For my 55th birthday I got a tattoo, my first. It is a neuron. I’ve been contemplating this for a long time. In 2018 I got a silver neuron pendant necklace and wrote this: When I saw this silver neuron, it was love at first sight. I’m fascinated with the ritual/spiritual aspect of tattoos, but not drawn to take this step myself. It is moving to see how some folks choose to decorate themselves with images relating to their health issues. Purple epilepsy ribbons, whimsical zebras, unicorns, brains, chemical structures of life saving medications, medical alert bracelets, EEG/EKG patterns… A way of drawing in, holding close and loving our maladies. Creatively owning these challenges and thus transforming.

A few years ago, around the 30th anniversary of my first seizure, I realized my thoughts on tattoos had evolved and I did want one. Here is what I wrote in my blog post, “The Anniversary of The Dead Punk Bride:” As birthdays honor living and surviving another year, I am ready to celebrate 30 years of surviving and thriving with Epilepsy. Hopefully, I will be adventurous enough to commemorate it with an Epilepsy themed tattoo.

I can’t remember the moment I decided I wanted my tattoo to be a neuron. I had been ruminating on it at a snail’s pace and really wasn’t sure if I would ever get brave enough. I wasn’t afraid of physical discomfort… it was indecision; of exactly where on my body and the actual design, and knowing this is/was a big leap for me. A bit before my birthday I was finally ready.

Why a neuron? My dramatic neurophysiology is mostly hidden and I wanted to connect this inner biology with my outer skin. On my wrist where I can see it to remind myself of the unity of my inner and outer self. A reminder to be gentle with myself. A reminder my neurons are vulnerable to seizures, migraines and a myriad of symptoms. A reminder, as I walk my neurologic tightrope everyday, to notice and enjoy the moments when my neurons and I are in balance.

Yarrow Rubin

Skip to content