Am I Schizophrenic Or Am I A Person With Schizophrenia. Maybe Neither

As I sit at my desk typing this, I am thinking about a strange situation. I have been doing a lot of writing about stigma and how changing the language we use to define illnesses has to change. I should say now that my diagnosis is not schizophrenia, but actually schizoaffective disorder with anxiety. Anxiety is one of the parts of my disorder that isn’t really controlled with medications, but I can recall experiencing it throughout my life. As a teenager, my family took a trip to the mountains. At the time my dad was a heavy drinker and once while we were driving through mountain passes he took and put some rum in a pop bottle and I was so terrified not only that we could go over the 1,000 foot tall cliff and all die, but I was also deeply concerned that my dad would get caught drinking and driving which would cause our family so many problems that I doubt we would have even stayed together. After years, I have been able to reduce how anxiety affects me, mostly by pushing my limits. When I was younger and probably a lot better looking than I am now, I used to push my boundaries by talking to women I met and trying to get their phone number. That was in the days when I either wasn’t properly medicated or wasn’t medicated at all. I really wonder how I came across to people. To me, most of my actions seemed normal but there were times when others thought I was on drugs or something because I would talk fast (this is the bipolar part of my schizoaffective disorder coming out). It was hard for me to stop talking, harder still to let others talk. Then, what was really tragic was when I started to go into psychosis. I would have these thoughts sort of ‘appear’ in my mind. A day comes to mind when I was in a hotel in my home town and these ‘thoughts’ that I think were similar to what others call ‘voices’ told me that someone had bought me the brand new minivan I could see parked in front of the hotel. I went as far as walking up to it and trying the door. If the door had been open and the keys were in it, I would have likely driven it away and been arrested in short order for theft. Instead, following my instructions from within, I took a cab to a place where two former friends lived and somehow their dad not only knew me but saw me as some kind of danger. He called the police but I didn’t get charged, what happened was that everything just got to be too much for me and I called the police myself to be taken to the psychiatric hospital. Being in psychosis is such an awful thing to experience. You get these preposterous thoughts and you feel compelled to act on them even though in my case I had a pretty good idea that I was ill. The thing I will never forget is that somehow each time I went into psychosis, I also experienced severe stomach pains, some blindingly painful. Another thing I found out is that if you continue to go untreated with psychosis, you can suffer brain damage.

But what I wanted to get at was the language of mental illness. Right now, and for a couple of years, I haven’t experienced any psychosis. I also have rarely experienced any kind of manic state or even depression, aside from some mild winter blues that went away in a few weeks. I see my doctor, I take my medication and I sleep reasonable, regular hours. To me that doesn’t sound like a person one would call crazy or insane. I think there should be new, less stigmatizing definitions for people who have an illness that is under control. I hate some of the terms they use like ‘high functioning schizophrenic’.

What I do remember is that when I first got out of the hospital when I was 18, I didn’t care about anything. Just before that, my dad had taken my gun away and sold it. It wasn’t much, it was just a target rifle, good for shooting squirrels and not much else. But it was my one connection to nature. The times I would spend tramping through the woods trying to get rabbits or doing target practise were my only really happy times. I ended up also being kicked out of my parent’s house and lived in a downtown neighbourhood for a while where I saw a gun for sale that I wanted to buy with the intention of robbing a bank with it. It doesn’t surprise me to look back at that now because all my life I had been mistreated and abused, bullied and beaten, insulted and belittled. Then I was put in the hospital when I made the slightest deviation from normal. Fortunately I had some positive influences in my life, and despite how difficult it was, I pieced my life back together, eventually settled into a medication and sleeping routine, and even worked well paying jobs (right up to present day). And although I am doing so much better than when I was last ill, I am still tormented by memories of my past. I think soon I will be ready for the next step, which would be to try and get some counselling just to help sort out my thoughts and feelings. Chemically I am doing well, but psychologically there are some roadblocks to perfect health.

So, in summation, I ask all those who read this blog to brainstorm with me. What is a better name for schizophrenia? What is a good name for people who were diagnosed with schizophrenia, but have had their illness under control for some time. Please leave any suggestions in the comments and have a very happy holiday season!

Interesting Things About Dreams and Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Schizoaffective disorder

Dreams. There are different kinds. There are day dreams we all have of the ideal, perfect life, of accomplishing our goals. Then there are the dreams we have when we close our eyes and sleep. I would like to talk a little about both today.

As far as accomplishing our goals or dreams, many of us feel that one day we will get to our goals, that there is plenty of time. The truth is, this is one of the worst ways to approach something you want to accomplish. What a person needs to do is to have written, set goals/dreams that they can take immediate steps towards accomplishing. One of my dreams is to travel, especially to the UK and maybe to Mexico. My main barrier right now is Covid-19. I don’t even know if I went to the UK if I would be able to come back. That actually might not be such a bad thing as I have distant relations there but part of my set, written dreams is to be able to go visit somewhere and return to everything I need without having gone bankrupt. When I was 19 I did this kind of travelling, and I admit it was fun and there was a sense of freedom to it, but I ended up in dire straits in the middle of California one time and it took everything I had to get back (I had no money, it took my health, my sanity, and my physical well being).

So what I am left with now is the strong desire to travel but not the ability. What I have been doing over the past months is saving all that I can. It is becoming a fair bit, and I have heard of people travelling the whole world with less. One of the cool things is that now I have finally taught myself how to save, it isn’t hard at all to adjust my spending to have an excess I can depend on. For anyone who finds this idea interesting, I strongly recommend a very short book, maybe 110 pages called “The Richest Man in Babylon” by Richard S. Clason. This book will give you all the knowledge you need to set goals, build a stable life, work harder and invest wisely.

The other kind of dreams I wanted to talk about are the ones we have when we sleep. I have always been fascinated with sleep and what it is like to go without it. (During my California mishap, I went as much as five days without sleeping or eating). When I finally did grab a small chance to sleep, I konked out but woke myself up and then slowly drifted back to sleep and was actually hallucinating.

If you have bad dreams, possibly because of trauma, I do have some advice for you. I have to give the credit to a guy named Carl Murphy who I knew many years ago. I was over at his house and was sleeping and had a bad dream. He came to see if I was okay, and when he saw I was fine, he gave me a multivitamin. I took it, and for some reason I didn’t have bad dreams again that night.

Over the years, I have learned a lot of little tricks for insomnia or bad dreams. Insomnia can often be treated with warm milk with a little sugar in it to remove the bitterness of warming it up, along with a banana. Another trick I have learned regarding dreams is that if you ask yourself five or six times a day if you are currently dreaming, you train your mind to automatically check if you are dreaming, and when you actually are and you do that automatic check, you realize you are in fact dreaming and you get the ability to control your dreams.

This ability is called lucid dreaming, and is interesting because I just read that people who have lucid dreams actually display the same type of brainwaves that people in psychosis have. Just by itself this may seem like a useless bit of trivia, but I personally find it amazing when breakthrough knowledge is discovered about schizophrenia and psychosis. Lucid dreaming can be taught, and it can also be forgotten about. What if this new knowledge actually teaches us how to modify, improve, better deal with or even eliminate psychosis in patients with schizophrenia? Myself, I would like to see it happen, and am encouraged when I hear that things like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can train people with schizophrenia to better deal with the symptoms of their illness.

Merry Christmas Dear Readers, and a very Happy New Year!

LG

Mental Health Recovery: A Time Comes When You Have to Re-Evaluate

I like to think that all of us are experiencing a recovery journey. For people with mental illnesses, just beginning this journey can be extremely difficult. For one, starting on a recovery journey often means you have to accept that you have an illness and accept treatment like medications, even severe treatments like ECT and hospitalization.

The other thing that makes having an illness such as schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder is that not only do medications rob us of so many important parts of our lives, our illness also comes with anosognosia, a condition where a person who is ill doesn’t realize they have an illness.

Time and again when I think of this topic, the image of Charlie Sheen, having extreme psychosis, in a manic state, was using drugs and making a fool out of himself with his radio program. I think in cases like this, one of the most important things you can do after something like this occurs, is to forgive yourself for being ill. Recognize that you were having medical problems (except with your brain not your arms or legs) and that beating yourself up isn’t going to change the past or help anything.

All that is great, but not really what I had in mind when I wanted to talk about re-evaluating. The kind of re-evaluating I want to discuss is when you take a long, contemplative look at yourself and really and truly decide what it is in life that gives you joy. Myself, nothing comes close to the pleasure I get from writing. The best thing about is is that you build up a reputation and a career as either a fiction writer or a journalist, and as long as you keep on doing your best work, you will build a fan base and do very well for yourself.

The next sub-topic I wanted to discuss is when we take a hard look at who we are as people. We ask tough questions, like “Do I believe in God/should I attend Church?” “Do I consider myself an activist or advocate for a cause, and do I do anything to give back what the world gives me?”

When I was younger, it was enough to know my days were filled with joy and friendship. Then a few years passed and I found out none of the people I grew up with cared enough about me to help me or even stay in contact with me. For a few years I tried to stay in touch with my former friends but it just became futile.

Still, I had my talent and my passion. Funny thing is, at first I thought it was all about flying, then I started to write a little about flying, then started to write about everything and I found a deep love of writing that has not only replaced my love of flying, it also brings in a few bucks when I sell some books or publish another article.

What I think you, my dear reader, should do, is to try and find something you are passionate about. There are so many things. My sister has a Master’s Degree in Education, but she spends a ton of her free time beading, making necklaces and such out of beds she assembles. It occupies her, it takes away stress, and fills her time. Playing sports can be an excellent passion, not to mention also a big stress reliever. One thing that is interesting about sports is that you never have to stop learning more about whichever sport you choose to play. And also, if you don’t want to be too much of a competitive person, you can participate in sports such as walking or taking long tours on a bicycle. You are the one in charge.

One of the great things about having a fitness routine, is that if you are unemployed, participating in some sports can help prepare you mentally and physically for your next job.

One of the things a lot of people struggle with is that they get a disability pension and are required to report any income. I do feel you have to be completely honest with whoever manages your case at CPP or SSI or whoever is in charge of your case. But it might be a good idea to work a job part-time, allowing your case manager to deduct what you earn, and then when you are more sure and ready, talk about transitioning back to being independent. And with any luck, if you haven’t already, having a good job and being in control of your life, you may find a significant other who you will be able to share your life with.

The last topic for today I want to mention is volunteering. So many times, it can be next to impossible to break into industries you want to try. I had always had a dream of having my own radio show, and when I was able to volunteer on our local community radio station, I ended up having an amazing time. I will never forget that feeling of loading up my briefcase, heading out for the downtown bus while it was still dark, transferring to the train and then joining thousands of students on a walk to the University. It really felt like I had a wonderful purpose.

One of the cool things about volunteering is that often you can get your choice of jobs. For a while, I volunteered as a pastoral care volunteer. I would visit patients who didn’t get out much, take them for walks. Those old men showed me so much kindness, even though really they had so little to give. I have had a few volunteer jobs, but my suggestion to you dear reader is to do that critical thinking about what gives your life meaning, what you want to do most, then contact the volunteer network (or equivalent in your area) and find a job that will help ease you into your new profession.

Have a great day Dear Readers! All the best!

Leif Gregersen

Working While Dealing With Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or Major Depression

This is me and my boss Tanya from the Schizophrenia Society after giving a talk to the Edmonton Police Recruits

We are all told how things work from a very young age. You complete school, you find a job, you save money, get married, have kids, save for retirement and then enjoy your golden years. B.S.

It is sometimes discouraging to look back at how that script worked for me. I worked hard in school, got good grades, had several different part-time and the odd full-time job for experience and to finance things like a car and a love of Bruce Springsteen Albums. Then, three months from graduating high school psychosis came on me like a bandit, like an armed man.

For a long time at that point, I had been struggling. I was having serious problems sleeping which led to poor performance with anything I had to do in the morning, including classes. As well, I was living with severe, crippling depression that I just couldn’t seem to get out from under. I had a poor self-image and only a few close friends. When psychosis hit, it didn’t take long for my behaviour to cause extreme concern among friends and family.

I remember when I was in the hospital and despite my negative setbacks, I looked on the bright side. Now I could get a full-time job and have some steady income instead of struggling to keep going alongside my school work. I even knew the place I wanted to work, a plastics plant in my home town. As soon as I left the hospital, I put in my application and they called me right away. Sadly, largely because of the fact that I was on heavy doses of medication, I was unable to do the job and was fired just three days later.

Over the years since then I have had so many jobs, a lot of them being security work. I didn’t particularly like security work, but as long as you had no criminal record and a pulse, it was easy to get a job doing it. I just liked the idea of being paid (a pittance) to read. Right now though, I don’t recommend this type of work to anyone with a mental illness, to work security you often have to switch around from days to nights and back again and this is murder on your system and makes it very difficult for you to get proper rest and for your medication to work properly.

One of the most important things a person with a mental illness who is unemployed can do is to get regular exercise. (Look for YMCA programs near you if you don’t have other access to a gym, the YMCA often gives discounted memberships to people with disabilities). Over time I built myself up to being able to swim long distances, walk long distances and lift weights. Being in shape meant I was able to take advantage of the opportunity of a lifetime when it presented itself to me. I was able to take on the extremely physical job of being a stage hand setting up major concerts.

That was a real heyday for me. Great money, lots of overtime, unlimited concerts. I loved just about all of it. I did have a problem though with dealing with the pressure, both from my employer and my peers. The level of cruelty of some of the older firemen who worked that job was unbelievable. But I didn’t let it get to me, and I didn’t play into their little world of, “I’m the senior man so I’m the better man.” bullshit. I worked, I spent my pay, and I worked towards something better, I kept writing. When I was able to supplement my needs with writing, I left and didn’t even say goodbye.

Things have really gone well for me. Though I am 50 now and can’t learn as easily as when I was 17, I am still learning a great deal and interacting with some incredible people. Fortunately, my illness is under control. It takes a lot of time and proper medications to get to that point, and I have to always remind myself that my situation can get out of hand very easily if I let anything get in the way of my mental health, as it did a couple of years ago when I was admitted to the Grey Nuns Hospital with a severe psychosis (for more details on this, please feel free to download my free book, “Alert and Oriented x3” by clicking on the photo to the right of London’s Tower Bridge. But all in all, I am strong, healthy and independent and that feels great.

Don’t Let Your Financial or Mental Health Issue Keep You From Resting–Sleep Is Essential!

Good day dear readers!

I am now up and writing on a very precarious footing. I went to bed four hours ago and just now woke up with a stomach ache which I am treating with seven-up. Funny to think of all the times in my youth when I ordered my favourite drink, vodka, seven and lime. I’ve actually been thinking a fair bit about when I did a lot of drinking. There were some fun times, like when I used to go visit my DJ friend and we would play drinking games and get completely blitzed. He ended up being quite a jerk after I had my mental health problems, we haven’t spoken in many years. Kind of goes to show the value of superficial friendships based on an addiction.

Well, tomorrow is a big day. I will be turning 50. I am in fairly good spirits about the whole thing, the truth is I am happier now at 50 than I was when I was 30. Almost hard to believe I have been living in the same neighbourhood now for over 20 years. I really get treated well here. Kind, caring people like my barber Tony live here. Then of course there is Dan Glugosh and his amazing family. I would find it very hard to leave this area.

I think in 20 years, the most important thing I have learned is the importance of rest for people with mental health issues. And of course, hand in hand with rest is a stable place to live. So many times, I see homeless people who look completely exhausted, trying to get a little sleep on a bus or in a library. It all seems so unfair that a person gets treated so poorly just because they don’t fit into “The status quo”. A few years back, I had a car, a great job and I was working out. But because I worked early mornings, took a long break, then went back to finish up late in the evening as a stage hand, there were some pretty precarious times. That is something that everyone should try and put aside if they are ever diagnosed with a mental health problem, pushing yourself through lack of sleep.

I recall driving home from the pool, intending to sleep the day away and being so tired I could barely keep my car on the road. This is a malady that I am sure a lot of people with mental health issues has, the two factors most written about, what you decide to do now and what you want to do when you wake up.

As a kid, I was always impressed by commercials advertising for people to join the military when they would say, “In the Army, we do more before 9 am than most people do all day.” I really though that was cool, working together and by yourself to achieve goals you never thought possible. Then I later went into cadets and got to experience a lot of that stuff first hand. I recall drinking it in from the very first night.

Just to skip back a bit, I recently wrote an exercise in writing about how my life experience getting pickled on beer and whatever else had to do with some of the things in life I would experience later. Of of the things I recall is that when I got drunk beyond my control, I still had a fair bit of free will. It was that capacity for free will that sends a lot of people who are drinking off to prison. Of course, I learned in my Law class in high school that, in Canada at least, people get time off their sentences if they have a mental illness.

Of course, when you consider mental illness and the Law, other very unfair things pop up. One of them, which I am not sure how I feel about, is that you can kill someone and have the sentence reduced to manslaughter if you can prove you had been intoxicated. Our laws sadly favour those who own substantial resources and can easily fight back if a law bothers them or even if they are just having anxiety due to being alone.

The next step down would be assault, then property crimes. Many people think property crimes are among the worst, especially since they seem to happen to everyone. These are some of the disproportionate volume of overall serious crime cases. Reading up on the subject often points out that if there are any problems, you can just kill your victim and use another hostage. It is frightening to see how many people lost a friend to illness or suicide, or preventable homocide and overdoses. And of course, there are so many people who have been dying in the ever-worsening pandemic.

One of the things I feel is important to do is to set aside everything you are able to that costs you money. It is so important in these times to always be mindful of your needs. I have been talking a fair bit about needs in this blog. One of the ways I am very lucky is that when I was in cadets, I learned a very valuable lesson That was, understanding how to teach the creative writing class I am putting on twice a week. One wouldn’t think it could, but these classes have a big toll on my overall fatigue and other symptoms. If you have that fatigue you can’t even describe here, or want more information about support groups, it is my suggestion that you consider sleep to be critical. Go to bed as early as 8:00 and read until you feel tired enough to try a full rest. Above all, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about such feelings, they can truly help.

Life Expectancy of a Severely Mentally Ill Person: Is My Clock Running Out?

Good Morning Dear Readers! Fortune has smiled upon us, it is time for a new blog! What does that mean? Basically it means I can’t sleep once again and had a lot of thoughts running through my mind.

First off, the photo you see is not me but my father. He has been my rock and my hero for such a long time, but at 84 he is finally starting to show his age. He keeps somehow forgetting how to turn on the cable box for his TV. He forgets passwords, then forgets where he writes them down, and then I have to come over and fix everything. I don’t really mind, I love spending time with my dad. Anyone who reads my book, “Alert and Oriented x3” (which you can download by clicking on London’s Tower Bridge to the right of this article) will clearly see that he has done so much to care for me and help me despite some very hard times with my illness. I don’t know if it is the source of all the troubles, though something does make sense. I have heard information that states my dad is so confused and forgetful because he has a blockage in an artery in his neck and needs it cleared, and after that is done everything will be fine.

It is such a scary thing to go through, and I can’t imagine it is easy for my dad either. Some 10 years ago now, we lost my mom. My dad sometimes still sees her or thinks she is still with us. I know to many it sounds like Alzheimers or dementia, and the fact is I am very worried it might be. My grandfather, my dad’s dad has Alzheimers and so did his brother, my Uncle Nille. Basically, I am going to have to help him and support him while he waits for surgery and while he is recovering and it feels like it is taking a lot out of me.

On other fronts, things seem to be going well for me on many counts. Not the least of which is getting a story in an online newsmagazine about the three most important books I have read that help me to deal with mental illness. Anyone interested can link to the article here: https://thenewsstation.com/three-books-that-helped-me-overcome-my-mental-illness/

I guess I also want to talk a little more about my recent decision to use Cannabis Products, specifically high CBD, low THC pills to help me sleep. In a way, I think the Cannabinoids (CBD) are taking away some of my ambition. But along with that, they also seem to solve a very serious problem I have that has been with me for decades. It is an antisocial mindset where I feel angry and slighted and say and do things that make others feel bad to make myself feel better. For a while, I was watching videos by a man named Noah Elkrief, and he had some amazing insights on how to stop being angry all the time. Basically the foundation of his theory was that if we truly put ourselves into the shoes of the other person, looking for ways to exonerate them for whatever angers us, there is really no way to keep being angry. It worked really well for a while but then I lost the habit, and now that I have been ingesting CBD pills, my anger is somehow medicinally lowered, and I am able to resume my habit of empathizing with people. If you add to that my improved sleep, it is kind of miraculous. I think I have said most of that before. I have always had a problem with sleep in my life. I can remember as far back as being a toddler and being in my parent’s bed watching an ancient digital clock flip over numbers. I was so young I couldn’t tell time, but for some reason I remember looking at that clock and wondering how late my parents were going to stay up.

This leads into another situation that has me a bit concerned. For the past couple of years I have been using sleep aids, and ever since, my memory has been declining. As you just read, I don’t have any problems remembering things that happened almost 50 years ago as a child, but my brain goes into fogs where I can’t remember the name of people I have worked with for three years. I was talking to a friend about my dad and she pointed out that I am losing some of my faculties and I am much younger than my dad. It was a humbling experience.

Well, dear readers. I have another friend who always tells me not to worry about getting older, that age is just a number. Unfortunately 12:00 midnight is also just a number and I have to take my dad to his doctor tomorrow. I do want to leave you with one thing though. When I look back at the joy my dad gave me, the opportunities he made possible and the love he showed when I was at my worst, my only real regret is never accomplishing the dream I had for most of my life of having a child to teach everything to and to love just like my dad did with me. Perhaps there will be someone out there, someone who never had a father, never had a dad who can read these words and understand that there is always hope, that just about every life is without limits. And maybe a million years ago some visitor from a distant planet will find my archived blogs, read them, and see that in so many ways, life on Earth is a beautiful thing.

-LG

Poetry, Mental Health and Addiction, and How Our Work Defines Us

Just a heads up, if you click on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge to the right, you will be able to download a free copy of my latest mental health book!

I wrote a poem during my writing class that I teach Mondays and Thursdays (please email viking3082000@yahoo.com if you want to join, there are limited spots). I wanted to write about the executive lifestyle and how some people, especially over-achievers will go to business school, work their way up the ladder, end up very successful, then realize that they never really did in life what they wanted.

In the poem, the main character is basically in the middle of a nervous breakdown and all he really knows how to help himself is with drugs and alcohol. I hope you like it, let me know what you think.

Incidentally, some time this week I will be published in the Ottawa Citizen, in the opinion section. I will put a link to the article here for anyone interested.

Big City Headache

By Leif Gregersen

Killer migraine pounding my head hard

As I wake up in some stranger’s yard

Wandering cold, no place to rest, no way to clean

So many live like this, it seems so obscene

Eat at the shelter three meals a day

Life until now was never this way

So much has happened, so much was lost

Once I had so many possessions, caring not of the cost

No need for coffee, no need for sleep

Just us two would do, cocaine and me

It’s hard to conceive but I forgot my name

Still in some small way I’m more happy insane

My wife came and found me as I sat on a curb

Tossed me her wedding ring without a word

Desperate, I pawned it, then got a room

Sat down and took stock of the poisons I had consumed

I started working temp labour to pay the rent

Fell dead asleep exhausted each night, fully content

I bought back the ring, then went for a walk

But I knew my ex-wife wouldn’t even talk

I walked a long way to a bridge and looked down

Nothing to stop me, no one around

In that desperate state I knew what to do

I tossed in the ring and felt happy and new

Then I did some walking and thinking all night alone

Caring not for my trophy wife or my former home

I now make minimum wage for very hard work

But I’m a real person now, not some uncaring jerk

Cannabis and Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Just about every one of us have some kind of moral guidance in our lives when it comes to using cannabis products. I think just about as many people oppose it as support it, and both sides claim to have incontrovertible evidence. I don’t use THC, and to be honest, I haven’t spent as much time thinking about it to make a fair judgement that I want to pass on to you, my dear readers. What I do know is that cannabis has been made legal in all of Canada, while only some of the US states call it legal and the Federal Government declares cannabis illegal in all states, leaving many in a difficult and precarious position.

A few weeks ago, more likely a few months, I wandered into a pot shop and started asking questions. One thing I know about THC–I should avoid it like the plague. It makes me paranoid and unbalances my precarious hold on my mental health. But they had product that contained no THC which had cannabinoids oil and capsules. I had heard a lot about the benefits of cannabinoids and decided to gamble $15 Canadian on a few pills.

The first one I tried had kind of comical results. I thought I was getting stoned when in actuality I was just anticipating feeling stoned so much that I believed it was happening. Eventually I fell asleep and had one of the best rests I have had in a long time.

It is now months after that. I have been using cannabinoids for a while. One of the best things about it is that it takes away my susceptibility to get angry. Yes, it clears/calms my head. And I can take some, then take a nap or go to sleep for the night, and fall asleep easier, but wake up refreshed, not drugged.

The expense of the product is a factor that still bothers me. $15 for 15 CBD pills, $50 for 30 of the extra-strength CBD pills. The inexpensive alternative is to use the CBD oils but I have tried that and it seems they don’t have as much as an effect on me.

So, all things considered, I still need to ask myself if I support cannabis products. As a consumer, it is hard to tell anyone they shouldn’t, but I do think anyone who has a mental illness should consult with a psychiatrist, making sure to tell them what type of product you want to/already use. In my case, THC isn’t worth it, but CBD is. Doctors always weigh the risks of a medication based on what it gives you and the negative things that can happen. My understanding is that THC has more risks than rewards in people under 25, and that over 25, if you aren’t prone to paranoia, there are more rewards than risks.

Something I always think about was interviewing a renowned psychiatrist for a radio documentary I was making, and asking him what the most important thing he had to say in closing. He looked very serious and said to me: “The most important thing for people to understand is that marijuana and alcohol are not benign drugs.”

I will be honest with all of you. There were times I was in the psychiatric hospital and there were patients who were normal before chronic pot use and had to spend years in mental health treatment. Their diagnosis was “drug induced psychosis.” If you have a family history of poor mental health, please avoid THC. If you are under 25, please understand that your brain hasn’t stopped developing yet and you may be damaging it by using THC products. Also, look at THC use as a fun, recreational experience, and watch out that your using doesn’t take over your life.

Living With Schizophrenia: Take Me For What I Am

Hello Dear Readers:

A lot has been going on lately. I marked the passing of a friend named Walter Warren Miller. He was an amazing man. He had served in the military, travelled the world, worked a full career as a Canada Post Employee, and he dealt with mental illness.

What I would really like to talk about today though, is how all of us are flawed in some way. Perhaps in our haphazard interactions with the rest of the human race, we can’t help but make mistakes. But all of us do. We forget to spend time with those we love who may be struggling. We give what we think is our love but is actually just meaningless money.

This is where I end up having problems with many born-again right-wing churches. Their take on making mistakes almost seems to be that if you made one, you are a marked person and because you made that mistake you don’t love Christ and should be cast away.

I encountered so much of this in my time in the Pentecostal Church. It was never a written rule but it seemed that, according to them, if the Pastor gives an empowering speech and you walk to the altar to make ‘a decision for Christ’ that is all you will ever have to do to go to Heaven.

However, in Catholicism, they have a way for people to work on themselves continuously, confessing their sins. Even when they pass away, it is understood that they will spend time in a place called Purgatory where people go to work off the debt of their sins.

But to not just throw all my will and power to the major religions, I should talk about my own philosophy as to dealing with sin. First of all, I think educating people about sensitivity and understanding for the people they interact with, should be done as intensely as you teach a child to brush his or her teeth or work on math problems.

Then, if and when the child you carefully instruct gets older, when they make a mistake, it isn’t seen as a reason to mark that person for life, but an opportunity to educate the person on why what they did was wrong, how the people on the other side of the equation are made to feel about it. Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the baby gets the time and attention it needs to perhaps feel even closer to society and emerge a better person from the experience.

I would like to try and relate what I was talking about to mental illness, but you know–I am a bit reluctant to. Mental illness is something far different than criminal or abusive behaviour. Mental illness takes away everything you have and so very many people who are chronically afflicted end their own lives.

If I were the head policy maker of this nation, I suppose which can be called “Edu-Nation” seeing as how it is based on educating rather than penalizing people, I would do a few things for the mentally ill.

I think the first thing I would want to do would be to develop some sort of housing, mental health resources and more to homeless people. There are so many people out asking for spare change these days who are just killing time, having nowhere to go. All to often this leads to alcoholism and substance abuse which exacerbates any mental health issues.

All too many of these transient people die on the streets every year. One thing I would like to do would be to train roving support workers to go to these people on the streets and alleys where they live. Find out what is keeping them from getting treatment, give them socks and long underwear in the winter. Bring them inexpensive meals when possible. Basically, try to entice these people to come back to the regular world.

Well, good readers. This was a ‘woke up in the middle of the night’ blog entry. I hope it makes some sense to people, I really shouldn’t write when I’m so tired. Have an awesome day and thanks for visiting! Don’t forget to click on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge to the right of this blog to download your free copy of my latest book (digital format).