Since suffering a panic attack while in college, Faison Covington, 66, has made it her mission to help other people with anxiety disorders.
Covington is a licensed therapist who has a private practice specializing in children, adolescents and adults struggling with agoraphobia and other phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It has become my mission,” said Covington, who lives in SouthPark. “I am propelled by my own anger and frustration at the 13 years of my life that were taken away from me.”
Covington was 30 when she finally was diagnosed and treated for her own anxiety.
“I understand the helplessness and hopelessness that gets to (others with anxiety),” she said.
Covington graduated from what was then Queens College, now Queens University of Charlotte, in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. She spent the next 10 years working at Chaange, a treatment program for severe anxiety she helped found with one of her professors who was instrumental in treating her own anxiety.
She married but divorced when she started graduate school in 1990, graduating from the University of South Carolina in 1991 with a master’s degree in social work.
“I cannot over-emphasize the degree of fire in my belly to work on this issue,” Covington said. “I’m a true believer in my ability to fix it.”
Another calling Covington has discovered – this one more recently – is her inner artist. It is a talent and passion that has taken her by surprise because she showed no affinity for art in her first 60 years.
“I never once picked up an art brush or had an art lesson,” Covington says. “I had no idea that I would ever do anything connected to art. I always loved to look at it, but I had never done it myself.”
That all changed when Covington recently got an iPhone and iPad.
“I have always been anti-technology,” Covington said. “I spent most of my career avoiding the computer.”
But David Hockney, an artist she admires, began making art with his iPad, and Covington was intrigued. She watched instructional videos on YouTube and began experimenting.
“It took about a year to figure it all out,” Covington said. “I bought a $5 stylus at Walgreens and I was good to go.”
Covington imports photos and incorporates them into many of her creations, and she uses different brush strokes and techniques available with the tap of a finger.
“The color palette is infinite,” Covington said, “and I don’t have to mix the colors.”
She said she likes the fact there is no mess. She also appreciates that the iPad is back-lit, so she doesn’t have to find a studio with good lighting; she can work anywhere.
“If I’m at the dentist or waiting for my car to be repaired, I can pull out a painting and work on it,” she said. “And if you mess up, you can fix it that very minute.”
Covington said she is trying to carve out time to pursue her art in addition to her therapy practice, taking Mondays and Wednesday mornings off from seeing patients.
She has a booth of her artwork at Black Lion and sells it on canvases, art board, paper and phone covers.
When Covington was suffering from severe anxiety, she spent many years “suffering while looking good on the outside,” she said.
Now that she is well, helping others and creating unique art using the technology she eschewed for so long, she says, she is truly content.