MEET THE ARTIST
INTROVERT | TYPE A | BIPOLAR I DEPRESSION | ANXIETY | FIBROMYALGIA
Hi. I'm Erica.
I'm the bride. The three other people in the photo above are the most important people in my life: my husband, my son, and my best friend of more than twenty years.
This site was born out of self-therapy after I was committed to an inpatient psych hospital for becoming suicidal in April 2020. If you knew me, you'd be shocked. It's the classic story of someone who appears to have a perfect, successful life but silently knew she was completely falling apart.
I left the hospital with the new diagnoses of Depression and Bipolar II Disorder (plus I was previously diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder). It became evident that major changes lie ahead to adapt to my health, capabilities, and channel my natural tendencies into something therapeutic while also attempting to pay the bills, rather than apply for disability.
I am a Type A personality. I have been as long as I can remember, starting my first job at the age of 14 and running ever since. I'm an overachiever in everything I do. It has to be perfect. I have to be the best. I never have enough time. No challenge is ever high or hard enough. I'm always critical of my own work, thinking I could have done something bigger, better, and/or faster. I'm always looking for the next thing.
Over the last decade, I have been coping with two debilitating, chronic pain illnesses: Endometriosis and Fibromyalgia. A few years ago I had a total hysterectomy which finally alleviated the pain of Endometriosis only for Fibromyalgia (a neuro-nerve disorder) to arrive on the scene a mere year later. The constant pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia have caused several bouts of depression and hopelessness over the last couple of years. The unpredictability of how much pain I'll be in or whether I'll be able to wake up for work in the morning (or stay awake at work) has become one of the hardest things I've dealt with in my adult life.
My Type A personality also drives me to frequent bouts of inspiration and overflowing ideas. These "good days" would lead to starting multiple new projects, learning new skills, starting a side business or staying up all night as I chased my newest muse. I guess that turns out to be hypomania, in my case - who knew? Not me!
I work as a Director in Healthcare Administration with new departments being added under my care every few months. The health system I work for, ironically, is a Community Mental Health Center and a Juvenile Youth Treatment Center. The system spans four counties across fifteen locations. I absolutely love my job - the only drawback is the stress and natural emphasis I put on my work, along with the unpredictability of my illness when you try to work a set schedule. Stress tends to make my fibromyalgia worse and while I love my job, it definitely is stressful by nature. My boss frequently tells me not to overwork or stress myself. Easier said than done. If I knew how to undo 30+ years of my personality, I'd certainly do it! But I've been extremely fortunate to have a very understanding employer.
I have been side-lined on FMLA leave for at least the next six weeks to participate in a partial hospitalization program and to begin medication management and therapy. Art therapy and using my creativity in any manner (website design, art, singing, playing instruments, writing) is something I enjoy but rarely find time to do. I was able to reconnect with my creativity while hospitalized and realized I could benefit from making it part of my daily routine.
I plan to use this site as my own therapy tool, which happens to create artwork while also educating on the importance of mental health and wellness. I recognize there's a very real possibility that I may not be able to continue working in the capacity I was previous to my break down.
This project has the potential to solve my biggest work barriers including; reducing stress, compliments my introversion, complete schedule flexibility so I can follow my body's cues, channeling my Type A tendencies into healthy management of my behavioral diagnoses, as well as providing an avenue to remain (hopefully) gainfully employed over time - should I need it.
I hope my art, as well as my journaling, provides some insights into the struggles and healing process of mental health. Thanks in advance for supporting my journey and sharing my work with others.