short story

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

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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!

Definitely a Touch of Mania In My Mind Tonight

This is what is known as the Muttart Conservatory in Edmonton. They are really beautiful inside, with plants from different climates in each one, made for Edmontonians to appreciate summer while it is winter outside, or to experience other parts of the world while the sun is shining. Scroll past today’s poem for my blog post.

 

Season’s Changes

Summer is past and all at once
The leaves all begin to turn
Soon cooler days will prevail
And marshmallow roasting fires will burn

I love this times of hayrides
Roasted hot dogs out under the stars
Loved ones all around me
And seeing the red twinkling light above of mars

As I change and I grow older
I sometimes let in worries and fears
And as the time goes by so fast
I also shed a few more tears

I think of all the loves I had and lost
And of all the loved ones who passed
I also miss more than a few old friends
From my old school’s graduating class

Look now, the leaves have fallen!
And the trees seem dead and bare
That means that Halloween is coming
Time to teach the little ones how to play and scare

The gutters are filled with crunchy leaves
That will soon be filled with ice and snow
But skiing, sledding, skating
Will still give us a healthy, happy glow

Don’t regret the end of summer
As I give best wishes to you, all of my friends
Just because the weather cycles are shifting
Doesn’t mean the cycles ever end

September 28, 2017
Leif Gregersen

Well, I don’t really know if anyone reads these. Still, it seems to be good therapy for me to write them. I am troubled by a few things tonight, not the least of which is that I can’t get to sleep. I thought it would be easy to sleep tonight, I stayed up all night, went for a swim in the morning and walked a total of at least 11km on top of that. I even played a little street hockey with a couple of kids for a while just for fun. It really was fun too, I got a lot of joy out of it. But now, after taking a pill for a headache, a tranquilizer and ten milligrams of melatonin I am not able to fall asleep and morning is fast approaching. It had been a long day yesterday. I got notice that I had a library book ready for pick-up and so I went and got it (Graphic Novel about Donald Duck) and spent most of the night reading it. I also have gotten myself into two courses online, both of which are writing courses. Basically I had been up all night. I don’t feel like I still can take on the world or even that my thoughts are racing, but I definitely think something is wrong if I can’t rest.

There have been a lot of things going on. I am now teaching a Wellness Recovery class for the Schizophrenia Society and it has its trials. There is this one young man (who reads this blog) who I lost a shouting match to over wanting to explain some ways a person can make a hospital stay easier. I had every right to kick him out of the class, but I didn’t want to have him leave disgruntled, I feel that would be simply the result of not teaching him with enough patience. I am reminded of one of the worse memories of my mom from a shortly before she died. She grabbed me by the collars while she was sitting in her wheelchair, wouldn’t let go of me, pulled me down to her face and said, “You are the stupidest…” It really hurt, even though I know my mom’s mind was pretty much gone near the end. I don’t know why negative things have to pop up, there were plenty of good memories.

So at a time like this, one has to stick close to family to get through. My dad and I went to a nice restaurant the other day and had fish and chips. The waitress was really cute but my dad didn’t seem to mind that I wanted to talk to her for a while after we finished eating.

Eating brings up a whole new subject. For the past while I have been trying out a vegan diet, though I stopped it about a week ago. I have to admit I felt better when doing it, didn’t feel so bloated and fat as I do now, but I found myself also feeling pretty weak and I didn’t get a whole lot of exercise in the time I was trying the diet. I have decided I will try the vegetarian/vegan diet again, but I want to consult with a professional nutritionist before I do.

As I look at the clock, I see that my countdown to having to get up is just six hours away and I have barely slept a wink. I see my Psychiatrist in the morning and I think I am going to have to bring this up with him. The bad thing is that I have been told that sleeping pills affect memory but I have been taking them anyway, and I have been finding that my memory is getting much worse. Anyhow dear readers, I hope you were able to wade through all of my complaining today. On the more positive side of things, I published a flash fiction piece, feel free to click below to check it out!

https://flashfictionmagazine.com/blog/2017/10/08/first-love-last-hope/

 

What Can Be Done When You Feel Yourself On the Manic Side of Bipolar

 

click here to find out more about what is bipolar depression

 

“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.

The World of a Writer (a ‘crazy’ writer?)

A World Well Travelled

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/general/i-feel-empty-when-a-lack-of-meaning-is-something-more-serious/

Well, I don’t know if I have it in me to write a poem today. I guess I wanted to talk about all the stuff in my life that’s been going on. I haven’t been writing blogs much at all for the past couple of weeks and I have to admit I miss it. A few days ago I taught a poetry workshop which was a lot of fun. I am getting more of a good reputation with the public library for doing these things. The main problem is that I see myself as doing more, working more, making more money, but not being able to handle it and eventually spiral down the drain to insanity as I have done so many times before. It really scares me that I will lose the friends I have now and maybe even lose the respect I have built up with my dad.

Speaking of my dad, I have been spending quite a bit of time with him lately and I have been learning a lot not just about him but about myself, especially about the times when I was mentally ill. It is so hard to describe mental illness to someone who has never experienced it. People think they can just apply logic to their thoughts and mental illness will go away. I am proof positive that even the most preposterous false truths can embed themselves into your thoughts. One of the worst things is that there are people out there who really hate the mentally ill, and some of them actually work in hospitals where they lock up people with a mental illness.

When I think back to the days when I just got out of the hospital, I was a real mess. I wonder why when I left they gave me back my gun license because I nearly saved up the money to buy a gun with it and it was my intention to rob a bank with it. Just a few months before that I was a somewhat innocent, straight edged young man who would never think of something like that. But the strain of becoming mentally ill and of being taken away from my home, my family, my friends, and even my school were incredible. One of the weirdest things is that it was at this time that I met a lot more females than I ever did as a supposed ‘nice guy.’ I don’t think any of those relationships would have lasted at all because I was having very serious problems. Somehow I had always known I had bipolar. I just spent most of the time in the depressive phase of it. I can remember coming back from a cadet camp and seeing a friend who gave me a ride home and I was incredibly manic despite spending most of the past weekend without sleeping.

I guess what I want to think about now is living on an even keel. I don’t know if I will have to give up all my commitments, but the way I live I don’t really need the money I’m making. I have never been closer to my  goal of being well off and able to support myself but I don’t know how long I could keep this up. I have this hope that I can find a counsellor or psychologist who can talk me through it. Heaven knows I have tried everything else.

 

Worrying and Self-Doubt

 

https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/10-depression-quotes-that-may-change-your-life/

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.

 

Mental Health and Poetry With a Couple of Photographs

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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

 

We Are All A Part Of The Same World

DSC_0070

Well, I just got back from watching the movie “Trumbo” and I really enjoyed it.  I hate to sound like some numbskull but I don’t know the name of the main actor.  He was the guy from ‘Breaking Bad’ and was absolutely brilliant in the role.  The main thing that bothers me about it is that I know when movies are made they end up very far away from anything to do with what really happened.  I am really intrigued by this story though, it was about a writer named Dalton Trumbo who wrote screenplays and was blacklisted in the early cold war years and was stonewalled from working in Hollywood because he had been a member of the communist party.  There were a lot of really interesting scenes in the movie, I think there were some accuracies, one of them that surprised me was John Wayne’s role as an advocate for anti-communist policies.  I don’t really know why this fact bothers me, I always really kind of liked John Wayne, I have always thought of him as larger than life, from such movies as “Sands of Iwo Jima” and many man others.  It could have to do with the fact that I had an Uncle who was John Wayne to me, he was tall and tough and didn’t take any bullshit.  I had a falling out with this Uncle when I was a teen and it really kind of hurt.  I am glad though and very grateful that I was able to visit him on his deathbed and I think he felt some pride in what I had done then.  Not to mention that, the old son of a gun borrowed five bucks off me and passed away before I could collect it so he had the last laugh.

To touch on the writing aspect of things, once again I wanted to tell people out there that have any interest in writing that they really should shoot for their dreams.  A few years ago I wrote, had edited and published my first book and it seems like I have been in a whole new time loop since then.  It is like life has slowed down and all my days are so much more meaningful, all the non-writing work I do has a point to it.  As some may know, I have now written and self-published nine books and I just want to write more and more.  And now as I have been concentrating my learning and effort and reading and everything really on this goal, things are starting to fall into place for me.  I just finished reading a book about a young woman with schizo-affective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and it gave me some really good ideas.  I have now been in touch with a psychiatric hospital and they are interested now in having me come and give a talk at one of their professional development events in the New Year, which means I might not only get a nice speaking fee I could sell quite a few books.  Things like this are popping up all over the place and I am actually thinking I am going to be run off my feet next month.  Not to mention that, I have been doing a lot of writing for magazines and now I am having no problem getting through each month and even spoiling myself and some family members with nice things.

So I will try and nail it down for anyone who hasn’t started the process.  Do you like to write?  If yes, move to the next item on the flowchart.  Choice A is, do you have a special angle?  Are you disabled, are you a minority, do you have a career or a true story that people find interesting.  If yes, then move forward to the non-fiction part of the flowchart.  Now, the other question is, are you creative or artistic, do you like movies and novels rather than true crime or non-fiction books like memoirs?  Then you may want to be a poet or a novelist or both.  There are so many things to explore, I could write a massive flowchart.  The fact is, you simply have to set out what type of writing you think you would be good at.  Then the next step is something that should be almost mandatory, you should keep a journal.  What’s a journal some of you may ask?  Is it a diary?  Not necessarily.  A journal is more your thoughts, your moods, what you want to capture, what you want to express.  Keeping a journal is something that I feel just about everyone with a mental illness should do, it is an excellent type of self therapy.   It is also a great way to get started as a writer.  The next step, whether you choose fiction or non-fiction is that you should start to expose yourself to the very best writing.  I love to go to big box book stores and scoop up all the literary journals I can afford.  Actually, today instead of doing this I went to the main library in Edmonton and scooped up a few that were available for borrowing.  I have found that when I read top notch poetry, I soon get inspired to write my own, and when I read top notch short stories I can get inspired or motivated to start to write, and I honestly think I write better after reading these journals.  The next step, first being writing a journal and the second being to expose yourself to the best quality writing in the genre you want to write (literary journals, award winning books, etc.) is to actually start to write.  If you don’t have good keyboarding skills, I suggest you take a course or get a typing tutor program.  Nothing in my entire education has served me more than taking one 5 month course in typing 29 years ago.  Nothing.  If I weren’t able to type I would be unable to keep up with my workload, would have been unable to write nine books.  Essential.

So where do you start?  I started my first book as short stories.  I told true stories from my life, put them into short stories and then collected them and over the course of a lot of years and a lot of trial and error, it became a book.  I don’t want to get too deeply into the process of self-publishing, I don’t even know if I am glad that I self-published, it has been very expensive and difficult, but it has been a transitioning phase for me.  I hate to admit it, but I am really not that good of a writer.  My whole education in English is nothing more than a grade 12 academic English course.  I have read a lot of books, but with the guidance I could have gotten in a creative writing program I would have been much better off, I would have been able to go past so many hurdles that knocked me on my arse.  We all have a different journey though.  I could also say I had some good times learning to write and I still find it exciting that I have a long way to go.  I have now gotten to the point where I am financially stable through my writing and disability pension, perhaps if I had gone to a creative writing program I would be much more demanding and whining about not having enough money and using that as an excuse to not create quality work.

Well, I think I am going to leave things at that.  Don’t forget to scroll down for today’s poem.  Tune in tomorrow and I will try and talk a little about magazine writing, something I think a lot of writers can use to help them get through the lean years of their careers and also have a lot of fun.

 

An Ode To Chief Seattle

 

The web of fate is woven by nature for us all

And a rare and lucky few will hear the call

Pulling them away from home, family and friends

But that doesn’t mean for these few happiness ends

 

In fact these wanderers can find things meaningful and more

By seeking self knowledge upon a distant shore

And new wonders of adventure and love can be found

When those who judge and hate are not around

 

Myself I think back often to a rainy day far from here

With new found friends that seemed so wonderful and dear

There was beauty and wonder back then in everything

We weren’t ashamed to laugh and cry and sing

 

But in the end the final choice was made for me

Now my body is chained to this place but my soul is free

I walk now down time worn paths to fulfill my dreams

And it is as if I’m walking on clouds and moonbeams

 

There have been times when life has knocked me down

But something deep inside made me get up for another round

You lose every bout where you stay down and give in

You must fight every battle with all you have from deep within

 

And you must love with every muscle nerve and bone

Never let yourself end up beaten and alone

Hold fast close friends and family and build a true home

And soon you will reap the seeds of love you’ve sewn

 

Whether you’ve been nowhere or to Australia and Rome

You can still feel sad and hurt and all alone

But I’m telling you my dear friends and family if you feel this way at all

Do what’s right and pick up the phone and please give me a call

 

I can’t promise to have any answers that will fix your pain

But I might have a hope of making you smile somewhat again

In the web of fate we are different strands but all one net

One family, one race, one world and in each other’s debt

December 18, 2015

Leif Gregersen

Across The Desperate Dangers of the Darkest Forest of Depression

 

Click here for ten quotes that may help you out of your depression

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Hello my Dear Readers!

Well, being the writer of a blog it is always good to see a lot of hits and a lot of feedback when I write something.  The trouble is it is hard to really know what brings in a lot of hits in the way of keywords or content or title.  I have kind of been going hit and miss, trying various things.  I think that as long as I have breath in me I will keep writing this blog.  At the very worst I can compile all of my entries one day and have a few copies printed up as a book.

I am curious how many writers out there read my blog.  For a time I was focusing on a writing theme, but more recently I have changed to a mental health theme.  Any feedback would be hugely appreciated as to what people want to see more of, etc.  As always, in the case of mental health and in the case of wanting to write, I should stress here how important it is to keep a journal.  I started out my own writing hobby, which has almost become a career with a journal and then since I had time on my hands I expanded to write movie and book reviews in another journal.  I am almost sure the first ones weren’t anything to ‘write home about’ but I kept them and one day when I feel brave I will head down to my basement and dig them up.  I recall, either from the egotism of a young man or some delusional aspect of my mental illness that I felt everything I wrote should be preserved, I even expected people to save and print up my emails.  I suppose that sort of thing would have its place, but it seems silly now.  One way it doesn’t seem silly is when I hear about my cousin who taught at Churchill College in Cambridge that he had actually studied hand-written letters from W. Churchill himself.  Amazing!

So yesterday I wrote a poem to include in my blog and I have to admit it was kind of gloomy.  I was lucky enough a while back to connect with a reporter her in Edmonton who read my books and he told me he didn’t like them, that he felt they were dark and other things.  I have to admit I am guilty of that.  I wish somehow I could capture the dark feelings I used to get when I was young.  It is sad to think of, but when I was 17 I really had the world by the balls.  I had so many opportunities before me, I had a beautiful, fast car and a job that I really liked.  But each day when I was on my way home I would be in a seriously dark cloud of stark depression.  I had no idea at the time that it wasn’t a normal reaction to a day’s work.  Lately when I let things go for a while, like today and yesterday when I have been sleeping a lot and not doing much (I have been down with a flu/cold) I get down, I even think suicidal thoughts a little, but very minor stuff, nothing like the pits of self loathing that I used to get into.  It was hard to ask for help back then too, I didn’t really know where to ask.  One thing I do recall was that my mom was going to get me in to see her Psychiatrist but I ended up declining at the last minute.

In my young days there were so many warning signs, but I don’t blame those around me, I kept my affairs closed up.  I was reeling from constant arguments with my Dad and bullying at school and even in the home so I had pretty tight lips.  I think a thing I learned in cadets would apply in this case.  When we were out doing training in the field and it was raining, we would ask our assigned buddy if his socks were dry and then stick our hands into his or her boot to make sure they weren’t just trying to be tough.  I think that people these days need to do a sock check, but for their buddies’ mental and physical health.  What that requires is a great deal more education about mental and physical well being, something I don’t think our government in doing enough of.  Personally I am going around to schools as requested giving talks about mental health for the Schizophrenia Society which is great, but something should be worked into the curriculum.  A fact we like to stress in our talks to students is that 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 people will seek treatment for a major mental disorder in their lifetime.  It is hard to imagine, but that is a massive chunk of the population.  Anyhow, though this is something near to my heart, I should also make the point that being diagnosed or being treated for a disorder isn’t the worst thing that can happen.  I recall my days being untreated negatively, but once I got a good medication working for me life really began to improve.  I hate to think I am saying this too much as I am sure I have mentioned this in a post before.

Well, anyhow, on to a lighter note, I have been buying coffee table books.  I bought a massive art book that must weigh 50 pounds and some smaller ones.  I have so much fascination with paintings from the sixteenth and seventeenth century that are incredibly lifelike because if they are done well they can capture the very character of people that are long dead and gone.  A good painting in this way is to me a lot like time travel.  I enjoy a lot of art, but I am most moved by oil paintings like this.  There are a lot of works to enjoy in the books I got though, and I have also bought a few coffee table books on the second world war.  I used to collect war books but at one point in my life I gave away my collection but now after watching the reality TV show Pawn Stars a lot I have developed a new fascination for history.  I also have some hope of writing more articles about historical events, plus my trip last year to Hawaii where I was on board the ship where the treaty to end WWII was signed has sparked a lot of interest.

My Dad seems to think I am taking too much on, and I agree with him.  Sometimes my day starts at 4 am and is interspersed with naps and goes on until I am completely exhausted or have a rare day off.  It is a difficult thing to balance in life because on one side a person doesn’t want to waste away their lives passively watching TV or listening to music, but it is hard to deal with stress in other ways.  Once again, I would love it anyone out there reading this has insights for me.

Well, Dear Readers that is about it for today.  I think I rambled on and didn’t say much but I hope someone out in that vast blog-reading world feels otherwise.  As always, feel free to email at viking3082000@yahoo.com and don’t forget to scroll past the below photo for today’s poem!

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Hot Summer Night

 

 

To you my secret love I offer the very best of myself

I can no longer let my love waste away on a shelf

I sought for all of my time on this earth for one just like you

And finding you saved my life; made me feel born all anew

 

There had been so many dark days when I didn’t think love could be

And even now I admit you and I are not matched perfectly

But forever there has been something in your lovely blue eyes

That betrayed you needed me, though you knew you were truly a prize

 

I noticed you and saw such good in you before introducing myself

So much beauty, such wisdom, both of them better than any wealth

I knew that you and I would have things to talk about for hours and days

I found you simply fascinating in so many ways

 

By some strange miracle we ended up close friends then lovers

You were like an epic novel so much between the covers

But that glow from our passion one day faded away

But you are still my very best friend to this very day

 

Through many years you brought my life such joy

And now I’m a middle-aged man, when we met I was just a boy

I want to let you know how much happiness that you bring

Into my challenged life despite that you wear another man’s ring

 

Although you are the love that I wanted most as years went by

It doesn’t hurt you are pledged to another I don’t know why

As long as we can share the simple things that you and I like to do

I am happy to play second fiddle to your man for you

 

The love that I have for you has never felt wrong

And all of your family makes me feel like I truly belong

So I just want to tell you on this hot summer night

Your love and your friendship are my life’s greatest delight

 

 

Leif Gregersen

May 26, 2015

Story Slam and New Camera Day

DSC_0146Photo taken near my house with my brand new Nikon Camera

Today’s Blog:

     Well, I wonder what my growing list of regular readers would like to hear about today.  Last night I went to a ‘story slam’ competition and got up in front of a large crowd of people and recited a five minute story I wrote about my mom’s passing.  It was something that affected me greatly, I think I will post the story here for anyone to have a look at:

A TRIBUTE:

Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom. So many names for the same thing, that one special person in all of our lives, in the lives of everyone here, everyone that ever lived has had a mother. Mine is no more.

 

The Catholics consider Mary Mother of Jesus to be the first Saint. She was the first one close enough to our Lord to appeal to him when wine ran out at a wedding. When the time came for me to perform a miracle for my Mom, I was unable.

 

It was six or seven years ago. My Dad was far away in Toronto at my sister’s wedding and I was taking care of my mom. At 63 she had just about everything go wrong with her that could. In her day, my Mother had been a bank manager, she had been an expeditor for a rail company. She had been her first family’s sole support at 16 and nearly earned herself a full scholarship to University. All she had wanted in life was to become a teacher, but she had to satisfy herself with teaching three kids.

 

Life and medications had taken so much out of her. My mom had turned from an intelligent and active adult to a child in a 63 year-old body. I had to answer to her every call, be it for her meals, for help to go to the bathroom, or even just to bring cold water. As I did these things, I thought of all she did for me and tried so hard to keep having patience.

 

One day, she called my name. The name only she could get away using. “Leify!” she said. Leify. Me, her little boy, the one she had carried and loved and spoiled.   And now she needed me.

 

I went in to see what was wrong. Her arms were flailing but she wasn’t speaking. I felt cruel and cold as I looked at her, tried to explain I didn’t know what she wanted. I put my hand to her chest and somehow I realized she wasn’t breathing. I don’t know how much time went by, but in what seemed like hours and at the same time like split seconds I had dialed 911. “Do you know CPR?” the operator asked. Yes, I have taken it many times, in boy scouts, in air cadets, I had read about it, even watched it performed once on a heart attack victim.

 

“No.” I had to reply. It had been too long, and this was my mom who wasn’t breathing. They told me to lay her flat on the floor. This I did, wondering how much damage I was doing to the back that suffered from crushed vertebrae and osteoporosis. I made a seal on her lips and blew, still being able to taste her last dose of medicine on her lips. I pushed on her chest a few times then tried to breathe life into her again. Nothing was happening.

 

In no time the paramedics were there. There was a lot of them, they crowded into my parent’s small apartment, pounded her chest and put a breathing bag over her mouth. They tried so desperately hard but nothing was helping. One of the paramedics told me she could still hear me, to not be embarrassed, to say what I wanted to her. “We all love you mom.” Is all I can remember saying. “We all love you mom.”

 

I was given a ride to the hospital and the paramedic explained that there was no hope to be had. At the hospital this was confirmed. I had to make a decision. She was brain dead and breathing through artificial methods. Her pain, her joy, her suffering, her crying fits and bedsores were all over now. I told them they could take her off life support.

 

It really was a beautiful thing, to be with someone when your end comes. Her breathing slowed, then stopped. I looked in her eyes and they seemed so alive, so real, I wanted to cry out that she wasn’t gone, that there was still a spark in her, but she was gone no matter how alive she seemed. I went into a waiting room, was given access to a phone and called my Dad to tell him my mom had died-on my watch.

 

It was discovered she had died of choking. Complications of acid reflux. Her and I shared a malady, the one that makes us take medications, we both had Bipolar Disorder. It gave us a special bond but it was also eating away at our souls and some of our vital body systems. My last true friend was gone, my mom. Three more days and she had an appointment to fix her throat. She didn’t have to die. She was a victim of waiting lists. I was a victim of guilt for many months.

 

My family goes on. My sister married and she has a child, a wonderful little child who had loved her grandmother. I look in her eyes and it warms my heart when she tells me she wants to grow up to be a teacher. Sometimes she cries because she misses her gramma. Now, I still reach for the phone when I want to talk to her, then I remember and pray to her instead. She can’t respond, but I know she can hear me. I know because when we visit her resting place I can feel her tears in the rain and her whispers in the wind. She will be in my heart forever.

CONTINUATION OF BLOG:

The story I read was just slightly different from how it appears here.  It must have been pretty powerful because when I got off the stage I noticed that three women were in tears.  One of them was one of the contest judges and she gave me the only 10 our of 10 of the night, though I didn’t win the competition.  Grieving a loss is a funny experience.  There have been times in my life when I was greatly worried that I was some kind of Psychopath or Sociopath, but after experiencing my mom’s death I realized that I do have a lot of compassion and feeling in me, I think I just register it differently.  The whole experience hit me from a blind side.  On the day my mom died I only cried one tear, as I held her hand after life support was taken off.  I was comforted that I was there with her, comforted that my name was the last thing she said.  I felt horrible for my Dad, worse for my brother and worse still for my sister who will always be reminded of her loss on her wedding anniversary.  I found myself doing odd things after my mom passed, I would lay in bed and say “mom” over and over again, I was in a bit of a fog of depression.  Now, seven years later, I feel a lot better about the whole thing.  My mom was the kind of person who made you feel very wanted, very needed.  I found my life somewhat lacking in purpose after she was gone.  I will never forget a friend of hers and an old teacher of mine who came to one of my book signings and said, “Your mom would be so proud.”  That meant a lot, but of course there was still the hurt that she never saw me publish a book and my mom dearly loved books.  I think though I will have to leave off there for now, it is early morning in Edmonton and I am extremely tired from lack of sleep.  Thanks so much for all those who have been liking my page and joining up, I hope you are getting your money’s worth out of reading my blog and that it moves you enough that you check out my eBooks and paperbacks.  All the best Dear Readers!

DSC_0038                    Downtown Edmonton’s Hustle and Bustle at Lunch Time Midwinter