Worrying and Self-Doubt

Well, it has been an interesting week. I finally have a few days off to do what I like which is nice. I have a hard time when I get stressed from doing too many things and sometimes I react to it by sleeping way too much. I know this wreaks havoc on my system and makes it very hard to function in line with the world of the normal people. So many good things have been happening to me, but I know that things won’t stay good for me if I can’t do something about my excessive sleeping.

I feel really blessed today because I was contacted by the City of Edmonton and asked if I could come and give a talk about mental health at the Edmonton Public Library. On Monday I will be just finishing up a six-week contract to teach creative writing and there are many other opportunities coming my way. Still, for some reason, I find a need to worry. One of the big things that I worry about is money. Every now and then I work or do some photography and make a few extra bucks, but then it seems that the money just runs away from me. I am at a point now where I have savings to at least get me through one month of difficulties, but I keep thinking about ways I could spend the money on what I deem “more fun” things. There are cameras I would like to buy, I am always thinking of buying a car or taking a trip. It all seems like such a waste and it took so much effort just to have just the small amount of savings I do have.

I also worry sometimes about my ability as a writer. I went to a story slam the other day and really felt outclassed. I was the first reader up and was quickly knocked out of the competition. This is even after winning two story slams last year. Another thing that happened was that I won a contest for a 24-hour short story that got me $300 USD. I took the story and tried to publish it elsewhere but with no luck. I am really feeling the pinch of not having been able to go to University and take creative writing. Fortunately, I have some good friends who help and support me in making my writing as good as I can make it.

One of the things that often gives me comfort when I find myself worrying is doing meditation or taking long walks. I had planned to walk the 2km to the post office today, but the ice and snow and freezing rain was pretty bad so I ended up taking the bus. When I do take the time to meditate, what I often like to do is to read some of my Asian books about spirituality say from the Dalai Lama or ancient writings like Lao Tzu and then just sit, either cross-legged or not, close my eyes and simply try to focus on nothingness, empty space as I count my breath, breathing in and out until a thought comes up that distracts me, then I go back to zero and try to make it to a count of ten. It can be very helpful to take some training in this, I once used to go to a real Tibetan Monk for classes and it was a big help, very healing.

 

When Sensitivity and Ego Collide

Ahh, it has been such a long time since I sat down to write a proper blog entry. So much has been happening to me. For starters, I have some savings right now but I have too many commitments to take any long trips. It’s funny but for the first time in my life, I have the means and cash to go to London and don’t want to. I may want to go back there in the near future, but for the moment I am happy just to stay in Edmonton. It is likely I will go to Toronto in the summer to visit my wonderful sister and sweet little niece, but that is at the back of my thoughts right now.

This past Friday was quite a shindig. The guy who got me work as a creative writing teacher hired me to MC the 20th-anniversary party for the building I live in and it was amazing. I felt really comfortable for most of the time I was up there and people really seemed to respond to my jokes and the poetry I read. I went to sleep that night feeling like my world was spinning and I was trying to hang onto it by spewing out a few choice words into a microphone.

What I am starting to slowly realize is that though my medications deal with a large portion of my symptoms, I still have a mental illness and stress, fatigue, emotion and contact with the outside world can affect it. Tonight was my Humanities 101 course at the University of Alberta and I found myself being hyper-sensitive to others and the things they said and did. I put my hand up a few times to ask questions and I got the impression that the instructor was getting frustrated. Then some guy sitting behind me tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could ‘please’ pull my shirt down. That kind of pissed me off and it felt like it ruined a good night of learning and debate but I thought about things for a while and realized that I was the one wanting to be in control, that I don’t like it when people show their unwholesome body parts in public and that my ego was telling me that this person, though just as valuable as me or any other person had no right to tell me anything. So here I am at home now, playing some relaxing music, sipping a cup of ‘sleepytime’ brand tea and honestly considering an early night and a ‘take as needed’ pill that will help me rest. Well, that’s about it for now, folks. Thanks for tuning in. I will do more VLOGs as time allows. In the meantime, stay real!

A Poem For Everyone

A Love That None Suspected

By: Leif Gregersen

 

My friends if you are weary

If life has been hard on you

Think upon the words I will be sharing

And let your heart be born anew

 

Let just a little love inside you

Allow the seed to grow

Love can fill every moment with joy

In ways you can never know

 

Love is like the rainbow

Bringing hope after the rain

But if you do not nurture it

It will leave you in nothing but pain

 

I once had a lover in my youth

Who meant the world to me

And then as though I hated myself

I pushed her away and set her free

 

My heart was broken for some time

I thought I could never love again

But someone came to fill the void

And I romanced her with my pen

 

I wrote her poems and letters

Tried to show my, caring side for her to see

But that time of love was no better

She saw to the broken core of me

 

And then after a lifetime of waiting

I found a love that would never go away

To my sister a lovely child was born

On a perfect sunny summer day

 

I loved this child fully from the beginning

How she smiled and played and laughed

She made me gather together all my bad feelings

And force them to slip into the past

 

Now love to me is her sneaky grin

Love is in her sweet and giving ways

And she has redeemed our broken family

Given all of us precious, happy days

Riding the Wave–“But I get the most work done when I’m manic!”

best-full-moon-ever

            Shot of the moon using my Nikon D3300 and a Nikkor 55-300mm lens, touched up with Lightroom by Adobe

Mania, depression, and delusions. What can pills help, and what do you need to watch out for yourself? (poem to follow this blog)

So it is the worst time of the year for just about everyone. Kids have to go back to school after just a 2-week taste of freedom and being lavished with candy canes and gifts by family. People who work in sectors like trades find that most of their customers spent all their money on Christmas and there is a big slowdown. The worst part? Suicides. Some may think that Christmas is the worst for suicides, but I have uncovered some information that may prove that January is the worst month for suicides. I can see why. I have been doing well in my recovery from mental illness for some time now, I was able to take some college courses, I took a University course last year and actually finished it. I have set up jobs and public appearances and have been working for the schizophrenia society. I sometimes wonder if I’ve been a little manic. I haven’t had delusional thinking much, but I have been finding myself increasingly troubled with sleeping memories of being in the hospital, likely because I now live in an apartment building rather than a house and I never liked the people who used to come around in the hospital and shine a flashlight in your eyes to see if you were sleeping. The flashlight almost always woke me up.

What I have been noticing is the early signs of depression creeping up. I don’t know about other places, but where I live there is only about 8 hours of daylight this time of year and sometimes lately if I have nothing to do or if it is oppressively cold outside (as it almost always is, -22 right now) I will sleep all night and then sleep all day. Then, at times like this when by all rights I should be going back to sleep, I get up and work on my writing. Today I was taken away from this pursuit because I learned the moon was full, and so I hauled out my camera and took the above picture among others. I don’t really know what to do about my depression. It has to do with a lot of things I am sure, including the diminished sunlight, the fact that I have a lot of time on my hands and that I have been isolating myself too much. My doctor has offered to increase my anti-depressant and I think I will call tomorrow to get an appointment and do so.

I am also thinking that with everything that has been happening, it is time to bite the bullet and go and see a counselor. For months I have been looking at the wall in the office of my apartment building and there is a list of free counselors there. What it all comes down to is taking care of myself. If I leave things too long I will pay the consequences. Just like needing a dentist or an optometrist, and going to them before you are in pain or blind, I really want to try therapy. From what I understand, therapy can be very effective for people with mental illnesses, though it is important that one stabilize their condition with proper medication before going to it. One of the things that makes me feel worried about what has been going on is my departed mother. When she died at 63 she still hadn’t gotten a handle on her mental illness and it was very severe. My mom had done so many things, from being a credit union manager to nearly getting a full scholarship to University. She tried so very hard and kept getting beaten down by one thing or another. I can see my mom in my brother and sister and myself in many ways. It really was a sad thing that her life had gone so poorly for her, and even at the end she struggled with her medications, moods and psychosis. One of the things she did back then was to see a psychologist and I learned to my surprise that she often talked about her mother, who had passed away about 20 years before my mom did. In many ways I feel pretty lucky that there are medications that help me deal with my own psychosis and mood swings, and do a pretty good job of it. With that, I will leave you with a poem and wish you all another week or so of good health and happiness, which is about the amount of time that will pass before I blog again.

 

Last Best Chance

My love I am always thinking of you

And how I have feelings that are true

I just don’t know how to say them out loud

 

In the dark deep night my mind begins to race

As I worry, fret and pace

Nothing seems to please me anymore

 

The first time I ever saw your face

Even my loneliness could never erase

The loveliness I saw deep inside your eyes

 

Each day that passes finds me here

With no friends or lover near

The only one I have to blame is me

 

There were many loves in my younger days

And I pursued them in my own weird ways

Never understanding I could ever end up alone

 

Plus I had so many true, close friends

On whom I always thought I could depend

But hard times took most of those away from me

 

I’ve been desperate and depressed

Sought forgiveness and went to be blessed

But found out it came down to not loving you enough

 

From the first day my life had begun

Fate made you the only one

I could have ever asked to be my true soul mate

 

So I ask if you could read these simple words

And not feel sad, scared or disturbed

I know you care for me just as I care for you

 

Things happen to each and every one

But you were always so loving and fun

Please forgive and take me in your arms again

 

I won’t make any promises to you

Except that each day will feel happy, fresh and new

Please tell me if you will, I just can’t wait

 

Too many years have already passed

You’ve always been the first and last

Give your love to me we’re each other’s last best chance

 

Mental Health Mind Reading

Scroll down for today’s blog if you want to skip today’s photo and poem. the photo below is a black and white I took of a bedsheet after throwing it up in the air

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January One, 2017; 5:15am

  

Outside is still and dark, silence fills the land

On this day hope begins anew with New Year plans

We gathered in the cold to greet this year

With promises to set aside unhappiness, anger and fear

 

As the new day dawns, I promise to all of you

That there is not one thing that I promise to do

Other than put my friends and family always first

Through the lazy easy happy times and through the worst

 

I do know that many challenges will come to us

I just ask that you do your best and always trust

That our good times will greatly overwhelm the bad

And that you must call me any time you’re feeling sad

 

This day is also set aside to recall the past

None of our futures are singularly cast

Each of us together or apart can change our fate

If we just let go of all that bitterness and hate

 

Anger and anxiety consumes us from within

Worse than not receiving forgiveness for our sins

It hurts us as it drives those we love away

It can cause us to end up alone one day

 

Family is so very necessary for us all

Please don’t forget those great words, “divided we fall”

And please care for the elders in your community

One day we’ll be among them, you and me

 

A love still dwells in my heart for everyone

Not just at year’s end but with each setting sun

For all the friends and lovers who shared my hurts and joys

For those who taught me love, gentleness and poise

 

And I could not pass without saying something for

The teachers who opened so many doors

From my little niece who taught me how to care

To the instructors who wisdom followed me everywhere

 

I now vow to all of you to never stop

Looking past the little challenges, striving for the top

And also, I give a special word to those who wear a uniform and fight

I want to thank you all for risking your lives for what we know is right

 

Leif Gregersen

     Well, I haven’t got a lot to say regarding mental health. I have been experiencing anxiety lately and it has been working negatively on my stomach. As a result, I felt nausea last night and took a couple of gravol which helped the bad feeling and helped me sleep and even relax a bit. I got up and wrote a long letter to a friend I have been relying on way too much for our own good. She is this very kind and caring young woman and we have met for lunch a few times and I actually started to think we might go out, but I discovered she had no such intentions. She is so nice though that she has decided to keep me as a friend which I am very glad of. The problem that’s been happening lately is that she has been busy and I have been short of things to do since everything is shut down for the holidays and I live alone (yes, big mistake for someone with a mental illness!) I contacted her a couple of times and my anxiety started making up all these ideas. First I thought I was bothering her, then I wrote back hoping to make her less worried about me, then she sent me a quick text and I thought that she was ‘weirded’ out about me doing that. I keep stumbling over my words and it isn’t helping that my social skills and confidence are diminished from living alone. I still have a good friend in my life who I talk to a lot, but I would hate to lose this other person as a friend. I am kind of wondering if I need to up my dose of anti-anxiety medication despite the possible dependancy and side effects. I hope someone out there can identify with this and maybe take something out of it they can use. I wish there was a support group out there that was free and ongoing for neurotics like me.

Work and Play: When are They Too Much for Someone With a Mental Illness

 

When Work and Play Get To Be Too Much

To Fly, To Dream, To Escape to Another World Supported by Air, Fed by the Gods

I have always looked at birds with a sense of wonder. For a large part of my life I wanted to fly, to be a pilot. Actually, I wouldn’t have minded being a bird either. Imagine not having to work, to play with the air currents and the people that throw food at you. Now, being a person with a mental illness, I think of the freedom birds have, how far they go in just one season and the carefree life they lead. I’m often reminded of skating when I see birds, maybe that is why so many youths in Canada think so much about hockey–you glide around, you bond with your friends and take up alliances, your team against the world. It’s all something meant for us not to sit around and let the cold get to us, or to let anything get to us. Hockey gives a person so many things, even riches beyond belief if one is good enough. To me though, it has always been flying. I will never forget being 12 and being strapped into the cockpit of a glider in what was then Namao Air Force Base. When that glider lifted off the ground my reaction was to laugh myself sick. When I found out I couldn’t fly anymore because of my mental illness, I was devastated.

Flying was my work and my play. But there were growing problems with it. One of them was that I found myself having horrible nightmares about crashing a large jet and killing everyone on board. When I started driving, I soon learned the importance of being a safe and sober driver because of the responsibiity one carries to others. In a way I’m glad I stopped flying when I did. But if I wanted any kind of lasting mental health, I couldn’t just sit around all day and watch TV or do crossword puzzles. I may not run out of money (though I often did) but I soon ran out of people in my life. I thought that would be the idea situation: time to read, time to play video games, time to study new subjects. I couldn’t do it though, I got so bored and lonely and depressed that at times I was near suicide. I remember trying to explain my situation to a friend who lived on welfare and collected bottles for a living, he often whined about how he had no women in his life and I told him that he needed to get a life so he could have a life to talk to these women about. A very trite and simple answer, but it was the truth as best as I could lay it out for him.

I have a lot of problem with nights. For anyone who reads this at four in the morning, I would say to them that they should rest and worry about the crap I have to tell them at a regular time. I think my own night owl syndrome came from me working late and night shifts all through school, then being a security guard for a great number of years. I liked the quiet, but I hated the depressing social life. I liked reading and playing Nintendo games but I was slipping further from normalcy and reality as I went on.

There is something I am sure very few people will have the patience to read here which is good because I want to share a theory and be honest with it. It seems that you can change some of the “programming” of your subconscious mind by severely abusing your conscious mind. As a teen, I could never stop thinking about this young woman I met at summer camp. I thought about her constantly, every time I was in the city she lived in I hoped I would see her, every time I met a new girl I imagined all the qualities she had that was like this girl. Then years later I got sick and had delusional thoughts about her and my subconcious mind went on a field day, giving me all kinds of ideas that came from seeemingly nowhere, but after years of thought and self-analysis it seems they came from the pain I was putting myself through. I wasn’t very good to myself in high school, I slept little, ate poorly, worked all the time and drank whenever it was offered. All these things plus something of an obsession and I was gearing myself up to get sick. I even did things like that later in life, earlier in my time on this earth, I often did these things thinking I needed to be punished, which is possibly a side effect of my depression which was severe when I was an adolescent. I hate to philosophize though because I really have no qualifications, just a better understanding of my own thoughts now that I have explored them through thought and meditation for a long time.

It is almost time to say goodnight to this blog. I haven’t been doing much writing on this site because I am working on a new book among other projects. I want to say that if you are in pain, talk to someone. If you are skinny or fat or boring or whatever, remind yourself that you are a special human being who needs care and love and that you deserve to have good in your life. And if you feel you have a mental illness, reach out. Not just once, not just to a teacher, find someone you trust and find the help you need. Sleep enough, eat enough, and take a break when things get to be too much.