health

A Poem and a Few Words About Mental Health and Walking

I have often wondered if the people who get to run these machines are just older kids at play. Seeing these big machines also makes me think about modern labour and how it changes so rapidly. I often wonder what some of my students do without computer skills-what anyone without computer skills can do. It leaves us so marginalized. But that is a discussion for another day. Please remember to scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog.

 

The Forgotten Book

 

On my floor forgotten lies a book

Its cover bent all it seems to do is gather dust

The dismal hum of the summer fan

Licks its pages until it seems alive

This book once had been my hopes, my dreams

To take me places I never dared to go

This book was more than mine it was me

It was written by my hand inspired by my soul

I poured everything into its pages

And now at 5:00am as the sky brightens

I haven’t got the energy to pick it up

I should file the thing; get it out of sight

But I’ve grown accustomed to seeing it

There on my floor

I may be a hermit to some

Old books covering my furniture and floors

Old junk filling up the spaces in between

But among all that will be that book

Hopefully long after I am gone

To tell my story

To somehow let me live on

If only on a page that few will read

Leif Gregersen

 

Mental Health and Walking:

I have always been a fan of endurance sports. I suppose it started as far back as the second Rocky Movie which I saw on TV. Everyone knows that Rocky Balboa is going to accomplish his goals when he goes running through the streets, thousands of children run with him as that amazing music plays. One thing I really like about the Rocky Movies is that Rocky doesn’t win all his fights. Like many of us, he does everything he can, fails, reinvents himself or finds new inspiration and then moves on to the next level. Rocky can’t always triumph, but he can always show he has heart, or perhaps more accurately as he says in his movies, he at least proves he is not a bum.

Walking is something that I have been taking up instead of playing difficult sports, jogging, even cycling. There are so many advantages to it. Perhaps the top one for me is just the time I get to spend on my own with my thoughts. Sometimes I will walk up to 2 hours a day and I can work everything out. I watched a video today that quoted some interesting studies on walking that I hope you won’t take at face value from me but research on your own. One of the studies they talked about was one that discovered a marked increase in mood for people with depression who walked 30 minutes a day 3 to 5 times a week. I can honestly say that I do feel a lot happier after I walk and that now that I have been doing it for a few years I wouldn’t want to stop for any reason. I may have to slow down or take days off, but walking is so rewarding (in the happiness and in the feeling of fitness) that I hope I can keep it up for a long time to come.

For a while I didn’t like the idea of walking long distances though I often did as a boy. My Mom had lost a good deal of weight one time and looked amazing from walking about 5 miles a day. The problem came in when an incident, possibly connected, hopefully not, happened where she developed a crushed vertebrae in her neck and needed surgery. She gained her weight back soon during her recovery period and never really got back to the same levels of fitness before she passed away.

One interesting thing I have been noticing is that people with mental health issues seem to be at much more risk of diabetes. Perhaps because they are more sedentary, perhaps it has a lot to do with weight gain on psychiatric medications. Many people are told that their medications will cause them to gain weight, but also asked if they would prefer to be in active mental distress or psychosis or would they prefer to be slimmer. Almost anyone would prefer to be mentally healthy. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It may be extremely difficult, but there are ways to still lose weight, and I have found walking to be at the epicentre of the solution despite the effects of medications I take.

I have been walking five plus miles five times a week now as well as watching my calorie, sugar and fat intake. I should mention that I was diagnosed with type two diabetes a month ago despite thinking I  was active and fit. What I didn’t realize was that I was obese and I needed to make some changes. Walking was something I already did, so I just tried to ramp it up a bit and find excuses to walk every day like to go for groceries or even just to go to the pool to sit in the hot tub and weigh myself. The other thing I did was try to eliminate red meat, and anything with large amounts of fat or sugar. My Doctor also put me on Metformin, which is a very helpful medication. The results? I feel way better, people say I look slimmer, and since I have started monitoring my blood glucose levels, I seem to be in the healthy range a lot more of the time and I have lost nearly 30 pounds. I hope some of this is inspiring to you. My suggestion if you have a few pounds to lose or if you worry about diabetes is to load the Survivor song “Eye of the Tiger” into your music player of choice, get some good walking shoes (I love my new sketchers!) and go out and enjoy the sun! (Unless you are in the Southern Hemisphere). Best of luck and please post any questions or comments!

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To Everything There is a Season and a Time to Every Purpose Under Heaven

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    CHRISTMAS WITH WILLA. FEELS GOOD TO BE A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR

( DON’T FORGET TO SCROLL PAST THE PHOTO BELOW TODAY’S BLOG FOR A POEM I WROTE TODAY!)

Hello Dear Readers!  Well, it has been an interesting last couple of days.  To any writers out there I wanted to talk a bit about a new kind of video game that has come out.  First I will talk about a similar one, now a bit of a retro game that I would be surprised to find anywhere from back in the days of games that you bought on CD and downloaded to your computer through your optical drive.  This game was beyond cool, it was a bit like a dungeons and dragons game, but it was called “Majestic Chess”.  What you did was take this little King through a map of castles, villages, bridges and so on and you would encounter some wise old men that would teach you chess moves and then you could practice them, you would challenge people you came across to battles and win chess pieces to add to your arsenal and then in the end of a level you would play some dude in a castle with all the pieces you amassed and hope to win to advance.  It was the best way ever to learn about chess, and funny enough it has a few simple similarities to a book I wrote about a young man who travels through time which is not yet released yet (email me if you are curious… viking3082000@yahoo.com).  But not to digress too much, I wanted to talk about this new game I just downloaded for Steam for Macintosh.  The game is called ‘Elegy’ or ‘Elegy for a dead world’ and it is simply one of the coolest teaching tools I have ever seen and is actually an interactive video game for writers.  What happens is you log in and then a little spaceman appears and you use your arrow keys to jet-pack him around a few simple planets (which is actually quite a beautiful bit of graphic design) and then when you hover your little man over a star or planet, you hit enter and you go to a menu for that planet.  You have the choice of reading writings from there, writing yourself and a few other options.  Then you choose a theme for your writing prompts.  You can choose from famous poems or words that start off a story or even just free writing and then you walk, explore and jet-pack around a mysterious dead world and at waypoints you get prompts and you write then move on and write more at the next one, and at the end of a planet you go back into space and are given the option of publishing your work.  Very brilliant concept, very engaging, very extremely fun and really gets the creative juices going.  The game is around $15 US through Steam and I think any writer who wants to improve his skills would love it, though the one flaw I see in it is that the places you explore often just make you want to write science fiction.

So, many of you may be wondering why I am talking about this video game.  The fact is that I heard about it from reading a magazine downstairs from my computer where I am now and I went up to download and play the game and got so engrossed, and I am not kidding in any way… I didn’t notice that someone stole my freaking truck!  After spending time on the game I went downstairs for coffee and there I saw it… an empty space where my truck should have been.  It was pretty spooky too because I called up the police and they said they had already found the truck.  The next evening (June 30, Tuesday) I found out from the Internet that the guy who stole my truck was flying down a freeway and ran it right into a cement block and was killed instantly!  No more truck for me now!  Son of a @#$#$%!

Still, I was undaunted and made it down to the clinic to see my Psychiatric nurse, get my bi-weekly injection of anti-psychotic medication and talk.  We discussed all the things I have been doing lately and sort of made the decision that I was going to severely cut back my activities.  I have decided I will take on a lesser role in the classes I was planning to teach this fall and that I will get more rest and free time before I take on more work or anything like it.  I have been feeling so stressed.  I was very down despite that there has been some really great things happening in my life like making  a lot of new friends, getting into the city newspaper and getting my books into Chapters, our major Canadian chain.

I also had a chance to meet up with my good friend Richard Van Camp, author of “The Lesser Blessed” and he gave me a free copy of the movie made from his book called none other than “The Lesser Blessed”  I am pretty happy about it, the movie is amazing and so is Richard’s work.  He tells these incredible stories about growing up in the Northwest Territories in places like Fort Simmer, Fort Smith, Fort Rae and other places, but what is so cool is that he has four or five short story collections out and in them he follows the same characters, very fascinating and sympathetic characters and he jumps around in time.  Richard has been such a force in my life as a writer, mentoring, supporting and editing my work.  I have even interviewed him for a couple of magazines and gotten advanced copies of some of his work.

Well, anyhow, I wanted to talk a bit about the depression I have been going through.  I don’t know why, but I have been feeling down.  I had some free time and I started reading a very informative half graphic novel/half non-fiction manual about Bipolar Disorder made in England and so much of it hit home.  I was very surprised to learn that Bipolar (which I have been diagnosed with) can be set off by large amounts of light, and I have been getting out in the sun a lot lately.  Today is Canada day, not the day we celebrate independence from Britain as the Americans do on the Fourth of July, Canada has never really gotten independence from Britain, we still have the Queen on all of our money and she is our official head of state.  The other interesting thing is that in Canada you have a lot less inalienable rights than in the US.  For example, we don’t have the freedom of the press, books have been banned (such as one of the books I am reading now, “Steal This Book” by Abbie Hoffman) and many other such inconsistencies.  I can recall a few times I was in a situation where people wanted to force me to work and I stated that according to the charter of rights and freedoms I can’t be forced to work (once in school, another time in the mental hospital) and basically I was threatened, bullied and ordered to work.  Kind of makes me sick to think about it but I will change the subject because I don’t want to be negative on a day when I celebrate a country I do truly love.  (there-I can put that down as a sign I am getting depressed-when I start remembering the past and being negative about it in my blog!)

Anyhow, I just thought I would put a few words out for people.  I really like it when I check my statistics for this page and see that a lot of people liked what I had to say.  I hope people out there try that video game, possibly even try ‘Majestic Chess’ if you can find it, I have never learned so much having fun as when I had that game on my old pentium computer.  Take care Dear Readers, and lets be careful out there!    (poem to follow the below photo)

IMG_7901SHARK TANK AT THE HONOLULU AQUARIUM

 

Independent Grocer’s Association of St.Albert

 

A poem is in fact a pretty piss-poor answer

To you asking why did I ever do that

 

Neither is it really much of an excuse

As to why I kept being so cruel

 

If I thought I could write you a few lines

That made up for all the things that I’ve done

They would end years of cold bitter feelings

That always got in the way of us two being one

 

I guess all that I can really say is that I remember that way

That beautiful heart that thumped in your chest, as you smiled at me

 

Back through the years you were such a perfect vision

You were every young man’s true mission

 

Some people thought that it was a bit funny

That I thought someone like me could have you

My family didn’t have all that much money

And it seemed you never had feelings that were true

 

But I will say my piece that I noticed though it sounds odd

Once you really did see me as some kind of God

 

I know to this day I was not mistaken

No other way your actions could be taken

 

There was a definite glow in your eyes

 

But then as I let some time pass

You felt I was just trailer trash

And when I returned to you later

All that was left of you was a hater

 

And you looked down on the simple and poor

 

I guess I could have handled that

I could have taken the pain

 

The fact that now I was the very thing you despised

 

I just kind of wished that after all this time

You could forgive and admit

Once long ago you honestly could have been mine

 

That was then, this is here

I’m too old and tired for more tears

And I’ll let you think what you like it is fine

 

I will grow older one day

And for sure I will pass away

 

Whether or not I ever had a woman like you

 

I will be able to look back

Before my last heart attack

 

Thinking how I saw in your eyes that love was true

 

And as I slip into the creeping crawling end

Though you will be in my thoughts I will pretend

 

It didn’t hurt me we both said things that weren’t true

 

Mental Health Issues and Insomnia (Sleep Hygiene)

DSCF1002My Roommate, Daniel, who is one of the nicest, kindest people I know

     Well, good readers, it is now 3am and for some reason I feel compelled to write about insomnia.  Just about everyone gets it, especially people with mental health issues.  A lot of questions pop up, like is my medication making me sleep too much, should I go on sleeping pills, and on and on.  Personally, I have one pill, called a PRN which basically means I can take it as needed, called Rivotril or Clonazepam.  If I ask for it, I can get a 0.5mg little orange pill and it often relaxes me enough to sleep.  One of the most important things I have to remember though, is that if I don’t get out of bed at a reasonable time, I will have problems sleeping even with the pill.

One of the things I like to do is swim laps and sit in the hot tub at my local fitness facility (thank you Edmonton city government for making these facilities accessible for those with low incomes!)  If I get in enough laps and don’t sleep too much, I find that I am more than ready to get a good sleep in that night.  How much exercise is right?  Hard to say.  I try to get in the pool and do laps until I’m tired, and if I have any energy left over I take off my flippers and swim a few regular laps and even add in push-ups and chair dips afterwords.  Whether or not it helps my sleep to sit in the hot tub is hard to say, I do like to sit in the hot tub for a few minutes before a swim just to get all my joints warmed up to lessen impact on them from going right into an exercise.

Along with my PRN Rivotril, I also have the option of taking a hormone you can get over the counter called Melatonin.  I cleared this with my Doctor and I think the only thing I really have to note about this is that I can’t take it every day.  If I take it too much I find that I get an almost painful restlessness through mostly my spine that often makes it impossible to sleep.  Now and then, when I have taken my pills and it is getting late at night or early in the morning and I can’t sleep I find that sometimes turning upside down in bed or even going downstairs to sack out on the couch helps.

One of my problems is that a lot of my life focuses around laying in bed.  Most Doctors will tell you that all you should do in bed is sleeping and intimacy, but I write letters on my iPad, make phone calls, read, listen to music and many more things that I am sure don’t help.  Another thing that I think doesn’t help my insomnia is that I take naps.  I haven’t discussed this with a Doctor, but I have heard information that I can’t confirm that it is very bad for a person to sleep a little here and a little there.  Sleep can be such a nice experience, as I mentioned before when I take my Prozac in the morning and go back to bed I have the most wonderful dreams and general feeling of well being for a few hours.

So what are the solutions?  I will try to recap.  One would be to get exercise, a good idea for anyone.  Even if you just get out and go for a walk or go up a few flights of stairs it will be beneficial.  The second is medication.  Sometimes I find myself needing Tylenol or Advil or even Gravol or Robaxacet and sometimes cold and flu medication.  These things can help me sleep but I am very concerned about getting dependent on them so I use them only when needed.  It seems I often need Advil just about every day due to headaches, but that is a bit of a different situation.  I have noticed that when I take an Advil I can take a nap and have a very peaceful and happy feeling.  The next step is to try not to nap, then to try not not to lounge around in bed if you can avoid it.  One other thing about staying in bed I should mention is that simply from your orientation against gravity, when you lay in bed too much, especially when you take medications, you can get acid reflux.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to avoid this malady, it can be very painful and disturbing of a person’s natural cycles.  My Mom had acid reflux so bad she required an operation at one point to increase the size of her wind pipe just so she could breathe and eat properly, she had been bedridden for her last five or six years.

So what have we got-use drugs sparingly.  Don’t nap.  Exercise.  Try to fill up your day.  Only sleep in your bed.  Avoid sleep aids that cause dependency.  Getting the right amount of sleep each day is good for your well being, your feeling of healthiness, and almost definitely your moods.  When I pull an all nighter, I often find that my temper gets much shorter than normal and I even get a little paranoid and angry.  There are some good sleep aids out there like Melatonin, I have also had some good results just from taking a multi-vitamin, which, at least in me, seems to keep me from having nightmares, and also by taking what is often labelled stress vitamins which contain some B vitamins among other stuff.  Above all though, these are things that you should clear with your Doctor, I can only speak from my own experiences and everyone’s body chemistry is different.  I hope all of you can have a good rest, and as I say often, Good Night Sweet Princes and Princesses, and may a thousand angels sing thee to thy resting place.  I kind of stole that from Hamlet, the final scene, but still a nice thing to think of when you are on your way off to dreamland.

 IMG_4867One of my favorite things to do, taking pictures in the

park with my favorite person, my Dad

Happy 2015 To All My Readers!

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Well, an entire year lay ahead of us and there are so many new chances and new ways to renew and enrich our lives.  Today’s poem focuses on love and renewing, which I think kind of go hand in hand.  My main plan for 2015 is to lose 20 pounds.  My Doctor said I should lose 60 but I have been trying to lose for some time and I only go up or down a couple of pounds.  I figure 20 is a much more realistic goal.  In high school I was 145 and incredibly fit, I ran for miles every day and played all kinds of sports, worked out and had a physically intensive job.  Now I still work out, but I seem to be locked into a weight of 250 pounds and it feels awful to a person who once was attractive and slim.  When I was younger, I was in a circle of friends that smoked and drank and didn’t play sports.  Some of my friends were nerdy and some even hated jocks, and for a while I felt the same way.  I was a bit of a peacenik for a while and I had the mistaken assumption that people only worked out and played sports to do violence to each other.  I learned many more reasons later, the two that especially stood out for me were the healthy feeling a person gets from pushing themselves to their limits, and the second was simply that I realized that athletic people have better sex, which was a major incentive to a teenager.  I never did have sex until I was nearly 21, and I was so glad I waited until I met someone I truly cared about, but ever since I was 17 I have wanted to keep myself fit physically and mentally.  I learned some interesting information about meditation, that it actually not only helps a person’s focus, but it also actually helps your brain regenerate old cells.  I am not 100% up to speed on the topic, but I want to research this more and I will write more about it then.

A couple of really great things have happened recently, one being that my niece came to Edmonton with my sister, another was that I had a message sent to me from a young woman I used to care very much about that she is alive and doing well.  Christmas was amazing this year, I got some incredibly thoughtful gifts and had a chance to give to some people in my family things they seemed to appreciate.

As you may know from the website name, I am and Edmonton writer from Alberta, Canada and we have had a terrible tragedy happen.  A case of domestic violence in the extreme has lead to the biggest mass murder in Edmonton’s history, 9 people dead, two of them children.  I feel a bit in shock that this happened, it wasn’t even in an economically depressed part of town like the one I live in where there is a high crime rate, it happened in some of our nicest suburbs.  It kind of makes me think back to when I grew up and the cliques that I heard of, young people who sold cocaine and did a lot of break and enter crimes.  I don’t know personally how I ever stayed out of jail myself.  As some may have read in my book, “Through The Withering Storm” (look up the link on my ‘books’ page) when I was younger I committed an assault in school and was arrested and assaulted the police officers that arrested me, but because of my mental illness I was never charged.  The closest I got to being in serious trouble was one time when I was 18 my Dad had me arrested for trespassing and I was taken to the RCMP detachment in St.Albert.  The only way I avoided being charged was by telling the policeman that if my Dad wanted to lay charges on me I would pursue charges of assault and child abuse and more on him and I was told quickly that I was free to go.  It was a really bad experience, I had to go and stay in a shelter and then a welfare hotel and soon after I ended up hitch-hiking to the West Coast.  I don’t have many regrets though, but I have a feeling that if I had ever been sent to jail I would have a lot of them.  Anyhow, as the day and time suggests, this is a much better time to be thankful for the new chances and opportunities the year 2015 has for us than to worry about things in the past no one can control.  Happy New Year everyone!  Please feel free to post feedback on anything you find here.  As usual, my poem for the day is below the following photo.  The first person who can message me at viking3082000@yahoo.com as to where “Maggie” is from wins a free poetry book which I will sign and mail right to your door.  Contest closes in one week.

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Maggie

 

Janine when I first looked at you

I thought perhaps it wasn’t true

 

No one could be so radiant and beautiful

You in your flying jacket, all leather and wool

 

Your soft, white skin and raven black hair

Made me stop and gawk and stare

 

At first I thought you and I would never meet

But somehow you were so lovely kind and sweet

 

You took a chance and walked up to where I sat

And I wanted to pounce on you like a feral cat

 

That first time we met and talked far into the night

I went home electrified with pure delight

 

I got your number, held it close to my heart

All life before was gone, you were my fresh start

 

 

Later something stole the love we had

Left me lonely, warped and sad

 

Inspiration hid from me then for quite a time

After I learned you were no longer mine

 

In two rhyming lines I now call to you

It’s not too late to start anew

 

I swear one day these words will pay the bills

And that in time there will again be thrills

 

Forty-three life’s not over yet

We were a perfect matching set

 

You with your little plane and me with my pen

Janine I need you back again

 

Kiss me deeply now as the midnight bell rings

Imagine all the joy the New Year will bring

 

This new dawn will bring love and hope

I need your love to survive, to cope

 

My darling please let me dedicate to you

The 15th millennium year by all that’s good and true

 

Come home with me now and never leave

Grant this two time loser one last reprieve

 

 

Leif Gregersen

January 1, 2015