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Information about Greg "Ritallin" Frankson, spoken word artist, activist and social innovator

44 Gratitudes: #2 - Good Health

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44 Gratitudes: #2 - Good Health

Greg Frankson

The second of my gratitudes is for good health — the combination of good genes, the fortune of growing up in Canada, access to clean/nutritious food and water, a relatively peaceful geopolitical situation where I live and national universal health care.

One of the most important ways that has manifested in my life is in how I can receive treatment for mental health concerns. I’ve been a mental health advocate since 2007, yet I was unaware of my own major depressive disorder until I was diagnosed in 2011. Since then, I’ve had a lot of time to come to terms with my diagnosis and work my way through it. However, there is a long way still to go in the community to overcome stigma and to ensure mental health services are adequately funded.

The first time I truly spoke about my depression was in a poem I wrote for the Ontario Working Group for Early Psychosis Intervention (OWGPEI, now known as EPION - the Early Psychosis Intervention Ontario Network) in 2011. The poem was published in the anthology “That Not Forgotten” in 2012. I reproduce it here for you as a small sampling of gratitude, whose message also coincides with Black History Month.

The Voice Within by A. Gregory Frankson

i am Black
my stigma is in my skin
it's visible to everyone 
no matter how i look within
i live with it every day
and concealment is not a choice
i have available to help me
when i choose to raise my voice

Black is beautiful
that's how i feel about my skin
a beauty seen by everyone
no matter how i feel within
i think about it every day
and it appears i have no choice
but to have others react to it 
when with pride i raise my voice

Black is dangerous
that's how others feel about my skin
a menacing threat to everyone
because of my rage within
i fret about it every day
for it appears i have no choice 
but to generate a fear response
when i loudly raise my voice

i was born Black 
my identity in my skin
unchangeable to everyone
from without and from within
defines my treatment every day
and leaves me with no choice
except defend my rights with vigour
and that's why i raise my voice

i have depression
the stigma breaks my heart
invisible to all but me – 
the stress this truth imparts
i live with it every day
conceal this truth by choice
this poem the first i have confessed it
when i've chosen to raise my voice

i am beautiful
that's how i feel about my heart
even if it's not the first thing you see
when my inner anxieties start
i think about it every day
but only sometimes have a choice
of when or how my truth reveals itself
when i choose to raise my voice

the mentally ill are dangerous
so others say about mind and heart
a menacing threat to everyone
just wait for the rage to start
we fret about this every day
others believe there is no choice
but to focus on their own fear response
when i loudly raise my voice

we are born as we are
our identities in our hearts
unchangeable to everyone
the strength this truth imparts
defines my treatment every day
and leaves me little choice
except defend all rights with vigour
and that's why i raise my voice

both stigmas are real
in the skin, mind, soul and heart
we dispel dangerous assumptions
when understanding compassion starts
they live among us every day
i am one – so i have no choice
but to ask you to speak our truths out loud
with a single, deafening voice.

© A. Gregory Frankson, 2011. All rights reserved.

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I will post regarding each of my 44 Gratitudes once a week on Mondays. It’s important to give thanks, and to start your week off right! Please feel free to like, share and comment on the posts as they appear.