Anxiety Art // What’s Your Stigma Saying?

“You just have to stay positive.” 

“You don’t look depressed.” 

“You have anxiety? You’re so social I would never have known.” 

We’ve all heard them. Sayings that may seem simple, but continue to perpetuate the stigma surrounding mental health. It’s little phrases like “stay positive,” or “just snap out of it” that not only make those suffering from mental illness feel they are a burden, they aren’t even helpful or empathetic.

It’s been awhile, but I was so grateful to have these two wonderful artists share the phrases or sayings they’ve come into contact with throughout their journey.

What’s your stigma saying? 

 

Sydnei

An aspiring art therapist, this sweet soul is advocating mental health and recovery through her beautiful doodles. With bright colors shining off of each print she draws, her words and art are a mixture of her own lessons in therapy and empowering affirmations for those who face their fears on a daily basis. You can buy her art here!

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****TW: Abuse****

“That’s the phrase I heard over and over from my abuser. And I remember the first person I told said ‘that’s disgusting.’ Now, I am surrounded by people who care about me thankfully. But the word dirty has broke me, though these days I am much stronger. Even if I my room gets to a certain point of messy it’s like I shut down. Sometimes my hands with have paint and stuff and I shut down because it translates to ‘I’m dirty.’ It’s the biggest trigger for my PTSD. I’ve had to unlearn that phrase. I’d look in the mirror and instantly feel shame and disgust.”

 

Eliza

Promoting mental health one illustration at a time, this anxious doodler is here to break the stigma. I’ve only recently come to know Eliza, but judging from the vulnerable, authentic and powerful print she submitted for this series–we’ll be fast friends. 

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“Have you tried meditation? Omm yes… but that’s not the point.

Imagine having killer migraines that everyone you met had recommendations on how to take care of. But, you were allergic to the helpful essential oils and your tolerance levels were too high for pain killers. It would be frustrating to constantly hear solutions that worked for others but–because of your body’s chemistry–failed you.

It’s the same with my anxiety. When I open up about it, I’m not looking for solutions.

I’m looking for friendship and support. You don’t know the journey I’ve made or what solutions I’ve tried. You don’t know what may trigger bad memories or add to my anxiety. Perhaps try asking questions rather posing unsolicited advice. ‘Thank you for sharing. Is there something I can do to help?’ ‘I’ve never heard of that, can you tell me more?’

Solutions is what I pay my psychiatrist for. I need a network of caring friends not a network of well-meaning unlicensed doctors.”

 

With help from their pencil and paintbrush, these two artists communicate essential messages of unlearning phrases we’ve heard over and over and navigating unsolicited advice about our own individual struggle. I cannot stress how crucial breaking these stigmas are for those of us who consistently battle mental illness. I’m glad these two women are here, on the front lines with me. Showing up everyday and confronting society–while they confront each aspect of themselves. 

 

Are you an artist that supports mental health? Share your story and you might be featured on the next Anxiety Art series! 

Anxiety Art // What’s The Title Of Your Anxiety Novel?

Words mean the world. Wanting to incorporate my love of literature into my next Anxiety Art series, I asked two incredibly talented souls this question:

If your anxiety was a book, what would be the title? 

 

A question near and dear to my heart, I had so much fun brainstorming and working with these wonderful women on beautifully authentic results. Whether you’re a fan of sci-fi, romance, YA or fantasy, check out these books that break the stigma:

 

Morgan Stinson 

Thankful she’s made her way back into my life, Morgan has always been the creative type. When she’s not kicking ass at roller derby or playing with her pup Blue, she bravely fights anxiety and depression. Rekindling her love of drawing, I asked her to draw the title of her anxiety novel, and here’s the horror genre she created!

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“When I get anxious or have an anxiety episode, I become paranoid. I overthink and irrationally react to every little thing, often pushing those closest to me away. My fears eat away at me like some unseen parasite inside my body, hoping to make an escape and wreak havoc upon my world. I become a whole other entity, and often wonder what had gotten into me after I’ve relaxed and have calmed down.

One of my favorite films is John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” and I believe that if my anxiety were a book, it’d have a similar premise. A young woman is terrorized by an entity inside her that changes her into a hideous, grotesque, terrifying monster. The twist? Well I don’t want to spoil it for you, but she manages to develop a cure and overcomes the creature within! No matter how many times “The Thing” tries to take over, I always manage to wrangle it in before it’s done too much damage. I’m also getting better at preventing it from even appearing, and am proud to say that I am no longer afraid of the monster. I am at peace with it.”

 

Sanna

A truly talented Finland-based artist, Sanna expresses her creativity through pins, keychains and other adorable, yet stigma breaking, accessories. Before I asked her to be part of this series, I stumbled across her profile due to my growing obsession with pins. With the ability to customize her pins, she did me the immense honor of creating a few unique pieces for Anxiety Erica (here they are first because I will be showing these off any chance I get):

 

Aware of her serious skill, I then asked her to be part of Anxiety Art. Unsure on what she had created, she sent her piece over to me with signs of self doubt, but boy was she wrong – it’s so beautiful. Although some things aren’t always what we picture them to be, the end result can surprise us in ways we never expected. Sharing her story with mental illness publicly for the first time, here is Sanna’s art.

 

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“I’m Sanna, an almost 30-year-old who’s been battling mental illness for a good two thirds of my life. I had my first anxiety attack at the age of eleven. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed in my room and being consumed by an unnamed terror no child should ever have to experience. Cue almost twenty years later, I’m still battling the same demons, but now I can put names on most of them. 

I’ve learned that I’m highly sensitive, an empath, and how despite having two loving parents, certain things in my childhood (like my father’s illness and untimely death and being bullied in school) forced me to develop coping mechanisms that are hurtful now as an adult. Most of all, I’ve learned that recovery and getting to know who you really are isn’t linear, it’s a ~spiral~.

Hence the name I chose if I ever were to turn my life into a book. Even when I feel like it’s one step forward, two steps back, I know that I always learn something whenever I make even the slightest bit of progress. These days, I have a day job as a registered nurse (not something I wish to keep doing for the rest of my life, but it’ll do for now), but in my free time I make jewelry, pins and other knick-knacks for mental health awareness.

During my years fighting my own fight I’ve noticed the stigma of mental illness isn’t as bad as it used to be, but it’s still there, and I want to be a part of making it less so.”

 

 

Every time I do this series, I’m amazed at the raw, powerful beauty that artists can bring into the world with just a pen. Thank you so much to these awesome women for sharing their stories and creating work that will help others heal.

 

Are you an artist that supports mental health? Share your story and you might be featured on the next Anxiety Art series! 

Anxiety Art // What’s Your Animal?

Art has power. Through the second installment of my series, I’ve learned just how crucial visual expression can be in healing. After the amazing reception of the first post – you can check it out here – I was itching to reach out to more Instagram artists. Searching far and wide, I found two bright stars: Stephanie and Alisa. 

Keeping this project going strong, these whimsical, yet powerful women took full command of the next question in my series:

What’s your anxiety animal?

 

I was so stoked when Stephanie said she wanted to be part of this series. I’ll be honest – you can sense her talent from miles away. Making “high quality art things,” as she calls them on her Instagram, this darling soul is an artist and illustrator based out of Toronto, Canada. Her raw emotion, passion, and genuine silliness truly shine throughout each piece she creates. This submission is no different:

Stephanie Kenzie 

Anxiety Spirit animal Steph Kenzie

“I decided my anxiety animal must be a hedgehog– anxiety always feels sharp and prickly to me, like I have a ball of pins stuck in my throat. Also hedgehogs always deal with things by curling up into balls, and when my anxiety is bad, so do I!”

This is seriously the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen guys. I want it framed in my studio. 

 

The second submission comes from Alisa, a creative and expressive artist with a heart of gold. With a message to free yourself and find your happy, Alisa is a jack of all trades. Whether she’s singing on her YouTube channel, writing poetry, practicing yoga, cooking up delicious healthy meals, or even creating a beautiful, authentic drawing like this one – she puts her heart and soul into each and every expression.

Alisa Briski 

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“The Mexican Cantil Snake. This is a mocking predator and the end of its tail looks like a worm. It will lure in prey by hiding and waiting until the last second to make its move. My anxiety works in much the same way. It sits, patiently waiting, luring me in with thoughts that “really matter.” It mocks “real problems” and then before I know it, I’m in too deep and it has wrapped itself around my whole life and mind.”

 

I feel so proud to have yet another successful installment of this series on the blog. Helping to fight the stigma against mental illness, these powerful pieces of art not only bring unknown aspects of anxiety to life – they help others heal and feel less alone in their own journey.

 

Are you an artist who would like to be part of my Anxiety Art series? Share your story in the comments below and you may be featured on the blog! 

 

Keep It Grape Art // Self Care Pack Review

Today was a great day. I decided to attend an event in my area called San Diego Festival of Books, where I walked around and did some networking for the blog. I met fantastic, creative people and I’m so excited to collaborate with them.

Putting yourself out there is not only draining – it can be a challenging task. While everyone was thrilled to hear about Anxiety Erica, my anxiety can find it easy to get worked up about whether everyone truly is interested in what I have to say. Paired with the fact that one or two posts I did on my Instagram didn’t go over as well as ones previously in the week, my anxiety was looming over the fact that I wasn’t good enough. That not enough “likes” equates to the caliber of my writing, my healing process. That’s not reality. I fought it in my ANT journal, because this blog is way too important to me to let a silly, trivial thing like social media likes bring it down. But, I was still a little drained.

Then my Keep It Grape Self Care Pack arrived in the mail. Game changer. 

Almost like mental health mail from the gods above, this package came right at the moment I needed it most. It made me realize I am making a difference – I’m connecting with creative, sensitive, and strong women like Katherine. 

Located over at @keepitgrape, Katherine is one of the purest souls I’ve ever encountered. Just 17 years old, Katherine is a freelance artist with her own online store filled with positivity prints, self care packs, custom commissions, zines, stickers, and poetry. Pouring her heart and soul into each piece she creates, she does it all while battling paranoid schizophrenia.

In addition to her art, she has a blog where she interviews other bloggers on the importance of mental health, recipes and positivity. You can check out her interview with me here! 

Madly in love with her fire, I’m beyond grateful to know this young, talented treasure in some shape or form. She sent over one of her wonderful Self Care and Realization Packs and boy was it filled with some goodies! Take a peek at the photos below to see some of the beautiful artwork, prints, info, recipes, stickers, and helpful mantras she included:

Self Care & Realization Packs 

Intended to promote relaxation and self care, these powerful packs get you to understand the importance of caring and maintaining your body. Focused on the essential mantra that we all deserve self care, Katherine showers each and every customer with love, positivity, and encouragement.

Tip Cards 

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Self care is important, but what if you don’t know what that means? While it’s different for each individual person, Keep It Grape has some great starter tips to delve deeper into what works for you!

Recipes

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This was a wonderful reminder for me, honestly. While I can be really good at self care involving reading, bath time, and relaxation – I’m lacking in the food department. I can be pretty lazy when it comes to cooking or prepping of any kind, so these recipes were a welcome sight. I plan to try this one out!

Prints 

Positivity can be hard to find sometimes. Not only great reminders to love ourselves, these prints are just gorgeous. Promoting and symbolizing self care and relaxation, I will be hanging them on my cork board next to my bed – that way I see the important words when I wake up and fall asleep at night.

Drawings 

I won’t lie, these were my all-time favorite. I adored everything in this package but these small, simple drawings were perfect. Encouraging self love and growth, they are beautiful and tiny enough to keep in your car, purse, tote bag, or on your bookshelf. Anywhere you are, there is a constant reminder of love, hope, and positivity!

Personal Thank You Note & Sticker 

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As if all of the goodies in the package weren’t enough, Katherine sneaks a lovely, personal note and sticker into my Self Care Pack. Reading through it filled me with inspiration, hope, and honestly eased my anxiety from the day. Job well done. 

 

With a combination of creativity and heart, Katherine makes it her full time job to bring others happiness with Keep It Grape. From opening up her package today, it was clear just how much she lives and breathes this work. She gives each person a piece of her heart. I’m proud to know such a talented, motivated and beautiful young woman – she is truly the future of mental health.

 

To learn more about Keep It Grape and Katherine’s art, visit http://keepitgrape.tictail.com/. Head to her blog and Instagram to see her latest pieces! 

Anxiety Art // What’s Your Superpower?

With my blog, it’s become so clear what the power of words can accomplish. While I view myself as a skilled writer, I’m not much of an artist. I can draw a mean stick figure, though.

I’ve been falling in love with the different artists that have taken to Instagram and social media to express their versions of mental illness through art. I really wanted to share these unique, specific stories on the blog so I reached out to two beautiful, bold souls to kick off the beginning of a new project.

Vulnerable, vibrant and brimming with creativity, Alexia and Jessica are two women who understand the power of sharing their journey.

In the first ever installment of my new series – Anxiety Art – I decided to ask these two artists one important question:

What’s your anxiety superpower? 

 

The first piece is from someone I’m proud to call a friend. Attending the same college, I was always stunned by Alexia’s brazen, yet beautiful personality. A truly unique soul with scary fantastic talent, here is her submission:

Alexia Markopoulos

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“Fart Woman has a new super power: honing her own anxieties and shooting them at her enemies. Tripping out about the future and racing thoughts melt their brains – I am Fart Woman. Not only does Fart Woman have electric shock hair, plutonium heels, and poisonous farts, she has the ability to embrace her anxiety and use it to save the world.” 

 

The second submission is from a sassy and sensitive soul – Jessica Ferhadson. Using art therapy for her own mental health, Jessica is a Psychology BA Studio Art Minor. Selling handcrafted stickers and pins on her Etsy store, she isn’t just surviving through her mental illness – she’s thriving. Check out her beautiful submission:

Jessica Ferhadson

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“My superpower is the ability to combat my mind. Whether it be through calming my mind, talking down my paranoia, or not taking things to personally – this is a superpower that helps me get through each day. Getting sudden waves of stress or overthinking certain issues is rough, but with the power of my mind, I am able to recognize when I am overreacting and when to just take a deep breath.

Your mind is powerful, sometimes that can be negative. It’s how we counteract the negative with the positive that is important to focus on. Focusing on the negative and ruminating is much easier than focusing on the positive. So having the ability to fight the negative and visa versa is hard, but strong. Being in a constant battle with your mind is difficult, but sometimes can be productive and lead to self-awareness. It is a superpower I wish I didn’t have to have, but proud to carry with me.”

 

I’m so honored to have these powerful pieces of art living on my blog and to be able to show all of you just how extraordinary these women are – and how their art helps to fight the stigma of mental illness.

 

 

Are you an artist who would like to be part of my Anxiety Art series? Share your story in the comments below and you may be featured on the blog! 

 

6 Perfect Pins for Mental Health

Let’s face it – pins are in. More recently, I’ve been taken down the beautiful rabbit hole that is pin love on Instagram and it’s a wild, wonderful journey. I’ve come to fall madly in love with so many talented independent artists who share my passion for expressing emotion and breaking the stigma surrounding mental health.

When I realized that I needed to start a pin collection, I also came to the conclusion that I needed a jean jacket to proudly display them on a daily basis. So, with a brand new jacket, I went on a hunt for the most gorgeous, genuine pins that resonated with me.

Here are some of my favorites:

Sarah Day Arts 

Weird girls really do have more fun. Personally, Sarah might be my favorite of all time, but that’s just me being biased. With grace and the utmost of skill, Sarah expresses her creativity and vulnerability through art. A fighter through and through, her vibrant art resonates with anyone struggling to find meaning – whether that be with mental health or just life in general.

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THREE LEFT 🙊 DM to purchase! (Edit: SOLD OUT)

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Fun fact: My very first pins were from Sarah. It was a day where I decided, for the first time in quite awhile, to have a day completely for myself. I went to this adorable store – Little Dame Shop – and came upon her pin that stood out to me. It read: It will work out. It’s like the pin was speaking directly to me. It will work out, Erica. When you have that strong of a connection with art, you don’t have a choice but to wear it everyday.

 

The Crybaby Club 

We may cry, but we can still get things done. I love this gang, guys. Teaching others that it’s okay to express your feelings and emotion, The Crybaby Club believes that sensitive people are the ones who hold true strength inside of them. As souls who aren’t afraid to let ourselves feel, we deserve to have flair that represents our outlook.

With a band of beautiful souls and artists behind the artwork, mental health is at the forefront of each and every piece of flair. While I don’t personally have one of their pins, (don’t worry, I will eventually) I’ve proudly displayed Kayley Mills’ art on my walls. One of the artists behind The Crybaby Club, she is a talented designer with a passion for the most amazing affirmations. Check out her prints here! 

 

Art by Anto 

Need a reminder that you’re good enough? Explore T. Jay Santa Ana’s Make A Mark series – it’s good for the soul. A friend and truly talented human, Santa Ana creates his pins to bring a sense of harmony back into the world. I absolutely love his message and vision, and have even modeled for his pins! By far, my favorite pin is “I’m Good Enough.” Not only is it a wonderful mantra to repeat to yourself, wearing it everyday on my jacket forces me to remember that I’m enough.

Fun Fact: If you’re officially obsessed and want to know more about this sensitive series, I wrote an article on it for The Mighty! Check it out. 

 

Tuesday Bassen

For those of us who wear our hearts on our sleeve, you can literally do that with the awesome pins and patches from Tuesday’s shop. A mega-fan of this girl’s fantastic flair, I actually got the opportunity to meet her with a friend at Comic Con last year and she’s a beautiful soul. Her mental health message – and nails – are on point.

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#mixedemotionsclub ❤️ ShopTuesday.com

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More of a patch person? Check out this patch that’s perfect for those prone to overthinking.

 

Motivational Tattoos 

Made with love to brighten your day, these adorable anxiety aids were created to stop self-harm. With the founder battling the challenge of mental health on a daily basis, Motivational Tattoos is an ally to people with anxiety, depression, PTSD and other illnesses. Improve your mental health with the “Calm,” “Breathe,” “Believe, Achieve,” and “I Am Enough” badges!

ADAMJK

Love this dude. With several of his pins dedicated to mental health, anxiety, and just overall sensitivity, ADAMJK is doing his part to break the stigma. Plus, his instagram is fantastic and full of feelings – I live for it.

 

Are you pin obsessed? Share your favorite mental health focused pins with me – I wanna see ’em!