When Erica approached me about doing this shoot, I couldn’t get it scheduled fast enough.
I’ve known Erica for quite some time and consider her a good friend, but even I wasn’t aware of all of her struggles with mental health. She has overcome some major trials, and even though it’s a daily battle for her, she is one of the strongest and most genuine people I know.
We went into this shoot with the intention of representing who Erica really is, struggles and all. She wanted to be able to look at these photos and feel confident, healthy, but most of all, that she is living her truth. She has taken her struggles and created an Instagram community where people can go to find help, know they’re not alone, and know that their feelings are valid. When I asked her why she created this community, this is what she had to say:
“I’m here to use my platform and my power to try and help end the stigma. Social media is a strict reflection of all the highs in someone’s life. The best angles, the best pictures, the most aesthetic moments, and everything that people are not. It acts as a negative to the brain because we drown ourselves in a type of “false advertisement” when we compare ourselves and our lives to the people we follow and see on social media.
I chose to make a mental health page for people to turn to for validation, resources, and also a safe space to know that it’s okay to not be okay. Since I’ve opened my page, I get more recognition as to how I’ve helped people than people who admire my shoots and posts. I let people know that my platform is an unbiased and a judgment free place they can go if they need somewhere to go. I share my resources, share encouragement, and the validation I wish I had found on social media when and as I still go through all my trials.
My goal is to let the world know it’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to give up.”
Having experienced mental health struggles of our own and knowing how difficult it can be to find the right kind of help, a few months ago, my friend and I put together a list of mental health resources we personally use. We decided to put them on my blog in hopes of reaching as many people as possible, and in an effort to help you or someone you know, I’m giving you the list as well. On top of the resources in my blog, you should also follow Erica’s Instagram, @heal.your.hearts. She is constantly posting inspirational and encouraging messages in hopes of providing some solace and hope.
Here is a link to the blog post that I did and I hope you’ll find something to help you on your journey towards good mental health.
Remember, you are loved, you are important, and you are wanted. There is no shame in how you feel and there is absolutely no shame in getting help.
P.S. You are beautiful just the way you are. Your feelings matter. You are loved.