please note today’s poem will appear after my blog!
This is me, Leif Gregersen at 46 years old (taken today). I am living independently which is a new thing for me, at least while my mental health is good. I have been in my own apartment for two years and handle pretty much everything. Most of the time I am hard at work at my computer, but there is a symptom of mental illness that I wanted to talk about that has very little to do with being manic or experiencing depression. It is kind of a state that medications sometimes induce. It is very difficult to put a name to, but basically, you take your medications, they help with your symptoms, but in a way you feel very detached from your own existence, even your own voice and body. Most people can function very well despite experiencing this side effect, but it has its problems. For me the main problem came when I was stable and on meds for seven years, and felt as though I had made a full recovery. I started to get just a little bit mentally ill and I slacked off. I hadn’t been to see my Psychiatrist in a long time and had started getting my prescriptions from a family Doctor. I hadn’t made a full recovery. I have my doubts that anyone can fully recover from a mental illness, especially one like mine. I am diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder and anxiety, and I take pills for all of them. These illnesses occur at a cellular level. I am nowhere near any kind of doctor, but to my understanding, an illness like schizophrenia (which I have some symptoms of, hence the diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder) occurs in the nerve endings. Our nerves communicate with our brain (which is best explained as a bundle of nerves in an extremely complex and beautifully designed or created, cohesive whole) by shooting near transmitters from one nerve to the next at lightning speeds. All of our information comes to our brain this way, and might tell you where in space the fingers of your right hand are located, or if something is hot to the touch. Mental illness causes these communications to become distorted. There are a great deal of medications that can help these symptoms, but just about all of them have side effects, and many of them don’t completely remove all the symptoms. What I wanted to talk about was how I can look in a mirror or look at a picture of myself and feel a strangeness towards the person looking back at me. Then of course there is something I think everyone experiences, you see yourself and can’t believe that you are ageing. It seems like just. a whisper of time since I was six and in my first year of school, a blink and then I was in grade 12 and about to go off to face the world. Nothing seems real and this is something I hope will be addressed in meeting rooms where medications are developed.
I don’t want to sound so negative though, I actually had a phenomenal day today. I taught the first of a series of classes at the psychiatric hospital on the outskirts of Edmonton and I seemed to really connect to a lot of people in my class of around 8 or 9. And just last week I spoke to three small classes of health professionals and I really felt like I was in my element.
I apologize for not having a poem today. I am going to open my word processor and perhaps look for an older one and post it below. Ciao my dear readers. I set a new record, the other day this website got 95 views in just one day. I don’t mind at all doing this for free, I just hope you can follow what I feel is a useful guide to what I write about.
-mental illness is no person’s fault, it can be either random or inherited
-people with mental illnesses need the same love and friendship that everyone else gets
-stigma destroys lives. It isolates people, it makes them unable to find jobs or housing
-mental illness is not a death sentence
-one in five Canadians and Americans will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives. show you care and reach out to help someone who is mentally ill. buy a homeless person in distress a sandwich. Be the person who steps up to talk to someone obviously having problems without judging and just be there for them.
Lastly, for all my Alberta friends, enjoy the weather, it isn’t going to last!
Here is a poem I wrote, I apologize if it is a repeat:
I know you’re hurting but don’t think you found a better way
Before you waste your life I have some words I want to say
Each one of us, your friends fears to take a chance
And each one of us has failed at romance
Please don’t give up trying
Giving up and giving in
When it comes to love
Is almost like a sin
You have to understand love sometimes fades
The way we all see it you weren’t to blame
You put body, mind, and soul into being a friend and lover
And now that your love is no more you can’t recover
Just keep something always in your mind
You have looks and youth, there is every chance you will find
A new path to happiness once more
Though you may wait a while and find it on a distant shore
The time will come for you then you will just need to go through that open door
You will not regret starting fresh and finding someone new
Right now, those of us who care fear greatly for you
Too many young people gave their lives away
For hurt feelings that would be gone so soon, literally in days
The final choice is up to you
Only you can decide what you do
But my friend I will say anew
So many people care for you