My Mental Health story begins with seeing my dad talk to his auditory hallucinations when I was 12. Before then, he would often whisper something to himself, but around the age of 12, I began noticing that he would carry on full conversations with himself without uttering a word out loud.

This was before I knew about mental illness, and I held on to some stigma surrounding Schizophrenia. Now, looking back 17 years later; I wish I could have understood and been more compassionate to my father in his varying states of mind. Since then, I’ve been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder and have experienced auditory hallucinations. I’ve been hospitalized, tried several medications, and have healed through peer group interaction. I attend weekly groups, as well as have several appointments a week to manage my symptoms.

in August of 2015, after my first hospitalization, I joined my first peer group. This group was was a transition team, for people just coming out of inpatient services. It was designed to reintegrate those who had been previously hospitalized, back into outpatient services. I met many good people during my time with this transition team, and still communicate with several of the people today.

The activities were phenomenal; bowling, free lunches, free coffee and group-talk therapy, group outings around town to museums and such. It was a fantastic journey to have while learning more about myself and mental illness in general.

I eventually, “Graduated” from these services, and was able to have access to a therapist and a prescriber at an outpatient facility. I made good connections here as well. I took place in several studies (Which I can’t mention here) and had a steady time taking care of my health, while balancing exercise, nutrition, and appointments.

I met someone there that actually changed my life. He introduced himself to me as a poet and a writer. He wowed me with his book which he was trying to have edited.

One day, he invited me to a poetry event at a local café, and I loved the energy.
I was in college at the time, and an avid protestor. Poetry was a new way to express myself.

Fast forward 4 years, and I’m an internationally published poet in hundreds of publications.
I have had 12 books published and I haven’t stopped writing since. When I was diagnosed, I literally thought that I was doomed, and that I would never achieve anything ever again, and I was absolutely incorrect.

That is my story.

Even when life throws curveballs
at you, know that there is always hope

even if you only see a sliver of it,
hiding behind the darkness of the moon,
it is there, it is waiting

It is waiting to help pick you back up
and help harness you in its embrace

Padding your weaknesses
for the next fight

Just to show you
how unexpectedly
beautiful the next
day will be

Keep faith.

Adam Levon Brown is an internationally published poet in 14 countries. He is the author of twelve poetry books. He identifies as Neurodivergent and Queer. He has had his work translated in Spanish, Albanian, Arabic, and Afrikaans. He was long-listed in the 2016 Erbacce Prize poetry competition and received a special mention in the 2018 Pangolin Prize competition.
Brown is founder, owner, and editor-in-chief of Madness Muse Press LLC, a literary publishing press dedicated to enacting social change through the power of writing.
He also volunteers as part of the social media team for the Oregon Poetry Association.