• Leah Freeman

How I use the arts in my own recovery

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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