to extract all of the thorns. That's when they decide to distance themselves, and make a note to steer clear of cacti in the future. 

Upon initially meeting me, most people would find me friendly, somewhat charming, maybe a little arrogant at times, but overall someone that's enjoyable to be around. If I'm in a particularly healthy state of mind and body, blooming if you will, I attract a lot of would be friends. When they start to spend more time with me, in more personal settings, they probably start to recognize that I carry around some baggage. They find out about my depression, about my drug history, about my tendency to self-destruct. Some people, perhaps wisely, bail at this point. The ones who stick around long enough though, will eventually get too close and inadvertently get hurt. They often stay hurt, unable to remove the thorns hidden in their side. I say inadvertent because, like the hurt inflicted by the thorns of a cactus, it is typically my defense mechanisms of withdrawal, isolation, and using drugs that hurts those close to me. Those are my thorns." - Brendan Mcgrth