For Erica, good enough didn’t exist. From an early age, she strived to be the best and excel, but never quite felt like she could attain this goal. No matter how hard she tried, she was never satisfied with herself. Anxiety around uncertainty and change coupled with this unreachable goal of perfection made Erica go from a confident and outgoing child to a withdrawn and timid tween. An athlete since birth, she was thrown for a loop when she failed to make her middle school basketball team. This along with her grandfather’s heart attack made Erica crave control and validation, so she turned to an eating disorder to cope with these uncomfortable emotions.

When Erica got to high school, she started to see the physical repercussions of her disordered eating. She had to be hospitalized twice while in high school due to her disorder, and developed a deep amount of shame around her mental struggles. Due to the stigma of mental health, Erica began to mask her struggles, and hid behind smiles and fake assurances of being fine. While Erica’s physical health was treated, her mental health was not. Erica’s mental health continued to decline when she got to college. During this time, she was diagnosed with both Depression and OCD, and began to have suicidal ideations. Still, though, Erica continued to hide behind a mask, as she didn’t want to worry anyone else or be seen as anything but good enough.

Erica’s mental health reached an ultimate low when the pandemic occurred. After having to be hospitalized once again due to the physical effects her disorders were having on her body, Erica completely isolated herself from friends and family, and blamed herself for her deteriorating mental health. Erica was hopeless, and shortly after being discharged, Erica attempted to take her own life. Erica reached a turning point when she finally made the decision to start treating her mental health in addition to her physical health. After a distressing night, Erica realized that the only way out of her emotional darkness was to stop looking for hope, and make hope for herself. For the first time, she decided to reach out for support and seek treatment for her mental health conditions.

Erica spent close to a year in various treatment programs for her mental health. There, she learned healthy coping skills, grounding techniques, and exposure therapy, which she continues to put into practice regularly today. Since her time in treatment, Erica has reconnected with friends and family, continued to go to therapy, and is truly living instead of merely surviving. Above all else, though, Erica is finally accepting that she is good enough after all. Now that Erica sees the immense amount of strength in vulnerability, she shares her story in the hopes of encouraging others to reach out for help and prioritize their mental health. She aims to show those struggling that recovery is not about perfection, but it is about making the decision each day to choose recovery and to choose to hold on to the hope that things can get better.

Erica is based in southern New Jersey. In-person speaking engagements beyond 90 miles may require a fee for travel expenses.

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