Employment: How Much Can You Handle, How Much is Too Much?

Employment and Stress Blog With Poem at the End of Post


                   How Much Employment is Too Much?  How Do You Know When You Reach Your Limit?

Please Scroll Past Today’s Blog if You Want To Just Read The Poem of the day!

     Well, I would like to talk about our limitations with regards to employment.  This is a very difficult question for me because I was raised in a family of people who worked very hard.  As you may have figured from my picture above as well, in my formative years (12-15) I was in an Air Cadet Squadron and there was a strong emphasis on work ethic and conservatism.  I did well in Cadets, I loved that I was rewarded for working hard, and often out-working my peers if I could.  But time and stress started to hit me and when I got a little older I was influenced by someone a little more left-wing.  It was a person who did believe in hard work, he just hated it.

When I was younger, I had a lot of jobs despite that I was likely a young person suffering from a mental illness.  Even before I was very old I worked in my dad’s shop, I delivered papers, I got my sister to pay me to do her chores (she had a job and made good money as a waitress in a steak house).  My plan was to have a huge comic book collection that I would use to finance my University Education.  I was 10.  Later in life I wore myself down to where I would spend most of the money I made from successive jobs on things like stereos, computer games, cars, motorcycles.  I think it was a mistake.  There is no way to tell how things may have worked out for me, but if I had taken the energy I put into buying those things and put them into my studies, I could have easily gotten scholarships.  One of my big problems was that I didn’t know anything about scholarships or University, having no family members who had gone there, and that I was digging an early grave for myself surviving on pizza and coca-cola and getting so little sleep I turned sleeping in class to an art form.

At the age of 18 I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what to tell you.  It had been a long and difficult winter, I had been fighting with my dad almost daily, he had tried a couple of times to kick me out of the house and no one seemed to care at all about me, and I was soon to have nowhere to live meaning I would lose all my property (including the comic books).  Added to that, a close friend committed suicide which devastated me, and for some reason I began to think that I could develop a new way of thinking and acting that would make people like me and turn me into some kind of hero.  This was the point when I started to slip away from reality.  Oh yes, I forgot to mention that I was working a job where I was getting screwed over for a promotion among mostly men twice my age.  This is where the word ‘psychosis’ comes in handy.  ‘Psychosis’ involves a loss of contact with reality.  Slowly I slipped into it, and soon all kinds of crazy ideas went through my head.  I ended up in the hospital and when I got out, all there was to help me to live was social services/welfare.  I felt so wronged by society, I took out my anger on employers, on my family.  It was a mess.

There is much more to talk about on this topic, but basically, I want to say that if I had seen the signs of stress coming, if I had been able to quit school and my job and be honest with my family about what was going on in my head and get help, there is a real likelihood I could have avoided numerous hospital stays.  But I don’t want to think like that.  I do want to think like my life has ended up well.  I have some incredible friends and an amazing life.  I just kind of wish that I can write these blogs and that someone out there can see some of these signs in themselves and be able to avoid some of the terrible things that happened to me.  It really is no fun having a breakdown and ending up in the hospital.  Most of the time you go through it, then recover and just get sick again, often whether you take your medication or not.  I see it often, and it is incredibly sad.  Some of the best advice I heard a person in this situation get was to a former employer, Bill MacPhee, who was told, “If you don’t find something to do you’re going to be in and out of the hospital the rest of your life.”  Bill wrote a book, he speaks at conferences all over the place and he has a couple of companies that serve people with mental health issues.  I hope you enjoy the poem below!

Edmonton, Fall 2016


The days of cold and wet have come to be

We will soon lost upon a snowy white frozen sea

Although the summer this year was a little longer

The power of the frozen north is stronger


I can’t tell you why I love this place, my home

I know that it appears I’m always alone

Up here the icy cold cleanses clean it all

And up here I haven’t got quite so far to fall


On the rainy coast out West I get sick and cough

In the desert heat of Arizona I would be lost

It comes down to being free, and what is best for me

I love this crisp cold place can’t you see


Not long ago, it’s true, I flew very far away

And to be honest, a part of me wanted to stay

But here I have those I love and my simple life

And a best friend who once could have been my wife


Maybe it is wrong of me to be afraid of letting go

But I’m happy here, and happy to let life unfold this slow

I also want to be here for my dad who soon may pass away

Because I know it shall be my turn one day


There is something special when you live somewhere a while

I feel re-energized with each kind hello and smile

I also like being able to volunteer and serve the poor

There is no other way my life could possibly mean more


And so I spend my days with those I care for near

And spend my nights writing my poetry right here

When life is lived to the fullest there is no more fear

That when I’m gone no one will shed a tear


And perhaps if what the bible says is true

When I am forever gone I will be born anew

In a place that was meant for a poet like me

Floating on a cloud in a perfect joyful sea


Leif Gregersen

Mental Health: Is Holding On and Waiting Enough?

When have you done too much waiting for your mental health to get better?  When is the time to throw in the towel and stop holding on?  I hope you never give in or give up.


        I am so fascinated by these little creatures in so many ways.  Took this on the front steps of my sister’s house in Toronto this past summer.

Please scroll past today’s poem for a very important blog post

Younger Days


 I was feeling trapped by loneliness and pain

I never thought life would get any good again

As a young man, I was scared of growing old

I didn’t like the stories about old age my elders told


And now I’ve made it all the way to middle age

Trying to make my way with words upon a page

And I have to tell you things really aren’t that bad

I have all the toys and friends to keep me from being sad


In fact, when I look back now upon my youth

I kind of wish someone had told me the honest truth

That there may be some pretty hard times when you are young

But if you dig in and hold on life can get so very fun


When I think of all the joy my little niece has given me

I can’t deny her arrival set my soul free

I love that little girl more than anything

I can’t describe the joy a young child can bring


When she was growing up I was born all over again

And I didn’t ever have to lie, be fake, or pretend

I could just be the Uncle who loved her so

I hope that these are things you already know


Now I have so many friends I truly love

True friendships are a gift from up above

So stand fast and don’t worry about being a child

I promise you that life will get so wonderful and wild



Leif Gregersen

October 15, 2016

   Have you ever sat and watched a spider spin their web?  It is a mind-numbingly tedious process.  But in order to eat and to survive, they must do it.  Spiders have to start at one side of where they want their trap to be, then climb back and forth, back and forth, spinning their tiny web enough times for the most amazing geometric structure, then spin the inner circles that connect those lines.  If someone comes along and wipes out their work, they start right over at the beginning.  I hope that this is the way you see overcoming your mental illness or other difficulties in your life.  Never, never, never, never give up.

     I don’t know how much I can handle sharing with you, my dear readers, but at a time I was very messed up and didn’t understand what was happening.  It amazes me that I got through all of that and now am a successful writer with many friends, a past of many wonderful trips and experiences and a genuinely happy life.  Twenty-six years ago I was a far ways from it and maybe if I can share a little of my story with you it might help you to help yourself or your loved ones from going through the same thing.  First and foremost, I had no understanding of mental illness, and it crept up on me.  The illness manifested itself while I was in school and I did a lot of irrational things that got me in trouble.  I was taken to a secure ward in a mental hospital which was absolutely the worst experience of my life.  It felt as though my brains were scrambled, but still there were a lot of people at the hospital who really were trying hard to help me.  The thing was, because no one I knew had ever talked about mental illness, my opinion was that if I told these people about the thoughts and problems I was having they would simply lock me up longer.  The miracle of it was that in short order medications were found that had me back in excellent shape in a surprisingly short time.

Of course, I didn’t continue to take treatment.  Over the years, I was in and out of hospitals a lot, and I came to a point where I just wanted the pain to end.  I took a serious overdose of acetaminophen and came very near to ending my life.  When I saw the pain and difficulties I caused my family, I decided I would never attempt suicide again.  I had to have some kind of hope in my life though.  It was excruciatingly difficult, but I kept trying to find a doctor and medications that worked for me and I forced myself to get a job and at least try and make my own way in the world.  I found a lot of help going to church and some 12-step meetings, though for years it almost felt like my whole life was just about going through the motions.

One of the things I needed to do perhaps the most was to get my life on a schedule, even if I was occasionally sleeping all day or staying up all night.  My method of doing this was to start going to the swimming pool.  By the grace of God, the city of Edmonton started a plan where people who were disabled or impoverished could get a free pass to use city facilities.  It was very hard at first, but I forced myself to go and forced myself to fit into the groups that went there at the same time as me and before I knew it, I had friends that went there and worked there and lifeguards were helping me train and it was fantastic overall.  This exertion made me sleep better, made me feel better, and improved my life in so many ways.  In a lot of ways I thought I would never participate in sports again after knee injuries as a youth, but now I was getting very fit and it was helping nearly every part of my life.

Being in shape led me to be able to work more, and eventually just by the sheer fact that I got along with people and was helpful, I was given a job working security on movie sets in Edmonton.  This led to other work as a stagehand for concerts and life just kept on improving.  As time went past, I started to use my free time to work on my writing, and basically just took things one step at a time until I had built a body of work that I was proud of.  Meanwhile, my niece was born and my purpose in life soon became all about spending time with her and trying to be the best Uncle I could be.  None of this would have ever happened if when I was younger I decided life sucked now and would suck forever and stopped trying.  If you have a goal or a dream, sit down and make a plan.  Keep a success journal to record yourself moving towards that goal each and every day.  It can be something as simple as taking a walk to a community college and looking at courses that you could take.  It could be as simple as just taking a walk.  But please, never, never, never, never, never give up!  Life can take you so many amazing places and I honestly believe that our Creator will never give you more than you can handle.  Joy and happiness to all of you!

Leif Gregersen

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.


                      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


Attraction: What Draws Us To People?

Attraction: What Draws Us To People?



   These are Bison, who flourish at Elk Island Park near where I live in Edmonton

(sorry, no poem today)

     Today I would like to talk a little about attraction.  Why are we often attracted to people who will often only hurt us?  Why do we keep getting into relationships that are toxic?  I’ve only really had two serious relationships in my life, and both of them were with women who were severe alcoholics.  Why would this be?  Well, one explanation is that I come from a family that was affected by alcoholism and in such a family unit there are certain rules.  Unwritten ones, but very real ones and universal ones to families of this type.  Some of the rules include being secretive about one’s’ family, another would be something that stems from that, which is isolation.  Then there are different roles that each person in a family with an alcohol problem takes on.  Somehow people like this seek each other out.  I learned a lot of this from a book called “The Adult Children of Alcoholics Syndrome” which I suggest anyone with a family that fits this profile look into reading.

When I think of attraction to a person, I often think of charisma, about people in my life who I really wanted to have as a friend who perhaps knew this and took advantage of it.  There was a trip to California I took at age 19 where I was left high and dry, basically left for dead after paying for a guy to travel all the way from my home in Vancouver to his home in Southern California.  I still have a lot of resentment over this as it was hell trying to get myself back home after he ran up my credit card and made a lot of false promises.  But the fact was I had some ulterior motives myself.  He was one of these cool surfer dudes that all kinds of women loved and I just assumed that since he seemed to want to be friends with me that I could one day be as cool as he was.  The problem was he was a pathological liar and most likely a narcissist with no intention of helping me in any way once he got what he wanted from me.

Then there is another guy I think of, someone I grew up with.  He wasn’t the most popular person in school, but he was always trying to be.  A lot of people wanted to climb the social ladder with him and I will have to admit he did a lot of fun things.  In elementary he was almost always at my birthday parties, always thought to be very cool.  Then one day he and another guy I had been friends with decided to simply hold me and beat the crap out of me.  I think this was one of those situations where a person gets hurt a lot and develops a ‘tough guy’ attitude where they decide to hurt others or expose other’s flaws before anyone sees theirs.  I contacted this guy a few years back and the way he turned out was pathetic.  He was working as a stockbroker and tried to advise me to buy a stock that was worthless and always would be.  He bragged about being a womanizer when he should have grown out of a phase like that a long time ago.  I wrote back and told him about my writing career and gave him a long list of why I had no interest in writing about him from his criminal history to some of the things he had done to me.  It kind of felt good.  One of the funny things though was that in high school I had another friend (if one could really call these people friends) who went through hell with the way this same guy treated him and a few months after school ended for us, this friend chastised me for implying that this person, who had devastated him at a very critical time in his growth years, could be anything but a nice person.

I don’t really know if all of that makes a lot of sense to everyone, but I want to finish up by talking about one of the good ones in my life.  When I was age 12-15, I was in something called “Air Cadets.”  This was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.  One of the great things about Cadets was that we were led by our peers, we were trained and given all kinds of instruction in things like leadership, photography, citizenship, first aid, and many more things.  But what made the difference for me was two of my Sergeants, Chuck Howie and Kirk Popik.  Just writing those names makes me think of some kind of fictional characters and to me, these guys were larger than life.  Kirk and Chuck were best friends, and for a while, they were also good friends of mine.  They were bodybuilders and had a huge influence on who I became as a person.  Why was I drawn to them as friends?  I think in a way I idolized them, wanted to be like them.  They were dedicated Cadets and in a way mentors to me.  They gave me an example in my life of how I could make myself into anything I wanted to be, and supported me while I tried to do it.  Not to belittle them at all, but Chuck and Kirk sort of stepped in where my family members fell short.

So I don’t think I answered many questions here.  I guess I could say that if you have a young person in your family who is searching for answers, who needs direction, getting them into something like Cadets or ballet or synchronized swimming where they have peers who can be a good influence on them (even getting your child a big brother or sister), can be an excellent way to see them blossom from pre-teens to adults.  As far as attraction to others, I think what I was trying to say is that one should ask themselves if the person they want to get into a relationship with or have as a friend is really worthy of you.  I have a good friend who is quite a bit older than me and it feels a bit funny, but I have found that he is an incredible, giving person.  I don’t know how I managed it, but I also have an amazing friend who is also an author who is extremely generous and kind and caring.  Other than that he is an incredibly intelligent and accomplished author I don’t know what to say about him.  I think if a person wants to find friends that are truly good people, they have to get involved in their community, reach out to people and try to be as truly good a person as they can.  Perhaps after a few handshakes and friendly questions, you will find a friend that makes a positive difference in your life.

Poetry, Bipolar, and Coping Skills: Becoming an Advocate

Poetry, bipolar and coping skills: These are what started out as my therapy and what made me become a public speaker and author, advocating for mental health awareness and mental illness understanding.  I hope all of you enjoy today’s blog, I am writing it after having the extreme honor of being asked to speak at the U of A medical school as someone with life experience with mental illness and the treatment of my disorders in the hospital.


The Rushing Waters of Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park

Today’s Poem:  (please scroll past for today’s blog entry)

This Time Means So Much


Now in the darkness

Combing through my life

Now in the starlight

Moment by moment


I fear there were things

I could have completed

I fear there were things

I must have done wrong


Here in the darkness

I try to replay the madness

Here in the nighttime

I try to forgive myself


What did she mean

When she asked me to leave

What did it mean

When she never called back


Here in the moonlight

I don’t know if she even liked me

But here in the darkness

I can make it all make sense


Here in the dim light

My thoughts torture me

Here in the night light

I hope to lay all the past to rest


It helps me a little

To meditate on the cinch points

It helps me I think

To not make those mistakes once again


Here in the cool night

Staring up at the stars

Watching the moon’s glory

I find strength to move on


Leif Gregersen

September 19, 2016

     Well, I would like to talk a little about how I became something of an advocate for mental health awareness.  I owe a great deal of what I have become to a young woman named Jillian Jones who worked at the Schizophrenia Society and supported and instructed me to the point where I could go to schools, training classes, community organizations, including colleges and universities and talk about how mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder affected me and why it is so important to have an understanding of mental illness.  Of course, there were many other people, one of them being an old friend named Donna who one day said she could help me get the book I had written published and referred me to an excellent editor.  Without my book, I don’t know if I would have gone on to give talks and promote mental health awareness like I have.

There are a lot of people and organizations I would like to acknowledge, but the fact is that mental illness is something so insidious that it takes a lot of help from a lot of people over the whole course of a person’s life to overcome it.   Sometimes I feel bad that it takes so many of society’s resources to keep me going, but the fact is if you look at things honestly, I would be costing society a lot more if I either was a permanent patient in a hospital or if I were homeless and insane.  Many people like to shy away from the word insane, but the cold fact is that without my medication and treatment team, I would soon be insane.  Psychosis would slowly creep up on me, I would get grandiose and delusional thoughts, and I may even act on them.  I am so lucky that it has been fifteen years since those things have happened, but I constantly have to remind myself that the dark specter of mental illness is just under the surface of my psyche.

I don’t want to just write about the negative side of mental illness, though, I would like to write about some coping strategies I have learned.  One of them, of course, is goal setting.  I recall first getting out of the hospital and being asked by an occupational therapist what I wanted to do for a career.  Some may have said they didn’t think they would ever work again, and I have to be honest, I had some doubts, but I said that I wanted to be a writer.  She asked how I would go about this and I said I would train myself over the next five years.  It actually took ten, but I think if I didn’t have that goal in mind in leaving the hospital it would have never happened.  When a person has a life affected by mental illness, there is a long chain of things that should happen.  First, they need to be put on medications, which could mean, but not always, that the person has to go into a hospital.  Somehow they need to be made to understand that they must trust their treatment team and take their advice.  After they get more stable, I think it is important to take a lot of life skills training.  These classes can teach a person how to interact with others, communicate, control anger, and many more things.  Life skills training in things like cooking and managing a household are goo too, but that isn’t the life skills I mean right now.  After that, no matter what age the person is, unless they are able to resume working a job they had before, is to get some kind of education.  Personally, I took a lot of free courses through the public library which not only allowed me to learn how to use this website, but also taught me magazine writing, poetry writing, and many other skills that have helped me support myself with the aid of a disability pension.  The next step after educational training is to get a job, even if you have to start as a volunteer.  Volunteering can be so rewarding, I used to visit seniors and talk with them and read to them.  The great thing about volunteering is that you can pick what you want to do and get real world experience in something that you never dreamed you would be able to do.  I have a friend who volunteered for a long time at a community police station, another friend who was a welder in an aviation museum.

Well, that will be about the whole shebang for today.  It would be great if people could comment or give feedback to me about what they feel about my website.  I can be reached at the email viking3082000@yahoo.com if anyone wants to discuss things privately.  Mental health to all!

Leif Gregersen



Making the Transition: Living Alone After Hospitalization


Living alone after a hospitalization can be difficult.  It took me 15 years!  I started out in a group home where I was supported, and everyone in the home had been hospitalized at one point for a mental illness of some type.  This made for less stigma regarding my illness (bipolar/anxiety/schizoaffective disorder) and forced me to learn a lot of skills that are helping me thrive in my first self-contained apartment in yes, 15 years!  Of course, there are my books which I feel are the most important part of my recovery.

(apologies: Today’s introduction and photo ran a bit long.  Please enjoy today’s poem and scroll aaaalllllllll the way down to the bottom to read today’s actual post!)


This photo on the right is a picture I took while visiting my sister in Toronto.  it is three tiers of a wing of the Ontario Provincial Parliament building.  I really love to explore and photograph lavish art like this, especially when it draws on the architecture of the ancient Greeks as does a lot of ornate government buildings.  I don’t really know that period in history that well, but I think this trend is because of the fact that Greece is credited as the birthplace of Democracy.  One of the things that keeps me going, having a lot of fun and experiencing new things is travel, which I think is essential in my quest to be more independent.  I always try to get the most out of my travel dollar, booking my own flights, staying with friends or in Hostels.  One of the best things to do is to learn the local public transportation system as I did in Toronto and London.  Please see below the poem underneath this text for the rest of today’s blog, and if you like my poetry or other writing, please support me by buying a book off amazon!


A Madman Who Was King


The air is cool, the night is dark

I’m lost among my books

Pages of pictures of people

Through the ages

Their eyes all seem so stark


I dreamed about one of these before

Perhaps I was just a child

He’s the only one with just a little more

A look a little wild


Gazing into the picture neatly framed

Trying to see the soul it represented

One that is long forgotten perhaps because

Into madness this man had descended


It is said he had a particular madness

That warped the most brilliant of all thoughts

And hence all in his life he ever accomplished

Was to be left tied in leather knots


I lose myself in this portrait

In the image on the page

Wondering if in a time like now

This poor soul could even draw a living wage


It may be over 200 years

It maybe be an ocean or two away

But when I look in this man’s eyes

I think if he were well he would have something to say


But they would just fill him up with pills

Until he had no more independent thought

Until he no longer cared to chase

Any hope of the dreams that he once sought


It was said he was a happy man

Until they took all he had

But that taking his writing away

Was the only thing that made him sad


You see this man had dreams

And could express them like no other

But when he showed the slightest sign of madness

They locked him up and gave his kingdom to his brother


It is such a funny thing to me

This ancient man a king in a far off land

Because despite high birth and massive wealth

No one wept for him or tried to understand


Living Alone After a Hospitalization:

Well, when you get out of the hospital you are going to need to look at a number of things.  The first time I was out of the hospital 15 years ago I had become such a wreck that things were done for me.  This was extremely difficult for me to face, but I had to accept that I had a real illness, and honestly, let’s take a look at the difference between a physical illness and a mental one–is there really a difference?  Is there something about the brain that is separate from the body?  The fact is, the brain had mass, is an organ, needs blood, and can go haywire just like a bladder or liver or heart.  No one should be ashamed or feel they have to make excuses about having a mental illness, it isn’t something a person chooses to do.  Just like they are doing with drugs in some countries, instead of shuffling people off and stigmatising them, we need to look at harm reduction and community involvement.

So, the first thing I really started to do when I left the hospital was to write.  I had a computer though I had no printer or Internet connection but I would play games and write.  I would write poems, journals.  I didn’t send any of them out like I do now, but I needed to start somewhere.  I had a goal and I was willing to work towards it no matter how long it took.  Before that time I had written some stories, some poems.  Things were very different then, to write a book you kind of had to lock yourself away and then send it to a publisher or agent, pay all kinds of fees, you often got ripped off and even if you had good news come back it would take years.  Now people are using SEO to write books that come up on all kinds of search engines, self-publishing them and sending them out, and they are garbage.  Not to say writing was never crap before, but it seemed that people spent a lot more time polishing and perfecting their work.

So let’s break down what we have so far.  You’re in the hospital, you get out and you don’t know if you can cope and worry you may go back in a few months.  First of all, take some time no matter how hard it is and take your medications.  You have a physical illness that can almost 75% of the time be corrected with medications.  That number goes up when you add in group therapy and counselling.  So get the treatment you need.  It truly sucks that some people in the US live without a health plan to get themselves these things, but you have to do everything you can to get better.  No one thought I would get better when I first got out, but here I am now supporting myself with writing work and book sales and I’m travelling and I have all kinds of great opportunities come my way.  If you live in the US, why not try and contact a pharmaceutical company about getting discounted or even free medication because of hardship?  This is a tax write-off and also a major Public Relations step that the big companies often do.  You may see a Psychiatrist at a free clinic who isn’t helping you, but you can look into getting a more effective doctor that you can work with by paying on a sliding scale.  I knew one guy who was seeing a Psychiatrist for $1 a visit, and he helped him a lot.

The next thing that is very important is to have a goal, to have something to work towards.  It could be a new computer, it could be a reliable car, it could be anything.  For me, it was having a girlfriend and getting out of the cycle of living on disability benefits.  I haven’t accomplished these totally, but I have female friends in my life who I really care for, and my disability benefits are now reduced because I work and I get benefits from another program that I paid into.  Again and again I will say that you need goals because without them you are just floating, you can’t look at the past year or years and figure out what was working and what wasn’t, you aren’t going in a direction.

So I hope at this point you have goals and you have found a way to optimize your medication and can afford it.  I don’t want to bore you with too much reading today, but I think the next thing to think about is relationships.  Mostly family, but friends and life partners too.  Work hard on making these as strong and loving as you can.  Work hard to build trust and look for ways to show people you care, talk with them about their feelings and your feelings and invest in them.  They are the ones who are really going to help you as time goes by.  That’s all for today Dear Readers, I am going to post a picture below, I hope you all are benefitting from my words.

Leif Gregersen





Loving Someone With a Mental Health Problem

Loving someone with a mental health problem.  It can be a very difficult thing to accomplish, but very worthwhile.  Scroll down past today’s poem and photo to read my blog about just that.


This is a photo of my dad, who is my rock and salvation.  He married into a family with mental health issues and never stopped caring, never backed away.




When I think of the perfect summer day

I think of you and I walking in the heat

We had no car no cash for the bus

But with you by my side I felt so complete


There was a certain special something to you

You had such beauty, and under that a loveliness true

I recall your long, ungainly, uncovered feet

Walking on the grassy part of the street


You never seemed to care at all what you had

As long as you had someone to share it with

And you had so very much to offer

Walking with you was pure bliss


There were so many things to love about you

Like how you let your thin shirt reveal your sweet breasts

Or how you could transform yourself into a bookworm

And study hard and get perfect scores on your tests


But I think what made me truly love you

Was how you were able to care so very much

For the smallest creatures in the animal kingdom

To people who had been hurt by life’s harshest touch


In my life I’ve not done well with many women

And I thought that was how the story would end

We all make mistakes and have problems that’s human

But I picked right when I picked you as my best friend


Leif Gregersen

August 22, 2016

     Good day, dear readers!  I haven’t been making blog posts on a regular basis for some time, but I think I will soon correct that error.  I have been learning a bit about how to make my blog better and more popular and I am hoping that will bring a new enthusiasm to this process.  I am currently in Toronto and having a fairly good time with the place.  It is huge and so I have been a bit reluctant to stray far from my sister’s house, partly for monetary reasons, and partly for mental health reasons.  It gets so hot here, I don’t know how people can stand it.

In a couple of weeks, I am going back to my job as a presenter for the Schizophrenia Society and I think it will be a very rewarding month.  I am going to speak at a medical school and our annual fundraiser which should be pretty awesome.  While I was here in Toronto I spoke at a mental health conference (on a panel) and I have to say it feels good to get some recognition going.  A lot of people really seem to respect that I have written books about my illness and all that.  I can only see things getting better career-wise, but still, I have to remember to do my daily maintenance on myself.  Above all, I need my medication, and then I have to work on the simple things.  Am I eating in a healthy manner, am I exercising, am I isolating myself?  There are a lot of things that I have to keep focused on.  Fortunately, as time goes on it gets easier.  Sometimes I am so amazed that it has been 15 years since I was in the hospital.  I have to admit to being a bit worried about what moving out on my own (in the week after I get back) is going to be like, but there will be support there and there is more support from the mental health clinic I go to.

Aside from that dear readers, I hope you all are well.  Remember as I said in my poem, we are all human, we all make mistakes, be kind and forgive yourself, rebuild and move on when that happens.  Thanks for all the support!

Mental Health and Life Management With a Poem To Entice You


                This is a photo I took with a special close-up lens.  Photography can be so rewarding and fun

Today’s Poem:

All We Really Have


Take a moment now and stop and stare

At the green glow of summer everywhere

White whispy clouds and deep blue sky

Don’t stay inside where you will surely die

Venture out under the sunshine all you dare


Summer may be coming near it’s end

And it does become harder to pretend

We won’t miss the sun again this year


Soon frozen winter hands will encroach

All the outdoor spaces and places we love the most

Are all our happy, carefree days simply done?


It saddens my heart, my mind, my soul

That we must now make toil our only goal

Until once more the outdoors are warm and sublime


Through the colder months of wind and snow

We get older as the young children grow

Pausing only to mark the birth of Christ


And then in Springtime as the flowers bloom

We fast and try to comprehend the doom

Of the only truly loving one who never sinned


Then once more our thoughts turn to different things

Such as the pain and joy a family brings

But not a man or woman regrets it for a moment


Because no matter how much I will lament with this pen

The Summer sun will be here again

To turn our sad faces to smiling happy bursts of light


But yes even then we will soon forget

That for each hour of joy we owe a debt

Of an hour of ice wind and snow


And when those times come upon the land

I think our Lord God understands

We need to sleep in curled up and warm now and then


And to cuddle close as we watch TV into the night

As lonely others pass and envy our light

That comes not from TV or light bulbs at all


I just ask that you heed me a little and hold close to your heart

As we wait for this precious summer to depart

Those who have shared your life with you from the start

And those who pierced you with cupid’s dart

For all in all love is all we really have


Today’s Blog:

Good day my fine readers and friends!  I have to say though the poem I wrote has a touch of sadness to it, I had one of the best days ever today.  My sister is in town with her husband and my niece and she threw a party for her old friends and our family and I had an amazing time.  It was one of the best parties I have gone to for many reasons.  One of them was that my sister’s friend Steve was there and he was a good friend of my sister’s when I was just a 12 year-old kid and as I sat listening to my sister and him talk it reminded me of the many things that I am so grateful for with regards to my sister, that she really works very hard to help people and has huge wellsprings of compassion in her heart, mind, and soul.  For a long time I just saw her as kind of an angry person, but when she was with her friends I guess her guard was let down and she was able to talk about some of the humanitarian efforts she makes like when she taught literacy in a penitentiary and how she now teaches mentally challenged students.  I had a fun time with my niece too, she is an amazing girl and we laughed ourselves sick at the ‘Instagram’ face-swapping app she used to take pictures of all of us.

All that aside, I have still been trying to keep up with my work.  I don’t know how many people out there have read my books, I have had a friend who has given me the incredibly kind offer of helping to edit and re-work the book “Inching Back To Sane” which has some good content but is in dire need of better organization and maybe a few other things.  I am also working on a manuscript of short stories that the well-known Canadian author Richard Van Camp is going through for me right now.  I feel so blessed that I have been able to win three cash prize contests and make the short list of a fourth.  September will actually be the first time a story of mine has been chosen for regular publication in “The Canadian Tales of the Heart Short Story Contest”  (in case you want to look it up in September, the title of the short story is “Sandra: A Love Story.”

All in all, I have been finding in the past few years that my forties are the best years of my life.  I have gotten over all that boyhood shyness, I don’t feel any more like I am some second class person in older company, I have developed skills that help me to thrive and I have not only overcome addictions but I have learned many ways to manage the money that my addictions were costing me.  This may seem funny, but in a large way this relates to suicide and how sad it is.  If young people who felt their life wasn’t going to get any better and that killing themselves was their only option, I have to say that if you stick to your guns, keep working hard, never give up on yourself and more, there truly is a much better life ahead.  Of course this also makes me think of the homeless people and how hard it must be to have nowhere to feel safe and to sleep through the night.  Even if they get a job (which is extremely difficult if you are dirty and ragged) it seems like such an impossible task to save the money required for a room or apartment on top of all the other needs a person must have.  What breaks my heart even worse is when you see people using needles and you just know that they are extremely addicted and likely infected with HIV or Hepatitis.  I don’t know what I can do, I do little tiny, minuscule things like giving people a few bucks, buying a person the odd sandwich, but there is so much need out there for these people to be helped.  All I really have is words.  They say the pen in mightier than the sword, maybe if I can truly master this craft of writing I could somehow change the way people look at the homeless and truly do something significant.  Anyhow, I think I am going to attach another photo below, I hope you have enjoyed your blog experience for August 5th!


This is a building called “The Admiralty Arch” which leads a person from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace.  I am so happy that I took this vacation, I am tempted to go there again already.

Mental Health and Poetry With a Couple of Photographs


Another Shot From My Day Trip To Jasper With My Dad.  So Beautiful There.

Check out today’s blog entry after today’s poem

First Responders


So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

So long as proud men and women seek the light

The human race will always be a worthwhile game


No one in the world is alone to blame

In the end the winners will be in the right

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame


Some evil people count destruction as their only aim

But as long as good people always keep up the fight

The human race will always be a worthwhile game


Raise up a cheer for those who carry the flame

By their acts they give the blind new sight

So long as heroes who make sacrifices are given due fame


Some feel the only good in life is gain

But our salvation still shines bright

The human race will always be a worthwhile game


Each of our heroes may not quite be the same

But on all of them shines a holy light

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

The human race will always be a worthwhile game


Leif Gregersen

July 23, 2016

     Hello to everyone out there who faithfully keeps up with my blog.  I don’t really have a lot of profound words for you today.  I am lavishing in the memories of London, England from my June trip, it really was amazing.  I have been thinking about the Imperial War Museum which used to be a mental hospital.  I think it is kind of fitting to have such a place to commemorate war, it seems to be such an awful, crazy thing.  I had a near death experience not too long ago and it reminded me of my own mortality.  I fell off my bike on a steep trail and got knocked around pretty badly, even bit a good chunk out of my tongue and got the wind knocked out of me so it was impossible to breathe for a little while.  I wondered at that moment if I would ever breathe again.  I sure didn’t expect life would be this good or that I would be this frail at 44.  I remember as a kid reading about men in their 70’s doing these incredible feats, and I don’t doubt I could still do some things, but there are a lot of things I can’t do.  As a result of taking medications and my hands shaking, just about anything that requires a steady hand is impossible.  The medication also affects my balance and my memory.  My doctor and his staff are aware of all of these side effects, but we also agree that I am much better off with these problems than I would be if I weren’t on a medication that stabilized my mood and kept me from experiencing psychosis.  It is so hard to describe what psychosis is like.  You hear things, you think things, little things that happen seem to have huge significances, and you get a lot of irrational ideas in your head.  It is scary to think of how far gone I was during my last visit to the hospital.  I will never forget experiencing this horrible feeling of depression and restlessness and looking at a tile pattern on the floor and somehow my brain mixed it around and turned it into a vision of Nazi Germany and all the horrors they perpetrated. It may seem really odd, but it would make sense to someone who has experienced such things.

I don’t want to dwell too much on all that, actually this has been a great week.  I participated in a story slam, where you put in $5 and get to go on stage and read a 5 minute story and up to ten people can read and at half time they pass a hat which everyone puts $5 into.  The stories are judged and the highest score gets all the cash in the hat.  I went home the proud winner of $100 which isn’t huge, but enough to make a nice difference in my monthly budget.  It is funny to think of how much effort it took me to write the story, edit the story, prepare myself to read it and all of that.  Then it took tremendous effort just for me to get out of bed and walk the 2 miles to the place where the event was taking place.  I really didn’t want to go, I had no faith in my story or my abilities, and I didn’t want the stress of going there and going up on stage, but somehow I did it.

It was good to win that, but stress is eating a hole in me right now.  I am supposed to be moving this week and I still haven’t gotten word that my suite is ready.  I was really hoping to get out of this place I live in now and be done with it, but I just may have to stay another month which will cause all kinds of problems.  And then, constantly, I am bombarded with these thoughts, memories of my past where I play negative things over and over in my head.  Somehow I muddle through though and get things done.  I am now a paid blogger for healthyplace.com and I wrote my blog and recorded my video today for them.  Next step is just to post my blogs and then invoice them for my pay.  It is kind of cool.  That is what is great about being in your 40’s (I’m 44) there are so many little things you learn to do to cope with life.  I can’t imagine life without all my little jobs here and there.  Anyhow, that is my life for one more week, I appreciate you all following me, and as a token of that appreciation, I am going to post another photo just below.



Trying To Enjoy Life. Good Sleep, Good Food, Good Friends


I hope no one gets ill looking at this little fellow.  In a way I find him beautiful

The Simplest Things


You will think it’s funny

For me to talk this way

You see I had a happy time this evening

In a simple, pleasant way


I sat down to enjoy some food

With a lovely pair of adult friends

No kids around, no crayons

No waitress to offend


A new chance was given to me today

One that I once thought was forever lost

I had a chance to sup with lovely people

And wasn’t asked to front the cost


A little chicken, some cherries

Some salad vinnegrete

And off me fell the pain of loneliness

And the millstone of regret


For some time now I have been a number

A man without a face

Giving everything I had

To win the silly human race


I never thought a simple meal

Could bring so much joy to me

I have been trapped in my own prison

And just now for an hour I was free


It felt a little odd to talk

Instead of just wolfing down my food

When there is no one around

Nothing like that even seems to be rude


I want my whole life to go on like that

Breaking bread with my close friends

Perhaps even upon that wish

My sanity depends


Leif Gregersen

June 13, 2016

     Hello My good readers!  I hope all of you are on an amazing journey right now headed directly for all of your goals and dreams!  I hope I don’t sound too positive, I am in a pretty good mood today.  I went to help out a friend today and karma repaid me with a real blessing.  Basically, a friend down the street needed help with a new TV and Xbox he got for his grandson and simply gave me all his old stuff, which is incredibly new and in good shape.  I don’t need the stuff, which is a TV and some video games and I talked to my friend and he doesn’t object to me selling them.  Comes at just the right time, I am soon going to be moving and soon after that I am off to Toronto.  It is kind of funny because when I was younger I thought Toronto was the trip of a lifetime, but now compared to all my other journeys it is just another two weeks without my own laptop.

My mental health seems to be going well.  I am occasionally taking melatonin as a sleep aid and find it makes me very tired the next day.  I really can’t stay up past a certain time or I ruin my sleep schedule for the whole week.  For a long time I was able to get to be early every night, but now that I have more writing work to do and preparation for classes and things I am teaching, I have a lot of all-nighters.

I met with my friend Richard Van Camp today, what an incredible guy and incredible writer he is.  We had fun drinking bubble tea and tooling around Edmonton in his little car.  My main problem these days is not friends or money or things to do, it is simply looking down at my oversized stomach and wondering how I let it get so large.  I am 250 pounds and kind of sensitive about the whole weight problem of mine.  It has a lot to do with medications, of course, they give me such a large appetite.  One of the things I really should do more research on is corn, especially popcorn, I am pretty much addicted to it, I have a large bowl with margarine and salt nearly every day.

They say you should love who you are no matter what, and in some ways I guess I do, but it worried me that my health is failing.  It isn’t easy for my two bad knees to carry the extra weight, it is obviously hard on my heart.  I get a lot of exercise in but I never seem to be able to get my blood pressure down and my endurance is greatly diminished by the fact that I was a smoker for 18 years and did serious damage to my lungs.  I don’t really want to write all this to complain, I am very happy in many ways with my health and fitness, but I do want some people, especially younger people to be able to read or hear about things I go through as a result of poor choices and possibly avoid them.

Well, I hope some people that are reading this have been referred by healthyplace.com, I am now going to be a regular blogger there on the subject of Stigma.  I should let people know not only about that, but also about the fact that I have two books on the topic of bipolar disorder and recovering from it (memoirs) called “Through The Withering Storm” and “Inching Back To Sane” which I would love to send you for cost plus bare minimum shipping.  Let me know if you are interested in more of my writing at viking3082000@yahoo.com