Pain: only part of your story, not your whole story

Hey guys! I want to introduce you to a wonderful friend of mine, Clare Mulherin. She is one of my oldest friends in life. Sometimes you grow up with a person, notice their growth, but not their pain. She radiates so much light into the world, even with the hurt in her past. This blog is about her story... not the whole story, just the beginning :) 

Tattoos have become such an amazing and accepted thing in our world. I am so in love with the idea that you can document your art, other people's art, or a story on your body. Clare has two tattoos that tell a little bit of her story. We decided to photograph the process and talk a little bit about depression, so that maybe it can help someone in pain out there in the world.


Here's her story, completely in her words. You can see more photographs at the very end.

"I grew up very fortunate in my small little town of Statesboro, surrounded by so many people who loved and cared for me. I come from well-off, well-known family who loved, supported, and provided for me far beyond my heart's desires. In school I was always the "pretty" girl or the "popular" girl as were all of my beautiful, athletic friends. I was the girl that always had a list of guys to choose from for a date on Thursday, sat front row of the student section at high school football games every Friday with dinner afterwards with all of my friends, and an upper-classman'sparty to choose from on Saturday nights. Many people looked at me, and still view me as one of the happiest, most outgoing and care-free person they know. I now understand what it means for people to say that the people who seem the happiest and most content with their lives are those who are hiding the most sadness and pain. I always knew that I felt different than other kids my age and really started to notice the effects of that around the age of fourteen. I remember locking myself in my dark closet and crying for no good reason. I remember being fifteen and burning my hands just so I could feel real pain, instead of the pain I felt on the inside. I remember being so confused as to why I was even upset and hurting. I remember being sixteen screaming and scratching myself to the point that I left permanent scars. I remember being seventeen, when I started to not really care about my life anymore. I remember not being able to swallow pills, therefore I crushed up and forcibly put down as many sleeping pills as possible and being so disappointed when I woke up the next morning. I was put on medicine which seemed to change in dosage or brand or type every month. I remember feeling so hopeless that nothing was working. I remember being eighteen, new to college, and suppose to be living "the best years of my life". Instead I remember, or don't remember, drinking heavily practically every night to avoid my feelings which lead to me feeling horrible the next day and being able to avoid my feelings again. I remember trying to find help through the attention of guy who never even cared for my attention. I remember looking in the mirror and hating myself to much to the point that I stopped eating, completely and lost over twenty pounds. I remember being nineteen and feeling more helpless than I ever had before. I knew that depression was something I was going to have to live with the rest of my life and since that was the case, I didn't want to live it. I couldn't imagine myself being a wife or a mother in the state that I was in, which I believed I was stuck in forever. I remember waking up at two in the afternoon, after skipping all of my classes for the third time in a week because I simply didn't care about my future and underlying, didn't think I'd have one. I remember smoking myself back to sleep so I would feel nothing. I remember laying under my covers, crying for hours on end and having no idea why. I remembered laying in my bathtub with my roommate hysterically banging on my door. I remember the look on her face, sitting on the couch in front of me after she packed me a bag for rehab. I remember laying on a hard mattress for seventy-two hours straight. I remember the tears flowing down my parent's faces when I walked out of those sliding glass doors and outside for the first time in what felt like years. That was when I remember realizing that not only was I in pain, but so was everybody else around me who cared about me. That was when I decided to live my life for those people even when I still didn't want to live it for me. Once news spread of my three day vacay, love started coming at me from all directions. I was overwhelmed by the amount of people who were so upset to hear of how upset I had been for years; how upset that they didn't know how I was feeling for so long. That summer I tried to hard to be happy for everybody around me. It took a whole year of more pain, more hopelessness, and more sadness to finally decide I wanted to be happy for myself. I remember thinking "who are the happiest people I know?" And I immediately thought of my friend who had strong relationships with Godand strongly believed in their faith. I didn't know what I was doing wrong, to not be happy, but something I was doing wasn't putting me in the position I wanted to be in. I remember walking in to church, alone, that next Sunday. I felt like every word spoken was directly straightly at me. It was such an overwhelming feeling that I had never felt before that I couldn't help but shake and cry. That day, I was saved and accepted Christ as my lord and savior. I had always believed in God and his good doings, but never felt like I had a relationship with him or that he even cared to me. I remember doubting him for so many years because if "he loves all of his children" why would he make me suffer the way I had? But that day, I felt like a heavy fog was just lifted right off of my life. I remember noticing the flowers, and feeling the sun warm against my face. I remember pulling up in my driveway and feeling overly blessed. I remember sing in the car to the first time in years. I remember feeling genuinely happy! Depression is a real thing, a real scary thing. It flows through every ounce of your body and cripples you from living your life day to day. It fills your life with doubt, self-hate, confusion, hopelessness, and fear. I remember genuinely being scared of myself because of my thoughts that lead to action over many years. Throughout my struggle, I've learned that depression is not something to be ashamed or embarrassed of. It's also not something that has to be hidden from the rest of the world. Had I have realized this sooner, I could have possibly avoided many years of sadness and pain and got the helped that I needed. That is why I am so proud and passionate about first first tattoo! I read an article about the "semicolon project" and it hit so close to home that I couldn't not participate in the movement. "A semicolon is where the writer could have stopped but decided to keep going. The semicolon is you and the story is your life." The Semicolon Project focuses on mental health awareness with suicide being it's main focus. I love that it is such a unique tattoo that always brings up questions, then I get to share my story. Since then I have shed probably just as many happy tears of relief as I had of sadness, I've gotten baptized, I've woken up with a purpose and a smile on my face everyday. I finally got connected with an amazing therapist and got placed on medicine that works best for me. I gave myself another chance at life. Even though I know there will always be highs and lows in my life and my depression seems to come in waves that feel more like tidal waves, I finally know what it feels like to be on the other side of sadness. I know that when I am low, I can get myself back to this place where I feel high. This, and my favorite song from my favorite band, inspired my most recent tattoo. On one of my darkest nights that I was hoping would be my last, a very special friend of mine sent me the song "Black As Night" by Nahko and Medicine For the People. It opened my eyes and lead me to another day. The lyrics, "I believe in the good things coming" was so inspirational and exciting to me. I am so proud to have the words permanently on my body and the thought permanently in my mind. I am so happy to finally believe that there are good things coming in my life and in the lives of those around me." 

-Clare Mulherin

Being a photographer, I feel like it is my job to help women feel beautiful and confident in their own skin through my photographs. I believe everyone has true beauty and that is what my photography is about. 

Feel free to comment or message me giving feedback on this blog post!! 


Mary Lee Palmer9 Comments