depression

Stress Management For Those With Mental Health Problems

(Please scroll past photo and poem for today’s blog ūüôā

Love Poem

 

Not one of us will leave this world alive

We must show love to those we care for every day

Think upon all the things for which you strive

 

Do you think too much about the car you drive

Do you care about what others see and say

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

There is truly just one way to thrive

One must give from deep within in every way

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Caring, loving, giving is the only way to derive

A life with a special beauty like a grand ballet

Not one of us will leave this world alive

 

Sometimes into dark waters we must dive

Knowing nothing, only being able to pray

Think upon the things for which you strive

 

Give up plotting, planning, please don’t connive

For each thing you take you will be made to pay

Not one of us will leave this world alive

Think upon the things for which you strive

When dealing with a mental health issue, stress can be your worst enemy. I want to write today about some of the ways I deal with stress, which can be all boiled down to setting boundaries.

One of my favourite Canadian authors, Margaret Laurence, mentioned in an interview I watched that she only writes about 2 hours a day and can’t manage more. I don’t know if Margaret ever suffered from a mental illness, but I have found this to be a good rule of thumb. While I feel it is really important to write every day, and that doing so will definitely make you a better writer, I try to maximize my screen time to about 2 hours a day. Sometimes I do less, and often when I am deep in the trance of writing something I enjoy writing, I do more. Of course, again I want to mention that one of the best therapeutic things a person can do is to write in a journal that they don’t let anyone see. It is such a great way to express yourself and to let out things. In a way, I like it that writing in a journal each day gives me a gauge to see how I am improving overall.

The next thing that I feel is good for stress is exercise. For a long time after my last hospital admission, my Dad would drive to where I was staying and take me to the beautiful Edmonton River Valley for a long walk. I was a smoker at the time and couldn’t handle anything much more strenuous than that, but it got me into better shape, a better state of mind, was an outlet for my extra energy, and led to me being able to find a paid job eventually.

Work is definitely something a person has to consider when they are in recovery mode from a mental illness. I honestly think that if you have just gotten out of a hospital or have just made the decision to start looking for work, you really need to take some time to feel 100% before venturing out and getting a job. I started with a job that was very easy, working as a security guard. I had a hard time with some employers either sending me to assignments that were too stressful or asking me to work too many hours, but there are ¬†a lot of jobs out there for those who want to transition back into the workplace. My security guard job kind of sucked, the pay wasn’t very good and it often wasn’t healthy for me to stay up all night drinking coffee and trying to get what sleep I could. Soon though, I found a rhythm and was able to lift weight and swim and also work my job and I was ‘scouted’ to work as a security guard in the film industry and made leaps and bounds more than what I used to make and got into a union that greatly benefitted me over the next few years. Some other jobs that are low stress could be working in a gas station as a cashier, working as a dishwasher, and many others. Just remember you won’t be doing this forever, this is just to get you out of the house and make a little extra money. Better jobs will come your way if you are conscientious about your work.

Another way to make a transition back to the work world is to volunteer. In Edmonton where I live there is a company called the volunteer network and you simply approach them with your skills and they find a place for you. This is a great way to get experience, self-respect, friendships and much more.

The last thing I wanted to mention that I do to deal with stress is keeping my schedule as open as I can, only making firm commitments for a few days a week. I work for the Schizophrenia Society now and give presentations to many different groups about mental illness. I have had the incredible privilege of speaking in front of lecture halls full of students, among many other groups as diverse as junior high schools to Edmonton City Police Recruits. But I only book 2-3 assignments and then keep things open so I am free to go to the pool or the library or for a long walk whenever I want. I guess on a final note, I want to offer the suggestion that you try and live beneath your means, whatever they are and save as much as you can so that you can enrich your life with travel at least once or twice a year. A really good trip can give you a lifetime of memories and a lot of happiness and joy in the present.

 

Worrying and Self-Doubt

Well, it has been an interesting week. I finally have a few days off to do what I like which is nice. I have a hard time when I get stressed from doing too many things and sometimes I react to it by sleeping way too much. I know this wreaks havoc on my system and makes it very hard to function in line with the world of the normal people. So many good things have been happening to me, but I know that things won’t stay good for me if I can’t do something about my excessive sleeping.

I feel really blessed today because I was contacted by the City of Edmonton and asked if I could come and give a talk about mental health at the Edmonton Public Library. On Monday I will be just finishing up a six-week contract to teach creative writing and there are many other opportunities coming my way. Still, for some reason, I find a need to worry. One of the big things that I worry about is money. Every now and then I work or do some photography and make a few extra bucks, but then it seems that the money just runs away from me. I am at a point now where I have savings to at least get me through one month of difficulties, but I keep thinking about ways I could spend the money on what I deem “more fun” things. There are cameras I would like to buy, I am always thinking of buying a car or taking a trip. It all seems like such a waste and it took so much effort just to have just the small amount of savings I do have.

I also worry sometimes about my ability as a writer. I went to a story slam the other day and really felt outclassed. I was the first reader up and was quickly knocked out of the competition. This is even after winning two story slams last year. Another thing that happened was that I won a contest for a 24-hour short story that got me $300 USD. I took the story and tried to publish it elsewhere but with no luck. I am really feeling the pinch of not having been able to go to University and take creative writing. Fortunately, I have some good friends who help and support me in making my writing as good as I can make it.

One of the things that often gives me comfort when I find myself worrying is doing meditation or taking long walks. I had planned to walk the 2km to the post office today, but the ice and snow and freezing rain was pretty bad so I ended up taking the bus. When I do take the time to meditate, what I often like to do is to read some of my Asian books about spirituality say from the Dalai Lama or ancient writings like Lao Tzu and then just sit, either cross-legged or not, close my eyes and simply try to focus on nothingness, empty space as I count my breath, breathing in and out until a thought comes up that distracts me, then I go back to zero and try to make it to a count of ten. It can be very helpful to take some training in this, I once used to go to a real Tibetan Monk for classes and it was a big help, very healing.

 

Riding the Wave–“But I get the most work done when I’m manic!”

best-full-moon-ever

            Shot of the moon using my Nikon D3300 and a Nikkor 55-300mm lens, touched up with Lightroom by Adobe

Mania, depression, and delusions. What can pills help, and what do you need to watch out for yourself? (poem to follow this blog)

So it is the worst time of the year for just about everyone. Kids have to go back to school after just a 2-week taste of freedom and being lavished with candy canes and gifts by family. People who work in sectors like trades find that most of their customers spent all their money on Christmas and there is a big slowdown. The worst part? Suicides. Some may think that Christmas is the worst for suicides, but I have uncovered some information that may prove that January is the worst month for suicides. I can see why. I have been doing well in my recovery from mental illness for some time now, I was able to take some college courses, I took a University course last year and actually finished it. I have set up jobs and public appearances and have been working for the schizophrenia society. I sometimes wonder if I’ve been a little manic. I haven’t had delusional thinking much, but I have been finding myself increasingly troubled with sleeping memories of being in the hospital, likely because I now live in an apartment building rather than a house and I never liked the people who used to come around in the hospital and shine a flashlight in your eyes to see if you were sleeping. The flashlight almost always woke me up.

What I have been noticing is the early signs of depression creeping up. I don’t know about other places, but where I live there is only about 8 hours of daylight this time of year and sometimes lately if I have nothing to do or if it is oppressively cold outside (as it almost always is, -22 right now) I will sleep all night and then sleep all day. Then, at times like this when by all rights I should be going back to sleep, I get up and work on my writing. Today I was taken away from this pursuit because I learned the moon was full, and so I hauled out my camera and took the above picture among others. I don’t really know what to do about my depression. It has to do with a lot of things I am sure, including the diminished sunlight, the fact that I have a lot of time on my hands and that I have been isolating myself too much. My doctor has offered to increase my anti-depressant and I think I will call tomorrow to get an appointment and do so.

I am also thinking that with everything that has been happening, it is time to bite the bullet and go and see a counselor. For months I have been looking at the wall in the office of my apartment building and there is a list of free counselors there. What it all comes down to is taking care of myself. If I leave things too long I will pay the consequences. Just like needing a dentist or an optometrist, and going to them before you are in pain or blind, I really want to try therapy. From what I understand, therapy can be very effective for people with mental illnesses, though it is important that one stabilize their condition with proper medication before going to it. One of the things that makes me feel worried about what has been going on is my departed mother. When she died at 63 she still hadn’t gotten a handle on her mental illness and it was very severe. My mom had done so many things, from being a credit union manager to nearly getting a full scholarship to University. She tried so very hard and kept getting beaten down by one thing or another. I can see my mom in my brother and sister and myself in many ways. It really was a sad thing that her life had gone so poorly for her, and even at the end she struggled with her medications, moods and psychosis. One of the things she did back then was to see a psychologist and I learned to my surprise that she often talked about her mother, who had passed away about 20 years before my mom did. In many ways I feel pretty lucky that there are medications that help me deal with my own psychosis and mood swings, and do a pretty good job of it. With that, I will leave you with a poem and wish you all another week or so of good health and happiness, which is about the amount of time that will pass before I blog again.

 

Last Best Chance

My love I am always thinking of you

And how I have feelings that are true

I just don’t know how to say them out loud

 

In the dark deep night my mind begins to race

As I worry, fret and pace

Nothing seems to please me anymore

 

The first time I ever saw your face

Even my loneliness could never erase

The loveliness I saw deep inside your eyes

 

Each day that passes finds me here

With no friends or lover near

The only one I have to blame is me

 

There were many loves in my younger days

And I pursued them in my own weird ways

Never understanding I could ever end up alone

 

Plus I had so many true, close friends

On whom I always thought I could depend

But hard times took most of those away from me

 

I’ve been desperate and depressed

Sought forgiveness and went to be blessed

But found out it came down to not loving you enough

 

From the first day my life had begun

Fate made you the only one

I could have ever asked to be my true soul mate

 

So I ask if you could read these simple words

And not feel sad, scared or disturbed

I know you care for me just as I care for you

 

Things happen to each and every one

But you were always so loving and fun

Please forgive and take me in your arms again

 

I won’t make any promises to you

Except that each day will feel happy, fresh and new

Please tell me if you will, I just can’t wait

 

Too many years have already passed

You’ve always been the first and last

Give your love to me we’re each other’s last best chance

 

The Trap of Mental Illness and Disability Benefits: Do You Want To Risk It?

dsc_0904

               A View of Downtown Edmonton From Outside My New Apartment

¬† ¬† ¬†Hi, I wanted to talk a little about disability benefits today. ¬†This is a senstive topic for many reasons. ¬†One of the big ones, as I know a good deal of my readers are from the United States, is that people on Welfare or even Social Security Benefits are looked down upon. ¬†The tax burden on Americans is great, plus the cost of health care and this ends up worsening the problem from both ends. ¬†People with mental illnesses are faced with costs that can’t be managed for medications, hospital treatment, doctors, housing and on and on. ¬†The way the American system seems to be set up to work is that each person is responsible for themselves, and when someone has a severe mental illness, this can be just about impossible. ¬†I can recall being in the US and simply knowing a guy who applied for foodstamps and then discussing it with an older gentleman and he literally stopped talking to me after we had travelled together for 3 days. ¬†It seemed a harsh judgement and pretty ignorant, but this is the way many people down there think and there are valid reasons for this attitude. ¬†I feel very fortunate to live in Canada and to have a disability benefit program plus health care and on top of that I get heavily subsidized housing and free fitness and leisure access. ¬†It almost seems like paradise, but it definitely has its drawbacks. ¬†One of them is that if I do go out and get a job, I have to limit my income to less than a minimum wage job or lose my benefits completely. ¬†With the cost of psychiatric medications this would be a staggering blow. ¬†At the present point I’m at I don’t honestly know if I could hold down a full-time job for any length of time, but I also don’t want to live the rest of my life with no improvements in my standard of living.

Some 27 years ago I found myself in a homeless shelter, mentally ill and penniless due to prolonged hospital admissions. ¬†There were very few options left for me and so I made an application to join the military. ¬†This would have provided me health benefits, an income, and a purpose in my life. ¬†My application process was interrupted by a fight with my dad that sent me to the shelter, and I decided that since I was working towards something that I could do something I thought was unthinkable-I would apply for welfare benefits. ¬†I will never forget the words of the social worker when I applied, as she looked up from the forms she was filling out for me, “Don’t get caught in the trap.” ¬†I think she meant more along the lines of the trap of drug abuse or alcoholism and circle of poverty. ¬†But whatever she meant, due to my mental illness, I was never able to join the military, and I later failed a concerted attempt to complete commercial pilot school, and was unable to hold down a full-time job. ¬†For me the trap wasn’t in getting money for nothing, it was in that every time I tried to do something, either I was told I was ineligible as a person with a mental illness, or that I would try and do a job set before me and the incredible pressure of working up to acceptable standards was simply too much. ¬†I was caught in a trap, and in some ways I still am.

Things are improving in my life though, I have found a part-time job that I am good at and that I enjoy. ¬†I give talks to students about mental illness for the Schizophrenia Society, and I have written a number of books. ¬†The books give me little income, but together I manage to put food on the table. ¬†One thing I often think about is that despite that numerous times I went over the brink into madness, I now have a good life with stable housing and income and something to do, but I have a lot of regret that I have no life partner. ¬†This is another trap that people with mental illnesses have to be aware of, the isolation factor, and it has a lot to do with receiving benefits. ¬†If you don’t have to force yourself to get up and get out and look for work, you may just sit inside and watch TV and never care if you have friends or a significant other, and years will fly past and a person will have nothing but regrets. ¬†One of the reasons that people end up isolated like this besides recieving benefits is that there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental illness. ¬†One thing with me is that I used to try and hide the fact that I have a diagnosed illness, but now I am very forward about it. ¬†So many people, when you stop trying to hide things, will tell you they suffer, they have a family member or close friend that suffers.

Anyhow, a lot of that is beside the point I was trying to make. ¬†How do you avoid the trap that going on benefits causes? ¬†You may not be able to, but you can make your life as full as possible. ¬†I always like to say that the first thing you need to do with a mentally ill person is get them proper treatment, proper medications. ¬†Then you need to take some therapy that will help you understand yourself. ¬†After that, a life skills course or Wellness Recovery Action Plan course can help a great deal. ¬†From there, even if it just means taking one course, get some school under your belt. ¬†While you are doing this, find ways to keep fit and healthy, in what you do with your body and what you put in it. ¬†Quit smoking if you smoke. ¬†Then, try and find work, even part-time. ¬†Spend as little as possible, and save, and keep taking your medications, work on your mental health on an ongoing basis, and before you know it, you may forget you ever were sick. ¬†It isn’t an easy process, and it isn’t a simple one, but it is one that is worthwhile. ¬†I like to keep telling people that you need to have goals and direction, specific ones. ¬†“I want a bachelor’s degree in six years.” would be an excellent one. ¬†“I want to be stabilized and back working in two years, earning enough to drive a car and rent my own apartment.” is another good one. ¬†Once you have goals, you have a direction to move in, and if you are having a hard time, you can end up feeling so much better about yourself from just working a little bit each day towards your goal. ¬†Take care Dear Readers!

Coping With Isolation While Suffering From a Mental Illness

dsc_0928

Photograph of an Edmonton Morning From the Tip of the River Valley

Well, I have been trying to keep busy lately, and seem to be doing well. ¬†As many may know, I moved into my own apartment from a group home three months ago. ¬†There are a lot of things that seem to be going really well. ¬†I have just about finished my very first University course, Humanities 101 which has been great. ¬†We have gone over a lot of different information from a visit to the University’s Observatory to a special class with a drama instructor. ¬†In many ways, I feel it has helped me not only get back into the groove that I used to enjoy so much about school, but it has also helped me to sharpen my critical thinking skills. ¬†The main problem right now is that I am feeling a little isolated not having roommates around to talk to or bounce ideas off.

There have been a lot of really good things going on, though.  My friend Richard Van Camp, who is a bestselling author and film producer seems to have found me a publisher for my latest short story collection.  After a few final edits, I will be sending my manuscript off likely early next week.  There are a few other really great pieces of news in my life, one is that the Edmonton Public Library has chosen to spotlight me as a writer in 2017 for three months, likely in the second or third quarter of the year.  They will have me plan two events and advertise me on their website among other cool stuff.  And then I will also be facilitating a writing class in the New Year, possibly more than one of them.  I think that will be just about all I will be able to handle.

At the moment I am nursing a sore back, and I took some muscle relaxants to help me deal with it. ¬†I had hoped the pills would help me sleep but they don’t seem to be working that way. ¬†I am having so much trouble sleeping that I am near to the point of asking for sleeping pills, but I have found that sleeping pills affect a person’s memory and that is something that is just about essential to my writing. ¬†There are more options, I have tried to exercise more but it seems that can make me sleep less. ¬†Among the other options is to eliminate naps and cut off caffeine at a certain time. ¬†These strategies have worked for me before, but when you live alone it can be difficult to follow routines. ¬†I guess I am a bit worried that moving out was a mistake, but there really were a lot of useless rules in the place I came from. ¬†I still get a little support day to day from the staff at the building I moved into, it often becomes easy though to fall into the trap of just not leaving the house. ¬†I have been combatting that by taking extended long walks for groceries or to malls and other errands. ¬†The result is that I feel better in general, but my feet and back seem to be taking kind of a pounding. ¬†I thought I would like to walk to a medical clinic in the morning to see about getting something for my back and maybe some advice on sleep remedies but walking four miles for something like that seems almost self-defeating.

One thing that is good is that I seem to have been getting out enough to keep my social skills in order.  Yesterday I gave a presentation for the Schizophrenia Society and it seemed to go really well.  I enjoy that job a lot, it is just about the perfect thing for me.  I go out to a school or meeting place, talk for half an hour and get paid for three hours.  It is hard to have been used to the money I made setting up stages but that job was taking a toll on me.

Something that has been on my mind is my brother, the musician/chef/philosopher.  He had a herniated disc in his back that needed surgery and is in terrible pain and now a doctor has told him he may have another herniated disc.  The first surgery was awful, he had to wait six months and could do almost nothing the whole time, it really kills me to see him in so much pain.  Sometimes all a person can do is keep a smile on their face and pray, though.

So I don’t really know what coping skills I gave any of you today. ¬†I have been finding that meditation has been pretty helpful in me keeping my head screwed on straight. ¬†I would like to go back to going to mass, I don’t know what has been keeping me from it. ¬†All in all, actually, things are as good as could be expected. ¬†I have a birthday coming next week and I am going to spend it with friends, I don’t really need to worry much about having things to do or money for food or anything. ¬†I still find myself a little worried and a little sad at times. ¬†I suppose nothing can ever be perfect. ¬†I apologize that there is no poem for today, I haven’t felt much like writing poetry. ¬†I should get down to some though since I will be teaching how to write it again soon. ¬†Take care dear readers, and say a prayer for my brother if you have the strength.

Mental Health and Sleeplessness/Insomnia (Poem/Photo Below Blog)

Do you have trouble sleeping despite being on strong medications to help you rest? ¬†There are ways to treat insomnia that can help you a great deal. ¬†It depends partially on what your diagnosis is. ¬†I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which means I have to watch out for highs and lows in my mood, and, of course, need medication. ¬†I find that often in either extreme of mood I have trouble sleeping. ¬†Insomnia can be very difficult to deal with, and when you are already struggling to hold down a job and perhaps suffering from a mental illness, it gets even worse. ¬†I think one of the best ways to deal with insomnia is, first of all, to try and eliminate napping. ¬†This is something I find difficult because I often have a lot of time on my hands on days when I don’t have work or class. ¬†I don’t like watching TV much so I either have to force myself to work on something, or nap and end up not being able to sleep at night. It takes discipline, and maybe it will take another part-time job or hobby but napping has to go.

One thing I found that can help a great deal with not being able to sleep is to exercise. ¬†Many people don’t have the benefit I do of a nearby fitness facility with pool and weight room, but there is still a way to do push-ups, go for walks, join a Yoga class, or if you want to try Yoga, simply get a mat and a video you can work with at home. ¬†Something I have to be very aware of with this solution is that sometimes exercise can send me into a manic state. ¬†People with mental health issues other than bipolar may face such things as worsening symptoms of paranoia or visual/auditory hallucinations. Talk to your Psychiatrist and perhaps they can work out something that will help you get out more, perhaps a medication that helps calm you down or some group therapy that will help you transition to form your own connections in your community.

Another problem that those with a mental health issue face with regards to sleeplessness/insomnia is that one of the worst things you can do is to get your biological clock out of ‘whack.’ ¬†When you go to bed at different times or sleep all day, you are making it hard for your body to know when it should shut down and rest. ¬†One of the best strategies to coping with this problem is to try and go to sleep when the sun goes down, and, no matter how much coffee it takes (but not after 6:00pm) to get out of bed in the morning, do your best to get up early. ¬†Add this to not napping, exercising or socializing during the day and soon you will improve one of the key problems people with a mental illness face.

dsc_0514

Find Love But Love Yourself
The past is a cruel cruel mistress
Who sometimes will not let one go
I want to say though I’m embarrassed
Some important things to know
One can’t just let all of their memories
Haunt them through all of their days
Each person’s time on earth is limited
And right now my son, you are in your prime
Watch for the ones who are most lovely
So good-looking you can hardly cope
Those women have their choice of men
And many of them will choose to love a few
Open wide your eyes my son
Let each sunrise find you blessed
Feel the renewing breeze, the cool, cool air
Give thanks to the hand that feeds your soul
Of all the things I’ve told you
There is only one you must bury in your heart
Love only those that love you back
Or be sad and broken; torn apart
Perhaps a few times as my youth slipped past
I could have had the woman of my dreams
But things do not always work that way
Respect and love whoever you end up with
Dreaming of the perfect one
Left me no closer to the truth
That as I dreamed life slipped away
And I missed out on most of my youth
So many happy carefree times
Spent in play or traveling
I had no idea there was more joy
In the feelings your own family can bring

Poetry, Bipolar, and Coping Skills: Becoming an Advocate

Poetry, bipolar and coping skills: These are what started out as my therapy and what made me become a public speaker and author, advocating for mental health awareness and mental illness understanding. ¬†I hope all of you enjoy today’s blog, I am writing it after having the extreme honor of being asked to speak at the U of A medical school as someone with life experience with mental illness and the treatment of my disorders in the hospital.

dsc_0344

The Rushing Waters of Athabasca Falls in Jasper National Park

Today’s Poem: ¬†(please scroll past for today’s blog entry)

This Time Means So Much

 

Now in the darkness

Combing through my life

Now in the starlight

Moment by moment

 

I fear there were things

I could have completed

I fear there were things

I must have done wrong

 

Here in the darkness

I try to replay the madness

Here in the nighttime

I try to forgive myself

 

What did she mean

When she asked me to leave

What did it mean

When she never called back

 

Here in the moonlight

I don’t know if she even liked me

But here in the darkness

I can make it all make sense

 

Here in the dim light

My thoughts torture me

Here in the night light

I hope to lay all the past to rest

 

It helps me a little

To meditate on the cinch points

It helps me I think

To not make those mistakes once again

 

Here in the cool night

Staring up at the stars

Watching the moon’s glory

I find strength to move on

 

Leif Gregersen

September 19, 2016

¬† ¬† ¬†Well, I would like to talk a little about how I became something of an advocate for mental health awareness. ¬†I owe a great deal of what I have become to a young woman named Jillian Jones who worked at the Schizophrenia Society and supported and instructed me to the point where I could go to schools, training classes, community organizations, including colleges and universities and talk about how mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder affected me and why it is so important to have an understanding of mental illness. ¬†Of course, there were many other people, one of them being an old friend named Donna who one day said she could help me get the book I had written published and referred me to an excellent editor. ¬†Without my book, I don’t know if I would have gone on to give talks and promote mental health awareness like I have.

There are a lot of people and organizations I would like to acknowledge, but the fact is that mental illness is something so insidious that it takes a lot of help from a lot of people over the whole course of a person’s life to overcome it. ¬† Sometimes I feel bad that it takes so many of society’s resources to keep me going, but the fact is if you look at things honestly, I would be costing society a lot more if I either was a permanent patient in a hospital or if I were homeless and insane. ¬†Many people like to shy away from the word insane, but the cold fact is that without my medication and treatment team, I would soon be insane. ¬†Psychosis would slowly creep up on me, I would get grandiose and delusional thoughts, and I may even act on them. ¬†I am so lucky that it has been fifteen years since those things have happened, but I constantly have to remind myself that the dark specter of mental illness is just under the surface of my psyche.

I don’t want to just write about the negative side of mental illness, though, I would like to write about some coping strategies I have learned. ¬†One of them, of course, is goal setting. ¬†I recall first getting out of the hospital and being asked by an occupational therapist what I wanted to do for a career. ¬†Some may have said they didn’t think they would ever work again, and I have to be honest, I had some doubts, but I said that I wanted to be a writer. ¬†She asked how I would go about this and I said I would train myself over the next five years. ¬†It actually took ten, but I think if I didn’t have that goal in mind in leaving the hospital it would have never happened. ¬†When a person has a life affected by mental illness, there is a long chain of things that should happen. ¬†First, they need to be put on medications, which could mean, but not always, that the person has to go into a hospital. ¬†Somehow they need to be made to understand that they must trust their treatment team and take their advice. ¬†After they get more stable, I think it is important to take a lot of life skills training. ¬†These classes can teach a person how to interact with others, communicate, control anger, and many more things. ¬†Life skills training in things like cooking and managing a household are goo too, but that isn’t the life skills I mean right now. ¬†After that, no matter what age the person is, unless they are able to resume working a job they had before, is to get some kind of education. ¬†Personally, I took a lot of free courses through the public library which not only allowed me to learn how to use this website, but also taught me magazine writing, poetry writing, and many other skills that have helped me support myself with the aid of a disability pension. ¬†The next step after educational training is to get a job, even if you have to start as a volunteer. ¬†Volunteering can be so rewarding, I used to visit seniors and talk with them and read to them. ¬†The great thing about volunteering is that you can pick what you want to do and get real world experience in something that you never dreamed you would be able to do. ¬†I have a friend who volunteered for a long time at a community police station, another friend who was a welder in an aviation museum.

Well, that will be about the whole shebang for today.  It would be great if people could comment or give feedback to me about what they feel about my website.  I can be reached at the email viking3082000@yahoo.com if anyone wants to discuss things privately.  Mental health to all!

Leif Gregersen

 

 

Mental Health and Poetry With a Couple of Photographs

DSC_0260

Another Shot From My Day Trip To Jasper With My Dad.  So Beautiful There.

Check out today’s blog entry after today’s poem

First Responders

 

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

So long as proud men and women seek the light

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

No one in the world is alone to blame

In the end the winners will be in the right

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

 

Some evil people count destruction as their only aim

But as long as good people always keep up the fight

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Raise up a cheer for those who carry the flame

By their acts they give the blind new sight

So long as heroes who make sacrifices are given due fame

 

Some feel the only good in life is gain

But our salvation still shines bright

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Each of our heroes may not quite be the same

But on all of them shines a holy light

So long as heroes who make sacrifice are given due fame

The human race will always be a worthwhile game

 

Leif Gregersen

July 23, 2016

¬† ¬† ¬†Hello to everyone out there who faithfully keeps up with my blog. ¬†I don’t really have a lot of profound words for you today. ¬†I am lavishing in the memories of London, England from my June trip, it really was amazing. ¬†I have been thinking about the Imperial War Museum which used to be a mental hospital. ¬†I think it is kind of fitting to have such a place to commemorate war, it seems to be such an awful, crazy thing. ¬†I had a near death experience not too long ago and it reminded me of my own mortality. ¬†I fell off my bike on a steep trail and got knocked around pretty badly, even bit a good chunk out of my tongue and got the wind knocked out of me so it was impossible to breathe for a little while. ¬†I wondered at that moment if I would ever breathe again. ¬†I sure didn’t expect life would be this good or that I would be this frail at 44. ¬†I remember as a kid reading about men in their 70’s doing these incredible feats, and I don’t doubt I could still do some things, but there are a lot of things I can’t do. ¬†As a result of taking medications and my hands shaking, just about anything that requires a steady hand is impossible. ¬†The medication also affects my balance and my memory. ¬†My doctor and his staff are aware of all of these side effects, but we also agree that I am much better off with these problems than I would be if I weren’t on a medication that stabilized my mood and kept me from experiencing psychosis. ¬†It is so hard to describe what psychosis is like. ¬†You hear things, you think things, little things that happen seem to have huge significances, and you get a lot of irrational ideas in your head. ¬†It is scary to think of how far gone I was during my last visit to the hospital. ¬†I will never forget experiencing this horrible feeling of depression and restlessness and looking at a tile pattern on the floor and somehow my brain mixed it around and turned it into a vision of Nazi Germany and all the horrors they perpetrated. It may seem really odd, but it would make sense to someone who has experienced such things.

I don’t want to dwell too much on all that, actually this has been a great week. ¬†I participated in a story slam, where you put in $5 and get to go on stage and read a 5 minute story and up to ten people can read and at half time they pass a hat which everyone puts $5 into. ¬†The stories are judged and the highest score gets all the cash in the hat. ¬†I went home the proud winner of $100 which isn’t huge, but enough to make a nice difference in my monthly budget. ¬†It is funny to think of how much effort it took me to write the story, edit the story, prepare myself to read it and all of that. ¬†Then it took tremendous effort just for me to get out of bed and walk the 2 miles to the place where the event was taking place. ¬†I really didn’t want to go, I had no faith in my story or my abilities, and I didn’t want the stress of going there and going up on stage, but somehow I did it.

It was good to win that, but stress is eating a hole in me right now. ¬†I am supposed to be moving this week and I still haven’t gotten word that my suite is ready. ¬†I was really hoping to get out of this place I live in now and be done with it, but I just may have to stay another month which will cause all kinds of problems. ¬†And then, constantly, I am bombarded with these thoughts, memories of my past where I play negative things over and over in my head. ¬†Somehow I muddle through though and get things done. ¬†I am now a paid blogger for healthyplace.com and I wrote my blog and recorded my video today for them. ¬†Next step is just to post my blogs and then invoice them for my pay. ¬†It is kind of cool. ¬†That is what is great about being in your 40’s (I’m 44) there are so many little things you learn to do to cope with life. ¬†I can’t imagine life without all my little jobs here and there. ¬†Anyhow, that is my life for one more week, I appreciate you all following me, and as a token of that appreciation, I am going to post another photo just below.

DSC_0523

 

Let Me Fill Your Heart With Poetry

DSCN0105

This is a walking path near my house and the skyline of Edmonton

Today’s poem (blog underneath):

Think What You Like, This Isn’t a Poem

 

Don’t just get out of it

Saying you can’t read it

Don’t say you never really

Got it; it sucks

 

Poetry is in all of us

 

We had poems in the womb

In the loving heartbeat and the voice

Of the one who carried us

 

Poetry is all around us

 

It’s in a huge weeping willow

That sings a symphony

Something you might not expect from a tree

It’s one without music or words

But the greatest one you’ll ever see

 

Poetry is in each heart

 

The young children playing

The teenagers laughing

The forlorn widows weeping

The young lovers loving

 

Poetry.  It’s there in every dance, every song

 

In each step shuffle and move

Let go and go with the groove

Expression and joy

Is all there is to prove

 

Poetry Endures

 

Each year month and day

Will slip away

Take a chance and play

 

Poetry is always there for you

 

It’s my hope to let you know

When you feel there’s nowhere to go

You can reach out of the deepest hole

With a poem

 

God is love.  Love and Poetry go together

 

Poetry is the blueprint

Of all creation

It is who we are deep inside

So come along for the ride

 

Poetry is honesty

 

And know I crafted these words for you

And all of them are true

Don’t ever let yourself feel blue

Poetry can change you, make you feel brand new

 

Leif Gregersen

 

Good day to everyone who follows this blog. ¬†I have been having a much easier time keeping up with things writing posts a bit less and it seems I have a few more followers this way so look for the current pattern to continue. ¬†I am going through an interesting time, to say the least. ¬†As many know, I have worked in the past for a union that handles labour for concerts, plays and film. ¬†I think I just might be able to put that job to rest for a while, plus I haven’t done it in a few months so I don’t even know if I would be in shape for it. ¬†It has been a difficult decision to make because the money is really good, but I just find myself getting too stressed with all the other things I have to do. ¬†Thursday I have something kind of huge happening, I am going to give a presentation for the Schizophrenia Society and a man from the Alberta Speaker’s Bureau, an organization that hires and places public speakers will be there to evaluate me. ¬†I think I will do okay, I’m going to give it my best shot and if I don’t do that well I think I will have to just dig in my heels and join toastmasters for a while and try again.

I have also been teaching a writing class which will be ending in a couple of weeks. ¬†I don’t really know what I’m going to do when I return from London, hopefully, there will be a writing project I can dive into by then. ¬†It is so important that I keep busy, but I often find myself trying to do that in not the best ways. ¬†One of the ways I keep busy is by going shopping, but at the moment, I honestly have all of my needs covered. ¬†I also noticed that when I go to visit my dad or my brother I go there, get down to business, eat or do whatever we had planned to do and then leave. ¬†I guess I would kind of like to go into some kind of therapy to deal with this eventually. ¬†Maybe I have to do incredibly well with my writing and have a lot of money before I can afford to deal with some of my issues. ¬†I do know my sister saw a psychologist for a time and it did her a lot of good.

Despite all my stressors and problems, there is a lot of good things happening in my life. ¬†Of course, I am going to London, England soon and when I come home I will be moving into a very nice apartment. ¬†As usual, though, no matter how good things get I seem to always find myself in a position where if there aren’t people lavishing praise on me I feel like a failure and want to do something drastic like give up writing completely. ¬†Another thing I hate to admit is that though I don’t seem to have any feelings for them anymore, I find myself often thinking about relationships that died more than 25 years ago. ¬†And when I think of that and see pictures of myself I wonder if any of them would even find me attractive now that I have put on all this weight. ¬†Sometimes I feel as though my medication is ageing me before my time. ¬†Sometimes I think I would like it if I had a girlfriend, other times I think that I’m happy to have so many really nice looking and sweet female friends in my life as it is, and then there are times when I possibly don’t like myself enough to feel I should be in a relationship.

I wonder how many other people are in a similar position and feel this way.  I kind of hope if there are people out there they would email me and chat.  As usual, any readers of this blog are welcome to email me, the address is viking3082000@yahoo.com