Psychiatrist

Hard Work and Dilligence Pays Off Every Time

a1 honey bee

This is a beautiful picture of a honey bee in a local garden in Scarborough where I am staying

    Many years ago I had been living in beautiful Vancouver, BC and loved every minute of it.  I had a great apartment, a few good friends and a few pretty good prospects at girlfriends.  Then tragedy struck and I became very mentally ill for a time.  I was living in a rooming house and had a bad dream and went for a long walk.  My mind was all over the place and I had delusional thoughts that kept telling me I was on the moon in the future, that I had been carried through time and that I was a robot like in the terminator movies.  I didn’t know how to ask for help so I called the police and told them I thought someone had given me some hallucinogenic drugs.  I went into the hospital and soon lost everything.  No more property, no more friends, no more money.  I thought I could go back to Edmonton and find respite staying with someone I knew, perhaps even my parents but after a long trip across the rocky mountains this was also impossible and I ended up in a shelter.  After the shelter I graduated to a psychiatric ward and there I met a man who changed my life.

He  was a cab driver and he became something of a father figure to me.  He took the time to teach me about spirituality, about living in a community and inspired me to one day try to become a catholic.  He was just a simple, hobbled old man but he was well known, well liked and owned a house and had many friends.  I will never forget how he told me that his life would not be the same if he had still been a drinker.  He told me that years ago he was on skid row drinking lysol to get high and now he had a good life.  I didn’t really take what he said to heart for a long time, but four years ago I decided to get serious about my life.  I started out with a low-end job for minimum wage but it got me places.  It got me here to Toronto and out west to visit Vancouver again, and it led places.  I was looking at things differently and I had a home where I knew people and was supported and before I knew it a lot of things fell into place.  And what it all seemed to come down to was that if I hadn’t taken responsibility for my life, if I hadn’t put my foot down and decided it was time to grow up, get treatment for my illness, and put my life in order it would end in short order.  Now as I write this I have so much.  I just got an offer for a part-time job doing something I love, something I never thought anyone would pay me for, photography.  I have written books and have the support and respect of so many people as a result.  None of these things happened overnight.  15 years ago I was in the mental hospital and wasn’t even trusted with my own money.  I started slow, I got on medications that worked for me, perhaps more through help from a psychiatrist than my own doing, but I kept taking the medication when I got out of the hospital which was my own doing.  It took a long time to adjust to taking pills but I managed it.  I had to ease my way into work so I started riding my bike a lot and going for walks and then I trained my mind by reading and writing as much as I could.  It also took a lot of effort to win back the respect of someone I cared very much for.  It took a lot of long letters and poems and long talks on the phone but eventually she was in my lifef again.  At one point she gave me a stack of papers in a plastic bag and told me I had told her to hold on to it.  This was my life’s work up to that point, the book that became “Through The Withering Storm”.  I kept working on it, kept learning, kept working my jobs and after many failed attempts and a lot of money spent on editors, agents and printing, I got my book out and never looked back.

I think a lot of what I am saying here has been said before, but there are a couple of things that are a bit different I think.  One is that in my younger days I really wanted to come to understand God, perhaps because of the strange and overpowering delusions I had.  I simply felt that there had to be some evil power, and that if there was evil, there must be good and I wanted to be on the good side.  This led to explorations in buddhism and christianity and also just general spirituality that made me a much better, more stable person.  I also want to stress that it can make a huge difference in a person’s life to have an older person as a good influence.  For a long time I didn’t feel my Dad was a great influence because he was a drinker and we didn’t get along for a long time, but that changed too.  The man who helped show me a lot of that stuff and taught me so many things is now gone, he has passed away, but his words still inspire me and I have had an amazing life as a result of things he taught me.  I don’t want to downplay the role my Dad played though, he never gave up on me no matter how bad things got.  There were things he did I didn’t agree with but in the end he cared enough to keep helping me, keep giving me good advice and to eventuallly quit drinking.  I hope some of these words can help people in the way my Dad and this anonymous old man did.  Keep reading for today’s poem!

 

The Prizefighter
I hope you know by now every little bit we lose
Happens because of another choice that we choose
And there will always be some hope, some way
That those little things will come again some day

Sometimes when you are down and out
You want to just give up and shout
Shout out all your fears and doubts
But that isn’t what this life is all about

Living this life is taking all you get
Never being afraid to place a bet
Load the dice by digging deep
Knowing winners train while losers sleep

It’s not about just being number one
Or trying your very best and having fun
It’s about learning how to run a better race
With each new trouble or trial that we face

Sometimes it comes down to doing what is right
Having the guts to stop the fight
When you see someone get beaten bad
If it was you you would wish someone had

Doing the right thing may not seem so cool
But then you’re not just some little fool
You’re a child of God as much as anyone
And let’s face it we’re all under the gun

When you run the race make sure you still have the breath
For the marathon that’s coming up next
You’re going to have to lead the way
You’re going to be the one with something to say

You may have to carry someone and take their load
And it may be a long, long road
But don’t doubt me when I say there will be a reward
It’s not all about just distances and scores

There’s a place that’s waiting for all of us right now
I can tell you I know it’s true but I can’t tell you how
All the good you do will help you make it there
You have to constantly love and forgive and share

All my life I thought just first place wins
But at the end of the race is where the fight begins
We all must grow up and give up some things we love
For the unimagined reward that waits above

All your mistakes will be forgiven there
It will be peaceful and loving unlike anywhere
So don’t give in and lose the fight
Steel yourself and forever do what’s right

A little faith is all the price you pay
When you get there it will be a blessed day
You will know that you are finally home
You will never again be sad or feel alone

Leif Gregersen
August 18, 2015

Sold My Soul For Rock and Roll

DSC_0038     Well, here is an example of what you can do with a 300mm lens on a new Nikon camera.  I was able to get this shot from about 30 feet away.  I have a couple of other photos that came out a bit clearer, but I liked this one for some reason.  My Dad has a wall full of bird photos he printed up, he even has a bald eagle and all kinds of rare birds.  It makes me sad to think of all the innocent and beautiful little birds I killed simply for sport when I was younger.  I always felt that it was one thing to kill an animal and another thing to waste it’s body and essence for lack of a better word.

Regardless, it is a new day and I am finding the words told to me about being a writer are very true… you really have to have a thick skin and a lot of patience.  I have been expecting a cheque for some time from a magazine and another from a bookstore that has sold a few of my books and nothing seems to be coming.  On the lighter side though, I had an old friend from school come by yesterday and buy one of my books and he also took me for coffee and it was really great to reminisce and hear what he’s been up to.  He also has written a book which I stayed up late last night reading.  I was in a part of it, it was from a time when a bunch of us went in his mom’s car to a drive-in movie and this really cute girl and I got in the trunk to save the gate admission.  What I didn’t know was that he expected me to make a move on her while I was in there and thought for all this time that I had.  I actually didn’t want to do anything ungentlemanly not only because I was that type of guy, but also because her 6’4″ boyfriend was with us.  I remember her well though, her name was Stephanie and she was beautiful, gorgeous.  If I had thought I had stood any kind of chance with her I would have gone for it (with the help of a few beers).  But that all was almost 30 years ago.  Sure is good to reunite with old friends, thanks Facebook!

In other news, as I am trying to make this a bit more of a blog about mental health, I should mention that I have been struggling to keep my weight down for some time now.  I got word from a very nice young woman I work with about a drug called Lamotragene or Topomax.  I saw my Psychiatrist the other day and asked him about it and he agreed that I should do something about the weight and that we could try this drug.  It seemed great at first, my craving for food greatly diminished, but I found that I was very tired even though I was only on a very small dose, so I decided the best thing I could do would be to stop the medication.  It also gave me an odd, very difficult to describe feeling.  I didn’t seem to have too many physical symptoms, but I just felt really ‘dumbed down’ like I had a cold and was taking cold pills or something.  I can’t really say if these effects would have lessened if I stayed on the pill for a while, I just know that with the job I have, feeling that way can be dangerous.

As far as my job goes, I got to work a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert the other day which was pretty amazing.  I didn’t get to see much of the show but it felt so great to be a part of setting up something like that.  I think that if I ever did permanently move on from this job I would really miss it.  The money is nice of course, it is what allows me to print and distribute my books right now, but sometimes I get a chance to work with some really great people.  As some may know, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band lost 3 members in the 1970’s in a plane crash and there is kind of a ritual that everyone on the crew observes.  There is a road case (a big box for show equipment with wheels that is sturdy enough to transport in a semi truck) that belonged to one of the original band members and they have used it all this time, always giving it the highest respect and never putting anything on top of it or letting it get damaged.  I also got to put the brass eagle on the band’s piano and fly the Alabama and US flags as two of the curtains for the show.  I feel very privileged to be a part of such cool rock and roll history.  Very difficult and stressful job though sometimes, but I have the odd show that I really enjoy and the other night was definitely one of them.

I wish I could impart some piece of wisdom, something in me that could help others who may be out there struggling with a mental illness.  In all despite that I have had some pretty rough times, even extended rough times, I somehow got through all of them and now I see myself as a very lucky dude.  If anyone is out there and hurting or needing help, I hope they can find a way to talk, to get their pain out.  I myself held it in and never wanted to admit that I had a mental health issue (which is common) even when my life was at risk because of my denial.  The first step is to find a family Doctor, and talk openly with them.  It scares me to think that so many people out there in the world in poor countries or remote places have no hope of overcoming their illness because there are simply very few or no Doctors and even less Psychiatrists or treatment.  Once again I would like to offer my email to anyone who wants to ask questions or needs help, no matter where they are from.  Just email: viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will do all I can.

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