Well... I suppose I should chime in here, especially since I haven't chimed for a while.
I have my fair share of ink. My first was young and dumb, small and off the wall. No thought put into it, and I've always regretted it. But, like you, It seemed that I needed an outlet for the parts and pieces of my life that never really made any sense. Particularly, the darker parts. My back is one big story that I'm still telling. It's a work based around the 8 auspicious symbols of Buddhism, but each symbol also tells a story about my past, my present, and my future. The scene occurs in a Tibetan garden with a temple on a mountain, and the sun setting in the background. An old cherry blossom next to a pond are in the foreground. The symbols are embedded throughout the scene.
I'm not really one for the monsters ripping out of the body type of tattoos, but that's just me. I also agree with others, you must also consider location and size. If you're going to get a tattoo, small is just going to look like melanoma in a few years.
I consider my ink an art piece. Thus I would also advise you to choose your artist wisely. Don't just let anyone do it. Get references. Lastly. Remember. They really do hurt like hell.