sleep

Don’t Give Up Five Minutes Before the Miracle Happens

“Inching Back to Sane” Now available here in all ebook formats.

Dare to Dream and Let Your Heart Soar!

Hello my dear readers! I don’t have a poem for you today, but I thought I would still write a quick blog and add a photo. I have been doing both good and bad lately, and I thought I would share a few things that I feel helped the good things to happen that you can take as advice to do, and share a few of the bad things that you can possibly learn from and avoid. I hate to sound preachy, and it makes for poor prose, so I will try my best to avoid it.

Anyhow, I have been saving for some time and I didn’t really know what I was saving for. I can’t afford the gas and insurance for a car, I don’t have any trips I desperately want to take, so I decided wouldn’t hurt to dip into my savings to buy a few things for myself. I started out going with a friend to a comic shop and indulging myself in graphic novels. There is a Canadian artist and writer who really touches my heart when he writes, he seems to have a soul tortured by depression, his name is Jeff Lemire, and I highly recommend him. I found a graphic novel of his I haven’t read, then also bought two volumes of what I feel are the most monumental comics in comic history, I bought “Ben-Hur” and “Great Expectations” from the “Classics Illustrated” reprints. I get so much out of these condensed stories, and it inspires me to pick up the novels or any novel or history book and explore more, so I feel these are also well worth the price.

Last night I called up a friend and despite that we haven’t talked in a while and I wanted to talk with her, she answered the phone to my surprise. She is a very healthy and functional person, but there are times when she needs her solitude, something I completely understand. We decided to meet for lunch tomorrow which made me happy, because I have been isolated beyond my own control and out of my comfort zone for a number of days. Fortunately today the office of my apartment building was open and I was able to sit over coffee and talk with a couple of my friends. I live in a ‘supported’ apartment building and there is a common area at the office where some people I know often go, and I find it very healing to go down there and chat when I can.

So there I was, feeling a bit down, a bit lonely and a bit worn out from all the walking I have been doing. I came back to my apartment and I noticed I had an email. Turns out I have been picked for a great new part-time job opportunity that will help me develop mine and other people’s poetry skills. From then on I was flying on a cloud. I just can’t believe that I was so close to desperation, so down on myself and then this happened. I told my dad about it and he was very happy to hear about it but he reassured me that it was my own hard work that got me to this point. I have been doing a lot of things, not only to battle my mental illness and try and find meaningful work, but it just feels so good to finally arrive at the point where I feel I no longer have to worry, that I am on my way as a writer and public speaker, and that there are definitely going to be many good times ahead. So, my words to you, dear reader, as I may have expressed them before, is to just pound away at your passion, just a little at a time if you have to. Maybe just do one thing a day. If you don’t have a passion, I would suggest going to a community college or YMCA and looking at a class schedule and see if you can afford to take a class or two or if there is funding (free is even better) try and find something that interests you, challenges you, takes you somewhere. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. All the best to you, dear readers, all the best and finest.

Blog, Poem and Photograph Today!

Scroll down past the photo for today’s poem, and past that for today’s blog.

 

Midsummer Poem

 

The orange golden light of dawn

Beckons us to fight, to keep on

There will be no more giving up today

As the sun greets us in this special way

 

Poems are fine, poems can be bold

But they can’t replace what you are told

Never give up, never give in

Pausing to rest can be a sin

 

We’re in a battle my mates, a struggle real

No matter how you boys may feel

Give it your all in sport, and more in class

Our chance to win will slip away so fast

 

It isn’t quite as if we can just say

We’ll leave the fighting for another day

We’re locked in a struggle with a death grip

And if we don’t win a one way trip

 

The battle I speak of is the one to be free

And we’re all combatants you must see

But the enemy lies inside of us

With each friendship, each display of trust

 

Giving in to hate means losing it all

And we must get back up each time we fall

Winning means joining our fellow man

Arm in arm, hand in hand

 

Now I can’t say all men are good inside

Or that no one will take you for a ride

I’m just trying to get each person to see

The better way for grown adults to be

 

There are evil people in this world of ours

But at night we all gaze up at the same stars

Look for the things that make us all one

Because that is how our wars will truly be won

 

A Short Blog About How Things Are Coming Along

Hello dear readers! I have found myself out of a job as a blogger, so now I can devote even more time to all of you who read my blog here. It was fun and rewarding working for healthyplace, but in the end I guess it was too hard to come up with original ideas week after week and I was having problems with errors so I got the boot. I’m actually kind of glad because the job was more stress than it was worth.

So I am finding myself in a position that I kind of like, less stress, more time for my real writing and so on. I think I might get to work on another poetry collection now.

My mental health has been good lately, summer has finally come to Edmonton and it is such a beautiful season in this part of the world. Everything is so green and alive and there are a ton of birds out there to take pictures of. I am looking forward to using my new Nikon 1 J5 to take more photos of birds as they are flying. I have even entered some of my stuff to be considered for publication.

So as summer rolls into focus I have a few things on my mind. I don’t know how much I told anyone here about my Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset I bought. I have been flying  a P51 Mustang on it and have been having a blast. I am learning to navigate from airport to airport and land and then return for a safe landing. It is so incredible when you have that 360 degree view. I am looking forward to more simulators like it. I have to admit though, I don’t know if it is the best thing to immerse ones’ self into a video world like that. I don’t know if I would have done it if I hadn’t read the incredible book “Ready Player One” that my friend Richard suggested.

I am so happy to have such a true and genuine friend like Richard Van Camp. He is an incredible person, done so much in his field and one of the most caring and honest friends I have ever known. He is also pretty fun to be around. I am going to be heading to his work with him today and hanging out at the Fort Saskatchewan library for a while today.

As far as mental health goes, I don’t think I could be in better shape. My only real concern these days is that occasionally I have needed sleep aids such as clonazepam to help me rest. It is not the best way to deal with the problem I fear, but it works. I have tried going for long walks each day but often that just puts me into a manic state which makes it even harder to sleep. I would love it if people could share their own sleep methods in the comments. With that I think I am going to get going, I see a long walk in my near future, like in the next 20 minutes!

 

 

Back Home Most of Our Malls Don’t Have Pirate Ships In ‘Em

DSC00203     The title above is a quote from an extremely hilarious Australian friend I showed our amazing West Edmonton Mall to.  I thought this would be a good photo for today because it is an example of how Edmontonians deal with the extreme weather that this time of year starts to usher in.  It can be very difficult for people living here at these times, partially because of something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a condition where the low sunlight hours actually causes a form of depression to set in that can be quite serious.

Depression is a topic very near to me, when I was just 17 I lost a friend to suicide who I believe must have suffered from it.  Over the years I had serious problems with depression as well, but at first I didn’t understand that it was anything wrong.  I always attributed it to something else and just lived with it, which could have been a very serious and even fatal mistake.  I have a clear memory of going out on a date with a young woman I really liked and then finding out she had no interest in going out with me a second time and really wanting to end it all-over just one date.  Fortunately as time passed and I had other problems, namely my psychosis that caused me to be hospitalized, my Doctors eventually realized that I had severe depressions as well.  I was put on anti-depressants and they helped but it took time.  I think the medication that has made the most difference in me to this date is Prozac.

Right now I am having another kind of difficulty that has to do with my illness and the medications I am on, I have an extreme need for sleep but often I have problems getting to sleep.  I have found some herbal remedies that seem to be working well, including melatonin, skullcap and valerian (anyone with any questions or wanting more information about these please feel free to contact me: viking3082000@yahoo.com).  I don’t know too much about the skullcap and valerian other than that when I take them in combination with each other, always being careful not to build up a tolerance to any one herbal remedy, they seem to work well.  It seems sometimes it has been years since I had a full 8 hour sleep, but lately I have had a few of them.

Melatonin was approved for me by my Psychiatrist, I know that it is a naturally occurring sleep hormone and that it can be pretty powerful.  What I have been finding is that if I take too much or take the melatonin too often, it doesn’t make me sleep, it makes me incredibly restless.  The skullcap and valerian seem to help me get longer and more restful sleep but again if I take any of them every night the effects lessen greatly.

One of the problems I run into is that when I am working a lot or under a lot of pressure I need some serious time to decompress.  This weekend I went to see a movie (Bridge of Spies–awesome film!!) with my Dad and slept fairly well when I got home but it has been a very hectic week.  I woke up and had a bit of a stomach ache and so I took some gravol which put me right back to sleep again and I basically slept away all of Saturday, Saturday evening/Sunday morning and most of Sunday.  I do feel pretty renewed now but I hate to think sometimes that I am wasting my life sleeping.  I suppose it doesn’t just have to do with stress, but also the other medications I take, but everything plays a part.  In lieu of a poem I am going to post a second photo below for everyone.

IMG_8044                                       Beautiful Hawaii

The Question of Pills

leif-desk     There is so much about pills these days I thought I could write a whole blog entry on the subject.  Above is a picture of me at my desk and you can clearly see that I am not the thinnest person in the world.  The fact is, I weigh 260 pounds right now and I feel awful about it.  As a young adult, I was 18 and could do 7 chin-ups, 30  push-ups and run for 20 miles if I had to, and that was when I smoked.  Now, though I swim, walk long distances, bicycle longer distances and don’t smoke, I don’t know if I could do any of those things and it really comes down to the weight I gained taking the pills I am on.  Of course a tiny pill doesn’t add any weight to a person, but what my pills do is make me so very weak and hungry that I have to be eating just about all the time.  For some years now I have managed to hover around 250-260 which is better than gaining, but I really wish I could get to a healthier weight.  Most of my younger days, including my adult years right up to age 30 I was 170 pounds, a significant difference.  I met a young woman at a support group once who had been on a medication that caused her to gain weight and switched to another called Lamotragene and she lost a lot of weight.  I thought all my dreams had come true but I went to my Doctor and tried out the drug and it left me so tired I could get very little done.  I have to say though that I am very grateful for the pills that do this, they have kept me from having a serious breakdown for more than 14 years which is incredible and unprecedented with me.  I also take a pill called Prozac, and I feel a bit bad, but the fact is I love this pill.  I take it in the morning and often go back to bed for a few hours because after you take it you have the sweetest, happiest, most perfect dreams.  Instead of my usual nightmares, I have dreams of high school crushes and large amounts of money and all kinds of pleasurable things.  Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.  I am very reluctant though to like any kind of a pill because it seems just about all of them create a dependence, a tolerance to the drug and all kinds of side effects no one may know about for a long time to come.  I find myself taking a lot of ibuprophen and acetominophen for headaches and sometimes these drugs help me sleep a little, but I worry if they make me sleep because of a lack of pain or if they make you sleep because they are sedative.  If they are sedative I am of the mind that I shouldn’t take them.  It seems a bit silly to say this, but I have seen a lot of people who have allowed themselves to get addicted to pills, sadly my own mother was very much a saint in many ways but her and my Dad were of the belief that it was perfectly okay for her to be taking more than 10 kinds of pills despite repeated medical advice.  Anyhow, I should stick to my own problems in this blog, I just want to talk about one more pill, something that I find helpful but again somewhat risky.  It is melatonin, a type of sleep hormone that is very effective in helping insomnia, but I have a strange problem when it comes to sleep.  I am very much subject to milder forms of mania, the kind one gets when you just find yourself talking to fast, laughing too hard at your own jokes and being able to forgo sleep as long as you want to.  If I am in one of these states, often brought on by excessive coffee use, there is little melatonin can do for me, and what it and other pills I have tried to help me sleep does is leave me pretty drowsy the next morning.  I should note though, that melatonin has another interesting side effect, it actually enhances sexual pleasure, but I strongly hope no one takes more than a recommended dose of this pill towards that purpose.  I can notice almost right away with melatonin when I take too much, it is a very unpleasant feeling and can come about just by taking a small dose three days in a row.  You feel extremely restless and can’t sit or lay still and you just about have to get up and pace until the feeling goes away, which could take hours.  I personally cleared use of melatonin with my Psychiatrist and only use it when I am desperate for a sleep solution.  I hope some of this helps my readers treat their illnesses with more care, once again feel free to write me any time you like, I will do my best to answer.    viking3082000@yahoo.com   And yes, there will be a poem today, just look below!  (sorry, I will be posting photos of Toronto soon!)

 

I Can Feel It Coming Back

I once thought all the joys of life were done
But in reality they had just begun
After a time of pain life became just drudgery
I felt so sad for all I would never do or see

But step by inch, life built its way back up
I soon drank from the wellspring of God’s loving cup
I took a chance and flew away far from home
And soon I learned no one really wants to be alone

It was hard at first, I had lost a dear true friend
But love triumphed and we reunited in the end
I thought wealth was passed, happy times were done
It was just a different part of life newly begun

I still recall the moment when it all changed so wonderfully
Those simple words my sister said to me
Next time I see you, an Uncle you will be
From that time on life was happiness and glee

I have to also say I owe two precious friends all I achieved
With their support I did more than I could have believed
One friend had kept a forgotten draft of my book
Another angel friend had an editor take a look

Now I feel I am a valued piece of my beloved home
No longer broke and hurting, no longer all alone
It all took just a little step each day
And the odd marathon of effort I have to also say

Now I’m living proof that though things can knock you down
As long as you believe in you there will be another round
But I ask you don’t forget without love, family and friends
Dreams can come true but won’t fulfill you in the end

There is a trinity called love, hope and work you see
That can make all you dream really come to be
Never tell yourself that you can’t succeed, achieve
What occurs in our lives is always what we believe

Leif Gregersen
August 9, 2015

Precious Golden Summer Rays Of Beauty

DSC_0075

Hello Readers!  Well, it is a sunny summer day, (or it was the night before this was posted) and I thought I would talk a bit about the whole idea of motivating yourself when you may be suffering from voices or depression.  The photo above is from a recent trip to Jasper I took with my brother and Dad, I had quite a good time (if you scroll down a couple of entries you can watch the waterfall video I made on that trip).  I have been discussing something quite a bit lately though about mental illness and how people can be motivated.  I live in a group home and quite often a situation comes up where the staff has to try and motivate us to do something, be it going to an activity, turning off the TV or doing our assigned chores.  A long time ago the lady who runs the place realized that I am just bull headed enough to throw a monkey wrench into her machinery if anyone tries to bark orders at me.  I suppose also there might be an element that I am one of the success stories to come out of this group home, I entered it in a poor state more than 15 years ago and have managed to build up a pretty good life for myself and have done a good deal of writing for and about the group home.  So when someone wants me to do something and I refuse, they refer it right to the boss who has a talk with me and things get worked out.  I have been learning though that people with schizophrenia can often have a very hard time dealing with what is going on in their heads and doing anything that causes them stress can be quite harmful.  So really I guess I want to write this to family members and other loved ones or caregivers of people with mental health issues.  Personally, I think I have certain traits of schizophrenia but most of them seem to be fairly well controlled with medications.  I can think of times when I didn’t want to do anything but lay down and sleep, I literally could stay upright for very long even when I went to my Dad’s place.  Even in the mini van he would pick me up in I would climb in the back, put a blanket over my head and sleep on the way to visiting him and my mom.  I think perhaps one of the factors of that was that I was having a very hard time keeping a normal schedule.  I would often stay up all night listening to the radio, typing on the computer, watching movies and of course drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes.  When the day came and if I happened to not fall asleep between the time of my Dad calling me and picking me up, I would be in a poor state.  Here’s where some more praise comes about the group home: they have a rule that I must see my Doctor and pick up my medications at supper time and do some chores.  At first this seemed pre-school simple, but in fact just that little amount of things to get done got me to establish something of a schedule.  Then, after quitting smoking I was able to get a free pass for the pool and would go early in the morning on a regular basis.  These two things were all the groundwork I needed, and soon I was volunteering, working a paying job at times and doing much much better than I was.  That was what worked for me.  One of the things that I think was the biggest motivator was driving through the river valley here in Edmonton one summer day and seeing a very attractive young woman jogging through the park.  I thought to myself that I would never get an awesome looking athletic girlfriend like her, I also thought that I was missing out on a lot of fun I could be having out of doors at this time of year.  Now I have added bike riding and bird watching to my hobbies and I no longer feel regret.  As far as my friends with schizophrenia, I can’t say what I think is best, I simply have to say in this case I am not a Doctor.  What I do know that I have been learning is that the actual physical makeup of the brain of a person with schizophrenia is different from a so-called ‘normal’ brain.  This something that will need an awful lot of care, an awful lot of hard work to get the afflicted person to a state of reasonable mental and physical health, and hopefully a state of relative independence perhaps in a place like the group home I live in.  A woman that I give presentations with was saying that her son’s Doctor had said that she shouldn’t nag him, shouldn’t force him to do anything, just let him sleep if he wants to sleep or eat if he wants to eat, she should try and not expect anything from him while he is going through his struggles.  I think this would be an extremely hard thing to do, but honestly, I have seen people who were determined and properly medicated go on to do things as complex as becoming Medical Doctors and then going on to get a specialty, in two cases that I know of in Psychiatry.  I also had watched a documentary about a young girl who was diagnosed early in life, I think around age six or so with schizophrenia and was very ill for quite a while but by age eleven had friends, good grades, and seemed almost 100% normal.  There is no guarantee of this though, my own time suffering with Bipolar went on for years.  I honestly thought nothing would keep me out of going into the hospital for months at a time at least once a year, and some of the staff at the hospital thought even less of me.  Then some years after my last visit, now 14 years ago, I returned to the hospital as a published author and really surprised some people.  But I didn’t show major signs of improvement until I was almost 30, nearly my whole life before that was a train wreck.  Anyhow dear readers, please send any questions or comments my way, and don’t forget to scroll past today’s second photo to read a poem I wrote about the different forms of love and their meaning.  viking3082000@yahoo.com  Always here to chat!

DSC_0083

Full Moon Poem

 

Life can be crazy, life can be fun

It can be so wild if you find the one

A love that makes living life so very worthwhile

A lover who feeds your soul and makes you smile

 

For a short time I had the girl of my dreams

Life was so good then, or so it seemed

We talked about kids, we talked about moving away

She made me feel like I really had something to say

 

But it all went away way too fast

I would have done anything to make it last

Soon I needed to hide from all the pain

I never wanted to live through all that again

 

I stayed at home and read all my books

Rarely went out and got a lot of weird looks

So much time passed and I missed my shot

At a number of girls who were kind of hot

 

Then I started to write all about my life

And how much I wished I had my own wife

But so many things still stood in my way

I didn’t realize things would get better one day

 

My girl broke my heart but she stayed my friend

At first I loved her too much, didn’t want to pretend

That she could just talk and joke around

Keeping me on the side making me feel like a clown

 

Then as time passed I found out what it meant

To have a close companion who really was heaven sent

We would meet up or talk just about every day

And as this went on I wanted it no other way

 

I got a bit older and learned I wanted friends more than lovers

Too much pain and emotion gets brought out from under covers

I do know one day I will somehow find that special one

And all my lonesome days will finally be done

 

I just need to wait and I need to make sure

This new found love is no game, that our love is pure

And then I can share nature’s gift with that special one

In hopes that some day we will have a daughter or son

 

There is no longer a point in running around

It’s a joke to play the fool, act like some hound

People like that never find what they seek

They just keep on trying to prove that they aren’t weak

 

What they don’t know is they will pay a price

Real love is about giving, it’s about sacrifice

They miss out on having a lover who is also a friend

Someone by your side through to the very end

 

It means so much to let love blossom and grow

Something all those players will never know

It is so much more to share a long happy life

With someone you love enough to have as your husband or wife

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