money

The Trap of Mental Illness and Disability Benefits: Do You Want To Risk It?

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               A View of Downtown Edmonton From Outside My New Apartment

     Hi, I wanted to talk a little about disability benefits today.  This is a senstive topic for many reasons.  One of the big ones, as I know a good deal of my readers are from the United States, is that people on Welfare or even Social Security Benefits are looked down upon.  The tax burden on Americans is great, plus the cost of health care and this ends up worsening the problem from both ends.  People with mental illnesses are faced with costs that can’t be managed for medications, hospital treatment, doctors, housing and on and on.  The way the American system seems to be set up to work is that each person is responsible for themselves, and when someone has a severe mental illness, this can be just about impossible.  I can recall being in the US and simply knowing a guy who applied for foodstamps and then discussing it with an older gentleman and he literally stopped talking to me after we had travelled together for 3 days.  It seemed a harsh judgement and pretty ignorant, but this is the way many people down there think and there are valid reasons for this attitude.  I feel very fortunate to live in Canada and to have a disability benefit program plus health care and on top of that I get heavily subsidized housing and free fitness and leisure access.  It almost seems like paradise, but it definitely has its drawbacks.  One of them is that if I do go out and get a job, I have to limit my income to less than a minimum wage job or lose my benefits completely.  With the cost of psychiatric medications this would be a staggering blow.  At the present point I’m at I don’t honestly know if I could hold down a full-time job for any length of time, but I also don’t want to live the rest of my life with no improvements in my standard of living.

Some 27 years ago I found myself in a homeless shelter, mentally ill and penniless due to prolonged hospital admissions.  There were very few options left for me and so I made an application to join the military.  This would have provided me health benefits, an income, and a purpose in my life.  My application process was interrupted by a fight with my dad that sent me to the shelter, and I decided that since I was working towards something that I could do something I thought was unthinkable-I would apply for welfare benefits.  I will never forget the words of the social worker when I applied, as she looked up from the forms she was filling out for me, “Don’t get caught in the trap.”  I think she meant more along the lines of the trap of drug abuse or alcoholism and circle of poverty.  But whatever she meant, due to my mental illness, I was never able to join the military, and I later failed a concerted attempt to complete commercial pilot school, and was unable to hold down a full-time job.  For me the trap wasn’t in getting money for nothing, it was in that every time I tried to do something, either I was told I was ineligible as a person with a mental illness, or that I would try and do a job set before me and the incredible pressure of working up to acceptable standards was simply too much.  I was caught in a trap, and in some ways I still am.

Things are improving in my life though, I have found a part-time job that I am good at and that I enjoy.  I give talks to students about mental illness for the Schizophrenia Society, and I have written a number of books.  The books give me little income, but together I manage to put food on the table.  One thing I often think about is that despite that numerous times I went over the brink into madness, I now have a good life with stable housing and income and something to do, but I have a lot of regret that I have no life partner.  This is another trap that people with mental illnesses have to be aware of, the isolation factor, and it has a lot to do with receiving benefits.  If you don’t have to force yourself to get up and get out and look for work, you may just sit inside and watch TV and never care if you have friends or a significant other, and years will fly past and a person will have nothing but regrets.  One of the reasons that people end up isolated like this besides recieving benefits is that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness.  One thing with me is that I used to try and hide the fact that I have a diagnosed illness, but now I am very forward about it.  So many people, when you stop trying to hide things, will tell you they suffer, they have a family member or close friend that suffers.

Anyhow, a lot of that is beside the point I was trying to make.  How do you avoid the trap that going on benefits causes?  You may not be able to, but you can make your life as full as possible.  I always like to say that the first thing you need to do with a mentally ill person is get them proper treatment, proper medications.  Then you need to take some therapy that will help you understand yourself.  After that, a life skills course or Wellness Recovery Action Plan course can help a great deal.  From there, even if it just means taking one course, get some school under your belt.  While you are doing this, find ways to keep fit and healthy, in what you do with your body and what you put in it.  Quit smoking if you smoke.  Then, try and find work, even part-time.  Spend as little as possible, and save, and keep taking your medications, work on your mental health on an ongoing basis, and before you know it, you may forget you ever were sick.  It isn’t an easy process, and it isn’t a simple one, but it is one that is worthwhile.  I like to keep telling people that you need to have goals and direction, specific ones.  “I want a bachelor’s degree in six years.” would be an excellent one.  “I want to be stabilized and back working in two years, earning enough to drive a car and rent my own apartment.” is another good one.  Once you have goals, you have a direction to move in, and if you are having a hard time, you can end up feeling so much better about yourself from just working a little bit each day towards your goal.  Take care Dear Readers!

Sunny Summer Days are on Their Way

DSC_0262Something that is so healing for my mental trials is to go to parks and take pictures of birds with my dad.  Here in Edmonton in the summer we have so many wonderful places, and everything from Bald Eagles to Blue Jays to photograph.

Hello Dear Readers!  What a great picture I found to introduce my blog today.  I have such love for my dad, he is a wonderful guy.  We didn’t always get along that great, there are times when he was grumpy and even times when things he did seemed mean, but the fact is that he had been there and supported and loved me for many years.  I would encourage anyone who is struggling with family relationships or mental health issues or both to take the time to show your family they matter and that you care.  They are the people in this world we know better than any others and are most likely to be by our side when problems come up.

Aside from all that, I wanted to talk a bit today about a growing movement that I am a part of.  It is a thing called the “Wellness Recovery Action Plan” or WRAP.  It is a course, which is used here in Alberta to help people overcome mental health and addictions issues and I think it can be extremely beneficial to anyone who takes it.  There is something that goes along with the course that you can download to a smartphone called “The Wrap App” where you go through a lot of the things the course covers.  Basically you write down all the things you love to do, then you write a list of all the things that stress you out.  Then you go on to make more lists, and the ‘wrap app’ helps you organize these lists.  I recommend taking the course if you can because when you do, and when you make your lists, you become sensitive to things like what stresses you out, what are some indications that you are not as well as you normally are.  You can put down something like: when I get stressed, I tend to lay in bed all day and try and sleep away my problems.  So then, with the help of your wrap plan, you notice you are sleeping a lot and then you look on your list of things you like to do and maybe you go swimming or for a bike ride or watch a movie or play a video game.  It is a great way to get to know yourself, and there are more advanced topics such as who you want to be in charge when you get sick, who you don’t want to be in charge and what hospital you want to go to.  Not all of us will be well forever, medications have this annoying habit of stopping being effective, and other things can go on.  Having a plan puts you so much further ahead.

One thing I am very happy about is that I was recently approved to take the WRAP facilitator’s course, which means I take a 5 day intensive course and then I will be able to be a class leader, after an apprenticeship of sorts.  It really excites me that I can help others to overcome their problems and to use my own illness to help others.  I think that it will also be really cool not only with my current magazine writing about mental health, but also for my future desires to write more non-fiction books about overcoming bipolar and subjects like that.

When I write this blog, I try to think of my readers, and it worries me often that a lot of people who read my work don’t live in such an ideal place as I do (health insurance-wise).  Just to run down things a bit for you, I get a small disability pension that covers my rent and food and other bills, then I get health care provided free of charge, including dental and my medication is paid for.  I can’t even imagine what people go through in places where mental health treatment is hard to come by and medication and treatment (not to mention rent and food) are equally difficult to come by.  For a lot of years I was struggling with some of these issues before I was put on my disability benefits and I was always looking for a job.  I remember being so saddened because a neighbor and friend of mine was running a gas station and wanted me to start work for him and the same day my dad came by and took one look at me and said he was taking me to the hospital.  I wish there were easy answers.  When it comes down to money, I often like to tell people about a short book I once read that really helped me get a handle on my finances, it was called “The Richest Man in Babylon.”  This 100-or-so page book talks about enhancing your skills and setting a budget and putting away no less than 10% of your earnings, and it even gets into simple wisdom about where to invest your money when you have built up a surplus.  One of the things that bothers me as well though is that people who read this blog and people who can read the book are a relatively small, highly intelligent section of the population.  So I would encourage those who read this who have managed to deal with their problems to try and share their knowledge with other psychiatric survivors and help them find a small taste of freedom and self-respect.

Well, dear readers, that is about it for today.  I hope I have given some wisdom to help carry you through.  Of course the greatest wisdom really is that time heals all wounds.  I was near desperation, in a fog of depression and constantly wishing I had money or resources when I was younger and over time I learned a lot of coping strategies and also I had opportunities come to me to earn, learn and live that have put me in a good position to lead a happy life.  I wish all of you a happy life and encourage you to drop me a line any time.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

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Hello Dear Readers!  Well, if anyone is interested, I am now participating in two blogs.  The other one is on a site called ‘Goodreads’ and I am maintaining that one so I can blog about books, especially books that were influential in my life.  Today I wrote some stuff in it about “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, which I thought was pretty good.  I want to keep this blog going though, I kind of want to make it about mental health and other issues.

So, I don’t know exactly who all of my readers are.  If any of you get a chance, pick up a copy of one of my books from the ‘purchase books’ page, in kindle eBook or paperback and let me know what you think of my longer works.  Two of my books, “Inching Back To Sane” and “Through The Withering Storm” are memoirs about my lived experiences with mental illness, and I feel have a lot to say to people about how to deal with and manage and all things to do with mental health.  I would love it if more people would come forward and tell me what they think, possibly these sorts of things could make me a better writer.

So today I wanted to talk about a subject a lot of people, especially those who feel they are ‘sane’ don’t like much to talk about-I want to talk about the mental hospital.  I’m going to attach a video I made of Alberta Hospital where I spent a lot of time just below this and then after I will continue writing.

 

So, this was the place I spent 6 months in back in the year 2001.  I only remember the year because it was the same year the twin towers were hit by planes.  All that seems so surreal to me now because I was just getting over being very sick at the time and was actually still in the hospital.

The mental hospital can be a very unpleasant and frightening place.  I think because of extended worrying and poor treatment there I developed a digestive condition that I still deal with 14 years later.  I wonder though if the place had anything to do with it.  There were people that made my life difficult, including my Doctor and most of the nursing staff and a lot of the patients, but I wonder if that would have been an issue if I hadn’t been so sick.

One of the main reasons I had to be there had to do with my own mistake.  I had been on a dosage of 1000mg of a certain pill and I thought it was doping me up too much and cut it in half.  Just that small change was enough to make me very sick.  The fact is though, that the staff there do a lot to try and accommodate people in the hospital.  There was one staff member who would often take me out for walks, there was people there simply to talk to and play cards with (staff) but all I seemed to be able to do was worry.  It really scared me that after that hospital visit I would be unable to have any kind of relationship with a female, that I would never travel, that a lot of my life was over.  What is a bit scary is that those things may have happened if my Doctor had gotten his way and kept me for 2 years as he had wanted.  But my medication was brought back to the old level, I got a lot better and even quit smoking.  I can also recall a fun day when we went bowling and I got the top score.  And when I got out, life improved.  I used a tactic to do this that I have worked into my life for a very long time.  The way it goes is, no matter what, no matter how bad things get, you should have goals to reach for and try to accomplish at least one of them each day.  Now I have traveled, I am back in touch with a lifelong female friend, I have a great job and my writing is becoming known all over North America.  I started out with very little, but I pushed myself and got a job as a security guard, saved up my money and bought a nice computer, eventually a used car and by luck got an even better job for way more pay working as a security guard on movie sets.  Who made all this happen?  I couldn’t tell you, but I did have to keep working harder, doing more, taking all of my medications and keeping up with my responsibilities in my home and at work.  Will this work for anyone?  I couldn’t say really, I just know that my life is very blessed.

But, in the middle of that ramble, I will leave things so I will have more to write next time.  Thanks so much for reading this far, scroll down just a little further for today’s poem, and keep checking back because I brought my camera with me and Toronto is a beautiful city to photograph.  All the best!

 

Throughout My Days I Need You

My dear friends I dedicate this poem to you
Because I have come to learn it is true
Without your devotion and love I never could write

Though sometimes words do come through
Words that are fresh, sweet and new
Like now deep inside the night

But I often think of dear friends I have lost
And the terrible cost
Of wanting to seem too tough to care

I pray that once more our paths will cross
And that I never again casually toss
Away the beautiful love that we shared

As I sit and remember fondly the times
When true friendship was mine
I wish those I hurt back in my life

But it can be hard when in the past one was unkind
To change all those minds
Of those you turned away because of deep down strife

Always, forever hold onto those who are dear
Don’t be left shedding a tear
Because the worst thing is to be alone

Keep your loves and your family near
Be always ready to lend an ear
That is the only way to truly have a home

And when you have people to care for
You’ll find you don’t need much more
I’ve learned as I write out my words

And always be ready to walk out the door
Life will indeed give you much more
And feel the joy of knowing your soul’s longing was heard

Leif Gregersen

As The Days Go By Take Time to Watch The Skies

DSCF1046                This is a photo of my good friend James who is working his very last day ever on Friday the 15th of May, 2015!!!!!

 

Hello Readers and fans.  Well, it has been an interesting week to say the least.  I apologize that I haven’t been producing as many blog posts as I could have, there has been so much for me to get done.  Some of the things I have been doing may be of benefit to you my readers, one of them is that I have been attending a class called “WRAP” or Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and I am learning a lot of new things about mental health and recovery from it.  I would encourage everyone who can get access to a WRAP class to take the 10 week course.  When you complete it, there is a possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator for pay as a peer counselor after you take another advanced course for those of you who have mental health issues and want to earn some extra money.

All the monetary stuff aside though, I wanted to share some of what I have been learning with my readers.  Yesterday in the class, we watched a very interesting Ted Talk from a woman named I believe McGonigal through YouTube about stress that I would recommend you look into.  It talked of a study that was done where people were surveyed as to whether or not they felt stress was bad for them and man of them thought stress and anxiety and all that is very bad, but some felt stress could be a good thing.  The ones that thought it was bad had a seriously skewed mortality rate and the ones that thought it was good a much lower one.  These are oversimplified of course.   Actually, I think I will put a link to the video right here:

 

 

watch it and see about stress for yourself, the video is a great tool for people who want to get out and do more, feel better about themselves and challenge themselves.

Aside from that, I thought I would share a bit about my week.  As some of you know, I am a writer and I have written and published about 8 or 9 books and I have also been writing for magazines and publishing poetry as well as newspaper articles.  All my hard work seems to be paying off because I have been offered a job as a writing teacher for a community writing class.  I will start work in June and give three classes, get paid a small amount and hopefully feel very pleased about myself as a result.  Add that to the possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator and the presentations I have been giving for the Schizophrenia Society and I will soon be doing well for myself.  The most important thing I feel is to keep busy, and keep my creative energies flowing.  I have been discovering new ways of doing this from simply having a car to get me around to taking correspondence courses, volunteering, studying Spanish, this blog and other things.  The amazing thing is that if you do something you like, you will get good at it.  Then, if you get good at something eventually you will get paid for it except in extreme exceptions.  Then, before you know it you have a full and rewarding life.

An awesome example of this is a book I have just finished reading by a disabled Edmonton Journalist named Cam Tait.  He wrote a book called “Disabled?  Hell No, I’m a Sit-Down Comedian!” and it was very inspiring and emotional.  Cam has Cerebral Palsy and had to go through extensive treatments to function from a very early age and has broken incredible boundaries to become a very well loved and well known writer.  His Edmonton Sun Newspaper author page is here:  http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cam-tait

I was so inspired by the book I want to help promote the sale of it and will be putting up links to the amazon page when I find the time.  I have spoken to Cam, he graciously tweeted about a book signing I had at a local independent bookstore (Audrey’s Books-Edmonton’s last independent book store) and he is planning to do a write up in the Edmonton Sun about me.

Anyhow, I don’t seem to really be able to say much without getting side tracked today.  I am taking the WRAP class, I am getting set up to teach a writing class, I am taking writing.  It all seems to indicate that I am on the manic side of my illness and need to slow down.  Anyhow, maybe instead of getting carried away by the wave of energy, I can possibly surf it to the beach instead.  All I want to really say though, is that anyone who reads this who is having a struggle finding meaning in life or has been in and out of hospitals, things really can get better.  You definitely can get to a point where life is fun again, medication doesn’t have to take everything away from you.  Sometimes it comes down to having a plan, writing down your thoughts each day, writing out what sets you off and laying out how you want to deal with your ‘triggers’ as they call them in my new class.  I am really looking forward to taking more of these classes, and the advanced class.  For a good part of my life I wanted to be a Psychologist and I think this is about as close as I’m going to get.  Anyhow, I want to end things there.  No poem for today, but I have one I wrote that is fairly good and really new that I will put in with the next entry, most likely on Sunday.  Hope you enjoy the photos, I encourage you to follow the links to the video and to learn more about Cam Tait.  Both will be of benefit to you, and as always I welcome you to email me directly, viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSC_0100this is a shot of the Brownlee building (left) and the Stovell Block (right) in downtown Edmonton.  I have friends who live or have lived in the Stovell Block and no one can really avoid the Brownlee Building.  Luckily I have managed to avoid the Remand Centre (far left) which is now being used as a Homeless Shelter.

How To Succeed in Life When You Have Bipolar

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Well, today’s title suggests a tall order.  In fact, I really don’t know how to succeed in life despite my Bipolar because I haven’t sat down and written out what I think I need to do to succeed in life.  Maybe that could be a good topic to consider-goals.  I really like to quote a study that was once undertaken where a graduating group was asked if they had clear, concise, written goals for themselves and when the same people were checked years later, the three percent or so that had written goals had made more money than the entire rest of the graduating class.  What this tells me is that writing has power.

When I was younger, one of my goals was to write books and I had written down these goals.  I had other goals I didn’t write down like learn 3 or four languages, get my pilot’s license and become a military officer.  None of these came true, but my goal of writing-that really went a long way.  One of the reasons I think this is was because I worked at it a tiny bit each day for a very long time.  I regret to say that for a period of time I did nothing but chat in various chat rooms and pursue relationships with people I would never meet, but I kept returning to my writing goal knowing that if I failed at it I would be losing something very important in my life and it came true.  One of the reasons for that could be the power of keeping  a journal.  One day soon I want to head down to the basement and read some of the journals I wrote when I was just starting out as a writer and see how my thinking has progressed.  I do know that now as it has been a long time since I drank alcohol, a long time since I gambled, and a very long time since I was without proper medications that my thoughts have cleared up a great deal.  Years ago I had some thoughts in my head that I had a very hard time letting go of, everything from resentments to imagined relationships with females, and I think for these reasons they have gotten a lot better.  I also would like to thank the power of meditation for clearing up my thinking.  I haven’t done it in a while, but meditation is a powerful tool for freeing the mind from negative thinking.  You can actually train yourself to push away negative thoughts and embrace positive ones through meditation.

One of my favorite forms of meditation is simply snorkeling at the swimming pool.  I start out my workout by sitting in the hot tub to get my joints moving and then strap on flippers and mask and snorkel and propel myself through the water, enjoying the silence and freedom from the outside world.  It is so relaxing and renewing.

Another huge part of being a success, aside from sitting down and getting a clear idea of what you want to accomplish to succeed, is to become a part of a community.  I have lived in the neighborhood I now live in for 14 years and it is simply wonderful.  It took some time, but now when I walk down the street I know my neighbors and am always glad to stop to talk with them.  It started out with me volunteering at the local community newspaper, something that looks great on a resume and it grew so that now I have many friends living near me and many opportunities as a result of knowing these people.  The editor of the paper, Paula, edits my short stories and other writing for free and gave me a great deal on this website.  My neighbor Gary down the street is an accomplished writer himself and is a great guy to go to poetry readings and other events with.  There is also a community in the people that live in the group home I’m in which is perhaps the most important one in my life right now.  There are around 20 people who I can call at any time, who I can talk to each day, borrow from or lend to.  There is also staff, but there is something very important about having other people around who have mental illnesses because I need to feel comfortable as a person with a mental illness and when people around you are going through the same thing, you can feel so much more free to be yourself.

I often wonder about some of the people from the US who read this, especially the ones that suffer from Bipolar Disorder or other mental illnesses, not to mention some of the people from far off countries.  I had a person read my blog from a place called Qutar the other day and I wonder about what it must be like to live in a more judgemental type of atmosphere and have a child who suffers or be someone who suffers.  As usual, I am always more than ready to talk to anyone who wants help in understanding what they may be going through, viking3082000@yahoo.com

So when you boil it all down, what does it take?  First, you need a plan, you need to brainstorm what success is to you.  It can be owning a motorbike or a car, it can be having a job or having a better job.  Details count.  Then you need to find people who will be your friend and support you in your quest to accomplish these things.  Many people out there don’t want to see you succeed but quite often if you talk with them and perhaps even impart some of these principles to them they will not only support you, they will learn how to succeed themselves.  Then, once you have got your list, you need to make realistic and achievable steps to get to these goals.  If you want to know more languages, start with a free course from the library.  If you want to make more more money, read the book I talked about “The Richest Man in Babylon” and take the advice of carefully putting away 10-30% of your income after all of your expenses and learn how to make more money.  If you want to simply have more friends and a better social life, seek out organizations in your community where you can meet people your age.  It can be a political party, it can be a writer’s group, it can be a mental health organization.  If you want to write, commit to filling a page each day with your journal entries and writing about each movie you see, each book you read.  I am a firm believer in the library, I think a lot of things can be found there like book clubs, books on making more money in your chosen profession, books you can read to help you write better.  A lot of larger libraries will also have a writer in residence you can talk to about your writing goals totally free.  So you have to know when you will consider yourself a success, you need to take small steps, take advantage of resources out there, and make friends that will support your efforts.  I have taken these steps and life has gotten incredibly good for me over time.  Bipolar?  Take your medications, see your Doctor, work on your life issues with counselors and psychologists and in group therapy and then just baby step yourself back up.  If you are interested in seeing the choices I made and the things I went through, order a copy of “Through The Withering Storm” or “Inching Back to Sane” from the ‘books’ section of this website and let me know how things go.  All the best to all my readers!

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How To Become Wealthy, According to Richard S. Clason

DSCF3211They call the west “Big Sky Country” and there is nothing finer than heading out down a back road and just exploring in the summer time.  The trees, the clouds.  So breathtaking

Good day dear readers.  Most of you will be reading this on Sunday.  If you are like my roommate, you refrain from work or making money on Sunday.  I think this is actually a pretty good idea, but with me being from good old Protestant Work Ethic stock, I will make money at any time there is some to be made.  As an example, today after supper I used my geek skills to fix a friend’s configuration on his computer for $20 then went to volunteer for a community event which was actually really cool and made a lot of new connections and added $60 to my bottom line by selling some of my books.  I do try to attend church when I can but I honestly don’t think that God will fault me if I don’t.  I think that really church is a great place to go, and can greatly enrich one’s life, but when it comes down to saying if you would go to heaven or not whether you went to church or not, I beg to differ.  I see church as a place to go to be forgiven for your sins (the sacrament of confession) and to celebrate a mass, but it is more there I feel to have a sense of community among believers and receive guidance and direction from your pastor or priest.  I even feel that people who don’t believe in God, provided they don’t persecute people who do, will go to heaven as long as they aren’t total unrepentant sinners.  One of the few types of people I feel won’t go to heaven would be psychopathic personalities because I think that when they do harmful or powermongering things and their conscience doesn’t kick in and tell them it is wrong, that is what Jesus meant when he talked about sinning against the holy spirit, the only unforgivable sin Jesus ever mentioned.

But, I did sort of promise I would talk about work and finance today so I will forgo that.  What I wanted to focus on was a little book recommended to me by one of the more successful people I know, though certainly not the most successful.  The most successful person I know is a young man named Jeff Berwick who I am friends with and went to high school with who not only once had a net worth of close to a billion dollars, but also was one of the founders of bitcoin among many other projects.  What the ‘lesser successful’ person told me was that he had been recommended to read a book while we were in school which was called “The Richest Man in Babylon” by Richard S. Clason.  I read this book after he recommended it, and it was simply incredible.  Through stories of traders and merchants and money lenders of old, and even stories of slavery and crime, Richard S. Clason, in not much more than 100 pages, teaches people how to master their finances.  He uses no special recommendations that don’t go beyond simple wisdom.  His first axiom is that a person should always save at least 10% of what they earn, that this should be put aside and not touched, but sometimes invested.  Then he goes through many things, not the least of which is how to get advice.  If you want to learn about bricks, don’t ask your neighbor who put up a wall last year, go and find a bricklayer who has spent his life mastering the trade.  If you want to make some money buying diamonds, don’t trust your local Amway salesman, go to a jeweler and seek information from someone who will truly know what they are talking about.  Then he goes on to show the wisdom of doing everything you can to own your own home because what you would have paid in rent goes to a place you can be proud to live in, a yard your children can play in and a place for your wife to have a garden, and as the years pass and you pay off your mortgage, you will have a sizable asset to lean on.  Next, though in the times the stories are set, there is no such thing as insurance or mortgages, he talks about how important it is to have insurance to protect your family.  A key idea he sets down as well is that you should take the job you have and learn all you can about it, consult with others who do the same work, and put all you can into being a hard worker and a productive employee, and this will also help guide you down the path to better finances.

I know this is all seemingly off topic for people who have mental health issues, but it is something I feel is important to everyone.  I feel so very blessed to live in Canada because at 43 I already am able to draw on my old age pension benefits under a disability program, which I would have a hard time getting along without, and there are also programs to help people who are disabled to save money that are so incredibly generous to disabled people it is almost a crime that I don’t take advantage of it.  What I would like to recommend to those who have very little or no income due to a disability, is to first of all maintain a good relationship with your Doctor/Psychiatrist and then look for ways you can earn a little extra and set up a system of rewards so that you feel good about doing it even though it may be 10 times more difficult for you than others who don’t have a mental illness.  I used to reward myself now and then with a special tin of pipe tobacco or a book, but there are many things that can be set up.  I do strongly recommend, even though I have books that give me a small profit, that everyone who wants to master their finances go out and get a copy of “The Richest Man in Babylon”.  The book has meant so much to me over the years that I would estimate I read it close to 50 times.  Once you have read that, the next recommendation I would like to give is to try and get an audiobook series from your local library, even if you have to arrange to borrow it as an inter-library loan or heaven forbid, purchase it instead of downloading it off the Internet, of Roger Dawson’s, “Secrets of Power Negotiating”.  This audiobook series will literally change the way you look at buying and selling everything.  If you arm yourself with these two books and make it your mission to understand them and put them into practice, you will be well on your way to living a comfortable life.  If you are presently unable to work, get these books, read them, and then start small.  Buy some furniture out of the newspaper and set up a booth at your local flea market, or do like I did and start to sell off your own excess household items and then supplement your stock with DVD’s or books you pick up.  One time I even went to the dollar store, got some gadgets for $1 and then sold them at the flea market for $3 and these people had no problem paying it.  I would like to be your guide, if you have any questions, or would like to ask me how you can turn your life around when you have a mental illness and are suffering, please feel free to email me at: viking3082000@yahoo.com  and what the heck, if you want to learn more about this or if you like short stories or poetry, check out my ‘books’ page on the menu above or from the landing page on this site and grab a kindle version of one of my books (if you don’t have a kindle, there is a free app for kindle that works on smart phones and tablets).  Regardless, thank you my readers for making me feel worthwhile and needed!

DSC_0048       Despite the cold and the urban sprawl, Edmonton can actually be a beautiful place

A Little On the Financial Side of Things

DSC_0062I’m excited to see a building coming up on this spot because in Edmonton we have closed our municipal airport, meaning now downtown towers can go over a specified height limit that was needed for the approach pattern.  This may well be Edmonton’s new tallest tower

Hello Dear readers!  I wouldn’t count myself to be a proper blogger on the topic of mental health if I didn’t take some of what I had to say about money and work and put it down for all to see.  Just about all my life I have worked, even when I was in the most severe of depressions and on seriously strong medications.  I can recall one time when it was my birthday and my brother and mom called me in the morning before work and I was in a terrible state.  Most people would appreciate getting a call like that, but I was very down and very ill at the time.  I was working at a grocery store which for some time I thought would be a dream job seeing as how it was a well paid union gig, but I was struggling.  Later that same year I went into the hospital and was released early so I could go back to work.  After finally quitting the grocery store job I found something that I could handle a little better, security work.  There were a few things I liked about this kind of work, first and foremost it allowed me a great deal of time to read but sometimes it was extremely hard to keep myself going through a long night shift (we often worked 12 hour shifts) and then have to ride the bus across town to get home and maybe get a few hours sleep before having to go back.  Having no union was an obvious drawback because one year I worked both Christmas and New Year’s hoping to earn some overtime and was given none and a scant explanation that I hadn’t worked for the company long enough to get overtime.

Eventually that job dried up, actually I think what I remember is having some 19 year-old kid come and tell me all the things he didn’t like about what I was doing and I simply quit rather than knuckle under.  A short time later I went into the offices of the best company I possibly ever worked for, the old cowboy movie classic, Pinkerton’s.  It was a great company and I had a great boss, a former Infantry Captain who had left the military after removing a major’s teeth the hard way.  He made the job so fun, he would always call up and say, “your assignment, should you choose to accept it…” there was a lot of pride that went with the uniform and I worked some cool assignments, like guarding multi-million dollar highrises and the Edmonton Art Gallery among many others.  I ended up losing that job too after a couple of years and I went in and out of security work when I needed to.  Eventually I really did get a dream job, the one I have now.  I work for IATSE, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the work is fun, the people are awesome, they pay is great and they treat their employees really well.  That is what I think is really key, a person, especially someone with a mental illness, but really any person, has to enjoy and be comfortable with their work, because it is a huge part of who we see ourselves as and how we feel about ourselves.  I really think that a lot of women I know are heroes because they forgo the joy of working to take on the nearly thankless job of being a mom.  Just today I wrote a note to an old friend of mine telling her how much she would love my job and she agreed, she said it would be a dream but she only has the time to fix up furniture at home which is her present job because of her duties as a mom.  Makes me think back to my mom and how much she gave up to raise my brother and sister and I and then took on correspondence courses and volunteer jobs and even went into debt to return to school to realize the dream she had to give up on of becoming a teacher.  But really, what I want to say is that even if you have a Psychiatric disability it is important to try and work as much as you can.  A lot of jobs may pay very little, but still when you add up the dollars on payday it will make a difference.  At first it may be just a few extra groceries, or even just a few better quality groceries.  Then it will pay off in self-esteem.  Then, you may find you have savings and can plan a little trip somewhere on the Greyhound.  A trip will renew you and re-energize you, make you want to work more and work harder.  Do this for a while and raises and promotions or better jobs could well come your way.  Before you know it you will feel great, have some property to be proud of.  Myself for a while I ran a table at the flea market.  I found that if I kept a decent roll of cash in my pocket wherever I went that opportunities to buy cheap items would present themselves and I could sell these at reasonable but profitable prices.  One thing I would do was go to book sales and garage sales.  I would pick up Stephen King Novels for $1 or 50cents and sell them for $3 and get DVD’s from pawn shops or my own collection and sold a lot.  One year I had some money set aside for boxing day and a store was clearing out video games for $1 and I bought about 100 or more titles and sold them for an average of $5 to $10.  Another time I had some cash and bought four or five VCR’s that I sold at a profit. I eventually got a bit sick of working at the flea market, the lousy food and the worse coffee and found another job as a security guard.  One day I was simply doing my job of watching a door at a movie set and got to be friends with the Assistant Locations person.  He convinced me to come on board with the union to do movie security for twice what I was getting, and before long I was doing the job I have now for even more money.  Of course money isn’t everything, but now that I have my mental health in order, it really is nice to be able to buy a book or a gift or a plane trip.  Last year alone I went to Hawaii twice.  Well, that was actually more than I wanted to write today.  Please tune in tomorrow when I will go over some of the secrets I learned reading some of the great classics of financial literature, the best of which I will recommend in advance, “The Richest Man in Babylon”.  All the best dear readers!

DSC_0031Here’s the same construction site as above, but from another angle.  I just love to chronicle the development of new construction in my photos.