• Leah Freeman

A glimmer of light in the distance of a dark tunnel

A vision that comes in my mind after a long, perpetual writers block

A heart beat after a flat-line,

A passion rekindled after a depression

Waking up another day just to be thankful for everything I have

For the Person I am, and who I will be

For the life that I live and for the days to come

For the road I've been on, and for the road that lies ahead

Not stopping until I reach my destination

Not giving up when the struggle gets hard

Looking beyond the storm and seeing the sun

Everyone goes through a rough patch

To build strength and tenacity to smooth it out

When we fall to the ground

And we find a way just to sit back up

And look around at what we stumbled upon

A diamond in the dirt

So we pick it up,

dust it off,

And its brilliant shine resembles the mended pieces of a broken heart

A lost soul that has found its way

A life long question that has been answered

A destination that has been reached

The glimmer of light that lit up a dark tunnel

Shinning like an eternal ray of hope

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  • Leah Freeman

Updated: Sep 28, 2017

So........I have a mental health condition and it definitely has been a challenge in my life. It has been my worst enemy at times, and a source of much pain, turmoil, and heartache. I have been through stages of denial, guilt, shame, anger, frustration, and irritation. It has wreaked havoc and wrecked many things in my life, and many opportunities have been blown due to periods of instability. I am being very honest when I say that dealing with a mental health condition is very, very hard. However, amidst all of its difficulties,....I have reached a certain level of acceptance, self-awareness, and have achieved a relatively good amount of stability. Some people may wonder how can one be positive despite having a mental health condition? What good is there in being "crazy"?........Trust me. I've had moments where I did not see much positive in the situation...........But, I would like to share with you my perspective on all the positive things about having a mental health condition...............

1) We are very empathetic.

I find that having a lived experience in dealing with a mental health condition has made me more sensitive and compassionate towards others who experience a similar challenge. In fact, it makes me generally more understanding toward people who have been through ANY hardship in life, whether it be mental, emotional, situational, or physical. Having been through different stages in my illness, I know what it is like to go through this kind of hardship, which makes me better able to relate to other people's hardship. As I appreciate it when others are able to show empathy toward me, I love to be able to show empathy toward others.

2) We love hard.

Everyone loves the way that they know how or understand to love. Everyone shows love in different ways and expresses it in different styles. Love is a beautiful thing to feel, whether it is the love for a partner, or a friend, or family, or a passion, or a movie, or just a moment in time. I find, in my case, that the level of intensity of the mental and emotional range I go through makes me an extremely loving and passionate person about anyone or anything that I care about. I'm not comparing anyone else's love or passions to mine, ...but I do know that I love hard. I will be the main one who will have a person's back, defend someone I care about, feel very strongly about their welfare, and I am very sensitive about other people's feelings.

3) We are very unique.

Our individuality, unique personalities, and personal ways of expression makes us stand out. Our lived experiences contribute to our having a different take, angle and perspective on life.

4) We are creative innovators.

Think of many of the greatest inventions, creations, innovations, buildings, literature, paintings, music,movements and masterpieces over time. Many of the people behind those things were people with mental health conditions. In order to come up with things so beautiful and magnificent, I truly believe that a touch of "madness" had to be present in those individuals.

Some of the "craziest" ideas have been the most successful. Some of the most famous works started with just one "crazy" thought, dream, or vision, that might not have made any sense to others, but made perfect sense to the people who envisioned them.

5) We are inspirational.

Anyone who goes through what we go through, and is successful in life, or does something great, or touches the lives of others, or helps their communities, or contributes or gives back to the world, or has personal successes, is very inspiring. To make it in this life, in this life, in this world with a mental health condition is a success in and of itself.

6) We are strong.

What is our very weakness, is also are very strength. It takes a strong person to deal with the ins and outs, ups and downs of living with a mental health condition. It is definitely a fight. When we face this hardship, this challenge and make it through, we become stronger, better people for having dealt with it. Whether it is taking on a new business venture, or finding the willpower and motivation just to get out of the bed while depressed, or giving a public talk after years of anxiety, it takes strength to be able to do those things.

7) We are courageous.

It can be a scary thing to face being told you have a mental health diagnosis, and it can be scary to face a long journey of living with it. Going through different phases, from denial to acceptance, from shame to empowerment, .....seeking treatment, going to meeting, and groups, struggling to get better...all takes courage. It takes courage to face ourselves and our condition and take our recovery into our control. It takes courage to get outside of our comfort zone and try new treatment options or adapt new ways of thinking and adjusting to change. That is why we are courageous.

8) We are survivors.

We are here. We are alive. We are a living testament to the power of recovery. Our survival is a magnificent accomplishment that we should give ourselves credit for. We have pulled through, faced adversity, battled stigma and injustice, fought our own thoughts and emotions, faced our fears, gotten help, went to groups and meetings and hospitals and have taken different medications,...all to get to the point where we are at. Sometimes, we should celebrate the fact that we are here, and we are alive!

So......I have a mental health condition..but that is not all there is to me. I am a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a mother, a singer, actress, dancer, poet, artist,......I am a human being. I still have moments where I would rather not have a mental health condition, but I also have moments where I feel as if it is a source of empowerment. Having a positive perspective on it helps me to keep going, keep trying, and to never give up on hope.

Please feel free to share your positive perspectives...........

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  • Leah Freeman

I have been interested in the arts and anything creative since I was a little girl. Let me start off by sharing with you a little about my immediate family. I have a family full of creative, talented and intellectual people, who were great influences in my life. My deceased father, Edward Freeman, used to chuckle and tell people, "All I did was show her how to draw legos, and she just took off from there." My father actually worked as a psychiatric nurse in mental health for many years. He was a brilliant thinker, an active person in the community, a teacher, a mentor, a leader, and a wonderful, loving father. He helped me win a 1st place award, and an honorable mention in my middle school science fair using epidemiological studies as my research. My mother, Lillie Covert-Freeman, has a voice of an angel. She used to sing me to sleep when I was little, with her sweet, soft vocal rendition of Roberta Flack's "That's no way to say Goodbye". My mother used to coach me on how to recite monologues from plays ("Antigone", by Sophocles), beautiful poems ("Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day", by Nikki Giovanni), and powerful speeches ("Ain't I A Woman?", by Sojourner Truth). My mother, as well as her side of the family, were always very musical, turning me on to classic old school music, anyone from Aretha Franklin, to Bob Dylan, to Donny Hathaway, to Paul Simon, to Prince, to Tina Turner, and many more. My oldest brother Duane Covert, who is a very talented singer, songwriter, recording artist, and producer, wrote for many artists, and helped bring out the best i me, musically. My late older brother Perry Covert, had a beautiful, passionate singing voice, and turned me on to a lot of the great R&B and hip-hop influences (DMX, Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Jaheim, and more). My younger brother, Micah Freeman, who I grew up with, makes me a proud sister, as he makes beautiful, meaningful, substantive, and eclectic music, stays true to his own personal style, and has become a saavy artist, beat-maker, and performer. Even my two nephews are both telented! My nephew, Brenden Covert, can rap, dance, play basketball, and is more inciteful and smarter than he may even realize. My other nephew, Tre Covert, takes after his father Perry, with his wonderful singing ability, as he sings beautiful, inspirational songs for his congregation.

So now you know what kind of family I come from, I naturally took on many different forms of art for my own artistic expression over the years. I generally enjoy anything creative, but my main art forms have been, visual arts, theater, dance, singing, songwriting, poetry, hair styling, and makeup artistry. I love using these art forms for my own enjoyment, self-expression, and self-therapy, and as powerful recovery tools. Before the onset of my symptoms, I did all these things regularly, which laid the foundation. When I was faced with mental health challenges, my art took on a different form, had a different meaning, became an expressive outlet, and a source of empowerment and healing. I have songs, artwork, dance pieces, and poetry that I have been proud to share with others, as well as pieces that I have thrown away and will never use. Each piece that I have done reflects what I was going through at that time in my life, whether it was a dark, emotional song, or an angry rap, or a vibrant dance, or a love poem, or an uplifting, spiritual ballad,......or just a few scribbles, and lines on a paper, a couple rhymes on a page, or a few hums or dance moves to make me feel better.

My art is my voice. It is my passion. It is my interpretation of life. It is my heartfelt expression of my inner thoughts and feelings. It is my story teller. It is my form of communication. It is my source of well-being. It is part of my identity and what makes me unique. It is a way that I like to help others to use their art and their passions. It is a powerful way to combat stigma and create awareness. It helps me to reflect on my experiences and remember who I am as a person. I love and appreciate the creative process. It is a limitless world of infinite possibilities!

Feel free to share the way that you use or have used the arts in your recovery...........

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