Is That You Baby Or Just A Brilliant Disguise?

Getting my Filipino nickname ‘Dadeh’ tattooed at Macabre Tattoo, Iloilo

A post in a support group I help run got me thinking tonight. It’s probably not the best time for me to be thinking about things too much but sometimes you read, hear or take part in something that triggers you a certain way. 

I’d like to talk about my tattoos. 

My stylised heart and wings tattoo from Northside Tattooz

I’m pretty well covered in ink. Full sleeves, back work, leg pieces. It’s fair to say that they help people form opinions about me just by the way I physically look. And that’s fine, people will always judge you no matter what. 

Electron, part of my left sleeve

I don’t particularly care how people judge me on the way I look, I’d much rather they change their opinion once they get to know me. The tattoos, shaved sides of head, wallet chain, jeans and tshirt kind of make me look like a biker or some kind of punk. But the tattoos act as something that most people won’t realise: 

My tattoos are a disguise.

The Muse – Tattooed by Paula Castle when she guested at Cock-A-Snook in Newcastle. I gave her free reign with the design, just asked it to be traditional and music related

I’m not a confident person, I never have been. I was bullied as a kid because I was geeky, weedy and had a gap in my teeth (I still do). I still think that after spending all these years inhabiting my skin I look weird. My arms are scrawny, my belly looks bloated, I still have that damn gap in my teeth even after several years wearing braces in my teens. 

Leg tattoos

The tattoos help me compensate for the way I appear. They distract people from what I see as my physical flaws. They provide people with a view of stereotype and of confidence.

Stars and Flames from Northside Tattooz

The tattoos make me look like someone I’m not. It gives me something to hide behind. They are an aspect of my appearance I’ve been able to control and change. With the tattoos in place I’ve been able to almost create a version of me that helps me get through things. They let me project aspects of me that I can hang a character on to. And I’m so thankful that works, the version of me I’m inside needs something like that to wear, a skin I can live in. 

A take on the Wildhearts logo (by Deadboy Designs) that featured on one of their tshirts

I’m lucky, my pain threshold for being tattooed is fairly high. I find it quite relaxing and therapeutic. I nearly fell asleep having the work done on my back, the warm feeling of the ink being pushed into my skin, the continual hum and buzz of the tattoo machine singing it’s hypnotic lullaby. There’s something good about the endorphin release after being tattooed. I feel good about myself, I’ve changed something about myself for myself. 

To express my love of music, part of my left sleeve

Yes, the images form a story. I could tell you why I have a tattoo and what it means to me. I wouldn’t change them, they’re all there for a reason. There’s plans for more, more stories to be told in ink on my skin. I’m not ready to give up my disguise, I’ll keep adding to it. I’ll happily let people’s preconceptions of me be wrong. The only person I need to keep happy in that respect is me. 

Pacman, part of my left sleeve

The title of the this installment of my blog comes from the song “Brilliant Disguise” by Bruce Springsteen. You can find a video of it on YouTube here  Bruce Springsteen – “Brilliant Disguise”. I’ve also now created a playlist on Spotify featuring the songs I include in my blog. You can find it over at The Order Of The Dog Spotify Playlist. I’ll update it every time a new blog is published.

As usual, if you’d like to chat to me further you can email me at and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who struggle with mental health issues as well as people who want to support and get a better understanding. It’s a closed group which means only members get to see and interact with what’s posted there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.

The Order Of The Dog.


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