It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of Heidi Williams’ yoga-inspired Instagram account ― but the images are also spreading an important message about mental health.
Williams started practicing yoga after she was diagnosed with a constellation of mental health disorders that she believes stem from an incident in 2013 in which her infant son, Silas stopped breathing and had to be revived.
“He basically died and came back to life,” Williams told The Huffington Post.
Though her son returned to perfect health, Williams had difficulty letting go of what happened. She would get triggered every time her son would whine or cry and even had multiple episodes of self-harm, she said.
After months of struggling, Williams sought help from her doctor, who diagnosed her with major depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to going to therapy, Williams decided to make a lifestyle change and pick up a hobby. That’s when she found yoga.
“It was the very first time in 18 months that I was like, ‘Oh my god, I exist,’” she said of her first class. “I’m under all of this horrible. I thought I had lost myself.”
‘The pictures became my own art therapy’
Today, Williams leads yoga retreats and uses social media to spread images of her yoga-based movement in order to spark discussions around mental illness. She says the photos encouraged other people just as much as they did her.
“I was sharing my story on Instagram a lot of people were like, ‘Nobody talks about this,’” Williams said. “I felt connected, validated and so I continued to share. The pictures became my own art therapy.”
Williams credits seeking professional support along with yoga for ultimately helping her cope with and manage her disorder. The practice “offers a safe transportation from fear, anxiety and depression to love, where you can handle what is going on in your life,” Williams said.
And if anyone is experiencing mental health issues, Williams stresses that treatment makes a difference. A psychological condition is not something anyone has to face alone.
“Healing is not only possible, but inevitable,” she said.
Check out more of Williams’ photos below :