Month: January 2016

Working Towards a Better Understanding

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What an amazing day I had today.  Thanks to being set up as a member of the mental health writer’s guild, I have added ten new followers in just one day.  That means a lot, especially if I can somehow help even one of those people.  My thanks go out to everyone who signed up to be notified of my new posts.

It hasn’t even been a day since I posted my last blog, but I had a few things I felt would be good to talk about.  For  a long time I have been working as a stage hand for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and though the work is getting difficult as I age, I think I would have a hard time not continuing with this work because I have so many amazing friends there.

Tonight my job was to set up and tear down the stage for Black Sabbath, but the concert was cancelled just a few hours before show time.  I don’t know how they managed to let everyone know about this, I am sure there were literally thousands of hugely disappointed fans, but none of them were at the venue to complain or riot.  Maybe it has to do with how polite Canadians are.

One of the things of note that happened tonight is that I started talking with one of my co-workers and found out he is a writer as well.  We had an interesting talk in between times of having to do things and he shared with me that he had a friend who he is sure is bipolar.  I gave him my business card with the address to this website on it and told him he was welcome to have his friend contact me.  This really amazes me because for many years I thought it was a terrible thing to tell people I have a mental illness, but so many times I am finding, when I do people start to talk about themselves having difficulties, or a family member or friend who has difficulties.  Mental illness is really something that touches all of us and hiding it away on some far off corner of our closet doesn’t help anyone at all.

Something I also wanted to touch on here is self stigma.  This is when a person feels guilty and blames themselves, even harms themselves for their condition.  Many years back, when I first had a serious hospital admission, I had so much guilt.  I had embarrassed myself, my family, lost friends, ruined relationships, lost respect and just about all of my material possessions.  My solution to all of this, as it was around the time of the first Persian Gulf War was to throw away all of my hopes and dreams and to sign up for the military wanting to be killed in battle to restore what I thought I had destroyed through my own fault.  Of course this could have ended in me dying, but fortunately my psychiatric records kept me out of the Canadian Forces.  I still wanted to punish myself though and began running, as much as 50 miles a week.  I ran so much that I did some very serious damage to my knees and became not only psychiatrically disabled, but physically disabled as well.  By some wonderful chance of fate, my knees have healed and I have been able to go back to a normal job and make some money to supplement my disability benefits.  What surprises me though is how a disease of the brain can affect people in such a way that it gets manifested in physical ailments.  One example is that when you take medication, your mouth often gets dry and saliva is a person’s first line of defense against tooth decay.  So, people with bipolor or other disorders often have bad teeth.

Another thing that suprpises me is just the sheer volume of people who have mental health issues, especially when you add in addictions problems, even alcohol dependency.  It is a bit sad to say but if I keep working in the mental health field for the rest of my working days, I will never be out of work.

I hope some of these words can help those who read them.  To the person I spoke to today and to many of the people who are new to this blog, I want to say that a diagnosis of a mental health disorder is not a death sentence and that things can really get better.  Be a proactive patient/consumer/mental health survivor.  Get out and join groups online or in your city where you can meet with others and share your difficulties and triumphs.  Advocate for yourself and for those who are too far gone to have a voice of their own.  If you are just curious about mental health, find books and talk to your family Doctor about it.  The worst thing you can do is suffer in silence.  And, as always, feel free to drop me a line, I can be reached at: viking3082000@yahoo.com and I would love to be able to help you and be your friend.

Mental Health Writer’s Guild

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Hello Dear readers!  I am a bit excited today because so many great things have been happening in my life and in my career as a writer.  To start with, I have had my blog and my books approved to be a part of the ‘Mental Health Writer’s Guild’ which I am hoping will allow me to reach a greater audience with my writing.  I don’t have a poem today, I am going to take a short break from writing poetry because I have just put out a brand new book titled, ‘Poetry of Love Life and Hope’ and it was a bit exhausting.  Anyone interested in a copy can order it from amazon.com.  I should note that I have taken my eBooks off amazon.com because I felt they just weren’t getting the exposure they deserved.  I have set up one book on smashwords.com (Inching Back To Sane) and made it available for just about every platform for just $3.25.

I wanted to share a bit about what has been going on with my writing.  I have been doing so much.  I owe a lot of the great things that have been happening to two people, my Dad and my good friend Richard Van Camp.  They have been helping me, supporting me and working towards my betterment as a writer now for some time.  I also have to admit I have been doing a fair bit of work on things as well.  I got the news yesterday that I have been approved to take a special course to become a facilitator for a Wellness Recovery Action Plan group.  I am very excited about this as it will pay a little and teach me a lot.  I will be teaching people how to become more aware of themselves so they can write out a detailed plan to manage illness or addictions.

It doesn’t stop there by any means though, I have so many great things happening in my life I can barely list them all.  For any writers out there I wanted to tell you a bit about this new program ‘Grammarly’ that they may have seen in commercials.  It is an abosultely amazing program that is a revolution in editing software.  It doesn’t just catch the odd spelling mistake, it checks punctuation, grammar, dangling particples, active or passive voice,  it is a dream come true and the same night I went and looked at what it could do I purchased a full year’s membership.  If there are any die-hard writers out there who are curious, I suggest they try out the free version of the software, and then possibly look at getting a one month membership and I am sure they will be very impressed.  I honestly think this program is going to take my writing to a whole new level and save me a lot of money on editors.

Along with all of that I have been working as a journalist on two mental health magazines.  It is pretty amazing because I love writing this blog and helping people with mental health issues and now I am able to do the same work and get paid a little for it.  I am not just tooting my own horn though, I want people to understand that if they set a dream and a plan down on paper, then work towards it even just a little each day, there is no telling where that dream can take you.  Some of the things you have to do is network, plan, save and invest to make your plans feasible, pay attention to your mental and physical needs, work hard towards controlling things like addictions, food, gambling and other vices, and then if you really want to have a happy life, I think it can be so important to have a spiritual outlet.  I attend a Catholic Church but I also read books by the Dalai Lama and meditate.  I also have many wonderful friends who have seen a generosity and stability in me that have made them want to help me and stay by my side.  Things were defintely not like this forever.  15 years ago I was very mentally ill and my life seemed to be over.  I had lost my best friends and my finances were a mess.  To top off all of that I think in a certain way I didn’t like myself at all.  Slowly, day by day, bit by bit I worked myself up and out and I know that anyone who reads these blogs can do it themselves as well.  There is so much beauty and joy to be had.  I don’t think I know all of the answers, but some of it can come down to going for a half hour walk every day, having a hobby you enjoy, having a pet–some little creature that couldn’t get by without you that gives you unconditional love.  Planning, setting goals and challenging yourself to do just a little better, do a little more each day.  Medications can be very hard to deal with, but two things happen over time: your body adapts to meds and you learn little tricks to deal with things like side effects.  And of course, there is the amazing fact that medications just keep getting better.

Well Dear Readers, I hate to leave you in the middle of a talk like that, but the hour is late and I have go work very soon.  As always, anyone is free to write to me or to comment, my email is viking3082000@yahoo.com, I would love to hear from you!

Leif Gregersen

Mind Wondering, Wandering as January Comes On With a Vengeance

DSC_0048           Couldn’t resist juxtaposing today’s poem with this lovely shot of daisies in bloom. 

(scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog 🙂

January Musings

 

Soft crunch of snow

Underfoot

Resounds

In pleasure

Even for tired feet

 

Mile after mile

Each day brings

New joy

Walking

Feeling fit, happy

 

Romance is a lie

For those

Who can’t be alone

Can’t be whole as one

Because those who can

Are never alone

 

Night sky in winter

So alive

Crisp, moonbeam and starlight filled

Fill my heart

As I watch the northern lights

Dance

 

No need to hold on to

Anything

Anyone

We are all brothers and sisters

One flesh, one world

Under the night sky

 

Leif Gregersen

January 6, 2015

     Good day dear readers!  Well, a good deal has gone on since I last posted.  One of them that I don’t know if I mentioned is that I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  As a long time fan of the Star Wars movies, especially the first three (they were a religion to kids my age when they first came out), I have to say this was an extremely well done and satisfying movie to watch.  The plot was incredible, the references to the first movies was awesome, and the stunts and effects were almost beyond belief.  GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

On to other topics, I had a great day yesterday.  As many of you may know, I work giving presentations about mental health for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.  We are doing a new thing where we are going to have Psychiatry students come in to answer questions that normal presenters can’t handle.  So yesterday I met the young woman I will be working with and she seemed so cool.  She was very attractive and introduced herself as Doctor Olivia…  and I was really pleased to think I could get to know someone so intelligent and dedicated to have gone this far with her education.  Being part businessman, I thought I would show her my books about mental health (Through The Withering Storm, Inching Back to Sane) and to my great surprise she had read and greatly enjoyed one of them already.

Now that is a nice little story all in all, but I want to use it to illustrate a point.  When you are a writer or even just a person with a goal in mind such as owning a business, if you give it your all, it may take time, it may take a lot of time, but if you persist, huge rewards can come.  When I first put my book out, I was very distressed that no one seemed to want it, very worried that I couldn’t cut things as a writer and now a few years later I am reaping the rewards of my efforts.  One of the things I did was to get a copy of a book called “The Writer’s Handbook” which comes out with a new edition each year and I sent off proposal after proposal to write articles.  In this time I started to learn how to write better proposals and I have had a few really good opportunities come my way.  One of them that happened recently is a case where a man who owned two mental health magazines called me up from a query I had sent him two years ago and had me write him some articles.  He liked my work a great deal and now I am kind of a staff writer for his magazines and it pays fairly good.

There are many other little things too numerous to list here, but I just wanted to illustrate that when you have a dream, as I had a dream of being a well known writer, you have to give it your all and keep giving it your all and not give up.  Your goal can be anything though.  One thing I learned in Phys. Ed. class in school (yes, you can actually learn things in gym) is how to set down what I can do and make goals for what I want to be able to do.  I think this really applies to mental health patients.  Fitness of course can be a part of it, you could say you wanted to walk a mile a day and work your way up to more, but you can also say you want to have five close friends or a part-time job by the end of next year or have saved up for a trip.  Goals are very powerful things, and if you don’t have them, you are basically just floating around without direction, which sadly can end up leaving you with years of your life gone.

Well Dear readers, I hope my words can help and inspire you.  I have to run but it is my strongest prayer that the words I put down here can make a difference for someone, so if you enjoy what I have written or even if you just wanted to talk or ask my something, as always I would love to hear from you at viking3082000@yahoo.com

All the best!!!