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"My name is Louis V. Hamer. I was born and raised in Columbus and am 58 years old. I hold degrees in sociology and criminal justice. I spent over 30 years in prison. I work for COVA as a peer employment specialist. I have held the position for over two years. I have written one novel and am working on a second. I have suffered with mental health issues since I was a teenager. I truly enjoyed the PhotoVoice project. I had fun and enjoyed the people I worked with. Thank you all for the opportunity."




We go through life thinking about what other people think about us … what they see when they look at us. Do they see that I have mental problems? Do they understand what it is like for me on a day to day basis?

We are all unique, different, maybe a little strange. God made me this way for a reason. It is through my illness that I am a better person because I know what it is like to be totally alone in a room full of people. It is through my suffering that I am able to help others. I know what they are facing from day to day. I am who I am and I have no control without the medications I take daily. I am me, I am useful, and I am wanted.




Have you ever been in a crowd and felt all alone? Well for me it is an everyday thing. It is not because I want it to be like this. I am not trying to be alone. It is how I feel.

I would not make it on my own in this world but I feel that I am alone in my illness. No one quite understands what I feel, what I am experiencing. I did not realize how far back this went until my 58th birthday when my sister reminded me of songs I made up as a child about being unloved, unwanted, and truly not caring about it … wanting this state for myself.

You don’t know what loneliness is until you have loved and lost, only to love again. Today my life is full of love and compassion. It is my mind that sometimes does not see it.




In life we have many turns and curves, like the meandering stream that goes on and on. The turns in my life have been many, sometimes seeming to double back on themselves or even go the wrong way. My life has been full of wrong turns, wrong ways and wrong choices. Why I can’t tell you; they say it is a chemical imbalance in my body, something missing from my DNA. All the clichés, all the talk about who I am and why. I don’t know sometimes myself who I am or the why. I just know life is far too short for me to just sit and cry, too long to be lonely and too precious to be wasted. Like that old stream I just keep on going and hope things turn out for the best.