Employment and Stress Blog With Poem at the End of Post
How Much Employment is Too Much? How Do You Know When You Reach Your Limit?
Please Scroll Past Today’s Blog if You Want To Just Read The Poem of the day!
Well, I would like to talk about our limitations with regards to employment. This is a very difficult question for me because I was raised in a family of people who worked very hard. As you may have figured from my picture above as well, in my formative years (12-15) I was in an Air Cadet Squadron and there was a strong emphasis on work ethic and conservatism. I did well in Cadets, I loved that I was rewarded for working hard, and often out-working my peers if I could. But time and stress started to hit me and when I got a little older I was influenced by someone a little more left-wing. It was a person who did believe in hard work, he just hated it.
When I was younger, I had a lot of jobs despite that I was likely a young person suffering from a mental illness. Even before I was very old I worked in my dad’s shop, I delivered papers, I got my sister to pay me to do her chores (she had a job and made good money as a waitress in a steak house). My plan was to have a huge comic book collection that I would use to finance my University Education. I was 10. Later in life I wore myself down to where I would spend most of the money I made from successive jobs on things like stereos, computer games, cars, motorcycles. I think it was a mistake. There is no way to tell how things may have worked out for me, but if I had taken the energy I put into buying those things and put them into my studies, I could have easily gotten scholarships. One of my big problems was that I didn’t know anything about scholarships or University, having no family members who had gone there, and that I was digging an early grave for myself surviving on pizza and coca-cola and getting so little sleep I turned sleeping in class to an art form.
At the age of 18 I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what to tell you. It had been a long and difficult winter, I had been fighting with my dad almost daily, he had tried a couple of times to kick me out of the house and no one seemed to care at all about me, and I was soon to have nowhere to live meaning I would lose all my property (including the comic books). Added to that, a close friend committed suicide which devastated me, and for some reason I began to think that I could develop a new way of thinking and acting that would make people like me and turn me into some kind of hero. This was the point when I started to slip away from reality. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I was working a job where I was getting screwed over for a promotion among mostly men twice my age. This is where the word ‘psychosis’ comes in handy. ‘Psychosis’ involves a loss of contact with reality. Slowly I slipped into it, and soon all kinds of crazy ideas went through my head. I ended up in the hospital and when I got out, all there was to help me to live was social services/welfare. I felt so wronged by society, I took out my anger on employers, on my family. It was a mess.
There is much more to talk about on this topic, but basically, I want to say that if I had seen the signs of stress coming, if I had been able to quit school and my job and be honest with my family about what was going on in my head and get help, there is a real likelihood I could have avoided numerous hospital stays. But I don’t want to think like that. I do want to think like my life has ended up well. I have some incredible friends and an amazing life. I just kind of wish that I can write these blogs and that someone out there can see some of these signs in themselves and be able to avoid some of the terrible things that happened to me. It really is no fun having a breakdown and ending up in the hospital. Most of the time you go through it, then recover and just get sick again, often whether you take your medication or not. I see it often, and it is incredibly sad. Some of the best advice I heard a person in this situation get was to a former employer, Bill MacPhee, who was told, “If you don’t find something to do you’re going to be in and out of the hospital the rest of your life.” Bill wrote a book, he speaks at conferences all over the place and he has a couple of companies that serve people with mental health issues. I hope you enjoy the poem below!
Edmonton, Fall 2016
The days of cold and wet have come to be
We will soon lost upon a snowy white frozen sea
Although the summer this year was a little longer
The power of the frozen north is stronger
I can’t tell you why I love this place, my home
I know that it appears I’m always alone
Up here the icy cold cleanses clean it all
And up here I haven’t got quite so far to fall
On the rainy coast out West I get sick and cough
In the desert heat of Arizona I would be lost
It comes down to being free, and what is best for me
I love this crisp cold place can’t you see
Not long ago, it’s true, I flew very far away
And to be honest, a part of me wanted to stay
But here I have those I love and my simple life
And a best friend who once could have been my wife
Maybe it is wrong of me to be afraid of letting go
But I’m happy here, and happy to let life unfold this slow
I also want to be here for my dad who soon may pass away
Because I know it shall be my turn one day
There is something special when you live somewhere a while
I feel re-energized with each kind hello and smile
I also like being able to volunteer and serve the poor
There is no other way my life could possibly mean more
And so I spend my days with those I care for near
And spend my nights writing my poetry right here
When life is lived to the fullest there is no more fear
That when I’m gone no one will shed a tear
And perhaps if what the bible says is true
When I am forever gone I will be born anew
In a place that was meant for a poet like me
Floating on a cloud in a perfect joyful sea