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Have you ever suffered from a mental illness? Does a family member have Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or OCD and you are struggling to understand them and deal with, to put it bluntly, their ‘insanity?’ You might be in the right place. Leif Gregersen has faced what was once called manic depression for nearly 30 years and has used it to drive him to create and give back to the people who helped him through his madness and into a more forgiving place. Leif Gregersen’s books, “Through The Withering Storm” and “Inching Back to Sane” tell the story of his battles with Bipolar Disorder and his eventual victory, though the battle within him and without rages on. Read Leif’s poetry and short stories and look deep into the mind of a creative and brilliant man who no longer uses mental illness as an excuse.
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Leif Gregersen grew up near Edmonton in the picturesque community of St. Albert. He spent his first 18 years there, showed promise in school, was put into a special class called ‘enrichment’ in his early years and excelled at sports. After elementary, Leif’s life seemed to go downhill until he discovered something he loved: Air Cadets. Here he made many friends, drank in the discipline and military way of life and ended up obtaining the coveted rank of Sergeant after dedicating time to band practises, sports teams, classes in public speaking, photography, first aid, leadership, as well as sacrificing weeks of his precious summers for even more training at military bases.
After a poor showing in high school, Leif decided his academic life was his priority and left cadets, and soon started developing the signs of mental illness, though he managed to do well in school for his last two years. In the middle of completing grade 12, a nervous breakdown landed Leif in a psychiatric hospital and nothing ever was the same. For some time after getting out he drifted, hitch-hiking to Vancouver, and later California. He tried and failed to join both the Canadian and US military, and tried and failed to obtain a commercial pilot’s license. Leif then returned home, sought treatment, and though there were tough times, his life changed greatly and he was able to finish high school and begin a long and rewarding writing career while working part-time and getting treatment for Bipolar Disorder. His first book, a work that took him nearly 20 years to get to print, Through The Withering Storm, tells the story of his life with Bipolar and how he overcame it.
A word from Leif: “The measure of an accomplishment doesn’t rely so much on what a person has done as what they have overcome to do it. I think a lot of people could try and run across Canada, but when Terry Fox tried it while dying of Cancer, he was not only a hero of my generation, he changed the world.”