Please welcome first-time contributor Erika, a 29-year-old artist and mother who has battled with depression and anxiety (both social and generalized) for 15 years. She also spiraled into addiction, particularly opiate addiction, after years of domestic violence. Erika is now free from the abuse and starting a new life with her two children and her art. She is living at home in North Dakota, but hopes to move back to New Mexico to continue a Master’s Degree program in art therapy and counseling at Southwestern College. Erika currently is immersed in the study of the art process which has truly saved her life.
About this photo: “I have recently spent a lot of time connecting through photography to my home state of North Dakota, with which I have always had a love/hate relationship. Most of my photos have been purely aesthetic, but this one in particular has great meaning to me. When I saw these dried up sad sunflowers, a chord was struck in me. These flowers poignantly describe how I felt when struggling with depression, anxiety, and especially addiction. Most sunflowers strive for the sun, but these, dried up and devoid of life, are turned away even though the sun is there, shining brightly. This is how my addiction felt. Joyful things, such as my kids, were always there, but I was unable to see them. I was dried up and turned away. Thankfully, the art process has been my equivalent of the sun to a sunflower!”