OCD

The Way I Deal With Obsessive and Addictive Behaviours Along With My Psychosis

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This is another of the beautiful buildings in Edmonton, Canada Place. During construction I worked in this ornate structure with my Dad, painting numbers on stairwells in at least six fifteen storey stairwells. I had two other jobs plus full-time school at the time.

So, I can’t really tell you if I have an obsessive compulsive disorder. I do know that I often feel compelled to do funny things. As a child it may be touching every light pole as I walked past it, then it festered and grew to not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. Soon I began to do increasingly odd things. Comic books seemed harmless until I hoarded and amassed thousands and protected them as though my life depended on them. Before that it was stamps, after that it was military clothing. At fourteen I ended up in psychiatric care and was given medication but no diagnosis. On leaving, though I would often dress up in camouflage or even military work uniforms around the house, I stopped doing it when I went to school. That was the age of alcohol and arcades, cigarettes and all-night sessions in front of the TV on school nights. Quitting any of these habits was so hard, but I showed little foresight knowing things like booze and smokes would ruin my life many years early. Every teenager seems to think they will magically quit before cancer sets in and that they themselves had discovered things like sex, drugs, and alcohol.

At nineteen, I made a vow to quit drinking. I went to meetings, tried to stay away from bars and managed to get six months of clean time in. Unfortunately I became more addicted to cigarettes and had a wicked addiction to coffee, all hours of the night and day. It all finally came to a head when I was in my 30s and I made some coffee one morning and lit up a cigarette, finished it and had another. Then I threw up on the kitchen floor. Something had to be done.

Persons with schizophrenia can have a very hard time quitting tobacco. It has been found that tobacco affects some of the same neurotransmitters that psychiatric medications do. It actually soothes extreme psychosis, which in my opinion is a condition far worse than torture. I didn’t quit coffee, but with the help of patches, a support group, a counsellor, a pharmacist and even a psychiatrist who specialized in addictions, I stopped smoking. It was the hardest and best thing I ever did, but it was almost too late. My breathing was seriously affected by 18 years of smoking and even now, 15 years later I am not recovered.

Coffee was difficult as well. It tasted good, it kept me alert, it seemed to stem the tide of urges to smoke. But perhaps worse than coffee I was addicted to overeating. This was not an easy thing to deal with in a group home where you pay one price for food and eat all you like. I ballooned from 170 pounds to 260. Even just looking at that number, 260 is staggering to me. I stayed in shape, I had a very physical job. Most of that weight was muscle, but a lot was fat as well. It took being diagnosed with diabetes to get me to cut down on my food. I have lost 40 pounds now but have a long way to go.

One of the funny things about all of these addictions is that there are 12-step meetings for all of them. I don’t want to comment on any except to say they help, but anyone who goes into one of these should be extremely mindful that there are many sick people in the groups. In my six-month dry spell, it was a so-called friend from AA who dragged me into a bar and bought me a drink, sending me spiralling on a binge that nearly killed me. Overeater’s Anonymous was a great meeting though often dominated by women who can be extremely sensitive to anyone (like myself) a little rough around the edges.

In conclusion, I guess I would most like to quote a film by Frank Capra, “The Snows of Killamanjaro” where a man spoke of preaching only “Moderation in everything, including moderation.” More to come on this topic.

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What About Friendships?

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some of you may have seen this picture before–I am having upload problems with my wordpress account.  Still a nice little summer-ish image.

 

Scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog entry, and don’t forget to check out my eBook “Inching Back To Sane” for just $3.25 US at www.smashwords.com  (link will take you to my book’s page)

 

Far Too Many To Name Here

 

On the days when my life has some meaning

On the nights when I don’t have to pretend

I can lay writing poems and dreaming

About times spent with you my dear friend

 

The people I share this brief life with

Are so precious and dear to my heart

Each moment spent with a friend or a loved one

Make me wish friends never had to depart

 

There were friends from my youth that threw parties

And when older girlfriends would often stop by

But the dear friends who truly lasted the longest

Were the ones with whom I could love, laugh and cry

 

Sharing good times and bad added with some real caring

Good friends can be family, loved ones or those we just met

What matters is that friends are all about sharing

When their friend is happy or sad or upset

 

Life takes a toll on all as it passes by us

Living each day means dying just a little too

But when I’m gone I don’t want people to fuss

It wasn’t so bad; I had a good friend in you

 

 

February 22, 2016

Leif Gregersen

     Good day dear Readers!  Well, it has been a fair while since I made a blog entry.  I have been feeling a bit stressed out (in fact I was so stressed out I made a video about stress using some of the information I learned from researching stress!)  There is a lot of info out there about stress, some of it good, some of it bad.  Of course there is this Kelly McGonigal who quotes studies that it is your attitude towards stress, not stress itself that makes it good or bad.  I am not really sure, I just kind of felt like I hit a wall at one point shortly after finishing compiling a short story collection a little while ago.  I took a few days and literally did nothing.  I didn’t work out, I didn’t go for any walks, I just curled up and hid from the world which I don’t think is the best thing you could do.  I was having a lot of trouble sleeping–most likely because I wasn’t exercising enough to tire myself out or need to repair my body with sleep, but I had little to do so I tried some different methods, one of them some over the counter sleeping pills, another a prescribed anxiety medication called rivotril or clonazepam.  I also tried melatonin, all of them but the over the counter pill in moderation with consent of my Doctor.  I am going to see my Psychiatrist tomorrow and talk to him about the sleeping pills then, but I am reluctant to have him prescribe me something because I really hate to get dependent or tolerant to any kind of medication that isn’t absolutely neccessary to my mental health.  I also had a man with a Master’s Degree in social work tell me that a Doctor advised him that using sleeping pills can result in memory loss, so that too is a factor.  It sure is funny getting older.  My eyes are starting to go, it takes me longer to recover from workouts and it is so easy to get out of a good routine.  Anyhow, I wanted to talk a little about friendships, so here goes:

Some of the first and most important friendships I made when I was first diagnosed as mentally ill was with other people in the hospital.  I found this was very difficult with women or gay males because, them being sick as well they confused a lot of things with sexual overtures and possibly had enhanced ideas of their own attractiveness (as I did myself.)  Although some hospitals, some nurses and some psychiatrists seem to be against it, I think it is extremely important to have someone to talk to and pal around with in the hospital.  I can see how not having any friends could make things unbearable.  Then there is another thing aside from the attractiveness thing, the last time I was in the hospital 15 years ago I mistook a woman who was there for a woman I knew and despite the fact that she was married I pursued a relationship with her.  I was kind of surprised that I was able to succeed at this effort, before she left the ward I was on she actually referred to me as her ‘boyfriend’ while she had been quite hostile and suspicious before that.  It was very troubling though because as we got to be good friends the staff was doing everything to keep us away from each other.  What bothered me was not so much the policy, it was that it seemed to come down to the opinion of one nurse that she simply didn’t want us associating even though we weren’t having any kind of sexual relationship.  Other staff had actually, almost under threat, encouraged socializing, but I don’t want to get into that.

When you get out of the hospital, you go into another phase of needing to make friends.  For me, for a good while my only friend was my Dad.  He would come down to the place I was living, pick me up and take me for a walk in Edmonton’s stunning river valley almost every day and it was simply wonderful.  A little fresh air and exercise, some good conversation and a chance to re-establish a bond with a family member was so therapeutic.  But eventually a person has to have more friends, in my case not only because my dad was getting older and had troubles driving, but also because I was putting a lot of demands on his time.  A lot of times friends were simply people who lived in whatever housing I was in.  This can be a real problem if you are in an unsupervised group home or residence for people with psychiatric disabilities and either there is no staff or the staff don’t watch out for their clients.  A young man at a house I rented a room in was literally a sociopath.  Many many times I got up at odd hours to help him, drive him home from work in the middle of the night, buy him meals, lend him money, lend him food.  The list went on and on.  Then one day I woke up late for work and was really hungry and here he had gotten drunk and left a cold pizza out on a counter ready for the flies to get at.  I grabbed two pieces of the pizza thinking I would pay him back later and found out when I came home that he had called the police and tried to press charges on me for eating the pizza.  I moved out of there (after another incident that I will relate another time) and into a five unit apartment house.  The ‘caretaker’ (he called himself the landlord though he didn’t own the place and didn’t even get a free suite for his ‘work’) was off his rocker.  He seemed normal enough, but was a real jerk.  I got to be good friends with him too, and all these strange things kept happening, and he had a habit of showing up and giving me orders as to how to keep my suite, what I was allowed to do and all that.  Then one day I came home and here he was just leaving my apartment with a smile on his face as he locked the door with his own key.  I was gone pretty soon after that.

At that time, and before that, I had decided to try and rekindle old friendships that had been damaged when I last went into the hospital.  This was very difficult and even impossible in a lot of cases, but I managed to get back on good terms with an ex-girlfriend and we have had a very mutually beneficial relationship, I even have become friends with her other family members and done things.  I have no easy answers to making friends, but one thing I do know is that the more stability in your life, the better chance you have in making friends.  One of my best friends right now is actually quite a well known author.  He used to work as a writer-in-residence at the University and he liked my work and I liked his and we kept in touch and now we meet up quite often.  The important thing to learn from that situation is to have a creative outlet in your life.  It can be writing, it can be music, it can be pottery or Yoga, or even meditation.  If you have stability in your life and you have something that helps you get out of bed each day you will eventually make friends that you can count on.  I don’t want to scare anyone off making friends in a group home or other assisted living situation either, but I don’t think it is best to rely too much on this source either.

Well, that was a long one.  I should leave off at that.  It feels great to sit and just let the words flow.  As always, I would love to hear your feedback.  Feel free to contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and if anyone is interested, I have now posted my book “Inching Back To Sane” on smashwords as an Ebook for just $3.25 US.  Have a great day!

Dear old dad:

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Another Sleepless Night-I’m Just Going to Ramble Today

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Good morning dear readers.  I have been interested lately in graphic novels.  I was even having fun collecting them, but not only do I have an obsessive side about collecting things, I have poor impulse control when it comes to buying things.  I also have a thing that I think is unique to people with Bipolar/Manic Depression in that I somehow need to purchase things, or find some kind of excitement.  When I was much younger I collected comic books, younger than that I collected movie trading cards.  All the time I had to be working towards a bigger collection or earning money to increase my stocks.  It is a good thing I think to try and do at least one thing a day, but my desire to find something memorable in life to do, brought on most likely by manic behavior can be good and bad.  It was good when I was learning to write and I would either write a full page in a journal or a poem each day, but when I was a teen I simply had to get out and at least try and meet a member of the opposite sex and also have a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday night.  I am sure I was one of the few people who went into a Pentacostal Church on a Sunday not having completely washed off the hand stamp from the night club from the night before.

This drinking culture was a very negative thing.  I don’t think I ever, in all the times I went there, met a young woman who I could date or even dance with.  What I do remember doing was going to these places and either having to shout over the music and never have any kind of conversation that would allow me to get to know someone, or to simply hang around looking for young women I had known from before that I could strike up some kind of conversation with.  Neither of these led to anything.  I don’t know if I am simply not attractive or if these places are just selling a dream for the price of a cover charge and alcohol.

Being in a 12-step program not long after my teen years ended didn’t even help that much.  As things began, I went 6 months without a drink but then a fellow member who I regret ever meeting, decided he was going to be some kind of hero and buy me a drink.  This followed with a very nasty relapse into binge drinking and cost me a couple of close friends from my teen years.  What I did find though, was that whether or not I was attractive, if I could get to know a female around my age and let her get to know me, I would do very well with the opposite sex.  Places like the bus, bookstores, work and classes I took were the best places.  The problem became when I would sign up for a class and only stay in it long enough to try and pick up the attractive women who were taking it.  It is almost frightening to think of how many of my thoughts revolved around sex and my ego as a pickup artist.  It was a bit different when I was in flying school, I would meet all kinds of prospective partners and get their phone numbers-Vancouver was a much easier place for me to ‘operate’ partly because I was away from all the bad memories that Edmonton held for me, partly because I was much more confident, and I am sure a good part of it had to do with my almost limitless energy that didn’t manifest itself quite yet in delusional thinking.

Delusional thinking was for a good part of my days a driving force.  The funny thing is that once I got proper treatment and accepted my illness, life got to be better than any subconscious constructed world of delusional thoughts.  Having things like a motorcycle and a nice home, a satellite dish and a sports care were just a few of the things life dropped in my lap.  One of the things that is perhaps hardest to deal with is that to this day I still have some obsessive thoughts about a female from way in my past.  I have no desire to contact her, no desire to have a relationship with her.  I don’t even think I would recognize her voice if she called me up and I am pretty sure she is married with children, but she pops up in my thoughts a lot.  For a time I wanted to contact her to confront some of the delusions in my head that told me she was trying to help me through some of my more difficult times, but whenever I tried I was either ignored or even had the police called on me.  I felt so bad about it for a while that I told my Doctor that I thought I was a stalker even though I have had extremely limited contact with this person and he told me that a stalker would never come to a Doctor for help, never admit there was anything wrong.  The other thing that is funny is that it seems that this ‘perfect princess’ syndrome cuts across a large swath of people with mental illnesses.  There is a guy living in a building a friend once lived in who repeatedly tried to approach a young woman who has screamed at him, ran away from him, and put ultimatums to him.  Another friend is obsessed with Tiffany Amber Theissen from the old 90210 TV show.  This is a little less harmless, but I see this again and again.  For a time this weighed heavily on me, and I tried to study what stalking was all about and came across instances where people were so mentally ill that they took it upon themselves to kill the object of their desire.  The funny thing I have learned though is that in the vast majority of cases, this never happens, mentally ill people are no more violent or criminal than any other segment of the population, and when they are violent it is more often directed at themselves.  I hope this gives a bit of comfort to anyone out there reading who may have this problem.  I can’t just sit and tell people to let go, it would be very nice if I could ‘let go’ but these thoughts are beyond my control.  What I simply keep telling myself is that the delusional person has nothing at all to do with the actual person the delusions represent.  I also try to keep a close eye on my manic episodes, even though they are much milder, and I am the first person to request a higher dose of medication if I feel I am slipping away from sanity.  The sad fact for a lot of people is that our illnesses, be they schizophrenia or bipolar or OCD, could possibly get worse and there is no special assurance that physical health will go the other way than mental health.  What I mean to say is that we already have all the problems of normal people plus the cross of our illnesses to bear.  My best advice is to keep seeing a Psychiatrist, be as honest with him/her as you can and build relationships not based on alcohol or drugs or sex.  Find true friends and life will always be worthwhile.

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