psychosis

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.

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!

Dealing With Anger For Those With or Without a Mental Illness

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Well, anger is something that I am sure a lot of people deal with.  I would suppose even people who seem happy and nice all the time must have the problem and somehow suppress it.  One thing I know is that I do, and I wanted to share with you, my dear readers, how I have come to deal with it.

Anger comes into my life in many ways.  One of the worst ways it comes on is when I find myself dwelling on the past, replaying old memories in my head and thinking about how I was somehow wronged.  This is a very unhealthy practice, and should be avoided at all costs.  But how can a person stop what their mind is doing?  I have found that the only way to control what thoughts I think is to cultivate a strong mind, by meditating in the way I learned from a Tibetan Monk here in Edmonton.  It is kind of a simple process.  You set up your body in a way that you don’t have to continue to think about what it is doing, you could be walking or swimming (I love to snorkel in this instance) or you could sit cross-legged or even just lay on your back, and then you simply try to keep your head clear of thoughts.  Clear of chatter, clear of judging, clear of everything.  At first it is nearly impossible, but if you practice each day it becomes easier, and your mind grows stronger.  You will soon find that you can chart the course of your sleeping dreams and control what you think about.  It is amazing what you can do when you cultivate the ability to control your mind chatter.  I want to add a link below to something I found on YouTube simply by typing in the words, ‘guided meditation’.  Check out the video if you are interested.

I found this to be a particularly calming and relaxing one, but there are many.  What I liked about it was the sound of waves and the emphasis that the waves had something of a healing sound.  Last year I spent some time in Hawaii and went snorkeling on a couple of beaches and I can’t even begin to describe what this experience was like.  The water was clear, clean and healing.  The waved felt like they were cleansing my very soul.  There were tropical fish around that I took pictures of, it was simply paradise on earth.

There is more to anger though, there is the kind of anger that a person can often develop when they have been through a lot (I think) or possibly have a chemical imbalance in their brain.  I can recall being younger and experiencing depression and having extreme anger towards people in traffic, at the laces on my shoes when I was unable to tie them, at anything that seemed to upset what I thought was my right.  People ticked me off at every corner.  I want to share another video by an incredible young man who offers a great way to put yourself in other people’s shoes and conquer your anger.  It is below:

This young man, Noah Elkrief, really seems to understand what makes people, for want of a better term, pissed off at the world.  I think he has a number of videos that are geared towards mental health that I strongly recommend.

Then of course there comes a type of anger that you can’t really control by talking, or you can’t manage at first by talking.  One example is of a person I know who was once on steroids.  He apparently beat up someone just because he didn’t like the way they looked.  There are many types of this, one of them happens in some people when they abuse alcohol.  My Dad seemed to have this problem and we used to fight a great deal, though I have to say my own rebellious spirit and my own anger didn’t help the situation at all.  Many times in life we have to sacrifice being the one who is deemed right or deemed the bigger man to avoid situations that can harm ourselves or others, or even just spark off an argument.  I kind of wish I had been able to do this at a younger age.

This type of anger, especially when it involves alcohol or other drugs, needs to be addressed first by detoxification, then by treatment to deal with a person’s addiction or abuse and then it may be necessary for the person to be put on medications.  I know in my case a good deal of my anger was taken away by the use of an anti-depressant, but I also needed to be put on an anti-psychotic medication (once again, I want to stress that psychotic is a state where a person perceives a false reality and isn’t a violent or hateful person while psychopathic is something that is more along the lines of people who don’t care who they hurt or damage in their pursuit of their own goals).  This anti-psychotic medication helped a great deal, but if there are people out there who suffer, I want to note that quite often these medications need to be increased over time, and even need to be changed.  Thanks to modern medicine, new and more effective medications come out, and there is also the factor that your body can become more tolerant of the medication and need more of it to do the same job.

Well, that seems like a lot of doom and gloom.  I hope anyone who has read this will take the time to watch the videos, they are simply incredible I feel.  On a lighter note I have been quite happy because I have been hired to teach a creative writing workshop for the month of June, which may work out to be a permanent job.  Some of the people in the group will be community members who suffer from mental health issues but I am very happy that somehow I will be able to help people better express themselves and possibly create something they can be proud of.  I think I will pass on writing a poem for today but expect one soon, thanks for reading, feel free to contact me as always at: viking3082000@yahoo.com

*** I changed my mind and wrote a poem tonight, look for it below this photo***

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A Poem For Those Who Matter Most

 

It seems despite some troubles that my life has become

Perfect in many ways, easy to live and also fun

As a boy hard work never seemed to end

And for a while it had driven me around the bend

 

I wanted so badly then to find that special other

A partner to give my life meaning, help me to recover

From all the crap that life had thrown at me

I thought a relationship would set me free

 

I had to learn the hard way that for love to blossom and grow

You need two people and you need both of them to be whole

But how I longed to find that one to complete my soul

It seemed important enough that I sidelined all my goals

 

And then all at once it seemed that there was one who cared

The first time I talked to her it was so hard not to stare

I dreamed of her and the passion that I thought would never be

Such love never seemed to come real for me

 

At the time I had depression and I was also very shy

It was as though I didn’t like myself and didn’t know why

I seemed to sabotage any relationship that might have been

And when that was over loneliness and pain would set in

 

During a time when I was still trying to make sense of life

I met a sweet beautiful lover who could have been my wife

She taught me that with love and faith there is always a chance

And no matter what your age or problems there can be romance

 

Now that I am whole and I am older I see that life is what you make of it

Despite that fact that losing love and getting older can still ache a bit

I have been through a lot but I’m still ready to reach out

Happiness is out there somewhere I have no doubt

 

When you tally up your totals and all is said and done

The winners are judged only by what they have overcome

I may not have gone so far or earned as much as others have

But for a while I was loved and happy and for that I am glad

 

And it will not matter at the gates of heaven or hell

If my investments and savings had done well

It will only matter that I loved and cared for those I knew

And you my family and friends I truly care for all of you

 

Leif Gregersen

May 29, 2015

What The Creator Gave Us All

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The Children, The Garden and The Pets We Love

 

We seem to have messed around with the creator’s plan

He gave us all to share and nurture life in this sacred land

Most don’t seem to care that we poison our mother earth

Each day that we live starting at our very birth

 

Many people have said many times to me

You will go crazy living in the North Country

But this is the only place I know that I can see

Clean air and water, this is the place I need to be

 

This is our precious home to walk and gather as we sit

I worry so much about what man’s hand does to it

Don’t people know there is room for all to fit

If not here then in the deepest recesses of the fiery pit

 

That is where we all will go if we take this place

And destroy it collectively, the whole human race

It was given to all of us by the creator’s grace

And one day our creator we will all have to face

 

Each blade of grass, each tiny bird

Was bequeathed to man in God’s word

Yet species die off every single day

And mankind’s hope slips further away

 

We frack for oil and leave the waste behind

Are these fat cat oil billionaires blind?

All they seem to see in the land is dollar signs

To pull one strand of the web will make the web unwind

 

It makes me feel so sad that soon there will be no hope

When we lose all our plants and animals how will we cope?

All these precious creations given to us all

Soon will be no more and mankind will truly fall

 

In a far off place one tired old medicine man

Was the only one who could truly understand

No matter the reward, this was a lousy plan

To refuse to change, though we know we can

 

I ask you all to be a good steward of our planetary gift

The creator will reward us if we make something of it

The earth, the air, the water and all the life

Avoid the pain, avoid the deep and searing strife

 

It is all so simple, yet so many have it oh so wrong

You need to hear the medicine man there was a solution all along

You can’t walk in peace by covering the world in leather

Cover just your feet and in harmony walk this land together

 

Leif Gregersen

April 1, 2015

THE PLACE OF RELIGION IN THE LIFE OF A PSYCHIATRIC PATIENT

Well, this is a difficult topic.  I remember that one of the very first times in my life that I went to a church of my own accord I was in Alberta Hospital, a Psychiatric hospital near Edmonton.  My mind was ablaze with delusions and so were the minds of several other people in the room.  It was a Catholic service, but I had no idea about different religions or services.  All I could really remember was that when I was about 12 or 13 my brother and sister would take me to church and one time my brother pointed out a particularly cute young woman and told me that girls like that were half the reason he went to church.  My reason for going to church was that I was having delusions that some very wealthy people were conspiring to either bestow great riches and rewards on me or to kill me or thwart my efforts to control the world, etc., etc., etc.  It was actually a bit, no a lot–scary.  I somehow believed that in order to be the world or business leader that this mental hospital was somehow trying to convince me I wasn’t, I had to go to church.

All this must seem very confusing, and I am sure I am not telling the story all that well, so I will try to go back a few notches.  In my 18th year, back in 1990, almost a year after I should have graduated high school, I was still going to high school and had been under a great deal of stress.  Add to that I had yet to have any kind of girlfriend and then the fact that I was genetically prone to mental illness, and you have a real mess.  Over the course of a month or so I was in and out of hospital Psychiatric wards and had also spent some time in a Psychiatric Hospital.  One of the first things I did when I got home from the hospital was start drinking beer, a very bad idea with any medication, and I got a little drunk and called up a young woman I was very fond of who brushed me off but said she would still be my friend.  Over the next while, I suffered from psychotic delusions so real and so intense about a number of things that even now I marvel at how the human mind can come up with such false ideas and somehow tailor every day experiences to make them even more confusing.  My only idea was that there really was a God.  But that isn’t always the healthiest thing to convince a mental patient.

As time passed, my thoughts slowly returned to normal, but not until after I went through quite a bit.  One of the things that stands out for me is that when I was at my sickest, a hospital chaplain would come and visit me, a very kind and wise man from the Anglican church.  Later on in my mental health journey, I was in the University Hospital and I went to a service there and, while having a hard time with delusions, had another chaplain explain to me that the bible had predicted the end of the world and some of the things in it were really happening in the world despite that it was written thousands of years ago.  This was extremely disturbing, but somehow I tried to learn more and after a lot of mishaps, I found a church that makes a lot of sense to me with a priest I really like and respect, and on some Sundays I actually make it out to mass.  The problem though is that there were times in between where I was obsessed with reading the bible, times when I thought I had special status because I read the bible and prayed and went to church, and even times when I had delusions about Jesus.  So what is the solution, what is my grand answer to what people should believe if they are sick and hurting and want the comfort of religion or even spirituality?  I don’t think a loving God, and I believe he is a loving God, will hold anything against a person who has made mistakes because of an illness.  My priest even told me once that when you are mentally ill and deep into a depression, though it is not exactly giving permission, it is a forgivable sin to commit suicide.  In no way do I want to condone suicide though, it is a horrible thing, but often people who are in a depression are not in true control of their actions.  This gave me comfort because I lost an aunt and a very close friend to suicide, both from depression and I would like to think I will see them in heaven.  Aside from the forgiveness part of it though, I want to try and explain here that suicide is something that hurts so many people, something that is never beneficial.  One of the sad facts is that unless you make a serious suicide attempt, a lot of hospitals won’t admit you for help you may feel you need for other things.  I am so lucky because I have found a home that gives me structure and enforces medication compliance and regular Doctor and Pharmacist visits.  I myself have lived on my own and fallen away from those things and let myself get isolated and been near wanting to kill myself.  One of the few things that helped me through those times was having the ability to go to church and bible studies.

Now, I just want to say a few words about when religion can be a bad thing.  Some mentally ill people get obsessed with reading the bible, some of them misinterpret or have delusions about things in the bible.  This can be very unhealthy, but I don’t know what the solution is.  I know one lady who has Schizophrenia who had a breakdown as a result of reading the bible too much and needed help, needed her Doctor to step in and tell her to stop reading the bible and increase her medication.  Regular visits to your Psychiatrist and counselors are your best bet in watching out for things like this to happen.  Regular visits where you are as honest and comfortable as you can be with these people.  In my life, and I feel like I have a pretty good life, I sometimes use Yoga for exercise and flexibility, I sometimes use techniques I learned from Buddhist teachers to meditate and clear my thoughts, and I also attend a Catholic church.  In the end, I feel it is most important that I’m a Catholic because the church has a lot to offer me and the people seem so kind and helpful there to everyone.  It doesn’t stop me from finding comfort in other religious practices though, I just kind of feel that people need to follow the wisdom from an old Frank Capra movie, I believe it was called “The Snows of Kilamunjaro” in which an old monk summed up his philosophy in one sentence:  “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”  Take care and keep commenting!!

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