My Pre-Ink Routine

So with my appointment coming up in about 5 hours, I’ve begun my pre-ink routine to get me into the tattoo mind frame. As much as it’s old hat to me by this point, there’s still some level of nerve involved for what’s about to come. Ink enthusiasts will tell you that never really goes away, no matter how many tattoos you get.

Of course, being on the autism spectrum and liking “order” as it were, I have my routine down pat to get me into that mind set and get me on my game to endure the pain and resulting adrenaline/endorphin rush of the tattoo process. It’s calming and reassuring, as is every set routine we autists have (whether we’re inked or not) as deviating from order and structure is unduly stressful to us.

So my pre-ink routine starts with the morning of the session, with some meditation to center my thoughts and usually over a cigar and coffee. This routine starts to prep me for what’s to come mentally, while I recite affirmations to myself. “You will overcome the pain and you will have a beautiful piece of art” or something similar.

Then a couple of hours before the session I’ll eat a fairly sizable meal from a favorite restaurant. This gives me the fuel I need to endure the session, but enough time to start digesting so I’m not feeling lethargic or weighed down by the time I get to the hot seat. Comfort food, for me usually in the form of a nice meal from my hometown’s top 100 Chinese restaurant (yet, whoever thought podunk Abilene, TX would be home to one of the top 100 chinese restaurants in the US?).

While I’m processing my meal I usually stop for another cigar, which I smoke while rocking out to my jams. Music motivates me, and especially music I emotionally connect to. Admittedly that usually means my TFF with some others mixed in. By this point I’m in a state of “alert relaxation” and am ready for the process to begin.

After the first couple of lines have been completed the nerves have worn off and I’m usually settled into my zone to carry me through the session. I’ve now entered that state of pure meditation where I feel most at peace. As odd as it sounds, when I’m in the hot seat is when I’m most at peace, at any given time during my life.

So that’s it. That’s my pre-ink routine. I’m not saying this works for everyone, but it really works for me. Maybe even neurotypicals have a similar routine? Maybe some autists also have something similar? Let me know!