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!)

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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

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