delusions

A Little About Dreaming and Sleep Aids

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Well, above is another bee photo I took, this one in my kitchen.  I really like to take photos of insects, but bees especially not only because they are beautiful to me but also because bees are an extremely important part of our ecosystem.

In the news for me this week some may know I had my camera stolen.  Thanks to the fact that I have been working hard and saving I was able to replace it and with some luck I might also get some help in doing so.  I have a casual part-time job as a photographer for the City of Edmonton so it was pretty necessary that I get another one right away.  I was going to get another Nikon D3200 as I was very happy with my last one, but I found out they have been discontinued and so I spent a little extra and got a Nikon D3300 which so far seems to be a very nice camera.

As far as my mental health goes, I don’t know how much of this I should share, but I seem to have come across something that is really helping me.  I recently visited Toronto and found out that my sister’s husband takes a herbal medicine called Skullcap when he gets too far into an ‘up’ or ‘manic’ mood, and I decided to try it myself.  I have also been trying something that I got at a health food store called ‘True Calm” which has valerian and Taurine (one of the ingredients of energy drinks) among other herbal stuff in it and I occasionally take them when I need to sleep.  I have found that they calm me down, get me to sleep and seem (when I don’t take them more than one night in a row) to give me a full night’s sleep rather than just a short sleep which often leaves me feeling tired the next day.  I am very much against sleeping pills and tranquilizers, but lately I have been taking something called ‘Rivotril’ or ‘Clonazepam’ which has calmed me down but I worry it will be addictive, so I try to use it very sparingly.  It is so hard for me to sleep sometimes though, so for now I am going to keep taking it once or twice a week, alternating days with trying to sleep with no help and using the skullcap and true calm and occasionally also using melatonin.  I think the biggest difference with this new stuff I am taking is that it seems to allow me to have dreams that are much less disturbing.  I could write volumes of theories on the subconscious mind and things like delusions and dreaming, but they wouldn’t mean much because I am not qualified to speak on such matters.  I guess I will kind of sum up what I think in a few sentences, but please don’t look to me as any kind of an expert.  Basically my theory goes something like this:  I personally feel it is impossible to have more thoughts than we have had input into our brains, but many people, including myself have things like disturbing dreams and delusional thinking that seems to come from somewhere.  What I feel all of this is, is something that is taken from our subconscious mind, that huge massive 2/3 of the iceberg that we don’t see, the part that is hidden underwater.  These thoughts surface when our grip on our conscious mind is weak, but they are things we have experienced and learned but have forgotten for a number of reasons, sometimes our minds have made them unavailable to our conscious mind because they are disturbing.  Anyhow, I don’t want to get into this any further, but I would love it if anyone who regularly reads this blog could comment and start a discussion with me.  If anyone out there wanted to talk and needed a peer supporter to email, feel free to contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com  Hope you all had a good Canadian Thanksgiving/US Columbus Day and don’t forget to scroll down to read today’s poem!

 

Growing Up

 

I was so naïve and stupid

Thinking I could beat all the odds

I just simply had to try it,

Hope I had favor from the gambling gods

 

When I look at what they turned me into

Those games of luck and skill

It means so very much something saved me

Despite my self-destructive will

 

One wouldn’t think a simple game of poker

Or the pull of the arm of a slot machine

Could destroy someone so completely

Make them into something lowly and mean

 

How old could I have been

Those all too many years ago

When that demon crawled under my skin

And possessed my very soul

 

I started with scratching tickets

Even with money that wasn’t mine

I found with each bet my beating heart would quicken

As I strayed further from the straight and narrow line

 

I went through pain, withdrawal, depression

At times I wished I could totally give in

But soon with help my resolve was newly freshened

And I learned a weakness isn’t in fact a sin

 

With a lot of work and help I recovered

Managed to set gambling aside

It scares me now the lies I told

In the name of manly pride

 

Love never seemed to find me

Back when I was pissing my life away

The need for risk and danger blinded me

And pushed family and friends away

 

So many terrible addictions

I had to overcome and more

I found precious golden freedom

When faith opened a totally new door

 

Leif Gregersen

saneHello Dear Readers!  Well, I have to apologize, I don’t have any photos to run so I thought I would just put in a picture of my book.  Things have been going really well with the book, I was on TV the other day in Edmonton promoting it.  It has won an honorable mention in a big contest and right at the moment I am in Toronto trying to promote the book.

The trip really has been wonderful, though the plane ride had its bumps.  The guy sitting next to me seemed to want to try and push me over as far as I could go and I was near the bathrooms so just about anyone, including the flight attendants had to slide past me rubbing themselves on my arm as they went.  Ewwww!

But actually the plane ride was only just over 3 hours which was a cake walk for me since I took another one of my annual trips to New Hazelton (see the blog entry ‘Tommy and Red’) and ended up on the bus or waiting in a bus depot for a total of 22 hours.  Traveling is so awesome though, now that I am at my sister’s place in Toronto I feel great.  I slept most of yesterday but I do feel pretty good.  Tonight we went to a place called The Keg Steakhouse and though the prices were higher than any place I’ve ever eaten, I had a pretty good time.  I ended up ordering an 8 ounce top sirloin and baked potato, and both were beautiful.

As far as my mental health goes, I feel okay.  I don’t know if it really is bad for mental health to sleep a lot, I certainly know that it is a symptom of nearly every major disorder, including schizophrenia and depression.  I often feel I need more than 10 hours a day, especially if I take anything to help me to sleep.

For some reason I find myself saddened by a young man in Edmonton.  Everyone in my neighborhood seems to know him, he has this whole gothic look to him, he has flowing curly blond hair and very masculine features.  He wears a long black trench coat even in the summer and can be seen wandering around talking to himself.  I used to see him a lot at the farmer’s market, walking around, quoting laws and all kinds of stuff.  I think back to some of my sicker days living in Vancouver I would turn my head and yell and then resume walking as if I hadn’t made any sound.  I have run into a lot of people who say things that they themselves don’t want to do but they somehow hope by saying  it out loud someone else will do it, and I suppose there are those who think people are listening to them with a hidden microphone or possibly that aliens are listening to them. What bothers me about this guy in the trench coat is that I saw him the other day sleeping on a park bench and I really hope he isn’t homeless.  I know so little about him even though he is technically a neighbor and I think a lot about how people shun those with mental illness and even get angry or violent towards them.  What can one person do though?  It really sucks.

Anyhow, I think that is all I really feel like sharing today.  I will try and take some photos of around Toronto, it really is a beautiful city with all kinds of trees, lots of natural wildlife like black squirrels and birds and so many new varieties of flowers that I have never seen.  There is also a lot of amazing architecture here, many many high rises and of course the CN Tower and the twin curving towers of city hall.  Below is today’s poem dear readers, hope you enjoy it!

 

Reach Out and Touch The World

 

Strike forth and do not let your heart or mind grow still
your hopes and dreams are what your soul wills
cross the world because all of it is your home
love all the souls on earth and they won’t let you be alone

I left my home when I was still part boy part man
left all that I loved, gave up all my plans
but somehow this path led me to the one
with her, life is now joy and full of love and fun

I try now to move the world with words
and I find so much joy in sunshine and trees and birds
and a dear friend is showing me the way
to love these things and still have it all one day

there is a world out there that longs and waits for you
perhaps even a love so beautiful and true
but it will not find you by breaking down your door
it might just be found in crashing waves by the seashore

we all need to do this, leave home now and then
never worry that you won’t find your way back again
if you don’t go you won’t ever know if there was a better way
or if that perfect love you haven’t found yet will come to you some day

I sit now writing poems of my love
and thank the god that he is our creator up above
because he gave all of us the precious gift of you
you, dear reader, with a heart full of love and peace so true

no, I don’t have to know your name
because the truth is we are all the same
we want to care for and love those that are near
and live our lives without any fear

love and the wish for peace is something we all share
despite the different burdens that everyone bears
work hard, stay humble, experience the happiness
and know that if you are not lonely you are richly blessed

Leif Gregersen
August 2, 2015

Transitions: How Can We Better Deal With Them?

 IMG_7699THIS IS A PHOTO FROM SACRED HEART CHURCH OF THE FIRST PEOPLES, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WHERE I TRY TO ATTEND MASS EVERY SUNDAY

Many things in life can be a transition.  When we finish high school and either get going with a job or a relationship or College, we go through the transition of leaving our parents’ home and starting out on our own.  When we meet someone and either get married or just take the step of moving in with them, we go through a transition that can shake the foundation of our relationship or cement it into something that will last a lifetime.  The transitions I most want to talk about today is what a person with a mental illness goes through in different situations.

The first transition may be the most difficult one.  You are young, you are healthy, maybe you are happy, maybe you aren’t.  And then all of a sudden you hear a voice in your head that tells you something disturbing or you start to have delusions that you are something you are not.  Delusions can be anything.  I don’t always feel comfortable talking about mine, but I will share some of them here.  One delusion I had once was that I was soon to become King of England.  This seems absolutely preposterous, but in small increments with what was going on in my head it made sense.  First off I was deluded into thinking that I had some kind of great wealth.  I owned companies, land, I had held offices that were paid jobs that I simply managed by telling people that I was in a meeting or at a conference.  Somehow all of these things came together to make me feel I was wealthy for some reason.  Then there was the book.  My Dad has a book from Denmark that was researched about our family.  It traces my blood lines back all the way to the twelfth century, it looks amazing, the cover is hand-carved wood and most of it is in Danish.  My mentally ill mind put these things together and then hallucinated news reports that the Queen of England was finally stepping down and that the ‘book’ told of Kings and Queens in my past and there you have it.  Incredibly far from the truth, but very real nonetheless.  I ended up going to the hospital willingly after reports from my Doctor, my parents, and I am sure others that I had gone completely out of my mind.  The transition of going into the hospital was a difficult one.  I had to get on medication and give it time to work.  It took months because my Doctor labelled me as ‘difficult to treat’.  Basically, I got sick of him, requested a different Doctor and called him incompetent.  Let me warn you that it can be extremely problematic to poke a hole in a Doctor’s ego.

So the next transition that I speak of is the one of going into the hospital.  I had such a hard time existing in that place.  I was a heavy smoker and we were only allowed to smoke during the day.  At night there was no way to access the smoking room.  This seemed cruel and unusual, but I guess it is even worse now because the hospital has become a non-smoking institution.  Smoking is a big thing for psychiatric patients, our bodies react to cigarette smoke in similar ways that we react to medications.  It stabilizes our thoughts.  I have strong memories of getting up in that hospital ward and having horrible hallucinatory delusions that got a little better with each smoke I had.  First off the TV was talking to me and was very grim, then after a smoke it got a little better and so on.  I suppose this was a transition from relative insanity to relative stability.  But the really difficult transition was in going from my comfortable little apartment where I felt comfortable and could have coffee or cigarettes any time I wanted to being under extremely strict rules.  Another thing that was hard to adjust to was to having to live not just according to a written set of rules, but to the rules of each individual staff member while my a$%hole Doctor had told them to put me into isolation at any time they felt like it.  I would get so angry in there, scream and kick at the door and do things like pee in the bottle they left in there for me and then try and throw the waste under the door so the person watching me would be standing in it.  It was the worst.  But deep down inside I kept telling myself that one day this would end, one day things would get better.  I thank heaven that the emotional scars of those experiences weren’t so bad that they torment me with bad memories and dreams each day as some of my first hospital experiences did.

The transition I really want to talk about is perhaps the most important one.  It is the transition of leaving the protection of the hospital, going back out on your own or at least to a place outside the hospital.  In the past I have moved into places that were obviously there to take advantage of mental patients and the tiny incomes they get from disability benefits.  I was in a house for three months where the rules were ridiculous, the landlady picked favorites and treated everyone else like shit, not even giving them enough food to survive on and screamed in your face any time she felt like it.  Although I knew it would most likely lead to poor mental health, I tried to move into a private apartment after that one.  The cycle would have started out with me getting off a regular schedule, isolating myself, and then literally wanting to go back to the hospital just to ease the loneliness and depression.  But instead I was very lucky and I ended up in the group home I live in now.  It is run by a company called E4C, or “Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation” and is such a great place to live.  I am in a house I share with just two roommates, and it is a 5 bedroom house and I live in the master bedroom.  There is a weight set in the basement, we have free digital cable TV, there is  a park nearby and the neighbors around us are awesome and we all take turns cooking suppers and the food is actually really good.  I have clashes sometimes with the staff or other people living here, but they are soon settled.  There is something I really have to watch in myself that was spoken about very well not only in a 12-step group I once attended, but also talked about in a sermon by a TV preacher Dr. Charles Stanley, one of the better ones of that group of preachers.  It is called H.A.L.T.  basically, you have to be very careful of your actions, and if you want to avoid making poor decisions, watch out for when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.  I find it is usually under circumstances like these when I get a bit angry at my roommates or staff members.  Anyhow, I think I will leave you my dear readers at that.  I think the last thing I want to say is that going through the transition of leaving the hospital can be a rough one, but if you can find a place where you feel you belong, where you feel a sense of community and self-worth, either by volunteering or by working with people you like doing things you like, and if you faithfully take your medications, you will get through and hopefully not ever feel so bad that you either want to go back in the hospital or do something drastic.  I think I have boiled it down to a few key things: medications-on time.  Exercise-a half hour a day so you feel better and sleep better.  Meals-healthy and don’t miss any, and also try to eat healthy snacks like fruit if you must snack in between, and try to get eight hours or even a little more sleep than that each day.  Best wishes and email any time. viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSC00318THIS PHOTO IS FROM LAST SUMMER AT THE ZOO IN EDMONTON.  THOUGH I LOVE TO PHOTOGRAPH ANIMALS, IT OFTEN MAKES ME SAD TO SEE THEM IN CAPTIVITY