father

The Days That Lit The Fires I Was Forged In

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Good morning dear readers!  Well, it is an interesting time for me today.  As anyone who has read much of my work knows, I have a bit of an obsession for the military.  I have always found war and armies, and especially World War Two very fascinating.  As a young kid I remember once being very afraid of global nuclear war and war movies scared me, but as I got older I changed in that regard.  I remember being around 11 or so and our local mall had a military display up and my brother seemed really knowledgeable about land mines and other means of harming human life.  This gave me such a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that I think I had nightmares for a while, I know I remember the day vividly though it was 30 plus years ago.  But when I was 12 my parents decided to put me into Air Cadets and I simply loved it.  I don’t like to say I served or anything, though I did do a lot of unpaid work, because I really enjoyed being who I was in Air Cadets, it had little to do with giving something to your country as it was about making you into something better.  I got so much out of cadets it was almost as thought they served me.  I was a top achiever and something of a leader as I made it up to the rank of Sergeant.  At the age of 15 I was influenced a lot by some left wingers and ended up leaving cadets, but at 18 I had come full circle once more and tried to join the military.  For some reason I always had it in the back of my mind that I would still join up, still run off somewhere and sign my life away.  I even had a dream with some of my old cadet friends in it just a couple of days ago where I had it in mind that I was going to go ‘back in’ if I can say that.  But now, two things have happened.  First, I had the honor of having some of my writing published in a magazine made for the Canadian Military, about a forgotten battle that took place during the Korean War, and second, I have found out that the military will not take a person over age 42.  Being 43 I can now rest easy that I will sit out the next major conflict in peace.  This seems pretty trivial, but a lot of people I was in cadets with who were in the military or even just the cadets were often calculating the time until they could no longer be called up.  Another thing that I should mention is that I have some friends who did go into the military and had a completely negative experience.  One guy that is no longer a friend got into trouble and spent 2 years in a military prison.  Another friend was telling me about the fact that a great deal of people in the military suffer from mental illness, be it depression or PTSD or other things.  So in a small way I am kind of glad that even if I wanted to I would no longer be called up.

I wish I could write more about mental illness in the military, but I really don’t know enough about the topic.  As far as my own mental health goes, which is really all I can honestly report on in this blog or otherwise, I am in kind of a poor state right now.  The main thing is that I have had a bad cold and have been laying around the house more than usual and not getting any type of writing done.  For me, sleeping too much and not getting up to do things can be very negative, even when I am taking the proper dose of my medications and taking them on time.  I found myself thinking about life in general very negatively.  I am having a bit of a problem because I don’t think I will be able to work my stage hand job anymore, although I have had some offers of things that could replace the lost income.  I am taking this Wellness Recovery Action Plan course which may lead to some paid work, and I have been giving talks for the Schizophrenia Society which pays a little and sometimes includes book sales and I am also going to be teaching a writing class in June which will bring in a few bucks.  I am really going to miss my stage hand job though, but the fact is I just don’t think I should do it at all anymore.  It is very taxing physically, it can be dangerous, and it often causes me a lot of stress not only from the pace we have to work at but also with the way the schedule goes.  I feel really fortunate that I have the option to scale this back while I try to fill in the blanks with other things.  All I can really say to anyone who doesn’t want to find themselves in this situation is to get as much training and education as you can in something you know you can do for a long time, and save as much money as you can.  You never really know when an illness or a situation can put you out of work.  One of my problems right now is that I tend to spend all the money I get in a given month.  This has been getting better lately as I have been keeping myself busy but I know that when a dry patch comes along I will be suffering again, trying to sell things I don’t need and going into shopaholic withdrawl.  The good thing is that if you do have this problem and can force yourself to shop less for what you don’t need and make the most out of the things you have and things that are free (going for walks, using the library, getting involved in your community by volunteering) it only takes a short time before you can re-program yourself to change your habits.  Anyhow, if I can be of any help via email, please let me know, as always, I can be reached at viking3082000@yahoo.com  scroll down past the below photo for today’s poem.

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My Father, My Dad

 

 

My father, my father

Whose name I now bear

Who I once loved so very much

As I sat beside your recliner

In my own small chair

You were my best friend for so many years

 

My father, my dad

Playing chess with you

Eating your crackers and cheese

Wearing that shirt that was just like one of yours

Feeling such love as you read to us kids

 

My dad

I kept going to your barber

And wearing clothes that you liked

Long after it was no longer cool

To have hair or clothes like that at school

 

My dad, my father

So much to me in my later years

More than a parent and friend

After mom passed

Why did you drink so much before

Scream and fight with me in my teen years so much?

 

My dad

It seemed when I was a boy not a day went past

Without me ending up in tears

Feeling unloved and uncared for

It seemed to surprise you

That I went insane

And was put into an institution for a long time

 

My father

When I left that horrible place

You had no room for me

I had nowhere to go

Still you called in the police

Had me arrested for trespassing

In the only home I had ever known

 

So much anger

So much love

So much craziness

Sometimes I dream about you

Kick at the air

In real life I’m kicking the wall

One day you will get old all at once

Pass on

And I will once again shed real tears for you

And for the father that I never really knew

My father, my father, my dad

 

 

May 24, 2015

Exercise and Chronic Tiredness in the Psychiatric Patient

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Well, today was simply a great day.  I had a few things to do, one of them being driving a friend for groceries, another was to take some photographs of a Ukranian Easter presentation.  Then I got to do one of my favorite things (no matter how much it may seem to aggravate me) which was spend time with my dad.

The old guy (Leif the first) can be a lot of fun to be around.  Some of my warmest memories of childhood have to do with things he taught me to do in his business like silk screening and engraving.  All that aside though, I wanted to say a few things on the topic of chronic tiredness in the psychiatric patient.  I will start with a bit of a horror story.

Going on 15 years ago now I was living in a small apartment and following my own schedule.  It was very hard to deal with the loneliness though it was back in the heyday of chat rooms which I participated in quite a bit.  I also had a movie rental place nearby which had a deal on two movies for 99c for a week and I ended up watching tons of them, it was really kind of fun.  The problem came in when I slowly started to drift away from any type of treatment for my illness.  I stopped seeing my Psychiatrist after missing a number of appointments, and I made the very poor decision that a high dose of depakene, the mood stabilizer I was taking, was the source of my low energy levels and so I felt it would be okay if I just dropped the dose down.  Nothing could have been worse of a mistake.

Slowly, without my awareness, I started to slip back into psychosis.  I started once again to believe that I was secretly some kind of rich person, that this woman I once knew who was very wealthy was trying to rescue me from the life I had made for myself.  In short I slowly became insane all over again.  And not even from stopping medication, just from lowering it.  The suffering that mistake brought on was unbelievable.  I spent the next six months locked in a Psychiatric facility after being arrested and taken to the mental hospital.  I was treated as a non-compliant patient because they thought I was no longer taking any medications and not only did the Doctor experiment on me, he had told my parents I would be in the hospital for two years.  All because I felt tired and wanted to try and improve my situation by lowering a medication.

All that aside though, being tired or out of energy all the time is a serious thing, and perhaps if I had been continuing to see my Doctor I may have found a solution.  New medications come out all the time.  I recently learned that there is a medication called Topomax that can do the job of Depekane and not leave a person feeling run down or make them crave food.  I tried going on it a few weeks ago and I really didn’t like the effects it had on me and so I stopped it, but it remains an option for me along with other newer drugs that are, as my pharmacist says, are more ‘clean’ drugs. Meaning they have less side effects

Just a few words now since the title promised about exercise.  I may have talked about this before, but when I got out of that long hospital stay my dad used to drive over to my group home and take me to the beautiful Edmonton river valley where we would walk for a couple of miles each day.  He was very kind and accommodating, he would let me rest when I needed it and didn’t mind that I might have to stop to have a cigarette (thank goodness I quit smoking 11 years ago!).  Just a little light exercise and fresh air now and then really made the difference.  Later on after I went back to security work I started going to the gym and the pool.  I was lucky that my swim and gym pass was subsidized, but I would recommend to anyone that they go to these types of facilities even if they have to pay.  Often a YMCA will give greatly subsidized passes to low income people and this is a great opportunity.

One of the big things about going to the pool after getting in reasonable shape with my Dad was that I started to make some very good friends at the pool who were outside of the mental health system but were understanding of my illness.  Another good thing about it was that I was able to get myself into great shape and was able to take on jobs that were increasingly better paying.  Then, by sheer luck, I stumbled into my present job as a stage hand which is possibly the best job a person in my situation could ask for.  And it wouldn’t have done me any good if I wasn’t in good shape from regular swimming and weights.

Another physical thing I have tried is Yoga.  I have never been to a studio or worked directly with an instructor, I simply put on a video I have in my living room and work through it on a mat I bought.  It is very renewing and relaxing, very refreshing through and through.  Physical health, a psychologist friend once told me, is so much a part of who we are, it is so very important.  What I can remember vividly was working out with weights on a regular basis and simply living in a ‘zone’ of feeling really good from head to toe.

So, basically gentle readers, I just wanted to try and talk a bit about tiredness and exercise.  I didn’t offer any real solutions to tiredness I don’t think but I warned of the dangers of lowering medications.  I guess I would also like to warn against allowing yourself to be addicted to caffeine.  I myself drink a little too much coffee and have been warned that it may contribute to my difficulty in sleeping, but I met a guy at work who was addicted to energy drinks and actually had so many of them that he became allergic to caffeine.  I think one of the best things a person on medications with low energy can do is something in the second part of this blog entry, just try and get out for a walk.  Eating healthy is a big element as well, but as per usual, anyone who reads this blog can feel free to email me at: viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will try to help all I can if I can.  Take care!

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My Dad and My Life With Bipolar

DSCF3251My biggest hero, my dear old Dad in a shot I took for a magazine article I wrote about him.

Today’s Blog:

Well Dear Readers, many new things have occurred and many old things have come to mind.  Perhaps the biggest thing right now is that I have completed a further draft of my new Young Adult Novel, “Boy Soldier”.  It is pushing close to 100 computer pages now and is really starting to take shape.  Anyone interested I think there would be no problem sending a computer file of the book to them, I am always looking for Beta readers.

An odd thing, perhaps not a bad thing has happened to me in the past while, I have become interested once more in comic books and graphic novels, more the latter than the former.  It all began when my good friend Richard Van Camp gave me a GI Joe graphic Novel and I grudgingly read it.  It took me a while to compete it, but when I did, I found that it was actually well written and had a lot of interesting plot points, some good suspense and so on.  So I have been ‘collecting’ graphic novels now ever since.  The first time I saw one, I was appalled that my friend had spent the $15 or whatever the price was to get such a thing, it seemed like a rip-off.  When I encounter memories like this, I almost always think of an event in my life that illustrates how everything we take in is prejudiced by our previous thoughts.  The incident in question is from when I worked in a small donut shop in Edmonton for a  boss that I am still friends with, now 27 years later.  I decided I was going to see what the fuss was about and try a Bagel.  I got one from the case, tried to eat it and threw half of it away thinking to myself, “this is the worst tasting donut I have ever eaten.”  Of course, now that I know how bagels are supposed to taste, I love them and eat them at every opportunity.  But my preconceived notions back then of what a bagel ‘should’ be ruined my first experience.

I want to say a few words about my Dad today.  He is such a wonderful man, I can always call him up and talk to him.  He has really saved my arse a few times.  Once I was stuck out way west of Edmonton at a sawmill I had been sent to and the company that took us out there left us stranded by some mistake and the only person who could call anyone was me, and my Dad was the person.  Despite his advancing age, he climbed out of bed and drove some 30 miles to come and get us.  That is just one small, tiny thing he did among a vast sea of great expressions of his love for us kids.  I feel so blessed that he did things like take a whole month off work one year when my brother, sister and I were kids and him and my mom drove us to California and all points in between.  Not to mention taking another month to bring my brother and I to Denmark for the trip of a lifetime.  I hope no one thinks less of me that I feel this way about my Dad at the ripe age of 43, but he really is my hero.  One of the amazing things about him is that he is so very literate.  He probably reads a book each day despite that he only ever got to grade 6 and even that in another language than English.  When I send him my stories he gets right to the point, pulls no punches about what is wrong with it and is almost always dead on.  Sometimes we get mad at each other, but I can just about say that despite any hard feelings over my past he is pretty much my best friend these days.  It scares me sometimes that he is in his late 70’s and won’t be around forever.  Many of you may know that I lost my mother some time ago and I am just now after more than 6 years of grief coming to terms with it.  Basically though all I wanted to say is if you have a parent or two parents and they are getting on in years, pick up the phone, make a time to visit them and give them a hug like you never want to let them go.

All that aside, as far as mental health goes for today, I think I went through a pretty serious manic phase on Friday.  I had stayed up all night reading a friend’s new book and had pumped myself full of coffee.  I stayed up until it was time to go to the discussion panel that marked the beginning of my new job, and when I got home I had a great deal of trouble even just sitting still, much less sleeping after a long day.  (I almost forgot-I also went over to visit my Dad and have supper with him after all that).  My solution was to take some pills for a genuine back pain and add that with a melatonin pill and my ‘take as needed’ tranquilizer pill.  I must have been riding high because all that didn’t even make me sleep close to 8 hours.  I have been talking about and considering going onto a newer pill for my Bipolar Disorder, but either way I have to get in to see my Doctor about these goings on.  I really can’t take any chances at getting mentally ill again.  For those of you who aren’t too familiar with my own particular case of Bipolar, I gravitate towards the depressive end of the spectrum, but on rare occasions I get very high or ‘manic’ and become so delusional and erratic that I destroy just about my whole life.  I think I am fairly safe right now, but I don’t want to keep relying on tranquilizer pills to bring me down from a high mood.  They leave me sluggish and unable to work quite often and I am sure they are addictive.  Lately I was using them mostly as a sleep aid on occasion but the other day I really needed the pill to bring me down from that high.  As far as not drinking coffee, I have to take that into serious consideration.  I have heard this new medication I want to try leaves a person with more energy, which would be so awesome.  The one I am on kind of dopes a person up.  Somehow though, while on the medication I managed to score 150 on an IQ test.  I wonder if I could get a higher score unimpaired by the drug (depekane).

Being in recovery from a mental illness is a strange thing.  It is something that you have to literally take years to go through.  Right at this moment the one thing that seems to be helping me the most is a support group I have found within the Schizophrenia Society.  I have been diagnosed as a schizophrenic before, but my current diagnosis is Bipolar.  Still, it feels so good to go to these groups and talk about medications and difficulties and open up.  I am already really looking forward to the upcoming group meeting this Tuesday.  Tomorrow I am meeting a friend of my brothers who is writing a book about himself.  I had known him for a long time as a very nice guy who was the type to do anything for his friends who I trusted as completely as any of my family members.  I had a cursory look at his book and it really blew me away, he talked in it about topics I had no clue he had gone through like child abuse and a reputation as a fighter and on and on.  I even suspect he may have had some mental health issues but that remains to be seen.  In the long and short of it though I basically haven’t seen anything of him in 20 years and I am incredibly glad our creator put him back in my life.

Well, that’s about all the writing I have time for.  I suppose I could keep rambling, but would anyone have the time to read it?  Once again I want to put the call out for feedback.  What you like, what you don’t like, what you might like me to talk about.  Right now I am wavering between writing about mental health and writing about writing, but I can talk about cars (I really used to love to talk about cars!) or love or poetry or anything really, just hit the ‘reply to’ button and type away.  All the best to you Dear Readers!

DSCF5638        Here is my Dad and his granddaughter, my beautiful niece at my Dad’s computer.

Love of My Life Poem and Blog For Today

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Here is a photo I took just to remind myself of simpler times.

Well, this is the life of a writer.  Get a little ahead, learn a few things, put some real effort into something, and really feel good about yourself, and then a week later wonder why you don’t phone up the local mental hospital to see if they have a bed for you.  Well, to be honest it isn’t that bad.  I find it hard sometimes, especially at this time of the year where there is little work in the Stage Hand business (my day job) and not much to do.  I have been writing quite a bit and I sort of feel like I am growing as a writer, but still there are difficult times now and then.  Today I worked on a poem in Iambic Pentameter, and I don’t know if I completely screwed it up or not.  I also did a bit of investing on some marketing for my book, “Inching Back to Sane” which I hope is going to pay off, though there is no way really to tell.  I think the only thing I can count on is that I have to look at the long term, how things go after years.  I always had the idea of getting rich quick, with little effort.  Now though, I am starting to see that perhaps yes, one day I will have more money than I need, but I may be 78 at the time and on my last lung.  I’m hoping it won’t be that bad, but I don’t think I will be able to live the life of leisure I once thought would be available to me.  I have had times when I have had sums of money, even made a lot and still had a lot coming in, but it ran through my fingers like sand.  Cars, motorcycles, satellite dishes, CB radios, Satellite radio for my car, video games.  The list didn’t seem to end.  Lately I have been reading “Don Quixote” on the recommendation of my cousin’s wife, and I have never gotten so much enjoyment out of something that cost me nothing.  I still have to blow all kinds of cash on all kinds of crap, but for one or two hours a day I am lost in this imaginary world of the Knight of the Rueful figure.  The novel is absolutely brilliant, and I plan to read more extremely long books when I am done it.  I have my eye on an Ayn Rand novel that I want to get through next, I really enjoy her work, though some of my activist friends might take exception to that.  Anyhow, once again, today’s poem is below.  If you enjoy it at all, please let me know, I really enjoy getting feedback from my readers.

 

IMG_4367                                      Here is the skyline of Edmonton, my beautiful home city

 

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS

 

 

I want to learn of all the things you knew

Because I still don’t think that it was true

That you could love a simple guy like me

I want to see what inside me you see

 

You can’t just go and say that I was yours

And never let me pass through all those doors

The ones your father built for you with cash

Before he knew we kept our own small stash

 

Control for him was what it was all about

It never was our love that was in doubt

I may not have been rich like other guys

But I worked hard, loved you and had blue eyes

 

I worked as hard as any guy you knew

There was no question if my love was true

Together we could have made it alone

We could have had a happy little home

 

Then things went bad and I ran away

I did come back but had no words to say

Why I left someone beautiful as you

Whose smile was such an awesome thing to view

 

The truth was that I scared even myself

And life was like the inner ring of hell

I was insane, no other way to say

Why I left you on that last awful day

 

And now I spend each day and night alone

Money can buy a house but not a home

How I dreamed of us having our own son

Loving you and our child us three as one

 

But we make our choices take our chances

That is the way that human romance is

I wish you all the best life has to give

With you or not I will learn to live on

 

 

Leif Gregersen