Month: October 2015

Back Home Most of Our Malls Don’t Have Pirate Ships In ‘Em

DSC00203     The title above is a quote from an extremely hilarious Australian friend I showed our amazing West Edmonton Mall to.  I thought this would be a good photo for today because it is an example of how Edmontonians deal with the extreme weather that this time of year starts to usher in.  It can be very difficult for people living here at these times, partially because of something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a condition where the low sunlight hours actually causes a form of depression to set in that can be quite serious.

Depression is a topic very near to me, when I was just 17 I lost a friend to suicide who I believe must have suffered from it.  Over the years I had serious problems with depression as well, but at first I didn’t understand that it was anything wrong.  I always attributed it to something else and just lived with it, which could have been a very serious and even fatal mistake.  I have a clear memory of going out on a date with a young woman I really liked and then finding out she had no interest in going out with me a second time and really wanting to end it all-over just one date.  Fortunately as time passed and I had other problems, namely my psychosis that caused me to be hospitalized, my Doctors eventually realized that I had severe depressions as well.  I was put on anti-depressants and they helped but it took time.  I think the medication that has made the most difference in me to this date is Prozac.

Right now I am having another kind of difficulty that has to do with my illness and the medications I am on, I have an extreme need for sleep but often I have problems getting to sleep.  I have found some herbal remedies that seem to be working well, including melatonin, skullcap and valerian (anyone with any questions or wanting more information about these please feel free to contact me: viking3082000@yahoo.com).  I don’t know too much about the skullcap and valerian other than that when I take them in combination with each other, always being careful not to build up a tolerance to any one herbal remedy, they seem to work well.  It seems sometimes it has been years since I had a full 8 hour sleep, but lately I have had a few of them.

Melatonin was approved for me by my Psychiatrist, I know that it is a naturally occurring sleep hormone and that it can be pretty powerful.  What I have been finding is that if I take too much or take the melatonin too often, it doesn’t make me sleep, it makes me incredibly restless.  The skullcap and valerian seem to help me get longer and more restful sleep but again if I take any of them every night the effects lessen greatly.

One of the problems I run into is that when I am working a lot or under a lot of pressure I need some serious time to decompress.  This weekend I went to see a movie (Bridge of Spies–awesome film!!) with my Dad and slept fairly well when I got home but it has been a very hectic week.  I woke up and had a bit of a stomach ache and so I took some gravol which put me right back to sleep again and I basically slept away all of Saturday, Saturday evening/Sunday morning and most of Sunday.  I do feel pretty renewed now but I hate to think sometimes that I am wasting my life sleeping.  I suppose it doesn’t just have to do with stress, but also the other medications I take, but everything plays a part.  In lieu of a poem I am going to post a second photo below for everyone.

IMG_8044                                       Beautiful Hawaii

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Heading Into Fall Season

DSCF5596Here is a photo of our wonderful Edmonton award-winning downtown library where I love to go

Well, today was a pretty good one.  I had to go and give a presentation at a high school out of town for the Schizophrenia Society, which is my new job.  I am really enjoying this work, I start out by doing a slide and video presentation with facts and other information about mental illness and then I give a talk about my own experiences.  I am getting to go to so many fascinating places and meet so many people that I just love this new job.  A couple of weeks ago I went to the University and spoke before a class of 230 students.  Before that, I presented my story and answered questions to a group of all kinds of medical students.  Last night (Thursday) was especially great because I took a road trip to a town called Barrhead, which was a really enjoyable time with my friend Glen who also presents for the society and we spoke to a small class of adults.  They were incredibly responsive and asked all kinds of questions and then afterwards despite the small size of the class I ended up selling six of my books, which covers my expenses for quite a while, not to mention the wage I get.  The other week was also pretty cool as I spoke to a class of police sciences students who also got really involved and the professor of the class was so appreciative she gave us a cool little leather journal with the University’s logo on it, plus a coffee mug for taking in a car or on the bus, PLUS a $25 Tim Horton’s gift card.  I have really been learning so much about myself and my illness doing this, along with other things I have been doing.  One of the things I have learned about my illness is that I in fact did have some serious psychosis (or delusional thinking)  I didn’t so much hear voices as there were ‘invasive thoughts’ that just kind of popped into my head, almost the way thoughts come into your head through reading but I wasn’t reading anything.  You really have to be a bookworm to hallucinate reading.  I am so glad I am now in recovery from my illness, but I want to help others get to this point if I can.  The Schizophrenia society is giving me one way to do that, but I am hoping to do more.  In January there is a class being taught that I qualify for that will give me a job helping people develop a ‘wellness recovery action plan’ or wrap.  I have already bought some books from them online and I am really looking forward to facilitating classes.  There is also another opportunity coming up where I could go around giving peer support to people with mental health issues, through the Alberta Government.  This would be a part-time job and what I am kind of hoping is that I can do these things for a few years and build my knowledge and experience and then at some point write my own mental health recovery manual, which is basically my end goal.  Sometimes it does worry me that I will one day become sick again, and that is a very real possibility, but I have a lot more people helping me and I have a lot more resources and knowledge that will hopefully prevent that from happening.  It really is scary to think of me back in my late teens, living far away in Vancouver with no one who understood me or my illness, sick and starving, barely able to function.  I really have come a long way.

Anyhow, I just wanted to post another poem below but talk about it a bit at first.  When I was in high school, there was this really beautiful young woman who was in a lot of my classes and also worked at two of the places I had after school jobs at.  One time after I got out of the hospital for the second or third time I ran into her and she was really nice to me and offered to help me out of my situation.  A number of circumstances made it impossible for me to accept her offer, but then a couple of years later after being in Vancouver I tried to contact her and she literally threatened to call the police on me.  This really hurt, but it made sense, we had never really had a relationship but it is one of those things that stay in your thoughts for a long time.  I don’t really have any feelings for her anymore, I just kind of wish sometimes that my fairy tale life were true and it really hurt when I was basically warned not to attend my high school reunion, something I had been really looking forward to.  Anyhow, I hope the poem below speaks for itself,  thanks Dear readers for following my work.

 

Tracy

 

If I thought a poem

Could have won your heart

I would have written you a thousand

Or more

 

Way back when we were kids

I thought maybe you were the prettiest girl I had ever seen

Even though you had an ugly side

When you talked about people less fortunate

 

All that time back

I really thought you loved me

Though I never felt I deserved it

Because of who I was and how messed up

I had become when our paths finally crossed

 

Maybe I was wrong

Horribly, horribly wrong

But sometimes I wonder if the hatred you seemed to show

Was from a woman spurned

 

Over time I came to accept

That really you were never mine

Despite the possibility

Of a schoolgirl crush

 

I found someone else eventually

But it never lasted

And always in the back of my mind

I imagined you as the perfect one

To marry and to grow old with

 

Even when my new lover and I

Were intertwined and lost in pleasing each other

Experiencing more joy and completeness than I had ever known

I wondered

What it might have been like with you instead

 

Maybe though when I look back now

It makes a lot more sense that you never loved me

All you would have really seen of me

Was my bitter, depressed and obnoxious, foul-mouthed

Teenage side

 

But part of me held out hope

That you saw something in me

When we worked our after-school jobs side by side

Or when we shared the beauty of Shakespeare in school

I held out hope

You really had seen something in me

That I never even saw in myself.

 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Leif Gregersen

A Little About Dreaming and Sleep Aids

DSC_0042

Well, above is another bee photo I took, this one in my kitchen.  I really like to take photos of insects, but bees especially not only because they are beautiful to me but also because bees are an extremely important part of our ecosystem.

In the news for me this week some may know I had my camera stolen.  Thanks to the fact that I have been working hard and saving I was able to replace it and with some luck I might also get some help in doing so.  I have a casual part-time job as a photographer for the City of Edmonton so it was pretty necessary that I get another one right away.  I was going to get another Nikon D3200 as I was very happy with my last one, but I found out they have been discontinued and so I spent a little extra and got a Nikon D3300 which so far seems to be a very nice camera.

As far as my mental health goes, I don’t know how much of this I should share, but I seem to have come across something that is really helping me.  I recently visited Toronto and found out that my sister’s husband takes a herbal medicine called Skullcap when he gets too far into an ‘up’ or ‘manic’ mood, and I decided to try it myself.  I have also been trying something that I got at a health food store called ‘True Calm” which has valerian and Taurine (one of the ingredients of energy drinks) among other herbal stuff in it and I occasionally take them when I need to sleep.  I have found that they calm me down, get me to sleep and seem (when I don’t take them more than one night in a row) to give me a full night’s sleep rather than just a short sleep which often leaves me feeling tired the next day.  I am very much against sleeping pills and tranquilizers, but lately I have been taking something called ‘Rivotril’ or ‘Clonazepam’ which has calmed me down but I worry it will be addictive, so I try to use it very sparingly.  It is so hard for me to sleep sometimes though, so for now I am going to keep taking it once or twice a week, alternating days with trying to sleep with no help and using the skullcap and true calm and occasionally also using melatonin.  I think the biggest difference with this new stuff I am taking is that it seems to allow me to have dreams that are much less disturbing.  I could write volumes of theories on the subconscious mind and things like delusions and dreaming, but they wouldn’t mean much because I am not qualified to speak on such matters.  I guess I will kind of sum up what I think in a few sentences, but please don’t look to me as any kind of an expert.  Basically my theory goes something like this:  I personally feel it is impossible to have more thoughts than we have had input into our brains, but many people, including myself have things like disturbing dreams and delusional thinking that seems to come from somewhere.  What I feel all of this is, is something that is taken from our subconscious mind, that huge massive 2/3 of the iceberg that we don’t see, the part that is hidden underwater.  These thoughts surface when our grip on our conscious mind is weak, but they are things we have experienced and learned but have forgotten for a number of reasons, sometimes our minds have made them unavailable to our conscious mind because they are disturbing.  Anyhow, I don’t want to get into this any further, but I would love it if anyone who regularly reads this blog could comment and start a discussion with me.  If anyone out there wanted to talk and needed a peer supporter to email, feel free to contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com  Hope you all had a good Canadian Thanksgiving/US Columbus Day and don’t forget to scroll down to read today’s poem!

 

Growing Up

 

I was so naïve and stupid

Thinking I could beat all the odds

I just simply had to try it,

Hope I had favor from the gambling gods

 

When I look at what they turned me into

Those games of luck and skill

It means so very much something saved me

Despite my self-destructive will

 

One wouldn’t think a simple game of poker

Or the pull of the arm of a slot machine

Could destroy someone so completely

Make them into something lowly and mean

 

How old could I have been

Those all too many years ago

When that demon crawled under my skin

And possessed my very soul

 

I started with scratching tickets

Even with money that wasn’t mine

I found with each bet my beating heart would quicken

As I strayed further from the straight and narrow line

 

I went through pain, withdrawal, depression

At times I wished I could totally give in

But soon with help my resolve was newly freshened

And I learned a weakness isn’t in fact a sin

 

With a lot of work and help I recovered

Managed to set gambling aside

It scares me now the lies I told

In the name of manly pride

 

Love never seemed to find me

Back when I was pissing my life away

The need for risk and danger blinded me

And pushed family and friends away

 

So many terrible addictions

I had to overcome and more

I found precious golden freedom

When faith opened a totally new door

 

Leif Gregersen