obsession

Love, Friendships and the Healing Process

DSC00221This photo is from West Edmonton Mall, it is a statue commemorating oilfield workers.  It may seem a bit out of place in a blog about relationships, but one of my strongest and most rewarding relationships have been with people I have worked with.  I feel there is something very special about people pitching in together for a common goal that forms strong bonds.

Well, today since Valentine’s day is around the corner I thought I might share a little bit about relationships.

There really isn’t a more sensitive topic than this for people with mental health issues.  So many things are up in the air for people who suffer.  Quite often, mental health ‘survivors’ have a skewed image of what love is and so little experience that they end up obsessed with a person who doesn’t want their attention.  I know in my own case there used to be a couple of females who I felt that way about who didn’t feel that way back.  It was very difficult but I had to accept that they weren’t these great wonderful people worthy of my love, just ordinary, perhaps even negative people and move on.

Of course, obsession is another thing and I don’t want to get too far into the topic because I know so little about it, I am not any kind of a qualified person to give advice and it isn’t anywhere near the kind of caring/relationship I want to promote.  When I think of relationships, I think more of the ones I have carefully built up and cultivated over the years.

It is hard to say where to start.  Just about all of the relationships in our life are important.  These may be our relationships with our parents and family members, which are often greatly strained by mental illness, and could also include friendships and romantic relationships.  I think the thing to remember is that every person in your life can be extremely important.  For a long time I had trouble getting along with my Dad, but when I left the hospital last time after a lengthy and painful stay, he was the only one who was constantly there for me, taking me for walks, talking to me, being that all important listener.  As time went by, I was slowly able to rebuild most of my relationships with friends (but not all) and the rest of my family also came back ‘on my side.’

One of the first relationships that I had problems with last time I got sick (I was very ill, extremely delusional and hurt many people who didn’t understand what had happened to me or why) was with the person who is my best friend right now.  I really care for her, I don’t want to mention her name here, some may know her pseudonym ‘Debbie’ from my books.  Her and I years ago had a short stint as lovers and it was simply the most wonderful experience of my life.  Somehow I had managed to hold onto my virginity until I was with someone I cared very deeply for and it was such an incredible experience.  Then when we broke up as lovers, we stayed friends.  She stopped contacting me last time I was ill, unable to deal with all my problems.

Over the course of time, I gathered up my courage, went to see Debbie and talked to her and kind of wormed my way back into her life.  Her and I would often go for soup at a favorite restaurant, and when I really wanted to talk to her I would write a paper letter to her, including in it a poem I had written just for her.  Eventually she got married, but we stayed friends and to this day we talk literally for at least an hour on the phone.  It feels so good to be connected to someone like that, even though it isn’t a romantic relationship.

So how does a person with a mental illness cultivate a friendship?  I have always felt that relationships with others are based on conversation, and all too often people with mental health issues don’t have a lot of things to talk about because they spend a lot of time at home, watching TV or isolating themselves.  If a person can get out and start doing more things, not only will they feel better and cope with stress better, they will meet people and have things to talk about to the new people they meet.  I am a firm believer in volunteering.  When I was alone and having problems, I used to volunteer when I was able to visit aging veterans in an extended care hospital.  I did this for some time and not only learned a lot, but I made friends with the Pastor there and spent so much quality time with these wonderful old men who had fought for our freedom.  Added to that, I found that a lot of young women really liked the idea that I was a giving and compassionate person and from what I recall my social life improved while I was doing that.

So, if you have something to talk about, how do you approach someone you want to be friends with?  This can be a difficult question and there are no easy answers. (I should note here that I am of the opinion that if you make friends with a member of the opposite sex and let things grow naturally from there, you might develop that all important romantic relationship many people seek.)  One thing I noticed I myself have been guilty of is forcing a relationship and doing things that only serve to ‘creep out’ the person like trying to anticipate what the person likes or wants and going overboard.  My roommate is a very good friend, but often he goes to far, turning on lights for me, turning off the tap for me when I go to get a glass.  It sometimes drives me nuts.  I think one of the best ways to make friends with others is to be a kind person without being intrusive and also having a good sense of humor is a big help.  These traits can be learned, humor often comes from observing others and using things they find funny.  Caring comes from always trying to see things from the side of other people.  You don’t have to go overboard, just try and notice something about the other person.  Did you get a new haircut, it looks good, how have you been doing lately, how are your kids?  Simple questions that aren’t too personal can start off a conversation and that is what you are aiming for.

Well, I can’t cover a lot of information in this short blog, I do hope that I have given people some food for thought.  Be caring, be kind, think of the other person, try to have a life so you are able to have good conversations.  If I can remember, I will try and revisit this subject in the next few days.  As always dear readers, feel free to contact me and I always like it when people leave comments.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

What The Creator Gave Us All

DSC00035                SCROLL DOWN PAST TODAY’S POEM FOR MY BLOG ENTRY FOR TODAY

The Children, The Garden and The Pets We Love

 

We seem to have messed around with the creator’s plan

He gave us all to share and nurture life in this sacred land

Most don’t seem to care that we poison our mother earth

Each day that we live starting at our very birth

 

Many people have said many times to me

You will go crazy living in the North Country

But this is the only place I know that I can see

Clean air and water, this is the place I need to be

 

This is our precious home to walk and gather as we sit

I worry so much about what man’s hand does to it

Don’t people know there is room for all to fit

If not here then in the deepest recesses of the fiery pit

 

That is where we all will go if we take this place

And destroy it collectively, the whole human race

It was given to all of us by the creator’s grace

And one day our creator we will all have to face

 

Each blade of grass, each tiny bird

Was bequeathed to man in God’s word

Yet species die off every single day

And mankind’s hope slips further away

 

We frack for oil and leave the waste behind

Are these fat cat oil billionaires blind?

All they seem to see in the land is dollar signs

To pull one strand of the web will make the web unwind

 

It makes me feel so sad that soon there will be no hope

When we lose all our plants and animals how will we cope?

All these precious creations given to us all

Soon will be no more and mankind will truly fall

 

In a far off place one tired old medicine man

Was the only one who could truly understand

No matter the reward, this was a lousy plan

To refuse to change, though we know we can

 

I ask you all to be a good steward of our planetary gift

The creator will reward us if we make something of it

The earth, the air, the water and all the life

Avoid the pain, avoid the deep and searing strife

 

It is all so simple, yet so many have it oh so wrong

You need to hear the medicine man there was a solution all along

You can’t walk in peace by covering the world in leather

Cover just your feet and in harmony walk this land together

 

Leif Gregersen

April 1, 2015

THE PLACE OF RELIGION IN THE LIFE OF A PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT

Well, this is a difficult topic.  I remember that one of the very first times in my life that I went to a church of my own accord I was in Alberta Hospital, a Psychiatric hospital near Edmonton.  My mind was ablaze with delusions and so were the minds of several other people in the room.  It was a Catholic service, but I had no idea about different religions or services.  All I could really remember was that when I was about 12 or 13 my brother and sister would take me to church and one time my brother pointed out a particularly cute young woman and told me that girls like that were half the reason he went to church.  My reason for going to church was that I was having delusions that some very wealthy people were conspiring to either bestow great riches and rewards on me or to kill me or thwart my efforts to control the world, etc., etc., etc.  It was actually a bit, no a lot–scary.  I somehow believed that in order to be the world or business leader that this mental hospital was somehow trying to convince me I wasn’t, I had to go to church.

All this must seem very confusing, and I am sure I am not telling the story all that well, so I will try to go back a few notches.  In my 18th year, back in 1990, almost a year after I should have graduated high school, I was still going to high school and had been under a great deal of stress.  Add to that I had yet to have any kind of girlfriend and then the fact that I was genetically prone to mental illness, and you have a real mess.  Over the course of a month or so I was in and out of hospital Psychiatric wards and had also spent some time in a Psychiatric Hospital.  One of the first things I did when I got home from the hospital was start drinking beer, a very bad idea with any medication, and I got a little drunk and called up a young woman I was very fond of who brushed me off but said she would still be my friend.  Over the next while, I suffered from psychotic delusions so real and so intense about a number of things that even now I marvel at how the human mind can come up with such false ideas and somehow tailor every day experiences to make them even more confusing.  My only idea was that there really was a God.  But that isn’t always the healthiest thing to convince a mental patient.

As time passed, my thoughts slowly returned to normal, but not until after I went through quite a bit.  One of the things that stands out for me is that when I was at my sickest, a hospital chaplain would come and visit me, a very kind and wise man from the Anglican church.  Later on in my mental health journey, I was in the University Hospital and I went to a service there and, while having a hard time with delusions, had another chaplain explain to me that the bible had predicted the end of the world and some of the things in it were really happening in the world despite that it was written thousands of years ago.  This was extremely disturbing, but somehow I tried to learn more and after a lot of mishaps, I found a church that makes a lot of sense to me with a priest I really like and respect, and on some Sundays I actually make it out to mass.  The problem though is that there were times in between where I was obsessed with reading the bible, times when I thought I had special status because I read the bible and prayed and went to church, and even times when I had delusions about Jesus.  So what is the solution, what is my grand answer to what people should believe if they are sick and hurting and want the comfort of religion or even spirituality?  I don’t think a loving God, and I believe he is a loving God, will hold anything against a person who has made mistakes because of an illness.  My priest even told me once that when you are mentally ill and deep into a depression, though it is not exactly giving permission, it is a forgivable sin to commit suicide.  In no way do I want to condone suicide though, it is a horrible thing, but often people who are in a depression are not in true control of their actions.  This gave me comfort because I lost an aunt and a very close friend to suicide, both from depression and I would like to think I will see them in heaven.  Aside from the forgiveness part of it though, I want to try and explain here that suicide is something that hurts so many people, something that is never beneficial.  One of the sad facts is that unless you make a serious suicide attempt, a lot of hospitals won’t admit you for help you may feel you need for other things.  I am so lucky because I have found a home that gives me structure and enforces medication compliance and regular Doctor and Pharmacist visits.  I myself have lived on my own and fallen away from those things and let myself get isolated and been near wanting to kill myself.  One of the few things that helped me through those times was having the ability to go to church and bible studies.

Now, I just want to say a few words about when religion can be a bad thing.  Some mentally ill people get obsessed with reading the bible, some of them misinterpret or have delusions about things in the bible.  This can be very unhealthy, but I don’t know what the solution is.  I know one lady who has Schizophrenia who had a breakdown as a result of reading the bible too much and needed help, needed her Doctor to step in and tell her to stop reading the bible and increase her medication.  Regular visits to your Psychiatrist and counselors are your best bet in watching out for things like this to happen.  Regular visits where you are as honest and comfortable as you can be with these people.  In my life, and I feel like I have a pretty good life, I sometimes use Yoga for exercise and flexibility, I sometimes use techniques I learned from Buddhist teachers to meditate and clear my thoughts, and I also attend a Catholic church.  In the end, I feel it is most important that I’m a Catholic because the church has a lot to offer me and the people seem so kind and helpful there to everyone.  It doesn’t stop me from finding comfort in other religious practices though, I just kind of feel that people need to follow the wisdom from an old Frank Capra movie, I believe it was called “The Snows of Kilamunjaro” in which an old monk summed up his philosophy in one sentence:  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  Take care and keep commenting!!

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