I'm Jessica, a wedding & portrait photographer based out of Virginia Beach, VA. Here on the blog, you'll find posts such as recent work, personal stuff, and vacation experiences! Feel free to browse around the blog to see some of my awesome clients, and get to know me a little better!


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January 1, 2018

Mental Health Matters: the highs and lows of 2017

Looking back on 2017 is bittersweet. If I’m being completely honest, it had many ups, but just as many downs, if not more. It started off pretty rough. As I was preparing to get out of the Navy, I realized just how awful some of the people I worked beside for years really were. At times of struggle, nobody was there, and nobody cared. I wanted so badly to get out of the shop I was in, and all of the negativity it was bringing to my life. But instead, I was stuck there. My prior life and my past mistakes were looked at as a “shop joke” for everyone to giggle about, little did they know I was dying inside. What exactly do I mean by that? Well, let me give you a quick recap of my 2016.

I went through the toughest break up of my life. I was deployed overseas when my boyfriend of 3 years, the one I wanted to marry decided “I’m just not really sure if I see a future between us” ummm, I’m sorry….what?? We lived together, had a dog together, talked about marriage and babies all the time, and somehow as I’m overseas, all of a sudden that’s not the life he wants? Okay then. *insert months of heavy drinking, unhealthy eating, and mental instability* When I returned from deployment, this ex decides “I wasn’t thinking straight, I’m sorry, you are what I want, let’s get married” Ummm, WHAT? By this point, my emotions are a complete mess, and I decided I had to walk away for good. I couldn’t keep being on the other end of these mind games, because it really was killing me. Instead of healing on my own, I made the not so smart decision to jump RIGHT into another relationship. Summer of 2016 with this new boyfriend was great, but as the summer came to an end, my ex reported to my command, and all hell broke loose. I was forced to work with him side by side for months, and the worst part? He outranked me, and he used it to his advantage. The EVEN WORSE part? Everyone thought it was hilarious. Every day at work, him and I would bicker about something, and as for the rest of the shop?? “OMG it’s like our own real-life sitcom” “Oh no, family drama…do we need a marriage counselor?” “Oh, I see who wore the pants in that relationship” the list of jokes goes on and on. It didn’t just come from the younger people either, it came from the higher ups too. LPO’s, Chiefs, even officers. My life was just one big joke for everyone to laugh at. I was miserable, and nobody cared. This went on for months, and into the start of a new year (2017 that is…. because that was a quick recap of 2016).

So, there it was…2017, a new year, and a fresh start, right?? Wrong. 2017 had a pretty bumpy start. Remember that relationship I said I jumped right into?? Well, I was struggling to make that work. Somehow, my ex kept getting involved (over a year after the breakup). It’s like he didn’t want me, but he didn’t want anyone else to have me either. I ended up blocking him on all outlets, and then he deployed, and I thought the drama would finally be over…however, he still managed to contact me, and that constant contact became a big problem in my new relationship. Shortly after that I hit rock bottom, and I ended up spending 5 days in the psychiatric ward. I just couldn’t take the mistreatment at work, the drama with my ex, the fighting with Matt over my ex, it was all so overwhelming, and like I said before, it was killing me. Months went by, and slowly but surely, I was getting better. It seemed the rainbow after the storm finally appeared…and that horrible never-ending chapter of my life had finally come to an end.

Following that, the Patriots won their 5th  Super Bowl, I bought my pup Hank, got out of the Navy, moved into a new condo with Matt (yep, you guessed it, he’s the one I jumped into that relationship with…and I don’t regret it for a second) went to Disney, assisted at photographing a wedding for the first time, then second shot a wedding for the first time, road tripped to Charlotte for some roller coaster fun at Carowinds, road tripped to Boston (Hank’s first road trip) to visit Matt’s family, catch a Red Sox game, and gamble at Foxwoods, went back to college, turned 24, attended the Salt Air Workshop with Amanda Hedgepeth down in the OBX, had two more friendship breakups, went to Vegas, realized how competitive and ugly the photography industry can be, and I think that’s when I truly “found myself.” I realized that negativity is all around. It’s everywhere you look, it’s in almost everyone you encounter, and it can consume you. It can make you the worst version of yourself if you let it take over, and I almost did. It was only then I realized that I needed to do a huge cleanse. I deleted hundreds of people on social media, and I removed myself from those “women empowering/encouragement groups” because really, they’re just a bunch of catty girls putting on a nice front. What’s left now? It’s just me, my school work, and this business (and of course Matt and Hank). But as for friends? I don’t have many. 2017 left me feeling like I can’t trust anyone to be a real friend, because it seems someone is always ready to stab you in the back for no reason at all, other than to hide their own pain. Sure, it’s unfortunate, but it gives me more time to focus on my family and my business, and I believe that if I continue to be the most positive, cheerful, and happy version of myself, 2018 will be MY year.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re my kind of person, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart. People will watch a 10-minute video of a street fight, a sad attempt at someone making a political statement, a “social media icon” making a video blog, but very rarely do they follow along with small business owners, and care about the real-life stuff. Mental health is SO IMPORTANT, and I feel like I cannot stress that enough. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am here for you. You matter. Your feelings matter. You are loved. 

So, there you have it, that’s my whirlwind of a year. I’m looking forward to 2018; meeting new clients, making new friends, and creating new memories. I’m ready for it. Are you??

**Please keep in mind, this blog post is not made to bash anyone at all. If that’s the impression you got from this, I am deeply sorry, and I encourage you to re-read this to fully understand the big picture here, and the message I’m trying to send. Everyone makes mistakes, and I’m sure every single person out there has done wrong by someone at least once in their life. As for me, I know I have, and I’ve asked for forgiveness. I’ve also given forgiveness to everyone that has hurt me in the past, and I wish them all the best of luck**