love and friendship with mentally ill person

Poverty and the Psychiatric Patient. How Can You Stop It/Break Away From It?

Poverty and the Psychiatric Patient:

 

People with mental illnesses are often plagued by not having enough to get by, and even not taking what little they get to provide their own necessities. There are a few different aspects of this. The first and perhaps the worst part of this is when a psychiatric patient becomes homeless. This is a horrible situation to be in. In my home city of Edmonton, there are a number of ‘characters’ you see on the streets all the time, winter or summer, begging for money, sleeping in bus shelters, filthy clothes and horrible smell to them, often talking to themselves or even being aggressive with people. It is extremely sad to witness because people like this get to this situation after addictions, loss of trust of family members or worse, and loss of government disability benefits. I had some very serious situations occur in my own life when I would get very sick and my delusional thinking made me believe that in reality I owned the place I was renting and had no need to pay rent. As a result of this happening once, I had to go to the hospital, to the locked ward, and I was evicted with no way to state a defence or even be able to move my stuff or clean my apartment. Mental illness (and I like to include addictions with mental illness) can take away everything and leave the sufferer in a terrible state.

I am very grateful about the fact that I have never seen the inside of a prison, but from my understanding, prisons are full of people who should in reality not be punished, but who should be treated for mental illness and be totally forgiven for many of the crimes that got them there. There is another factor in my home city (which gets exceedingly cold in winter) where people face a winter on the streets and actually commit a crime just to get three meals a day and shelter. It costs society, any society, a great deal to put people into the criminal justice system and try them and detain them. It also costs when a person’s needs such as anti-psychotic medications are not available and they get ill. This is just one more small example of why attitudes towards mental illness should change.

After years of patience, as well as experimenting with many different medications, and many hospital visits (one as recent as this past February) I am in an incredibly fortunate position. I have an apartment that suits my needs, I have a part-time job, and I get partial benefits as a disabled person. Without regular visits to the Doctor, proper medication, and a desire to constantly improve my own abilities and well-being, none of this would have been possible. But how can others do this? I hear horror stories about the US and even worse ones about third world countries and how people have such a difficult time getting by. For a long time, perhaps permanently, people with severe psychiatric disabilities are unable to work. There is just too much going on in their heads, too much depression, paranoia, voices, you name it. I am so grateful that most of the time, when I am on my medications, I am very functional. Sometimes you just have to ignore what people say you should be doing (working and paying taxes when you are ill) and focus on doing everything you can to get better.

One of the first things a person really should do I feel is deal with any addictions. When I was a teen, I was a heavy smoker and drinker. It was a coping mechanism, drinking and smoking cigarettes was how I found some comfort in the world. Drinking stopped being fun when it took away the respect others had for me, when I knew it triggered delusional thinking and smoking quickly went out of style when prices went up to $10 a pack. I started out by going to 12-step meetings, although I want to warn people not to make things like that the main focus of your life. It is so important to make your whole life full. I used to have a routine of swimming every day, which I often still do, and often taking long walks with my Dad. When I took things out of my life like booze and cigarettes, and replaced them with healthy activities, it definitely accelerated my recovery. I wish I had also taken the time to join Toastmasters, learning to do more effective public speaking is an incredibly useful tool.

When I was experiencing poverty (I got $560 per month and $300 was for rent, $60 for bills and $200 for food with absolutely no wiggle room) I rode a bike I got second hand, I got a part-time job which was extremely difficult but let me save enough for an old computer. I started to write at this point and I read as much as I possibly could, filling my days up with preparation for the kinds of things I do now. I really feel everyone (though especially anyone who wants to write) should keep a journal. It lets you track your progress over time, and time being one of the few luxuries that recovering psychiatric patients have, it is best to always use it to extend your limits and decrease your limitations every day.

I really wish I could offer hard and fast solutions, but all I can really say is find something at your speed and try to ramp it up a little at a time. I remember a time when I had a horrible depression and got through it by reading a box full of Archie comics I had saved. Even that simple cartoon taught me a lot about humour and storytelling for children. Make the most of each day, make strong, solid friendships, with a few people-you may need to be around a friend all the time but people can’t always be there for you. When I was younger and had a lot of time to read, I would pick up a book that I knew would be entertaining (my favourite book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” being the best one) and just randomly read it until I was in more of a mindset to read heavier or even non-fiction books. Like Sylvester Stallone said in Creed, you win the title “One step at a time one punch at a time, one round at a time.” Get the steps and punches down right, because with constant, disciplined effort, even those who are horribly afflicted can make something amazing out of their lives.

Loving Someone With a Mental Health Problem

Loving someone with a mental health problem.  It can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, but very worthwhile.  Scroll down past today’s poem and photo to read my blog about just that.

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This is a photo of my dad, who is my rock and salvation.  He married into a family with mental health issues and never stopped caring, never backed away.

 

Debbie

 

When I think of the perfect summer day

I think of you and I walking in the heat

We had no car no cash for the bus

But with you by my side I felt so complete

 

There was a certain special something to you

You had such beauty, and under that a loveliness true

I recall your long, ungainly, uncovered feet

Walking on the grassy part of the street

 

You never seemed to care at all what you had

As long as you had someone to share it with

And you had so very much to offer

Walking with you was pure bliss

 

There were so many things to love about you

Like how you let your thin shirt reveal your sweet breasts

Or how you could transform yourself into a bookworm

And study hard and get perfect scores on your tests

 

But I think what made me truly love you

Was how you were able to care so very much

For the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom

To people who had been hurt by life’s harshest touch

 

In my life I’ve not done well with many women

And I thought that was how the story would end

We all make mistakes and have problems that’s human

But I picked right when I picked you as my best friend

 

Leif Gregersen

August 22, 2016

     Good day, dear readers!  I haven’t been making blog posts on a regular basis for some time, but I think I will soon correct that error.  I have been learning a bit about how to make my blog better and more popular and I am hoping that will bring a new enthusiasm to this process.  I am currently in Toronto and having a fairly good time with the place.  It is huge and so I have been a bit reluctant to stray far from my sister’s house, partly for monetary reasons, and partly for mental health reasons.  It gets so hot here, I don’t know how people can stand it.

In a couple of weeks, I am going back to my job as a presenter for the Schizophrenia Society and I think it will be a very rewarding month.  I am going to speak at a medical school and our annual fundraiser which should be pretty awesome.  While I was here in Toronto I spoke at a mental health conference (on a panel) and I have to say it feels good to get some recognition going.  A lot of people really seem to respect that I have written books about my illness and all that.  I can only see things getting better career-wise, but still, I have to remember to do my daily maintenance on myself.  Above all, I need my medication, and then I have to work on the simple things.  Am I eating in a healthy manner, am I exercising, am I isolating myself?  There are a lot of things that I have to keep focused on.  Fortunately, as time goes on it gets easier.  Sometimes I am so amazed that it has been 15 years since I was in the hospital.  I have to admit to being a bit worried about what moving out on my own (in the week after I get back) is going to be like, but there will be support there and there is more support from the mental health clinic I go to.

Aside from that dear readers, I hope you all are well.  Remember as I said in my poem, we are all human, we all make mistakes, be kind and forgive yourself, rebuild and move on when that happens.  Thanks for all the support!