Needed to have a photo done for an appearance in “Moods” magazine, this was the best one I took I feel.
(blog to follow today’s poem)
Words upon words
Line after line
Hundreds of pages
Thousands of books
I could consume every book that I buy
I sit in my room
Swimming in the glow of knowledge
Basking in the light of wisdom
A sea of learning, growing, so many chances
To see the world through another’s eyes
I will never have time
Never be able
To digest all the words
I have laid at my table
From comics for children
To Sartre and his bright genius nausea
I have no greater joy
Than leaving this world
To live in another
Travel through time
Journey through words
Some of them mine
March 20, 2016
Good day to all my amazing followers. The blog has been doing so well lately and I wanted to thank all of you. I am not sure if this has happened before, but I recently got a new subscriber who is a really cool psychiatrist, I feel that sort of thing is the ultimate endorsement.
Spring is nearing, though in Edmonton winter still teases us with the odd snowy day or freezing cold morning. I am feeling very good about myself as my first issue of “SZ”, one of the two magazines I am now editing is nearing completion and all seems right with the world. In a couple of weeks I am also taking on another job working just for a couple of hours on Mondays teaching creative writing to a group that meets at a local club for people with mental health issues.
I don’t have anything too specific in mind to talk about today. I guess one of the things, since I am doing so well that I would like to talk about would be hope. Fifteen years ago when I was in the hospital for six whole months, I had almost completely lost hope. I had been extremely sick and in order to get me back thinking straight it was necessary for me to be on a lot of pills that left me a tired, drowsy mess, and I also had gotten into some financial trouble, but no one in my life let me give up. There was some really hard things to swallow. When I was sick I had ruined some very important relationships. The truly sad thing was that I had one friend who stuck by me but I later had to cut him out of my life because he was a manipulator and a user of people. But my parents and my brother and sister and later my ex-girlfriend did stick with me and it meant so much.
I think one of the luckiest things that happened to me back then was that I found the group home I now live in. The place is very reasonable in rent and I like just about all the people that live here and work here, and perhaps most importantly I have been able to plug into the local community and make many friends that don’t have to do with anything mental health related. One of my favorite things to do is to write free articles for our community newspaper. I have gotten a lot of kindness and support from doing this not only from people who read my work, but especially from the editor of the paper who has helped me with everything from this website I am now reaching you with to getting me paid work as a photographer. Friendships like this go so much further than networking and extra work now and then though, I really feel blessed to have such cool people in my life.
But to get back to the subject of hope, I think there was always hope for me I just didn’t look for it so intently when I first left the hospital. For a long time I would just read a couple of pages of a book I liked, go on the computer a bit and spend the rest of my time sleeping. Slowly over time I built up to spending more time writing and with the help of many of my friends one day my book became a reality and it has gone out now to likely more than 300 people. I really like the concept that my writing can help those who come across it and a big part of the hope I talk about has to do with me wanting to reach out to people who suffer from mental illness, so I keep on trying to improve things like my public speaking skills and writing skills.
I really wish I could kind of package all of this up and give some advice to anyone out there who reads this. I guess the big things I have to say I have said before: keep trying to do even just one small thing each day, have goals and try and work towards them even just a tiny bit. Your goal can be getting better, your goal can be to have two friends you can talk to, but make the effort to move closer to them. Another thing I may have covered as well is that there are some things people with mental health issues really should heed. First of all, it is best to try and live in supportive housing like I do, but if you can’t, please do not try and live alone. There is just too many ways for a person to fall by the wayside when they live on their own. Living with a family member can be great, but not always possible. If you do feel you can live alone, make sure you are hooked into some kind of home visit or plan where you have to check in with a nurse or counselor. And keep your home clean, tidy and make it somewhere you can retreat to, unwind, get away from the stress of the outside world. One mistake I made once was to let someone come and stay for free at my place and before I knew it they had invited all of their friends to live there. It nearly destroyed my whole life, you have to be strong and hold to boundaries.
Above all, I think the most important thing to remember is just to take care of yourself. Look at yourself and ask yourself the question, am I going through anything I need to change or stop? Ask yourself how you would feel if a brother or sister or parent was going through what you are and if you would let them suffer in silence. Be good to yourself, nurture your relationships and take life one small step each day.