Leah Prussia grew up in a primarily German-Norwegian family, but as an adult, she embraced her Anishinaabe heritage, as well. Leah holds a master’s degree in social work and works as a college instructor and clinical social worker. She has struggled with depression for much of her life. When she finally found the right combination of therapy, medication, and spiritual practice, she says, “it was like seeing color for the first time.”
“When I’m not healthy, how can I be of help and be peaceful with you if I’ve got turmoil going on here?”
“What does peace mean to me? Personally, I think we’ve got to start from within. We’ve got to take a look at our own houses, our own spiritual vessels, and be able to rejoice in who we are, and walk gently and genuinely. Part of my work is to help people come to that conclusion through therapy.
We’re all hurting souls. With mental illness, it’s often a very intimate, self-consuming, internal process. When people start to feel better, they start to come outside of themselves and look around. Mental illness is a lonely place. So when I work with people, I help them peek around, to kind of come out—like the turtle. Is it safe? Maybe it isn’t so bad, so I’ll stick my head out a little bit further. It starts here. It starts with each one of us.”
Leah Prussia Short Audio Clip
Leah Prussia Full Audio
- Which parts of your identity are most important to you?
- Do you find technology to be a distraction in your life? Have you ever “detoxed”? What did you notice?
- Is there a connection between how we treat the Earth and how we treat each other?
- If we are wounded souls wandering around as Prussia suggests, what things can you do now to heal pieces of your wounded soul?
- What self-care measures do you take?
- What self-care pieces do you neglect? What keeps you from addressing these things?
- What do you hope or pray for?
- What practices help you turn inward? (meditation, prayer, etc)
- Have you or a loved one struggled with mental illness? (this is sensitive not sure how to word it but think we need some questions about it)
- Something about the stigma of struggling with mental health
- Who are you when you’re walking “gently and genuinely”?
- How do you stay balanced? Or, if you don’t, what things put you off balance?
2 thoughts on “Leah Prussia”
First. Thank you for your powerful, uplifting and inspiring presentation of “A Peace of my Mind: American Stories” and for encouraging deeper listening to each other. My business card says, “I Question the System,” and my previous card said, “When we share our stories we help each other heal.”
Leah Prussia’s recovery from depression through therapy, medication and spiritual practice resonated with me. I went to your website to learn more and listened to the interviews.
I am a person with a bipolar disorder. I met the system of psychiatry at age 17. I was nearly 50-years-old before I began disclosing my diagnosis in public. Job discrimination based on my diagnosis pushed me forward. My story of recovery titled “In Silence I Speak: My Journey through Madness,” is available on Amazon.
My early years were rooted in “middle class” values, the importance of church, family, home and formal education. My diagnosis is easily hidden. Many voices of wellness and recovery are hidden or lost because people in the “privileged group” don’t speak. I learned there are two groups. Most people in the “privileged group” don’t consider those who live in locked psychiatric wards as their brothers and sisters. Those who receive assistance from publically funded programs (Medicaid, public health, behavioral health, subsidized housing, food stamps, Social Security disability payments, and those who live on the streets) can’t easily hide and their struggles are often public. People with wealth can remain unseen and buy the accommodations that people in poverty have to fight for.
When I began speaking publically I believed telling my story would help narrow the gap between “us” and “them.” The gap between privilege and poverty. The gap between public and private. I believe I have made a difference but my story is like a drop of water in a mighty river.
Thank you for your presence at Adams State University,
Mary Van Pelt
Mary, thanks for sharing your thoughts here. I love your business card, and I’m grateful we crossed paths. Thanks for the good work that you do.