Month: November 2017

A Poem and a Few Words on Psychiatric Hospital Recovery

This photo is of an inner-city residence called PIN House, for People In Need. They take in those who have mental health difficulties. They are currently under a massive renovation thanks to the efforts in our community to aid those who are homeless and in need of mental health care.

Don’t forget to scroll down for today’s blog appearing after today’s poem

 

Mental Hospital Blues

By: Leif Gregersen

 

I will never forget my days inside

It was as though my soul had died

 

They cut me off from the world I knew

Accused me of things that just weren’t true

 

Nothing ever was as bad as that time

I lost six months though I had done no crime

 

I had so many strange ideas and thoughts

I really thought all hope was lost

 

But as I paced the dirty halls

And was confined inside four empty walls

 

I realized this too would end some day

And the end began to come in a small way

 

My dear sister came to visit me

Though I was so ashamed I wasn’t free

 

But she showed she cared and gave me hope

Gave me so many little ways to cope

 

I did get out, and found myself a new home

Even though in many ways I’m still all alone

 

I earned back friends, I made my way

To happy times and better days

 

If you are like me never give up all hope

Make knots and grab tight to the end of your rope

 

November 20, 2017

Well, it is a pretty dark issue, the one I tried to communicate in my poem. How many of you have spent time in a psychiatric hospital? There are psych wards of course, and no one much likes being forced to stay in them when they could be at home, but being in a hospital dedicated to mental health issues can have a great deal more problems.

One of the things that often worries me about being in the psychiatric hospital in Edmonton is that they house a great deal of child molesters and murderers, and often these people are free to roam the grounds with very little (or very poor) security. I can recall going to a support group where people from the forensics pavilion as it is called were guarded by a nursing aide who kept falling asleep. I have been told that a great deal of the people who are in this pavilion are there to get out of responsibility for their crimes. One time, I was walking down a hallway and one of these people stood in front of me, patted me down and then asked me if I had a cigarette. I felt very violated, but I still have a strong desire to help these people in any way I can.

It definitely was a scary thing to go to this hospital the first time, even the first few times. They don’t tell you where you’re being taken, they just drive you out to the hospital and turn you over to staff who quite often lock you in solitary for hours before anyone says a word to you. Soon after, you get the ‘privilege’ of being put in the regular ward and this can be extremely scary. There was a time when a guy picked a fistfight with me and the staff members kept encouraging him to charge me despite that he had initiated the fight.

But to get down to the good parts of mental hospitals, they are often able to help people in ways that no other place can. If you get a good doctor, he or she will see you often and work out the problems you have with your life in general and of course your medication. I have always seen it as something of a miracle how no matter how convoluted or messed up my thinking and acting was, somehow things would get better in the hospital. I wish there was something I could say to people who have family members, loved ones, or they themselves will need to go to this place that can make it easier, but I have always had a very difficult time myself. I would say one of the best things you could do would be to engage in as many groups and recreation therapy and occupational therapy classes as you can, they will give you tools that will be essential to you succeeding when you leave the hospital, and believe me, no matter how bad things may seem, just about everyone will one day leave the hospital.

Life now, 16 years after spending a 6 month chunk of my life in the hospital, things are going really well. I have my own subsidized apartment, I am writing on a regular basis, I have many friends who are incredible people and I am healthy and happy. What it came down to was establishing a regime of medications that I won’t go off of for any reason unless directed by my doctor, building up my mental and physical ability to work part-time and to write and publish my books, and understanding that I am part of the community around me and the world around that. There have been some extremely hard times, like the loss of my mom, but by having people I can rely on to talk to, to have resources such as grief counselling and other things, I managed to get through, and I hope all of you can find your own path as well. Drop me a line here, let me know what you think of my blog and any questions you may have.

Advertisements

A Bird In Flight, A Poem, and a Short Talk About Sleeping Pills

 All I can do is marvel at animals that are capable of flight, the one thing in the world I have found makes me the most happy and energized

Scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog entry

 

Winter Poem

By: Leif Gregersen

 

As the days slip by so fast

It often seems that nothing lasts

 

Not our love or our generation’s song

Our time to rejoice and play is gone

 

If things only lasted long enough for me to feel

That the loves I once had were real

 

Just as real as all the days

Sadness came to me in waves

 

I have regrets that my only way to cope and deal

With my pain was to take a pill and just not feel

 

Feel either good or bad just dead

But not trapped inside my own head

 

When I was not quite yet a man

From commitments I always ran

 

Not understanding how love grows like a flower

Gaining beauty, gaining power

 

I wanted so badly to be free

I masked and hid the love inside of me

 

Now I’m both lonely and alone

Never quite feeling like I have a home

 

Deny it, but I say we still can have a chance

As long as there is one more dance

 

Though I think you understand the fact

Time is slipping by for us to act

 

There is also one thing I wish you knew

I hate myself for hurting you

 

I also think something else is true

You get sad and lonely too

 

So take my hand and come with me

Knowing that love still can set us free

 

November 14, 2017

 

Good day dear readers! I have been so encouraged by the increasing support and exposure I am getting for my blog that I have decided to do more entries than I usually do. Either that or I have found that working on this blog is one of the best cures for insomnia I have this side of sleeping pills.

Perhaps the whole idea of sleeping pills is a good issue to discuss today. For the past four days I haven’t taken anything to get me to sleep and I feel better for it, but not 100% yet. I should tell some of the back story, I have a lot of commitments from working for the Schizophrenia society to teaching creative writing and other things and I really need to be rested to do these things well. Lately I have been trying a few different sleep aids to help with this and they seem to do more harm than good. I thought maybe if I talked about them here that people would be able to avoid some of the pitfalls. To start with, I have my Psychiatrist’s approval to use melatonin, a naturally occurring hormone that can help balance out a person’s sleeping habits. It has some funny effects though, one of them is that if you (or at least in my case I have, I am sure other people have had different experiences) take it for a while and start to tolerate it, the pills can do something much worse than help you sleep, they can cause extreme restlessness that amounts to a type of seizure of legs and back muscles/bones. It is a very disturbing experience, one I have only ever before had in the psychiatric hospital when injected with a serious tranquilizer because I was “bad”. I still take melatonin now and then, but I am very careful about how frequently I use it. The other problem I have found with it is that it can make you very drowsy the next day and leave you with a desire to sleep a very long time.

The next pill I sometimes take for sleep is one that is called clonazepam or rivotril. I take it in the 0.5 mg orange pill. It looks a lot like the average gravol tablet and is very powerful. It is a tranquilizer along the lines of valium, but without some of valium’s more serious side effects. This is a prescribed medication and I am only given a few every couple of weeks which I use sparingly. This pill seems to be highly addictive because when I take it I feel very relaxed and soon drift off to sleep and feel better for the next day, but if I don’t take it for a few days I start to get edgy.

Those are the major ones. There is a pill called imovane, a blue little football shaped pill that I suggest people avoid. It is extremely addictive. I also want to warn people that sleeping pills in just about any form I have encountered them end up being a crutch and can seriously affect a person’s memory. Time and time again I have found that the best sleep aid is to get out and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. In my own daily routine, if there isn’t something for me to do that requires a long walk, I think of something. I seem to always be able to find a reason to get out of the house like walking to the warehouse grocery store a few miles away or walking to the post office. I used to like to bring and iPod with me when I did this, but lately I have just enjoyed walking as a form of meditation. I have to say that in the past short while I have been getting a bit lax about my walks and exercise in general and I have felt much worse as a result, physically and mentally.

The final thing I wanted to mention today was that if you find yourself sleeping days and staying up nights, there is a cure, which can only really be done in the summer. You need three weeks and not much else. What you do is go out camping, leave behind all of your electronics and get up with the sun each day. In three weeks your biological clock will naturally reset itself.

Best wishes dear readers!

Leif Gregersen

The Time to Remember Those Who Sacrificed For Us

                             As we near the anniversary of the end of the First World War, I thought showing a picture of a historical novel I wrote and writing a poem about war would be appropriate. Scroll past today’s poem for today’s Mental Health Blog.

 

One Day in November, Time to Remember

By: Leif Gregersen

 

 

A soldier fallen, that is all

He made his choice when he answered the call

 

Back home his girl awaits his letter

His Sergeant said just forget her

 

In his parent’s yard a yellow ribbon

Just come home, all is forgiven

 

His father drinks, stares sleepless at the clock

He has been told his boy is in a pine box

 

His death was awful, a tragedy

Did he truly die to keep us free?

 

Pay a mortgage, slave for years

Lose a child, let loose your tears

 

I feel in war there really is no glory

Let those left behind tell you their story

 

A tale of grief, a tale of loss

Losing a loved one is such a cost

 

Those who come home are not the same

When they marched off it seemed like a game

 

Stand and remember, never forget

A war is part pain and part regrets

 

November 6, 2017

Hello good readers! I have been having a great week, and I really have no idea why. All I can say is that for those of you who are out there who suffer from mental illnesses and see no light at the end of the tunnel, please hold on. Life can surprise you in so many ways. Not to brag, but just to show how things can go well for a person, I want to list a few things that have happened that I am extremely thankful for. One is that just as I needed shelves and had some help to put them up and to fill them with the boxed up books and stuff in my apartment, my neighbour across the hall was moving and gave me a pair of excellent storage shelves, and even a small freezer. I can also give heartfelt thanks to my two friends, who came to my place and worked very hard to make it into something much more liveable. I don’t know if I have posted about this before, but I have also recently signed a contract for a student to turn one of my short stories into a film. So man things. Why do I deserve them, why have things turned around so far since I was in the hospital and feeling very ill? I think a lot of it has to do with persistence, setting goals, and trying to work away at big projects just a little at a time over the course of months or even years.

One of the things where this applies is with my poetry. I try to write poems as often as I can and I safe them carefully in a file on my computer so that once I have enough of them I can publish them in a book, and for some reason people have really liked my poems. For anyone out there who is having mental health difficulties, I strongly encourage you to look for things that you can do that are artistic or helpful to others and just try and do a little each day. I was so fortunate after a very traumatizing hospital stay 16 years ago that I found a place where there was no stress and very little obligations outside housekeeping, a little bit of cooking, and taking medications (along with seeing my doctor). Sadly, not everyone is so lucky. But if you are on some kind of benefit, I really hope you can go out and volunteer a few hours a week, do as much as you comfortably can and you may work your way into a job and be able to save up a little money. What if you then could get a hand-held video camera and make video blogs for YouTube. I tried that for a while, and I learned a lot about people, about photography, and making videos. If you want to see some of my early attempts, about 40 videos of mine can be found on YouTube under my name.

Another thing I think had a lot to do with me getting to the point I am at now is keeping a journal of my thoughts and goals and anything I could think of. This let me express myself in a safe way, and is something that just about any Psychiatrist will recommend to their patients.

I would love it if a lot more people could write like I do, but some people aren’t interested. A lot of people love to read but have no interest in writing. Your passion could be anything. If you like swimming, think about taking a course towards a lifeguard certification. You may never become a lifeguard, but it will enrich your life in so many ways and I am sure make you a better swimmer. If you are an out of work accountant on disability, look up your local volunteer network and find a place that needs some basic accounting work done. This way you can not only hone your skills, but you won’t have a large gap in your resume when you feel up to looking for regular jobs in the field, and this applies to a lot of careers. And then I want to pass on a piece of advice that I heard recently from a video about minimalism, “Love people and use things. Don’t try it the other way around, it never works.” so much of my great life these days I owe to my family and friends. All of them mean the world to me. So good readers, please try and apply my advice towards making yourself feel better and stand up against stigma. And I wish you all the best of everything!