Henri

My first tattoo is the hawk on my left shoulder. Before I got the tattoo, I spent lots of time thinking about its message. Finally, I ended up on a hawk theme. I got this tattoo about six years ago.

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The hawk is related to my past. I got bullied at school, and during middle school, I faced both mental and physical violence almost every day. I got eyeglasses when I was on 8th grade, and one day one of my main bullies started to yell at me again and said: “look at you, hawkeye”. Despite it was meant to be an insult, the name sank into my mind and gradually, Hawk turned into my nickname.

There are still people who call me Hawk, and although the name might sound a bit corny, it’s still a part of me. My tattooist Mosse and I decided together that the hawk on this tattoo should definitely wear glasses as well.

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At some point, I’m going to proceed with this tattoo by adding here a chain that a group of people is trying to hold. The chain would break, though, on the same spot of my arm where I have a scar. So, the breaking chain would depict how the hawk is able to break free and fly despite others trying to force him down.

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I never dreamed about working in radio when I was young. I ended up on this career by some lucky coincidences. At first, I made a couple of radio commercials, and then I went to an internship period at a radio station that played mostly schlager and that sort of music. During the internship, I noticed that radio work was actually quite fun. A little later, I decided to contact my local radio station, Radio Mega, and ask if they had any need for a reporter. They hired me right away, and after a short training period, I ended up having a permanent job as a radio journalist.

However, Radio Mega quit in 2012, so after that, I spent a couple of years working in restaurants and such. Then I got invited to radio again, as Radio City’s areal manager called me and asked me to return to radio business as their radio journalist. After two months of work at Radio City, I won the “Radio Journalist of the year” award at the annual Finnish Radio Gala. It was the year 2015.

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It took a long time until I was ready to tell other people about my past. I needed lots of time to process all those difficult memories, and I guess in some level, they are still affecting me somehow. Even though I do public work and get to meet lots of different people all the time, I still feel a bit nervous whenever I meet someone new.

Because of my past, I’m still reserved around people, and I easily stress about whether they will start to mock me soon or something like that. Even though I know they won’t, it’s just a thought that pops into my mind, since the past fears are so deeply rooted.

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That’s also part of the reason why the Radio Journalist award felt so amazing – it made me feel more confident. I currently work as a local producer, and I still feel radio work is the best job I can imagine.

Whereas my left arm reminds me of my past as a bullied kid, my right arm is dedicated to the good things that have helped me to feel free. At this point, I have two video game-related tattoos on my right arm, and I’m going to get plenty of more of them in the future.

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The tattoo on my wrist includes an energy tank from Mega Man, a heart, and a symbol of life. Together they mean to me I love life.

Video games have been an important hobby for me throughout my whole life. Originally, it was my uncle who first taught me to play Commodore 64 when I was still a kid. Games have been my way to escape from all the bad things I have faced in my life. If I’m having a bad day, I can just start up a game, and if I’m feeling anxious, I can still start up a game and feel better. Games are my way to reduce anxiety and ease my mind.

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Along with video games, books have always been a big part of my life. I enjoy reading particularly fantasy and sci-fi. Dragonlance was the first fantasy books series that I really got absorbed in. Later I got familiar with Robin Hobb’s books, Expanse series and of course Harry Potters, George R. R. Martin’s books and such. From the current authors, I especially admire Joe Abercrombie and Patrick Rothfuss.

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The Legend of Zelda tattoo is made in parts, so the lower part has already faded a bit.

At some point, I’m also going to get a tattoo of the charity campaign I organized a while ago. I started the campaign in midsummer of 2016, and during the following year, I gathered money for preventative mental health organization called Oulu Crisis Centre. In my campaign, I grew my beard and moustache for one year, and at the same time, I brought up topics that are linked to mental health issues in order to break taboos and reduce the stigmatization of mental illnesses. I also arranged gigs and gave the profits to the Crisis Centre.

The Crisis Centre is a low-threshold place which is meant for everyone who is in the middle of a difficult situation in life and needs short-term counseling or guidance. During the campaign, it occurred to me that only few people seem to know there’s low-threshold help available for everyone. I didn’t even know it myself back in the days when I would’ve needed it the most.

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Years ago, I faced one of the most difficult situations in my life when my long-term relationship came to an end. I lived through pretty dark times back then, and I tried to relieve my pain with alcohol. When I was feeling the weakest, I thought I should just give up and take my own life. If I had known about the Crisis Centre back then, I would’ve walked straight in through their door.

Earlier, the city of Oulu used to support the Crisis Centre’s work by offering them free premises, but some years ago the city decided to quit their support. I find it alarming that my own hometown invests so little in preventative mental health. After all, we’ve faced huge crises during the past years, and those have affected on the lives of many people. As a citizen of this place, I’m downright ashamed by the city’s current attitude.

Preventative mental health should be supported more in general. People here are suffering from depression, getting quick loans and becoming addicted to alcohol, as they see no other solution on how to live from day to day.

Making the employment statistics look good on paper or any other trick doesn’t change the reality where people live in. If someone feels their life is not worth living, there must be a better solution available than hitting the bottle – whether it’s a low-threshold place where you can talk to someone or at least some sort of game center where you can play cards and chat with other people whenever you feel sad and lonely. In the end, the prevention of mental health issues is always a better option than to wait until the problems have grown too big to handle.

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Although I’m nowadays in a much better situation myself, I still see how mental health problems are dealt with in our society. A friend of mine is currently in the middle of a difficult life phase and had finally booked a doctor’s appointment in public mental health services. A couple of hours before the appointment, he received a call from a psychiatric nurse. The nurse had asked if my friend’s situation was urgent enough, since they had so many people on the line waiting for an appointment as well.

My friend answered that he’s constantly feeling so desperate that every week he thinks about killing himself by hitting his own car into an oncoming vehicle. After hearing it, the nurse just started to lecture my friend by telling he shouldn’t do that because that would cause suffering to other people as well. Finally, the nurse’s main message was that my friend should start thinking more positive and consider doing more sports.

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For real, if someone is in such a deep water that they think of suicide every single week, how appropriate it is to respond by canceling their appointments and telling that they should think more positive? Are people with mental health problems really like some sort of eight-year-olds who must be lectured and told what they are allowed and aren’t allowed to do, for fuck’s sake?

When you’re depressed, you need to gather lots of strength before you’re even able to get help. It requires a massive amount of effort and courage just to grab the phone and call for help or to walk through the door of a mental healthcare station. How on earth do they think that someone who has faced such a degrading attitude could have the courage to ask for help ever again? You really don’t have to be a professional to tell that something in the current public atmosphere is now failing big time.

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