Ever since Erika was three years old, she knew she wanted to play the cello. From the moment she saw Yo-Yo Ma perform on Sesame Street, she couldn’t wait until she was big enough to hold a cello in her arms.
Erika has now performed in front of thousands of people -- and has even played with famous musicians such as Kanye West -- but what is unique about Erika is that she lives a very busy and creative lifestyle all while dealing with a medical condition.
When Erika was 27 years old, she was diagnosed with Bipolar 1 disorder. She knew growing up that she experienced very high highs and very low lows, but she thought it was a normal part of being a teenager. It wasn’t until her mid twenties, when she consulted a doctor and went to multiple psychiatrists, that she learned she had Bipolar 1.
No one in her family or her friend group, and not even Erika herself, fathomed that she may have a medical condition. Her doctor suggested she go on medication to help balance her mood and her initial response was “Can’t I just sniff lavender and take more bubble baths?” It took Erika a while to warm up to the idea of medication but once she accepted it, she noticed great results.
Along with her medication, Erika also made changes to her everyday lifestyle in order to maintain positive mental health. She expressed the importance of getting a good night’s rest and that if you sleep more, your body will perform at its best the next day. She also shared that regular exercise and eating healthy can lead to positive mental health.
Playing the cello is not the only thing Erika is passionate about; she loves to paint and write and has even written a book called Sound Mind. This book is about her journey as an artist and the ways she has changed her life to maintain positive mental health.
“I live with my condition but I don’t let it rule me. I am now living my best life every day,” Erika says.
After sharing her story and giving advice to our students, she concluded her presentation with a cello performance of her favourite piece: “The Prelude” by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Erika’s presentation was a great way to kickstart Arts Day. Thank you Erika!