Being 18 with Unmedicated ADHD: A Tattoo Regret Story

I have tried many times to explain what it’s like to be ADHD to a typically-brained person. That I can even attempt an explanation is largely thanks to being medicated. Back in the day? When I self-medicated my attention problem with non-pharma options?

Well, those are the days that led to myriad of impulse-driven errors in judgement. Thankfully none of those lapses in good sense resulted in anything like, oh, prison.

A rocking 0.4 GPA and resulting loss of scholarship? Joining the navy because the air force recruiter was at lunch– yes.

Eighteen years old, heading down to the beach with my roommate, $85 for the phone bill in my pocket (Error of Impulsivity #1) we drive past a tattoo parlor.

I turn the car around (Error of Impulsivity #2) and in we went (Error of Impulsivity #3). A brief conversation with a tattoo artist whose name I cannot recall, and a quick flip through tattoo books.

You see, I wanted a tattoo in an abstract, “it would be cool” sort of way, but that vagueness was as far as my grand plan had gone.

Choosing a tattoo right after self-medicating (Error of Impulsivity #4) resulted in this:


Yeah– that’s a hand-rolled cigarette he’s smoking (Error of Impulsivity #5).  Cough.  Ah– am I glad not to be 18 anymore. 

Anywho, I’ve been unsatisfied with my body art for a really long time.  It’s really hard to take myself seriously with a cartoon devil on my shoulder. Regardless of how incredibly the thing has stood up to the test of 18 years.

Deciding to get that tattoo has served as a symbolic reminder of what would become several years of just really dumb choices.  Some I gladly share in the interest of either being funny, or demonstrating that a lot of my life success happened in spite of myself.

Then there are the choices that I would seriously consider sending the way of  Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind; learning life lessons be-damned.

Eighteen years I’ve had a monkey; devil on my back.

Then I had kids and my life started being more 4-foot pool than underground club named Hell (ahhh… I *miss* that place). 
Want to take a wild guess on how stereotype assignment works out when you literally have a devil on your shoulder? In the Bible Belt?

Do I care that a bunch of vapidly boring, cloned soccer moms gave me the stink eye over Hot Stuff?

Define care.

I cared, not because I gave a shit what those type of women thought about me and my opposite-of-a-flower-tattoo. I cared because the body art didn’t make me feel any antidisestablishment pride.

More than that, my body art/tattoo no longer provided me (or anyone else) with an accurate symbolic picture of the person that clawed her away from the life that the 18 year old was trying to lead.

Comparing the 18 year old and 36 year old versions of me still results in astonishment that life turned out so well. Certainly I attempted self-sabotage with alarming intensity.

Me and crows have a decently long history that started back when my Dad died. (Note: Since that post I’ve realized that atheism deals with belief in a deity, which doesn’t preclude believing in the possibility of paranormal. And since I never did, nor will I in the future, believe that crows could be a god… well.)

That said, science and PBS’s Nature eventually went on to provide a scientific explanation for my crow following.

I’m still fascinated with crows– they are a fascinating bird. Seriously, watch the link– you’ll never look at them the same again.

— Crows are known for being attracted to shiny items.

–Taking a crow tattoo suggests a mystical nature, or at least an expanded consciousness.

— In some Native American cultures the crow is a power animal that helps you to find balance living in present, release past beliefs.

I like all of that, but I love the crow tattoo Joe did.


6 thoughts on “Being 18 with Unmedicated ADHD: A Tattoo Regret Story

  1. Huge is relative 🙂 But it’s lovely, and purty, and so well-done! Yay! And I’m glad you went to Blue Flame – they are quality folks that know their stuff (obvs).

  2. Holy sh!t that thing is HUGE!!!!

    But I’m confused because where’s the devil? It totally looks like they’re on opposite sides, no? I’m assuming the crow covered him up … but my eyes deceive me.

    It’s very cool, and your post is most excellent. Thank you for walking me through your mind.

    • Ah-ha– JB was similarly confused. The devil picture was taken in a mirrored reflection, but I set up the tripod for the crow.

      So Hot Stuff is rocking under the wing and body of the crow. I guess the crow ate him. 😀

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.