paranoia

Is It Insane to Think People Suspect You Are Some Evil Person When You Always Feared You Were One?

Well, a lot has gone on since I made my last post to this page. I wish I understood why, but there were a lot of things contributing to me almost having a meltdown so bad that I wanted to try and get admitted to a hospital. I have been doing a lot of little things, like teaching one hour classes way out of town at the Psychiatric Hospital to running all over the place trying to help my Dad and my brother. I have been pretty worried about my brother, he has had two surgeries on his back and now is going to need a procedure done on his kidneys. And every day it seems I think about two people: my departed mother and my niece living very far away with no Uncle to help her or even just be a small part of her life.

At first it started as anxiety, but soon it got worse and became paranoia. Anxiety is hard to explain, especially since until recently I had no idea I was diagnosed as having it. I was a very shy and nervous kid, almost to the point of being ashamed of everything. I have this vivid memory of taking a Toastmaster’s Public speaking course in Cadets and stammering my way through a short talk that seemed to get so little interest from any of my fellow Cadets that all they took from it was ammunition to later mock me with. I will never forget that nervous and shaking, unbearable few minutes. The funny thing is that now, after working in radio and doing possibly hundreds of presentations for the Schizophrenia Society, I have become pretty comfortable with crowds. But not recently. Recently I have been going through hell.

The hell I speak of is paranoia. Some people experience it when they smoke cannabis, I know I did. I was at a party where I didn’t really know anyone and I had a couple of tokes and slowly it started to seem like people were angry with me, saying things about me and it soon escalated to the point of me feeling I was in danger. I reacted by crawling down a third floor fire escape ladder and walking miles home because of the fear.

This has also been happening to me recently though I haven’t used any cannabis in more than 13 years. There is the off chance that now that cannabis is legal and you can smell it everywhere, I picked up some of it but the plain fact is I have been desperately on edge for some time now. Just to give a bit of back story, I was diagnosed with diabetes a few months ago and I have a suspicion that the medication I was given makes me jumpy and dizzy. The jumpy part is also what could have led to the paranoia, but until I become a full psychiatrist or pharmacologist, I will likely never know. What has been happening though is that any time I am in public and I hear people talking, I think they are talking about me. I spend extra time worrying about what others think and I have had to go way out of my way to not offend anyone or make eye contact. This gets extremely difficult on the bus. I have spent so much time in the past couple of weeks staring at the ground or floor that I am starting to have neck problems.

Today it was really disturbing. Some teenager trying to show off to his friends how street smart he was, declared clearly enough that I was sure I wasn’t delusional that he knew I was a cop. Even when I got off the bus, one of the teenagers went out of his way to call me a pig. I can’t even describe how disturbing this was.

There have been a few really good things happening lately though, one of them is that I ran into a young woman who I was in a class with and had a chance to catch up. She had an earlier stop than me and got off, but lately I have been worrying while on the bus that (once again, mind reading) women see me get off at the same stop as them and fear I will follow them to some alley and do some unthinkable thing to them. I have recently become so aware of this possibility that I will go far out of my way to avoid taking the same bus or even the same street as a woman walking alone. Then, the miracle happened.

Tuesday I had enough and I went in to see my psychiatrist. Not long ago I had been put on a much newer medication called Invega and was taken off another injectable drug in the anti-psychotic class of medications. My Doctor increased my dose by the teeniest, tiniest little pill and all of a sudden within a few minutes of taking the pill, my fear went away. Now two days after that dose, I feel so much better, though I have to admit that I am still very conscious of what others think and say, but the fear, the deep down danger warning indicator seems to be gone. Well, as it is late, I will leave things at that. I encourage any of you experiencing this sort of thing to talk to a medical doctor or psychiatrist as soon as you can. The way of dealing with it is very simple, but not always easy. You need to sit down and be honest, and trust your health care provider and before you know it, things will go back on track. Good day, dear readers!

Line Up All The Ducks In A Row

DSC_0324

Hello my good readers.  As I write this, it is 5:00am on Sunday.  I am thinking about a lot of different things right now, one of them is the phone conversation I am having with a friend who has to be at work in 3 hours and hasn’t slept at all.  Another big thing on my mind is wondering if I will be disappointed or not if I go try and see Star Wars today.  Then there is the part of my brain that never seems to stop, my critical voice.  In my head there always seems to be a dialogue.  What most often goes through it is distant memories of wrongs I feel have been done to me by random people.  There is the time some ex-friends of mine decided they hated me so much they would set me up to have a young woman we knew go through the motions of seducing me and then out of nowhere punched me in the face and had all her friends come out of hiding near us to laugh at me.  Then there was another time when I went to cross a street and was nearly hit by a guy and I walked in front of his car and he decided to use that as a reason to get out of his car and punch me repeatedly in the face while I was down and never fought back at all.  These things are clearly wrong, but the worst part of them is that I let them anger me now, years after I will never see these people again.  There are some things that help (and there are many more of these thoughts), one of them of course is medications.  I can recall being in the hospital and being off all medications and just being tormented.  Now it is sort of something that just bothers me, but it never seems to really stop.  The one thing I know that can help is meditation.  Simply sitting down, or even walking and counting or even just noticing my breath while I try to focus on clearing my mind of all thoughts is such a liberating experience.  It has actually even been proven to reverse brain damage in certain people.  I only wish I could take the time to practice it enough to really make a difference.

Aside from all that, Christmas is coming closer.  It is going to be a short and somewhat boring time for me I think.  I like it to be boring because it is hard for me to think about my mom being gone, even though it is now 7 years since she died.  I don’t think people really ever get over that kind of a loss.  I feel better about her being gone, but still sad.  I also keep having the urge to pick up the phone and call her, and I really wish she could have lived long enough to see me become a successful and published author.  My mom inspired me to write in so many ways.  At first she only really inspired me to read, but deep in me I knew that writing was what I wanted to do.  Even in elementary school I would write and draw my own comic books and I always entered any writing contests our school put on, not to mention discovering early on that I had a bit of a talent for poetry.

Sometimes when I think of my daily life and the voices/dialogue that runs through my head and how I often have to hide myself away and sleep for long hours at a time to decompress from a stressful week, I think I’m really messed up.  Lately I have been having problems writing short stories but I have been focusing a bit more on poetry.  All I really know is that if I keep writing every day I will start to improve, though I have a lot of improving to do.  It can be so hard to learn anything from reading books about writing.  Lately I tried paying a friend with a PhD to teach me how to edit my work and it got to be so expensive I couldn’t continue.  Fortunately in the New Year we have been talking about a different arrangement.  The main problem right now is just having too much free time on my hands.  I wish I could just write for 8 or 10 hours a day but that takes so much out of a person.  I have often heard from professional writers that the burn out time is about 2 hours a day which means 22 hours of tedium and wasted time, but 2 hours seems to be the most I can sit and write.  I can’t imagine that writers like James A. Michener wrote only 2 hours a day, or a lot of other authors did the same, but 2 hours seems to be the best way to get the most quality and creativity out of myself.  Please let me know if any of my readers have experience with this, I would love to share it on here in future entries.

When it comes down to it, there are some important things I have to remember.  I am a person with a severe mental health issue and I need to make my mental health a priority.  Medications on time, appointments kept, diet, exercise and sleep carefully monitored.  Stress kept to a minimum and work only taken on when it is worthwhile and with reasonable compensation.  Not that I mind volunteering, but I don’t consider a lot of the volunteer work out there to really be work.  I would love to go back to visiting dying patients, I greatly enjoy writing for my community newspaper as a volunteer.  But when I work very difficult jobs like the one I have setting up concerts, it better be worth it!  Until I can meet all those requirements, I don’t need to worry about being some great writer or changing the world, I just need to do what makes me happy.  Anyhow, I wrote a poem about poverty and charity and homelessness, which I am posting below, I hope you enjoy it!

 

Holiday Season

 

Around us children suffer, most are deaf to all their cries

People grow a little tougher, and each day part of their heart dies

 

Will you watch the pain around you getting worse and worse each day

Or will you force your very bone and sinew to try to find another way

 

Let your mind be opened, let your heart grow sensitive

Don’t leave the masses hoping that someone else will give

 

There are refugees with nothing, there are nations needing aid

Let your life mean something more than just working and being paid

 

Don’t just open up your wallet, don’t just pay instead of care

One person’s money will not solve it, we all must give, we all must share

 

Right here it’s dirty, cold and unforgiving on the frozen windy street

No one has any hope to make a living with no place to rest and warm their feet

 

This world needs healers, lovers, helpers, who aren’t afraid to lose it all

It needs food and love and shelters, do you hear that noble call?

 

Once I myself was sick and all alone, I had nowhere to go

I had lost my love, my mind, my home, I was hurting so

 

It ended with me living among the homeless, day by day hiding my pain

I felt so completely worthless, I don’t think I could do that all again

 

Will you push yourself to help the poor, give what you can as there is a need

Can you open your heart and open your door, set aside all selfishness and greed

 

I’ve had to fight addictions, I had to fight for my new home

I fought through more than one eviction, and I mostly fought alone

 

But taking the blessings I was given, I’ve made a brand new life

I’ve worked as though one driven, to put behind me all that strife

 

Remember that we all received a present, perfect peace, eternal life and bliss

Christmas day is when God sent it, he wants us to share that and our other gifts

 

December 20, 2015

Leif Gregersen

Near Midwinter In a Cold Cold Land

IMG_8108

    Here is a photo of a massive cruise ship I saw in Hawaii last time I was there.

          Hello to my many kind followers.  I don’t know really what to talk about much today, the past little while has gotten me a bit down.  Of course I am still taking my anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, so it isn’t really that bad but I think one of my main problems is that I am often sleeping during the day and staying up all night.  In a way this has been a good thing because I have had time to work on my writing, but isolation is something I really have to watch out for.  It hasn’t helped that I was turned down for a low-income swim pass with the city and haven’t been able to work out much.  I have been doing a lot of thinking about not being able to work out.  I know I definitely felt better when I was working out, but I don’t know if I should really go back to swimming every day and lifting weights.  It certainly also helped me when it came time to do my job as a stage hand, but still it was a lot of time, a lot of work and I don’t really think I enjoyed it.  It would be just about impossible for me to stop exercising completely, I love to take my long walks and long bike rides in the summer.  I just don’t know what level of fitness I should pursue.

One of the huge things I think I need to do if I am to stop going for muscle mass is to work on the paranoid/anger side of my illness.  The reason for this is that if I get angry, it will get me into fights, and if I am just some skinny writer nerd type I will really get my butt kicked.  There are a lot of reasons though, I know when I am fit I am more motivated to do things, I feel more confident.  I do tend to eat a lot more though, and this is not only an expense, it adds to my weight which isn’t exactly in the healthy level.

Another fact I want to really face up to is that even if I take all the vitamins recommended, get my exercise and do all these healthy things, it will make a difference, but it will never stave off death permanently.  I have to fact up to the fact that I only have so many days, months, years, minutes, seconds before my time will come, and also that this time may come this very moment.  It is unlikely, but we all really only have the present moment don’t we?  I think what that line of thought tells me is that I have to try and focus on the more important things, the bigger battles.  Who really cares if some guy with a black belt can kick my ass?  I have to find a way to cope with the world that allows me to live among people like this without getting into fights or even arguments.  There really is no such thing as righteous anger, unless of course God communicates with you directly.  There were times when I thought he did, but I am of course wrong about that.

So, I wanted to write a little about writing.  A lot of great things have been happening in my new chosen profession and it has been making me very happy.  I have been approached about having a co-author help re-write my second memoir, and it would mean some drastic changes would happen in my life.  One of the amazing things about writing is that once you get going, aside from a few times when you may be called out of town or have to speak somewhere, most of the time you can get away with just writing about 2 hours a day and still make a success of yourself.  There have been times for me though when I have been driven to finish a project in a short amount of time and spent marathon sessions at the keyboard.  When I wrote my first novel, “Green Mountain Road”, what I did was go to an all-night burger restaurant and sit and write until I had 3-5,000 words done.  It was often difficult to pick up right from where I left off, so what I would do was to read the chapter I had done the previous day and edit it as I went along and I found that soon I had my creative juices flowing.

I would really like to get feedback from any writers out there, especially in the form of requests for certain topics I can address here in the blog.  If you want to know more about poetry, or journalism or any such topic, please ask and I would love to teach you all I know.

Something I also wanted to put out there for new writers is that, especially when you are starting out, it is so important to make and maintain contacts with writers of works in your genre or even just successful writers in general.  You can write to me, or you can often find emails of your favorite authors listed on the cover of books as I think John Grisham does.  I haven’t tried this, but I have had so many great things happen as a result of connecting with other writers.  There is this co-authoring partnership I may be getting into which will give me so many advantages (the writer I have in mind already has an excellent relationship with a publisher).  Not to mention that I found a real gem of a friend in the well known Canadian writer Richard Van Camp.  Richard has had movies made from his writing and has done so well for himself and is just about totally dedicated to helping me succeed.  Him and I get together over milkshakes at a diner near his house about two times a month and he is a massive help.  They say that what defines the most successful people in any field is having a mentor, and Richard has been this for me.  (If anyone wanted to see a review I wrote of Richard’s latest short story collection, “Night Moves” it is on the front page of the Ottawa Review of Books website.)  And then it takes daily effort, persistence and time.  Sometimes it takes a lot of time.  Most people will write their first book over the course of years and write many drafts before they feel it’s ready.  Then there is the process of finding an agent, getting your work edited and sending it off to publishers or getting it self published.  This can take years more and like any other business, you have to establish your repuation.  One of the best things you can do while waiting out this process is to get in to see a writer in residence at your local library, university or college and they will help guide you.  I hope all of this helps, I am including a poem below, I hope you enjoy it.

 

Midwinter Edmonton Musing

 

The wide Pacific calls out to me

Nowhere else have I felt so free

I would plunge into waters clear and blue

But I just can’t let go of loving you

 

Tropical Islands grab your heart and soul

No better way to make a person feel whole

It’s to escape from this cold place in which I live

And to take a little time to relax, forget and forgive

 

In just one sunny Hawaiian day

Ten years of anger melt away

I no longer see the point of a mad rat race

And soon my wrinkles are erased

 

If you were mine and we both could go

I could teach you things no one else knows

We could spend our nights walking the shore and sand

And feel the tropical night’s cool loving hand

 

Looking deep into each other’s eyes

We would not have to wear any disguise

Just you and me and our love that stood the test of time

Finally I would be fully yours; you would be completely mine

 

But if I have to go alone I will

Even alone there are pleasures still

Oh, I would give up a year here for one day there

And that feeling of lying in the sun without a care

 

I would rent a little car and just explore

It’s like opening up a new dimension’s door

To be so very far away from all of life’s concerns

Just one worry: make sure your skin doesn’t burn

 

Now that I found that place I feel I was born to stay

I just need to find some simple way

To say goodbye to all those I care so much for here

And return to the Islands that I hold so dear

 

 

December 13, 2015

Leif Gregersen