Watch the short video below and if you haven’t looked yet, check out some new short stories of mine above in the menu.
Watch the short video below and if you haven’t looked yet, check out some new short stories of mine above in the menu.
Since they were so popular, I thought I would put links to my two television appearances at the start of this blog:
So, I thought I would talk a little about something that maybe doesn’t get a lot of attention but I feel can be extremely important in the lives of a person with a mental illness. I don’t know if anyone has read my book “Through the Withering Storm” but in it I discuss being a teenager and going through a series of humiliations and negative events that still to this day bother me. One of the things I recall the most was growing up in a house with secrets. It was a secret that my Mom had a mental illness, it was a secret that my Dad drank quite a bit. It was a secret that my Dad and I fought all the time. It scared me a lot that any of these secrets would come out to the public. None of them ever really did, but I think sometimes that living in that way, inundated with traumatizing events warped me as a youngster. But that wasn’t all. As I first became mentally ill during my teen years, I did a lot of things that I am extremely ashamed of, so ashamed that sometimes my memories can almost paralyze me. For example, there was a time when I was very out of it when I thought I was being told to get in a car with some strange people and I must have scared the hell out of the young girl I sat next to. Once I realized what was happening, I had enough sense to leave the vehicle, but I can’t imagine the fear I must have put this young woman through.
I could dwell on things I did when I was mentally ill all day, but I would rather try and offer my readers some kind of solution to thoughts like this. I am reminded of when I was 17 and there weren’t a lot of ways out there to quit smoking. Smoking wasn’t nearly as taboo as it is now but I wanted to quit. I decided I needed to train my mind to resist the power of smoking. I figured that if I could somehow make myself think of something that moved me more than smoking did, I would be able to quit. Basically what I did was, whenever I had a strong urge to smoke a cigarette, I would instead think about an attractive girl I went to school with and the images of her beauty took over (this specific example may only work for teenagers!) Now, later in life when I want to clear my head of negative thoughts, I have found a somewhat similar but very effective method of quelling thoughts about my past that are extremely negative and even debilitating. I have learned to meditate. It may seem funny that one would have to learn something like that, but there is a lot of learning an effort one must put into meditating to be able to clear their minds and also be able to control their thoughts when they are not meditating. I started out doing a lot of reading on the subject, which will only take you so far. Then I went to an actual Tibetan Monk in Edmonton and studied under him for a few months.
If I were to just cut things down to basics, Meditation is about trying to clear your mind, to declutter your thought process, which you train yourself to do, and to focus on something like your breathing to keep yourself centred. I have a virtual reality headset that I bought a meditation app for and it is amazing. You choose the relaxing setting and what type of meditation you want (I always choose Zen Meditation) and a narrator will talk you through a session of clearing your mind, breathing, focusing your thoughts. I even have an app on my watch that I often use to meditate for five minutes or so when it is convenient. When you can learn to control your thoughts, declutter your mind, you will be able to set aside negative thoughts and memories quite easily. I will try and write more on this topic in the next little while, for now, thanks for making yesterday a new record of views and all the best to you my dear readers!
The Tower Bridge, London, England (Last Spring)
Hello Dear Readers! Last night was one of my favourite events, “The Edmonton Story Slam” where up to ten writers read their stories (all without censorship) for a shot at a cash prize. I didn’t win like I did twice in 2016, but I had a lot of fun, enough to make the $10 I spent worthwhile. I thought I would share my entry here with you. It is sort of a story, sort of a poem.
Precious Few Moments, Precious Little Time
I once knew a young man who had hope and happiness, to look at this guy you could say he was blessed. But something happened to him left his life in a mess. He was beaten up for declaring his rights, left a bleeding mess, and there were other fights. Now he lives in the streets and begs change to eat, he no longer gets the medicine that once helped him stay on his feet. All of this happened because of racism and hate, and I know there are many more destined for a similar fate.
I want to tell you a story about what’s going on in this place, about something that not everyone thinks we have to face. It’s about how the world is divided race against race and how these crazy ideas make us look at money and fame and just try to chase posessions and sex and not forgiveness or grace.
You see we all started out with the same shot at having it all, all of our mothers loved us since we were small. But something went on not long after just being able to crawl, we started to think it was funny when others would stumble and fall.
This whole idea of laughing at each other’s pain seemed to be wired right into our subconscious brains, but there were a few who grew and saw that other people’s unhappiness gave us no personal gain.
So this world that once could have been the perfect place has been overrun in case after case with hate’s prideful, evil, and blood-sucking face. We go to war with our brothers and instead of love it’s the dollar we chase, meanwhile the whole planet could soon be a cold rock lost in space
I don’t want to tell you there is no more hope, but I do want to say we are nearing the end of our rope. The climate is changing, and the solution isn’t legalizing our dope. It’s in making some changes before we slide down a long slippery slope.
If we could just join together and do a few things, you would be surprised by the joy and fellowship that it could bring. Not to mention the healing of our planet that would make our hearts sing.
There has been great people who are already there, people who look at the state of our planet and care. I heard word our oceans are being cleaned up and repaired, that these people are doing so much more than their share. We need to all do just a little, or life will become more than any could bare
Look now on your neighbors, your co-workers and friends, and realize that on your lead all of this desperately depends. It’s all about sharing and caring and knowing the rewards of kindness will never end.
A few little things can start mountains to move. Reach out to those who have no more to lose. Let them know they can depend on you, and of course help them understand that they have nothing to prove. There are so many ways to help others and there is no way to lose. When my Dad was a newcomer not so long ago, he wasn’t sure of what all that he could do, good friends and kind people helped him get through.
So I really have two things I wish we all could each see our way to do. One is to return this planet to what it was like when it was new. Clean fresh air and blue skies, it isn’t impossible for a unified few. We just have to focus on the policies we need to put through.
Now the next thing really has to do with the first, when I talk about this subject I understand that is is mankind’s curse. It’s war and how there is nothing worse, how it divides people and destroys life, limb, and nature in massive bursts. If we all loved our neighbors and if our leaders spoke with our so-called enemies first, we wouldn’t have to send out men and women to die and destroy huge chunks of our Earth.
It’s all about love, for those we share this big blue rock in space, it’s all about finding peace in our lifetimes so we can save this beautiful place.
We may have to sacrifice some money and a few of our toys, but the things we will have instead will be much greater joys. So join me in these dreams to love our planet and our fellow man, and let’s get together to find a way to do what we can. This may be a story, but it’s one laced with words that call us to action. Let’s each do our part, give up the rat race and follow our passion.
And my friend, the young man who I see on the street? I don’t know what I can do but lay change at his feet. It hurts sometimes that he doesn’t know me after all of this time, to watch a young man throw his life away seems like such a crime.
“Inching Back To Sane” now available here in all ebook formats
Nice Photo If I do Say So Myself
Hello, dear readers! Well, things seem to be going along swimmingly for me and I have to say that it worries me. The reason it does is because my illness is half bipolar disorder. This means I have to deal with mood swings often. It seems I was in a down mood for a while and now I am facing the opposite. I started out my day with a 5km walk to the swimming pool, swam for around half an hour to work my upper body, then walked 5km back home in the hot sun. This sounds great, but I think perhaps something to do with the sun and all the activity I engaged in, possibly even a bit of heat stroke could have caused me to mood swing into a mania or manic state. It is now 10:00pm and I don’t feel sore or tired at all.
It can be a dangerous thing to go manic. I want to try and explain here a bit about what it means to go into this state. First of all, though it seems like having energy to go on working or writing or doing whatever you enjoy doing for days on end without rest would be good, but it can be very dangerous and can cause damage to your mind (end you up in psychosis) relationships (drive people away with bizarre behaviour and non-stop talking) and body (push yourself way past safe limits, take risks like driving too fast or even abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate).
One thing you always have to be mindful of when you have a mental illness is not just getting your medications on time, but getting your sleep on time. Right now I don’t see myself as being tired enough to lay down for a long while. As a small measure to help the situation, I didn’t have any tea or coffee for a few hours already and I am considering taking some melatonin (a naturally occurring sleep hormone that I cleared with my psychiatrist to take when I need sleep). I often worry about doing this because if I am manic enough I won’t stay in bed and will get up to work later on tonight. One of the things that has also caused me to go into this high-energy phase is that I have been having a lot of great news come in about a number of different parts of my life and my work life. Aside from keeping the option open of taking something for sleep, I spent a good deal of time today just meditating. I have a virtual reality headset I use and I go into a mountain setting and put on music and guided zen meditation to use my mind and body’s natural willpower to lower myself out of the manic state.
I have written a lot today, so I will just try and finish up with one or two quick things that I hope will be useful to people who follow this blog. What I want to caution people about is that sleeping medication, even melatonin has a lot of side effects. One of them is that you may sleep a certain number of hours, but it may not be the quality restful sleep you seek. Sleep aids of many kinds can block out REM sleep or even make it so you don’t dream. This can be helpful if you have bad dreams that keep you up, but detrimental to your mental well being. The other factor is that a very common side effect of sleep medication is losing memory and experiencing diminished short term memory. There is also the serious problem of addiction to sleep medications, and developing a tolerance to them. I don’t know any of the details, but there has been more than a few celebrities who basically had a key to a pharmacist’s inventory (by way of doctors that would prescribe anything for them) who died. I am not 100% sure, but I know Elvis was on a number of medications and had been abusing pills for a while when he was found floating face down in his own toilet, and Michael Jackson and Prince were also mixing medications when they died. I am sure there are many more than just these cases, and that death by dangerous legal pill mixtures is very common, I just wanted to cite those examples because everyone knows them.
So, I leave you with that dear readers. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment and promise to do my best to respond.
“Inching Back to Sane” Now available here in all ebook formats.
Dare to Dream and Let Your Heart Soar!
Hello my dear readers! I don’t have a poem for you today, but I thought I would still write a quick blog and add a photo. I have been doing both good and bad lately, and I thought I would share a few things that I feel helped the good things to happen that you can take as advice to do, and share a few of the bad things that you can possibly learn from and avoid. I hate to sound preachy, and it makes for poor prose, so I will try my best to avoid it.
Anyhow, I have been saving for some time and I didn’t really know what I was saving for. I can’t afford the gas and insurance for a car, I don’t have any trips I desperately want to take, so I decided wouldn’t hurt to dip into my savings to buy a few things for myself. I started out going with a friend to a comic shop and indulging myself in graphic novels. There is a Canadian artist and writer who really touches my heart when he writes, he seems to have a soul tortured by depression, his name is Jeff Lemire, and I highly recommend him. I found a graphic novel of his I haven’t read, then also bought two volumes of what I feel are the most monumental comics in comic history, I bought “Ben-Hur” and “Great Expectations” from the “Classics Illustrated” reprints. I get so much out of these condensed stories, and it inspires me to pick up the novels or any novel or history book and explore more, so I feel these are also well worth the price.
Last night I called up a friend and despite that we haven’t talked in a while and I wanted to talk with her, she answered the phone to my surprise. She is a very healthy and functional person, but there are times when she needs her solitude, something I completely understand. We decided to meet for lunch tomorrow which made me happy, because I have been isolated beyond my own control and out of my comfort zone for a number of days. Fortunately today the office of my apartment building was open and I was able to sit over coffee and talk with a couple of my friends. I live in a ‘supported’ apartment building and there is a common area at the office where some people I know often go, and I find it very healing to go down there and chat when I can.
So there I was, feeling a bit down, a bit lonely and a bit worn out from all the walking I have been doing. I came back to my apartment and I noticed I had an email. Turns out I have been picked for a great new part-time job opportunity that will help me develop mine and other people’s poetry skills. From then on I was flying on a cloud. I just can’t believe that I was so close to desperation, so down on myself and then this happened. I told my dad about it and he was very happy to hear about it but he reassured me that it was my own hard work that got me to this point. I have been doing a lot of things, not only to battle my mental illness and try and find meaningful work, but it just feels so good to finally arrive at the point where I feel I no longer have to worry, that I am on my way as a writer and public speaker, and that there are definitely going to be many good times ahead. So, my words to you, dear reader, as I may have expressed them before, is to just pound away at your passion, just a little at a time if you have to. Maybe just do one thing a day. If you don’t have a passion, I would suggest going to a community college or YMCA and looking at a class schedule and see if you can afford to take a class or two or if there is funding (free is even better) try and find something that interests you, challenges you, takes you somewhere. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All the best to you, dear readers, all the best and finest.
Hello Dear readers! I thought I would just write a quick couple of lines before proceeding with today’s post. I haven’t been posting as much as I should lately, I suppose I have been feeling a little down and also I was pretty busy for a while. I am now going to try and take some time and build a better schedule so I can do more of the things I love to do, one being write poetry, another being photography, and yet another being writing this blog. There will be no photo today, just the following poem and a blog beneath it.
By: Leif Gregersen
Winter nights are long forgotten often
In deepest summer’s green
Long hot walks, barbecues, and bike rides
And the air so fresh and clean
I guess I will forever wonder
Why I keep on living here
When I’ve sat in my car in minus fifty
Trying to keep my windows clear
When I look back to my early childhood
Those happy days leading up to winter break
I suppose if the weather were any different
The Christmas cheer would all seem so fake
A wise man and friend one said each season
Makes him appreciate the opposite extreme
And I have to admit in winter time
I get more time to write and think and dream
Then there is also a clear memory
Of being with my departed mom
Crunching fallen leaves as we walked
Just happy to be with each other, out in the sun
If I had to pick a season
That gave the most to me
I would be hard pressed to find a reason
Which meant more or less to me
As long as I can gaze up
At the stars and planets and the moon
And know I kept diligently working, never gave up
In either January or in June
I will always be able to accept any problems
With the passing of seasons and time
As long as I can still make something beautiful each day
Wasting your life is such a crime
Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s poem. It was kind of fun to write. I often mention that I am not sure why I stay in Edmonton when it gets so cold here and there are more fun places to be. For a time I lived in Vancouver and it seemed like every minute was another great experience. I liked a lot of things about Vancouver like the night life and the beauty of the mountains and all that. I have truly come to get used to Edmonton though, and Vancouver is much more expensive than Edmonton (which is actually still pretty bad). One thing I wanted to discuss is how people with mental illnesses can fall into a trap of thinking that all they need to do is move to be happy. I went through this for a while, and there were some advantages to moving, I can recall for a while having some very nice apartments, but the fact was I would have been much better off trying to get into a subsidized place that had some supervision. I definitely could have benefitted from more life skills training, not just in communicating and relating to others, but in the importance of a proper diet and actual skills on how to keep my home clean. I have to say that after many years I have arrived at an ideal situation where I now get those things, but I wonder if I would have had more growth in my life before that if I hadn’t emphasized living on my own and constantly moving.
Anyhow, that’s a short one for today. As always, feel free to give feedback, and keep working on your wellness!