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Coping With a Sleep Disorder and Bipolar

(scroll down for a look at today’s poem)

 

So, for those of you who don’t know, this is me some years ago. Since then I have gained a few pounds, my hair is not naturally blond anymore and I have quite a bit more money than I did then. This picture shows me wearing faded jeans with holes in them, a leather jacket my brother gave me and a sweater that used to be my Dad’s. Funny how when you look back, in some ways you had everything someone could wish for, but at the same time had nothing.

In this picture I was still a young man yearning to be a writer. Now, I am actually a person who is considered a professional writer. As I did then, I now live alone, but have a lot more supportive and encouraging friends in my life. I think back then I had a condition similar to the one I have now, that is a sense that I’m not really there, that the things going on around me aren’t real.

Anyhow, to get down to brass tacks, once again I have found myself needing to get to sleep for something important and completely unable to sleep. I have even taken some melatonin and a sleeping pill together and can’t even seem to lay still in bed. I often wonder if a day filled with high energy activating does this to me. Yesterday I took a long walk with my dad and then went for an invigorating swim. First thing this morning, I walked about six kilometres to an appointment and back, then walked later to a hospital to visit a sick friend.

I don’t really seem to understand what the solution is to this dependence I seem to be getting for sleep aids. I know that if I go on the ones my doctor will eventually prescribe that they will start to affect my memory. I also know that there are certain rules I am not following regarding my sleep. The first one, is that often I sleep in. The second is that I don’t avoid caffeine after a certain hour, and one of the worst ones is that I often take naps. If I could somehow stop doing these things I am sure I will be able to lick my problem with sleeping pills, but they can be very hard things to do, especially when a person doesn’t work full-time. I don’t know now if I am able to work full-time, though I do feel I am close. It almost scares me that in my life I have never really held down a full-time job for any amount of time. I just end up getting too stressed out, I become unable to sleep as always and walk around work like a zombie. Eventually I just sleep in, unplug the phone and let them fire me as I get the morning rest I feel I desperately need. This is a luxury I am sure is not available to millions of people who have a mental illness and don’t have a disability pension.

Well, that is about all I can type on that subject for now. I think I am going to try and write a poem today, any feedback would be appreciated.

 

Years, Months, and Days All Slip By In a Haze

 

life keeps lingering in the dark wee hours

the joys of youth slip away that once were ours

we long for days when resting simply meant putting down your head

now I begin to fear my next refreshing rest will come when I’m dead

 

To think of times of stuffy bears and being tucked in by dad

the only joy I needed in life was the love my family had

a brother, sister, mom, and dad and a little cat

riding bikes with friends far and wide with my Pittsburg Pirates hat

 

summer came so slowly and slipped away so fast

now it seems that summer only meant happiness far back in the past

I don’t want to reminisce too much and cut open a scar

Because I know when I think of my departed mom my thinking has gone too far

 

So let me dream of the future, accept but forget the past

let me think of conquests and adventures that soon will go by so fast

In honesty it feels so good to live alone and choose my own personal fate

I have everything I wanted now, including freedom for which I no longer have to wait

 

Yes it was hard to lose my mom and one day I will lose my father too

I can’t explain how I will feel on that day or what things I will have to do

I just know that being a grown-up means facing some pretty harsh realities

But it all can be so special because as a grown-up you are free.

 

 

Working and Living With a Mental Illness

Working and Living With a Mental Illness blog below today’s photo, beneath that find today’s poem.

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                      This is a little dragonfly I met while on an excursion to Elk Island Park with a friend the other day

      Working and living with a mental illness.  It can be one of the most difficult things a person can do, but in many ways, it can possibly save their lives.  I recall when I was young it never occurred to me that being in a psychiatric hospital would preclude me working.  Towards the end of one of my stays in the hospital, I was withdrawing and spending money like it was going out of style and the staff called me on it.  I told the truth, I had a job waiting for me the day I got out.  Mind you it was a temp labour job, but it was money and I was willing to work.

Many psychiatrists will look at their patients and decide the best thing for them is to put them on Aish, a program here in Alberta that looks after the needs of disabled people.  Myself I was very ill for a long time before the question came up, and I was the one that raised it.  I had been living on $500 a month in a $350 a month apartment and it was getting really difficult to get by.  I found I could work a fair bit in my job as a security guard, but that I would often run out of steam and the pressure would get to me.  Each job seems to have its own kind of pressure.  The difficulty with being a security guard was the long night shifts when I would work and live after work with very little contact with the outside world.  Then there were jobs that just seemed impossible to get through the day doing, like working in factories, especially some of the plastics plants I worked in.

I am often left wondering if one of the major things that happened to me in the psychiatric hospital, and I don’t claim to say this could have been helped, was that I lost my connection to my schedule.  For a long time I had gone to school all day, worked most evenings, did my schoolwork and studying and I could cope.  Then after being in the hospital, it seemed that everything had too much stress to it, that I could no longer handle the rigors of little sleep and long work days.

I thought I had found the perfect job when I got on as a permit holder with the union I worked for most recently.  I did so many fun things from travel to seeing concerts and working on movie sets and theatre and opera houses.  The money was fantastic as well and I could afford to indulge all my whims from having a car to having numerous computers to tinker with and learn about.  But a different kind of stress started coming up.  Part of it was the physical strain of all the hard work and heavy lifting, but another part of it was just the people.  Rotten, cruel, judgemental hardly begins to describe it.  There was this one guy who figured he was pretty tough and so he would be completely rude right to a person’s face, even if they were trying to include him in a joke or tell him something he didn’t know.  There were a lot of older guys who were total dicks about how to do the work or even just how to stay out of their way.  And if you showed any signs of not being able to do the back breaking work, they would humiliate and belittle you to no end.  I finally had to give it up.

I think I have managed to carve out my own niche these days.  I am taking a community-University class, I am doing a great deal of writing.  I even have put my name in for a job as a peer support counsellor for the mental health care system.  Life has gotten really good and in some ways I can see it getting better.  I think one of the key things about working while you have a mental illness is that it is so important to have a future, to lay out plans, to feel as though your life is going in a direction.  It can start very simple.  It can start with just writing a little in a journal each day and building up.  It can start with going to the swimming pool three times a week to get yourself in shape to get a job.  I actually have a friend who has severe schizophrenia who has managed, just with a minimum wage job to save up and buy a BMW motorcycle and a 2-year-old Cadillac.  Setting up goals and dreams of doing something like that can go a long way towards motivating someone to work, and if you do get out there and find something, it will make your whole life so much better.

You Took Me In and Cared So Much

 

I was fighting sickness, tired and all alone

Then McCauley, you gave me a home

It took a while to stake out my place

But soon I learned each name, each face

 

As a child I thought money was the living end

Now money seems just a game of pretend

Pretending happiness from something fake

Never trying to give, only trying to take

 

Here now where I live laugh and sing

I walk the streets like my favorite Danish King

A man who didn’t think himself to be

More than anyone, he was a King who could see

 

See that glory and riches only serve a few needs

And that true joy from giving comes only ultruistically

Thinking about this, I cut through Coboto Park

Walking through lit up trees in the dark

 

I also ponder all of this as I walk past the grafitti wall

Pop culture art freely given to one and all

And how I enjoy my breakfast at Spinellis Café

Then go off to live and love another day

 

This place has been my home for fifteen years

Through births and victories and grief’s salty tears

Now I want to welcome you, neighbor, friend

To live in this little paradise and keep coming back again

 

Old friends, you’ve seen me live near you, you’ve seen me age

And I know enough about all of you to fill many a page

One day I’ll sit down and write out stories of all of our lives

McCauley’s sons and daughters, lovers, husbands, wives.

 

Leif Gregersen

 

There Were Beaches To Be Taken

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Today’s Poem: (scroll down for blog and a second photo for today)

 

Insanity Poem

I am the shore; the beach

And I see endless waves capped by headless demons

Each with an issue of blood, a smell of death

Demons riding gentle sloping water mountains

Always coming

Waves that carry Satan’s surfers

Deep in the recesses of my soul and mind

I thought only Christ could walk on water

No, not in my head

If I knew my brain would do all of this to me

What once could I have done to it?

 

When young; so many things undone

 

I thought then that life would be peaches, roses

All at once complete

And happy

Happy as the minute the clock ticks away

Finally making it to the 3:30 bell

On that last day of school

Before short precious summer days of sun and fun

Those days were not so fun

When school ended for all time for me

And life was still newly begun

 

Leif Gregersen

February 10, 2016

     Good morning Dear Readers:

Well, I don’t really have a lot off the top of my head to say, but I suppose I can still manage to rattle of f a bit of stuff.  I had a very cool job interview today for a temporary position as the teacher of a writing class and I have to admit I am feeling pretty good about it.  I will be helping adults to develop their writing skills and though it is part time, the hourly wage isn’t too bad.  I am really looking forward to something that is my own idea, I want to try and take my class on a field trip to the amazing Edmonton Public Library and show them some of the many resources available to all citizens of our great city.  Most of these people will be adults with mental health issues which makes me feel even better about the job.  I have always really enjoyed working with people who are at a disadvantage, whether it be an issue of their age or mental state or physical state.  For some time I volunteered at a veteran’s extended care hospital and I really loved some of the wonderful old men that were there.  I got some good story ideas from it and made good friends with the hospital chaplain who in more recent times has been a great supporter of my writing efforts and a wonderful guy.  I know what I do isn’t volunteering, but I would encourage anyone dealing with a mental health issue who has gotten beyond the initial difficulties of establishing housing, medication and a routine to volunteer their time in projects like this.  It can only help you get regular jobs further down the line, help you to meet people and keep busy, and be an amazing learning process.  I always encourage people in Edmonton to contact the volunteer network, but in many cities there are places where a person can be put in touch with volunteer opportunities.  The neat thing is that you can basically choose your job.  I knew a young woman with schizophrenia who was able to get valuable accounting experience using this idea.

One of these days I wouldn’t mind going through a couple of book reviews.  I wonder what some of the favorite books of my readers are.  My favorite book of all time is Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” in which he tells the story, a true memoir in a way, of a trip he takes across America with his son and two best friends on a motorbike.  As he drifts down the highway he has these talks with himself and thinks through a lot of stuff in his life.  This book was one of the first books I read that talked openly about mental illness, I think I have read it numerous times, it was so good.  The same author also wrote a sequel to this book more about sailing called “Lila”.

There is another book that had a great influence on me called “The Richest Man in Babylon” but I won’t get too deeply into that now.

I suppose I could talk a bit about growing up and friends.  One time I was discussing friends and friendships with my Psychiatrist, and he told me that he doesn’t have that many friends, and has no problem functioning at a high level.  I had some times when I was young that I desperately wished I had friends, anyone to play with, talk to, get into trouble with.  From as young as seven to even just a few short years ago I was very alone.  One of the worst summers of my life was when I was sixteen and I spent the whole summer with no friends at all, deep in a depression working full time, driving around with no one to talk to, no fun things to do.  What was odd about it was that just before school let out that year I had a lot of friends and even went on a few dates with some very attractive young women.  Then, seemingly just as school ended everything kind of went to shit.  I have played these times over and over in my head and I have never been able to understand where things went wrong, what I might have done to shun these people from me.  A couple of years later when I was severely mentally ill I had such a hard time understanding why so many people seemed to be against me.  It had seemed that all my life I had only contributed to the community, done good things.  Maybe I will never understand.

The only thing now that I really understand is that it feels good to be a hard working, giving person and to have many friends.  I also know that I would be in serious trouble without my daily medications, especially the one that stabilizes my moods and Prozac, my anti-depressant.  I have been so content lately most of the time, much more so than in previous years.  I really like being an adult and attending church, having neighbors who are good friends and supporters.  I often associate all my good fortune partly to quitting drinking, gambling and smoking some time ago, and in a much larger way to publishing my first book (I have now published 12 and have 10 in print).  What is takes is just a little concentrated effort, with a goal in mind, a destination, just a little effort each day towards that goal be it big or small, and I honestly feel dreams can come true.  For many years I dreamed of being a writer and now I can honestly say I am one and that I likely have a great career ahead of me.  Anyhow dear readers, I have made a decision to put out a blog with a poem a little less often, but still keep checking back for a new one once or twice a week, and as always, please feel free to contact me or to post comments to this site.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

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Sunny Summer Days are on Their Way

DSC_0262Something 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.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

Love, Friendships and the Healing Process

DSC00221This photo is from West Edmonton Mall, it is a statue commemorating oilfield workers.  It may seem a bit out of place in a blog about relationships, but one of my strongest and most rewarding relationships have been with people I have worked with.  I feel there is something very special about people pitching in together for a common goal that forms strong bonds.

Well, today since Valentine’s day is around the corner I thought I might share a little bit about relationships.

There really isn’t a more sensitive topic than this for people with mental health issues.  So many things are up in the air for people who suffer.  Quite often, mental health ‘survivors’ have a skewed image of what love is and so little experience that they end up obsessed with a person who doesn’t want their attention.  I know in my own case there used to be a couple of females who I felt that way about who didn’t feel that way back.  It was very difficult but I had to accept that they weren’t these great wonderful people worthy of my love, just ordinary, perhaps even negative people and move on.

Of course, obsession is another thing and I don’t want to get too far into the topic because I know so little about it, I am not any kind of a qualified person to give advice and it isn’t anywhere near the kind of caring/relationship I want to promote.  When I think of relationships, I think more of the ones I have carefully built up and cultivated over the years.

It is hard to say where to start.  Just about all of the relationships in our life are important.  These may be our relationships with our parents and family members, which are often greatly strained by mental illness, and could also include friendships and romantic relationships.  I think the thing to remember is that every person in your life can be extremely important.  For a long time I had trouble getting along with my Dad, but when I left the hospital last time after a lengthy and painful stay, he was the only one who was constantly there for me, taking me for walks, talking to me, being that all important listener.  As time went by, I was slowly able to rebuild most of my relationships with friends (but not all) and the rest of my family also came back ‘on my side.’

One of the first relationships that I had problems with last time I got sick (I was very ill, extremely delusional and hurt many people who didn’t understand what had happened to me or why) was with the person who is my best friend right now.  I really care for her, I don’t want to mention her name here, some may know her pseudonym ‘Debbie’ from my books.  Her and I years ago had a short stint as lovers and it was simply the most wonderful experience of my life.  Somehow I had managed to hold onto my virginity until I was with someone I cared very deeply for and it was such an incredible experience.  Then when we broke up as lovers, we stayed friends.  She stopped contacting me last time I was ill, unable to deal with all my problems.

Over the course of time, I gathered up my courage, went to see Debbie and talked to her and kind of wormed my way back into her life.  Her and I would often go for soup at a favorite restaurant, and when I really wanted to talk to her I would write a paper letter to her, including in it a poem I had written just for her.  Eventually she got married, but we stayed friends and to this day we talk literally for at least an hour on the phone.  It feels so good to be connected to someone like that, even though it isn’t a romantic relationship.

So how does a person with a mental illness cultivate a friendship?  I have always felt that relationships with others are based on conversation, and all too often people with mental health issues don’t have a lot of things to talk about because they spend a lot of time at home, watching TV or isolating themselves.  If a person can get out and start doing more things, not only will they feel better and cope with stress better, they will meet people and have things to talk about to the new people they meet.  I am a firm believer in volunteering.  When I was alone and having problems, I used to volunteer when I was able to visit aging veterans in an extended care hospital.  I did this for some time and not only learned a lot, but I made friends with the Pastor there and spent so much quality time with these wonderful old men who had fought for our freedom.  Added to that, I found that a lot of young women really liked the idea that I was a giving and compassionate person and from what I recall my social life improved while I was doing that.

So, if you have something to talk about, how do you approach someone you want to be friends with?  This can be a difficult question and there are no easy answers. (I should note here that I am of the opinion that if you make friends with a member of the opposite sex and let things grow naturally from there, you might develop that all important romantic relationship many people seek.)  One thing I noticed I myself have been guilty of is forcing a relationship and doing things that only serve to ‘creep out’ the person like trying to anticipate what the person likes or wants and going overboard.  My roommate is a very good friend, but often he goes to far, turning on lights for me, turning off the tap for me when I go to get a glass.  It sometimes drives me nuts.  I think one of the best ways to make friends with others is to be a kind person without being intrusive and also having a good sense of humor is a big help.  These traits can be learned, humor often comes from observing others and using things they find funny.  Caring comes from always trying to see things from the side of other people.  You don’t have to go overboard, just try and notice something about the other person.  Did you get a new haircut, it looks good, how have you been doing lately, how are your kids?  Simple questions that aren’t too personal can start off a conversation and that is what you are aiming for.

Well, I can’t cover a lot of information in this short blog, I do hope that I have given people some food for thought.  Be caring, be kind, think of the other person, try to have a life so you are able to have good conversations.  If I can remember, I will try and revisit this subject in the next few days.  As always dear readers, feel free to contact me and I always like it when people leave comments.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

Jerks and Other Types of Assholes

DSC_0112       This is a picture of the Alberta Legislature grounds and building on December 25th

 

Well, I thought I would change things up just a little bit.  I want to start with the poem for today, so here goes, I will follow with some commentary in case anyone is interested.

 

Dear Friend

 

Fight the years that try and break you down

Show no fear even when death is all around

Life can be a journey through many years

And as you grow older your perception clears

 

No one knows what waits for us on our final day

But there is no chance of changing it anyway

Love and laugh and do all that you can

Face life and death with courage, faith and a plan

 

Fight the lies the assholes use to keep you down

Don’t let them make you face your loved ones with a frown

Stand tall if you can and never stop working hard

Fight for the ones you love, don’t retreat a single yard

 

Rewards await for those who truly dare

If you never try no one will ever care

The strength you need is right inside of you

You must be strong and tall and true

 

Don’t let love pass you by as I have done

You can’t spend your whole life with just anyone

The one you love must learn just how you feel

If you ever want to have a love that’s real

 

What is deep in your soul can one day come true

But there is no one who will hand your dreams to you

You have to battle pain and hate and time

But it’s not so bad, your soul ages like wine

 

Your life’s work can last mankind a thousand years

If you work hard enough and overcome your fears

Work and fight until your final breath escapes your chest

Never forget to receive a life on this earth is to be truly blessed

 

I can’t tell you where you will go on that final day

But my dear friend I can definitely say

When you finally stop breathing and slip away

I will not forget to bow my head for you and pray

 

Leif Gregersen

December 26, 2015

     Good day and a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone who follows my blog.  I don’t really know where to start today, but I guess I should begin with how I am doing.  Last night I was feeling a little out of sorts, it likely had mostly to do with all the unhealthy food I have been eating.  I don’t know how many people who read this blog are interested in my talking about mental health, but I want to talk a bit about it here and now.  It can be a hard thing to have an illness at this time of year, especially in the climate I live in.  Edmonton, though perhaps not as bad as further north areas, has very little sunlight which contributes to depression.  Not only that, the holiday season can be a difficult time.  I am still very clearly reminded of my first Christmas as an adult at the age of 18 and living at home with my parents was very unsteady.  I was deeply in love at that time with a young woman I sat next to in school and I didn’t want to give up on the hope of her becoming my girlfriend, even though I had never had a girlfriend in my life before that.  Not long before, I also experienced a loss of a severe nature, a good friend had killed himself (Rest in peace Brad Latta).  So, all of these things, disappointment with the holiday, loneliness and feelings of inadequacy added to my predisposition for a mental illness and life became very difficult.  It was a short time later that I ended up in a mental hospital and literally lost everything.  I don’t know what one person can do, other than to try and make people aware of how delicate the mental health of a lot of people can be at this time of year.  I am having no problems this particular year, aside from being a bit bored and wanting more to do.  I don’t know why, but I don’t seem to be able to write any short stories lately.  Still, the holidays have been great this year.  I spent time with my dad and brother, I went to see the new Star Wars film and I spent a fair bit of time also with friends.  One of my main problems though is that I find it hard to keep focus on anything.  Whatever I seem to do, except maybe writing, and my mind wanders.  Often it wanders to a perceived slight that may or may not have occurred.  The other day I went into a convenience store and briefly talked to the clerk and wished him a Merry Christmas and some guy standing behind me yelled out, “F*%^&ing Fag!” quite loudly.  I didn’t know if he was saying this to me, but it left me pretty upset.  I seem to run into situations like this a lot.  There was another time, not too long ago when I was going to the till at a grocery store and a young man ran and stood in front of me and literally let three of his friends go ahead of me while blocking my cart and then disappeared.  I got extremely upset and decided to keep slamming my cart into the guy who was in front of me and pushed him too far to use the till when he got there.  He swore at me and asked me to move and I said, “Sure, as long as you say please.” and he called me a Fag.  I have played this over and over in my head and I keep wishing I had slammed the cart into him as hard as I could, but all I in fact did was loudly comment on a piece of jewelry he was wearing.  He smiled and said “Maybe we should take this outside.” quietly to himself and when I got outside no one was there.  I just wish I had a thicker skin, but all in all I think it comes down to just maintaining my daily mental health.  One of the most important things I know works is if I meditate.  A half hour, or even less of sitting and just focusing on my breath and trying to keep my mind clear helps me to control recurring thoughts of these perceived slights.   Then of course I also need to keep in touch with the outside world and watch my moods.  If I talk to a few friends and get out and do a few things, including a workout routine, I know for a fact I will be much more able to deal with topics that I am normally very sensitive about.  Of course where this happens the most is work, but, God willing, I am nearing the point where I will no longer have to work my labor job or at the very least be able to work just a few days a month.

Anyhow, that was a long paragraph.  I hope some of you got something out of it, as always I would love to hear feedback.  viking3082000@yahoo.com

Take care!

DSC00308

Hello Dear Readers!  Well, if anyone is interested, I am now participating in two blogs.  The other one is on a site called ‘Goodreads’ and I am maintaining that one so I can blog about books, especially books that were influential in my life.  Today I wrote some stuff in it about “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, which I thought was pretty good.  I want to keep this blog going though, I kind of want to make it about mental health and other issues.

So, I don’t know exactly who all of my readers are.  If any of you get a chance, pick up a copy of one of my books from the ‘purchase books’ page, in kindle eBook or paperback and let me know what you think of my longer works.  Two of my books, “Inching Back To Sane” and “Through The Withering Storm” are memoirs about my lived experiences with mental illness, and I feel have a lot to say to people about how to deal with and manage and all things to do with mental health.  I would love it if more people would come forward and tell me what they think, possibly these sorts of things could make me a better writer.

So today I wanted to talk about a subject a lot of people, especially those who feel they are ‘sane’ don’t like much to talk about-I want to talk about the mental hospital.  I’m going to attach a video I made of Alberta Hospital where I spent a lot of time just below this and then after I will continue writing.

 

So, this was the place I spent 6 months in back in the year 2001.  I only remember the year because it was the same year the twin towers were hit by planes.  All that seems so surreal to me now because I was just getting over being very sick at the time and was actually still in the hospital.

The mental hospital can be a very unpleasant and frightening place.  I think because of extended worrying and poor treatment there I developed a digestive condition that I still deal with 14 years later.  I wonder though if the place had anything to do with it.  There were people that made my life difficult, including my Doctor and most of the nursing staff and a lot of the patients, but I wonder if that would have been an issue if I hadn’t been so sick.

One of the main reasons I had to be there had to do with my own mistake.  I had been on a dosage of 1000mg of a certain pill and I thought it was doping me up too much and cut it in half.  Just that small change was enough to make me very sick.  The fact is though, that the staff there do a lot to try and accommodate people in the hospital.  There was one staff member who would often take me out for walks, there was people there simply to talk to and play cards with (staff) but all I seemed to be able to do was worry.  It really scared me that after that hospital visit I would be unable to have any kind of relationship with a female, that I would never travel, that a lot of my life was over.  What is a bit scary is that those things may have happened if my Doctor had gotten his way and kept me for 2 years as he had wanted.  But my medication was brought back to the old level, I got a lot better and even quit smoking.  I can also recall a fun day when we went bowling and I got the top score.  And when I got out, life improved.  I used a tactic to do this that I have worked into my life for a very long time.  The way it goes is, no matter what, no matter how bad things get, you should have goals to reach for and try to accomplish at least one of them each day.  Now I have traveled, I am back in touch with a lifelong female friend, I have a great job and my writing is becoming known all over North America.  I started out with very little, but I pushed myself and got a job as a security guard, saved up my money and bought a nice computer, eventually a used car and by luck got an even better job for way more pay working as a security guard on movie sets.  Who made all this happen?  I couldn’t tell you, but I did have to keep working harder, doing more, taking all of my medications and keeping up with my responsibilities in my home and at work.  Will this work for anyone?  I couldn’t say really, I just know that my life is very blessed.

But, in the middle of that ramble, I will leave things so I will have more to write next time.  Thanks so much for reading this far, scroll down just a little further for today’s poem, and keep checking back because I brought my camera with me and Toronto is a beautiful city to photograph.  All the best!

 

Throughout My Days I Need You

My dear friends I dedicate this poem to you
Because I have come to learn it is true
Without your devotion and love I never could write

Though sometimes words do come through
Words that are fresh, sweet and new
Like now deep inside the night

But I often think of dear friends I have lost
And the terrible cost
Of wanting to seem too tough to care

I pray that once more our paths will cross
And that I never again casually toss
Away the beautiful love that we shared

As I sit and remember fondly the times
When true friendship was mine
I wish those I hurt back in my life

But it can be hard when in the past one was unkind
To change all those minds
Of those you turned away because of deep down strife

Always, forever hold onto those who are dear
Don’t be left shedding a tear
Because the worst thing is to be alone

Keep your loves and your family near
Be always ready to lend an ear
That is the only way to truly have a home

And when you have people to care for
You’ll find you don’t need much more
I’ve learned as I write out my words

And always be ready to walk out the door
Life will indeed give you much more
And feel the joy of knowing your soul’s longing was heard

Leif Gregersen

As The Days Go By Take Time to Watch The Skies

DSCF1046                This is a photo of my good friend James who is working his very last day ever on Friday the 15th of May, 2015!!!!!

 

Hello Readers and fans.  Well, it has been an interesting week to say the least.  I apologize that I haven’t been producing as many blog posts as I could have, there has been so much for me to get done.  Some of the things I have been doing may be of benefit to you my readers, one of them is that I have been attending a class called “WRAP” or Wellness Recovery Action Plan, and I am learning a lot of new things about mental health and recovery from it.  I would encourage everyone who can get access to a WRAP class to take the 10 week course.  When you complete it, there is a possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator for pay as a peer counselor after you take another advanced course for those of you who have mental health issues and want to earn some extra money.

All the monetary stuff aside though, I wanted to share some of what I have been learning with my readers.  Yesterday in the class, we watched a very interesting Ted Talk from a woman named I believe McGonigal through YouTube about stress that I would recommend you look into.  It talked of a study that was done where people were surveyed as to whether or not they felt stress was bad for them and man of them thought stress and anxiety and all that is very bad, but some felt stress could be a good thing.  The ones that thought it was bad had a seriously skewed mortality rate and the ones that thought it was good a much lower one.  These are oversimplified of course.   Actually, I think I will put a link to the video right here:

 

 

watch it and see about stress for yourself, the video is a great tool for people who want to get out and do more, feel better about themselves and challenge themselves.

Aside from that, I thought I would share a bit about my week.  As some of you know, I am a writer and I have written and published about 8 or 9 books and I have also been writing for magazines and publishing poetry as well as newspaper articles.  All my hard work seems to be paying off because I have been offered a job as a writing teacher for a community writing class.  I will start work in June and give three classes, get paid a small amount and hopefully feel very pleased about myself as a result.  Add that to the possibility of becoming a WRAP facilitator and the presentations I have been giving for the Schizophrenia Society and I will soon be doing well for myself.  The most important thing I feel is to keep busy, and keep my creative energies flowing.  I have been discovering new ways of doing this from simply having a car to get me around to taking correspondence courses, volunteering, studying Spanish, this blog and other things.  The amazing thing is that if you do something you like, you will get good at it.  Then, if you get good at something eventually you will get paid for it except in extreme exceptions.  Then, before you know it you have a full and rewarding life.

An awesome example of this is a book I have just finished reading by a disabled Edmonton Journalist named Cam Tait.  He wrote a book called “Disabled?  Hell No, I’m a Sit-Down Comedian!” and it was very inspiring and emotional.  Cam has Cerebral Palsy and had to go through extensive treatments to function from a very early age and has broken incredible boundaries to become a very well loved and well known writer.  His Edmonton Sun Newspaper author page is here:  http://www.edmontonsun.com/author/cam-tait

I was so inspired by the book I want to help promote the sale of it and will be putting up links to the amazon page when I find the time.  I have spoken to Cam, he graciously tweeted about a book signing I had at a local independent bookstore (Audrey’s Books-Edmonton’s last independent book store) and he is planning to do a write up in the Edmonton Sun about me.

Anyhow, I don’t seem to really be able to say much without getting side tracked today.  I am taking the WRAP class, I am getting set up to teach a writing class, I am taking writing.  It all seems to indicate that I am on the manic side of my illness and need to slow down.  Anyhow, maybe instead of getting carried away by the wave of energy, I can possibly surf it to the beach instead.  All I want to really say though, is that anyone who reads this who is having a struggle finding meaning in life or has been in and out of hospitals, things really can get better.  You definitely can get to a point where life is fun again, medication doesn’t have to take everything away from you.  Sometimes it comes down to having a plan, writing down your thoughts each day, writing out what sets you off and laying out how you want to deal with your ‘triggers’ as they call them in my new class.  I am really looking forward to taking more of these classes, and the advanced class.  For a good part of my life I wanted to be a Psychologist and I think this is about as close as I’m going to get.  Anyhow, I want to end things there.  No poem for today, but I have one I wrote that is fairly good and really new that I will put in with the next entry, most likely on Sunday.  Hope you enjoy the photos, I encourage you to follow the links to the video and to learn more about Cam Tait.  Both will be of benefit to you, and as always I welcome you to email me directly, viking3082000@yahoo.com

DSC_0100this is a shot of the Brownlee building (left) and the Stovell Block (right) in downtown Edmonton.  I have friends who live or have lived in the Stovell Block and no one can really avoid the Brownlee Building.  Luckily I have managed to avoid the Remand Centre (far left) which is now being used as a Homeless Shelter.

How To Become Wealthy, According to Richard S. Clason

DSCF3211They call the west “Big Sky Country” and there is nothing finer than heading out down a back road and just exploring in the summer time.  The trees, the clouds.  So breathtaking

Good day dear readers.  Most of you will be reading this on Sunday.  If you are like my roommate, you refrain from work or making money on Sunday.  I think this is actually a pretty good idea, but with me being from good old Protestant Work Ethic stock, I will make money at any time there is some to be made.  As an example, today after supper I used my geek skills to fix a friend’s configuration on his computer for $20 then went to volunteer for a community event which was actually really cool and made a lot of new connections and added $60 to my bottom line by selling some of my books.  I do try to attend church when I can but I honestly don’t think that God will fault me if I don’t.  I think that really church is a great place to go, and can greatly enrich one’s life, but when it comes down to saying if you would go to heaven or not whether you went to church or not, I beg to differ.  I see church as a place to go to be forgiven for your sins (the sacrament of confession) and to celebrate a mass, but it is more there I feel to have a sense of community among believers and receive guidance and direction from your pastor or priest.  I even feel that people who don’t believe in God, provided they don’t persecute people who do, will go to heaven as long as they aren’t total unrepentant sinners.  One of the few types of people I feel won’t go to heaven would be psychopathic personalities because I think that when they do harmful or powermongering things and their conscience doesn’t kick in and tell them it is wrong, that is what Jesus meant when he talked about sinning against the holy spirit, the only unforgivable sin Jesus ever mentioned.

But, I did sort of promise I would talk about work and finance today so I will forgo that.  What I wanted to focus on was a little book recommended to me by one of the more successful people I know, though certainly not the most successful.  The most successful person I know is a young man named Jeff Berwick who I am friends with and went to high school with who not only once had a net worth of close to a billion dollars, but also was one of the founders of bitcoin among many other projects.  What the ‘lesser successful’ person told me was that he had been recommended to read a book while we were in school which was called “The Richest Man in Babylon” by Richard S. Clason.  I read this book after he recommended it, and it was simply incredible.  Through stories of traders and merchants and money lenders of old, and even stories of slavery and crime, Richard S. Clason, in not much more than 100 pages, teaches people how to master their finances.  He uses no special recommendations that don’t go beyond simple wisdom.  His first axiom is that a person should always save at least 10% of what they earn, that this should be put aside and not touched, but sometimes invested.  Then he goes through many things, not the least of which is how to get advice.  If you want to learn about bricks, don’t ask your neighbor who put up a wall last year, go and find a bricklayer who has spent his life mastering the trade.  If you want to make some money buying diamonds, don’t trust your local Amway salesman, go to a jeweler and seek information from someone who will truly know what they are talking about.  Then he goes on to show the wisdom of doing everything you can to own your own home because what you would have paid in rent goes to a place you can be proud to live in, a yard your children can play in and a place for your wife to have a garden, and as the years pass and you pay off your mortgage, you will have a sizable asset to lean on.  Next, though in the times the stories are set, there is no such thing as insurance or mortgages, he talks about how important it is to have insurance to protect your family.  A key idea he sets down as well is that you should take the job you have and learn all you can about it, consult with others who do the same work, and put all you can into being a hard worker and a productive employee, and this will also help guide you down the path to better finances.

I know this is all seemingly off topic for people who have mental health issues, but it is something I feel is important to everyone.  I feel so very blessed to live in Canada because at 43 I already am able to draw on my old age pension benefits under a disability program, which I would have a hard time getting along without, and there are also programs to help people who are disabled to save money that are so incredibly generous to disabled people it is almost a crime that I don’t take advantage of it.  What I would like to recommend to those who have very little or no income due to a disability, is to first of all maintain a good relationship with your Doctor/Psychiatrist and then look for ways you can earn a little extra and set up a system of rewards so that you feel good about doing it even though it may be 10 times more difficult for you than others who don’t have a mental illness.  I used to reward myself now and then with a special tin of pipe tobacco or a book, but there are many things that can be set up.  I do strongly recommend, even though I have books that give me a small profit, that everyone who wants to master their finances go out and get a copy of “The Richest Man in Babylon”.  The book has meant so much to me over the years that I would estimate I read it close to 50 times.  Once you have read that, the next recommendation I would like to give is to try and get an audiobook series from your local library, even if you have to arrange to borrow it as an inter-library loan or heaven forbid, purchase it instead of downloading it off the Internet, of Roger Dawson’s, “Secrets of Power Negotiating”.  This audiobook series will literally change the way you look at buying and selling everything.  If you arm yourself with these two books and make it your mission to understand them and put them into practice, you will be well on your way to living a comfortable life.  If you are presently unable to work, get these books, read them, and then start small.  Buy some furniture out of the newspaper and set up a booth at your local flea market, or do like I did and start to sell off your own excess household items and then supplement your stock with DVD’s or books you pick up.  One time I even went to the dollar store, got some gadgets for $1 and then sold them at the flea market for $3 and these people had no problem paying it.  I would like to be your guide, if you have any questions, or would like to ask me how you can turn your life around when you have a mental illness and are suffering, please feel free to email me at: viking3082000@yahoo.com  and what the heck, if you want to learn more about this or if you like short stories or poetry, check out my ‘books’ page on the menu above or from the landing page on this site and grab a kindle version of one of my books (if you don’t have a kindle, there is a free app for kindle that works on smart phones and tablets).  Regardless, thank you my readers for making me feel worthwhile and needed!

DSC_0048       Despite the cold and the urban sprawl, Edmonton can actually be a beautiful place