Something 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. firstname.lastname@example.org