Leif Gregersen

Mental Health: Is Holding On and Waiting Enough?

When have you done too much waiting for your mental health to get better?  When is the time to throw in the towel and stop holding on?  I hope you never give in or give up.

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        I am so fascinated by these little creatures in so many ways.  Took this on the front steps of my sister’s house in Toronto this past summer.

Please scroll past today’s poem for a very important blog post

Younger Days

 

 I was feeling trapped by loneliness and pain

I never thought life would get any good again

As a young man, I was scared of growing old

I didn’t like the stories about old age my elders told

 

And now I’ve made it all the way to middle age

Trying to make my way with words upon a page

And I have to tell you things really aren’t that bad

I have all the toys and friends to keep me from being sad

 

In fact, when I look back now upon my youth

I kind of wish someone had told me the honest truth

That there may be some pretty hard times when you are young

But if you dig in and hold on life can get so very fun

 

When I think of all the joy my little niece has given me

I can’t deny her arrival set my soul free

I love that little girl more than anything

I can’t describe the joy a young child can bring

 

When she was growing up I was born all over again

And I didn’t ever have to lie, be fake, or pretend

I could just be the Uncle who loved her so

I hope that these are things you already know

 

Now I have so many friends I truly love

True friendships are a gift from up above

So stand fast and don’t worry about being a child

I promise you that life will get so wonderful and wild

 

 

Leif Gregersen

October 15, 2016

   Have you ever sat and watched a spider spin their web?  It is a mind-numbingly tedious process.  But in order to eat and to survive, they must do it.  Spiders have to start at one side of where they want their trap to be, then climb back and forth, back and forth, spinning their tiny web enough times for the most amazing geometric structure, then spin the inner circles that connect those lines.  If someone comes along and wipes out their work, they start right over at the beginning.  I hope that this is the way you see overcoming your mental illness or other difficulties in your life.  Never, never, never, never give up.

     I don’t know how much I can handle sharing with you, my dear readers, but at a time I was very messed up and didn’t understand what was happening.  It amazes me that I got through all of that and now am a successful writer with many friends, a past of many wonderful trips and experiences and a genuinely happy life.  Twenty-six years ago I was a far ways from it and maybe if I can share a little of my story with you it might help you to help yourself or your loved ones from going through the same thing.  First and foremost, I had no understanding of mental illness, and it crept up on me.  The illness manifested itself while I was in school and I did a lot of irrational things that got me in trouble.  I was taken to a secure ward in a mental hospital which was absolutely the worst experience of my life.  It felt as though my brains were scrambled, but still there were a lot of people at the hospital who really were trying hard to help me.  The thing was, because no one I knew had ever talked about mental illness, my opinion was that if I told these people about the thoughts and problems I was having they would simply lock me up longer.  The miracle of it was that in short order medications were found that had me back in excellent shape in a surprisingly short time.

Of course, I didn’t continue to take treatment.  Over the years, I was in and out of hospitals a lot, and I came to a point where I just wanted the pain to end.  I took a serious overdose of acetaminophen and came very near to ending my life.  When I saw the pain and difficulties I caused my family, I decided I would never attempt suicide again.  I had to have some kind of hope in my life though.  It was excruciatingly difficult, but I kept trying to find a doctor and medications that worked for me and I forced myself to get a job and at least try and make my own way in the world.  I found a lot of help going to church and some 12-step meetings, though for years it almost felt like my whole life was just about going through the motions.

One of the things I needed to do perhaps the most was to get my life on a schedule, even if I was occasionally sleeping all day or staying up all night.  My method of doing this was to start going to the swimming pool.  By the grace of God, the city of Edmonton started a plan where people who were disabled or impoverished could get a free pass to use city facilities.  It was very hard at first, but I forced myself to go and forced myself to fit into the groups that went there at the same time as me and before I knew it, I had friends that went there and worked there and lifeguards were helping me train and it was fantastic overall.  This exertion made me sleep better, made me feel better, and improved my life in so many ways.  In a lot of ways I thought I would never participate in sports again after knee injuries as a youth, but now I was getting very fit and it was helping nearly every part of my life.

Being in shape led me to be able to work more, and eventually just by the sheer fact that I got along with people and was helpful, I was given a job working security on movie sets in Edmonton.  This led to other work as a stagehand for concerts and life just kept on improving.  As time went past, I started to use my free time to work on my writing, and basically just took things one step at a time until I had built a body of work that I was proud of.  Meanwhile, my niece was born and my purpose in life soon became all about spending time with her and trying to be the best Uncle I could be.  None of this would have ever happened if when I was younger I decided life sucked now and would suck forever and stopped trying.  If you have a goal or a dream, sit down and make a plan.  Keep a success journal to record yourself moving towards that goal each and every day.  It can be something as simple as taking a walk to a community college and looking at courses that you could take.  It could be as simple as just taking a walk.  But please, never, never, never, never, never give up!  Life can take you so many amazing places and I honestly believe that our Creator will never give you more than you can handle.  Joy and happiness to all of you!

Leif Gregersen

The Birds Are Returning and There Is a Song In My Heart

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                      This Beautiful Little Flier Came To Help Me Enjoy My Breakfast This Morning

please scroll past today’s poems (Haiku) to see today’s blog

 

Spring Haiku

By: Leif Gregersen

 

Brilliant fields of green

Summer trips to mountain peaks

Finally it is Spring

 

Time to love and smile

Linger in the park a while

All too short a time

 

Cycle all day long

Stop to contemplate a pond

Beauty like nowhere

 

My heart sings at night

Seeing the Northern Lights

Sky carry me home

 

Little bits of words

Gentle longing to be heard

Mourn the loves we lost

  

One thing understood

This land is perfect and good

Love those who share it

Today’s Blog Post:

Hello to all my loyal followers.  It has been a fair time since I have posted anything.  I haven’t felt much in the mood for writing poetry, I have been very busy.  At the moment I am settling into a new job as the Editor of two magazines that deal with mental illness, called SZ and Anchor.  The job itself isn’t too difficult, but I have been pushing myself to learn all I can about mental health issues doing research online, taking a course that my new employer has put together about recovering from an illness.  Here and there I have also been doing some presentations for the Schizophrenia Society.  Just the other day I had to go give a talk to about 40 police recruits and it was actually a wonderful experience.

I can’t say enough about all the things that have been happening and how great they are.  I have always wanted to travel to the Maritimes, which is the East Coast of Canada, and my boss has made a commitment to send me to a conference in Halifax, all expenses paid.  I am also going to be travelling to Toronto in the summer for two weeks and it looks like it will be an exciting year.  Whenever I travel, I am reminded of my trip to Hawaii.  I stayed in a traveller’s Hostel then, but it was a fairly nice one.  They had air conditioning, cooking facilities and they were very close to Waikiki Beach.  There was no feeling in the world like not being able to sleep and having the option to go take a dip in the ocean to clear my head and tire myself out a bit.  Toronto and Halifax will be different, but likely no less exciting.

One thing I was concerned about was the stress involved with my work and such things as a short story manuscript I have submitted in hopes of getting it published.  The amazing thing is that not only do I have a great boss who suffers from a mental illness as well, but I really like doing what I do (being an editor).  It isn’t a massive salary, but it will suffice for my needs and there is a chance that I can get some other work giving presentations and holding poetry or creative writing workshops to supplement my income.  All I can say about this is to repeat what I am learning in the course my new boss has laid out, called “The Bright Future Program” by Bill MacPhee, is that you have to be persistent, you have to find something you love, you have to work towards getting opportunities and be able to ask people for help, you need a good work ethic and there is almost no end to what you can accomplish, whether you have an addiction or mental health issue or you are just not satisfied with your life.

Well, I will leave off there.  There may be some of you out there who want more information about this program, and some who either suffer from a mental health issue or have a family member who does, I would encourage you to write to me.  There is a good chance I will have a place in one of our magazines to tell your story, we do pay contributors, and I am always willing to help people with mental health issues in any way I can.  Email me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and stay happy, stay healthy!

Leif Gregersen