By Celica Cook, SBM Student Life Editor


Senior psychology major Kat Kelly has a few tattoos that are representative of her victory over her struggle with mental health. They are gentle reminders of her own strength and the things in life that make it worth living. This is what she shared about her tattoos.


What tattoos do you have?

I have a semi-colon on my wrist, lavender on my left calf, a constellation/space tattoo on my right forearm, a willow tree right below my left collarbone and an anemone flower on my left bicep.


What is the significance behind your tattoo?

Each of my tattoos means something to me. My semi-colon is to remind me that I’m still here, growing stronger with my mental health each day. The lavender is something between my dad and I—it’s our favorite flower, and the scent of lavender helps with anxiety, so it reminds us to take a deep breath and keep moving forward. My constellation is Columba, the dove, which reminds me of the Holy Spirit’s presence in my life…and I just like space. The willow tree was my grandfather’s favorite tree—we had one in my backyard growing up, so I wanted one right over my heart to remind me of him. And lastly, I got my anemone on our last day in Athens for the Greece cross-cultural. They grew everywhere in Greece and it reminds me of all the amazing memories I made.

Anemone flower tattoo

What was it like to struggle with anxiety?

So I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder when I was 10, and my panic issues got significantly worse when I hit high school. I’d have to leave class several times a day during school to go to the bathroom or the nurse’s office to calm myself down. I felt like an awful person for not having everything together. It took a very kind, skilled therapist and a loving support system of friends and family for me to start to make progress. Of course, progress isn’t always linear. I had a major scare my sophomore year at Messiah that resulted in me going on medical leave. My journey dealing with my mental health has been long and taxing, and I’m not always at my best, but I can say that I’m living life the best way I know how.


When did you get your first tattoo?

My semicolon was my first tattoo, which I got after going through a very rough patch. I wanted a reminder of how precious life is, and how happy I was to be alive, so my mom went with me and I got it around Christmastime. After that, I was hooked!


Constellation tattoo

Do you consider tattoos as an important art form?

Tattooing is a very interesting art form, given that your canvas is a living, breathing person. It introduces challenges, but it also makes it very unique. I think all of my tattoos are absolutely beautiful, and I’m so thankful that all of my artists were willing to use my skin as the canvas for their work.


What is unique about your tattoos?

To me, my tattoos all connect me to a certain memory- a time or place I felt was important enough to me that I wanted a permanent reminder of it. I get to look at these beautiful works of art and go back to that time when I learned, felt, or did something extraordinarily important in my life. I wouldn’t get rid of my tattoos for anything!