Month: March 2015

Sometimes the Pain You Feel Inside

DSC_0071                  A BLOG AND ANOTHER PHOTO ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POEM

 

The Pain You Feel Inside

 

Sometimes the pain you feel inside

Is not the right thing to hide

 

We seem to all have something in our head

That sometimes fills us with dread

 

You need to talk and listen carefully

Only then can you be truly free

 

And illness may boil up inside of you

And you may not know what to do

 

So many people can help a lot

With every raging thought

 

Sometimes it’s not the thing to hide

What seethes and boils inside

 

You first need a Doctor you can talk to

About feeling stressed or blue

 

Or talk to about the voices thoughts and feelings

That affect all of your daily dealings

 

Only honesty and care and making those around you aware

Can push away those thoughts that leave you scared

 

We all have things we hold inside

But they are not the thing to hide

 

We all need someone to be an ear

And it’s not always those we hold dear

 

If you are hurting deep in your mind

There are so many who are kind

 

Special Doctors, counselors and therapists

Who can help you deal with all of this

 

Sometimes the pain you feel inside

Is not the thing that you should hide

TODAY’S BLOG: CREATIVITY AND EXPRESSION

Well, today I thought I would compose a poem that I didn’t need to publish so I could put it on here.  I love to write, and sometimes it is easier for me to express what I feel through poetry.  This is common for many people.  I always encourage people with mental illnesses to keep a journal, but I should add further how important it is to have some kind of creative endeavor.  I know that the Schizophrenia Society of which I am a member of has a painting class and a life skills class and both of them can be really beneficial.

I don’t know really what it is about being creative that is healing, soothing even for a person with a mental illness.  Perhaps it is something that is healing and soothing for everyone only people with mental illnesses seem to lock themselves away.  It isn’t surprising when there are so many horror movies and reports from the media about mentally ill people going off on a rampage.

It is a funny thing, but for a long time I was very reluctant to tell anyone I had a mental illness.  I can even recall times (especially when I was in the middle of a serious psychosis) that I flat out lied to people.  I remember one time that still comes back to haunt me where I actually had delusions that I owned a nightclub in my home town and I went up to one of the bouncers and told him someone kept telling me I owned the place.  He asked if I had ever been in a mental hospital, and though I had just gotten out of one I said no.  The guy was actually being kind of understanding about the whole thing but I was so ashamed.

But regardless, now that I am more comfortable with who I am and any illness that I try not to let define me, I tell just about everyone that I have a mental illness, and I very often have people say, “oh, my sister has a mental illness and goes in the hospital a lot when she goes off her medication” or, “my father was a schizophrenic, I would really like to buy your book” or even “I have been taking medications for a number of years now.”  Still, it is a hard thing to do, even with professionals to be truthful about the demons in your head.  When I look back now at my first few hospital admissions, if I had been honest with my Doctor I would have been behind closed doors for a lot less time and likely have been helped more.

The funny thing is that I have few regrets about the past.  I owe a lot of that to the meditation I undertake, it is such a soothing and renewing process, and I owe even more to my ability to write about being ill and knowing that I helped people through a rough patch.  Although it may have been dangerous, though I was always with a certified instructor, I probably never should have taken flying lessons, but flying is such an interesting and rewarding part of my life to this day I don’t regret it.  I even don’t regret the student loan I took out to pay for it that is still on the books 24 years later.

But I think I should stress that it really doesn’t make sense to not talk to your Psychiatrist about everything that goes on in your head and heart.  They have heard it all and are trained to help.  If you find that your Doctor judges you in any way or doesn’t seem to care at all, in most cases it is your option and your right to find a different Doctor.  I often wonder about what people in poorer countries where facilities like I have access to in Canada don’t exist.  If any of these people are accessing this page and are unable to find help for their mental health issues, I invite them to write to me, viking3082000@yahoo.com    I would really like to help anyone I can through this blog, it is what it is here for.  If you have any topics you would like me to discuss here, also please email me.  Other than that, please enjoy today’s photos and poem and look towards the future where there is always hope.

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Exercise and Chronic Tiredness in the Psychiatric Patient

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Well, today was simply a great day.  I had a few things to do, one of them being driving a friend for groceries, another was to take some photographs of a Ukranian Easter presentation.  Then I got to do one of my favorite things (no matter how much it may seem to aggravate me) which was spend time with my dad.

The old guy (Leif the first) can be a lot of fun to be around.  Some of my warmest memories of childhood have to do with things he taught me to do in his business like silk screening and engraving.  All that aside though, I wanted to say a few things on the topic of chronic tiredness in the psychiatric patient.  I will start with a bit of a horror story.

Going on 15 years ago now I was living in a small apartment and following my own schedule.  It was very hard to deal with the loneliness though it was back in the heyday of chat rooms which I participated in quite a bit.  I also had a movie rental place nearby which had a deal on two movies for 99c for a week and I ended up watching tons of them, it was really kind of fun.  The problem came in when I slowly started to drift away from any type of treatment for my illness.  I stopped seeing my Psychiatrist after missing a number of appointments, and I made the very poor decision that a high dose of depakene, the mood stabilizer I was taking, was the source of my low energy levels and so I felt it would be okay if I just dropped the dose down.  Nothing could have been worse of a mistake.

Slowly, without my awareness, I started to slip back into psychosis.  I started once again to believe that I was secretly some kind of rich person, that this woman I once knew who was very wealthy was trying to rescue me from the life I had made for myself.  In short I slowly became insane all over again.  And not even from stopping medication, just from lowering it.  The suffering that mistake brought on was unbelievable.  I spent the next six months locked in a Psychiatric facility after being arrested and taken to the mental hospital.  I was treated as a non-compliant patient because they thought I was no longer taking any medications and not only did the Doctor experiment on me, he had told my parents I would be in the hospital for two years.  All because I felt tired and wanted to try and improve my situation by lowering a medication.

All that aside though, being tired or out of energy all the time is a serious thing, and perhaps if I had been continuing to see my Doctor I may have found a solution.  New medications come out all the time.  I recently learned that there is a medication called Topomax that can do the job of Depekane and not leave a person feeling run down or make them crave food.  I tried going on it a few weeks ago and I really didn’t like the effects it had on me and so I stopped it, but it remains an option for me along with other newer drugs that are, as my pharmacist says, are more ‘clean’ drugs. Meaning they have less side effects

Just a few words now since the title promised about exercise.  I may have talked about this before, but when I got out of that long hospital stay my dad used to drive over to my group home and take me to the beautiful Edmonton river valley where we would walk for a couple of miles each day.  He was very kind and accommodating, he would let me rest when I needed it and didn’t mind that I might have to stop to have a cigarette (thank goodness I quit smoking 11 years ago!).  Just a little light exercise and fresh air now and then really made the difference.  Later on after I went back to security work I started going to the gym and the pool.  I was lucky that my swim and gym pass was subsidized, but I would recommend to anyone that they go to these types of facilities even if they have to pay.  Often a YMCA will give greatly subsidized passes to low income people and this is a great opportunity.

One of the big things about going to the pool after getting in reasonable shape with my Dad was that I started to make some very good friends at the pool who were outside of the mental health system but were understanding of my illness.  Another good thing about it was that I was able to get myself into great shape and was able to take on jobs that were increasingly better paying.  Then, by sheer luck, I stumbled into my present job as a stage hand which is possibly the best job a person in my situation could ask for.  And it wouldn’t have done me any good if I wasn’t in good shape from regular swimming and weights.

Another physical thing I have tried is Yoga.  I have never been to a studio or worked directly with an instructor, I simply put on a video I have in my living room and work through it on a mat I bought.  It is very renewing and relaxing, very refreshing through and through.  Physical health, a psychologist friend once told me, is so much a part of who we are, it is so very important.  What I can remember vividly was working out with weights on a regular basis and simply living in a ‘zone’ of feeling really good from head to toe.

So, basically gentle readers, I just wanted to try and talk a bit about tiredness and exercise.  I didn’t offer any real solutions to tiredness I don’t think but I warned of the dangers of lowering medications.  I guess I would also like to warn against allowing yourself to be addicted to caffeine.  I myself drink a little too much coffee and have been warned that it may contribute to my difficulty in sleeping, but I met a guy at work who was addicted to energy drinks and actually had so many of them that he became allergic to caffeine.  I think one of the best things a person on medications with low energy can do is something in the second part of this blog entry, just try and get out for a walk.  Eating healthy is a big element as well, but as per usual, anyone who reads this blog can feel free to email me at: viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will try to help all I can if I can.  Take care!

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Regarding the Problem of Being a Gentleman

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Let me start off by saying I don’t profess to understand women and I may never do so.  A lot of people out there, some of them writers, say that they know how to pick up women, how to skillfully introduce themselves, joke with them and insult them at the same time to bring out the right kind of neediness.  I don’t support these practices at all.  My belief is that there is just one way to find a life partner.  You start by being a member of a community, perhaps a number of communities.  I met a lot of my most important friends growing up in St.Albert and being a part of school and cadets.  I think it is very hard to find a partner among people you don’t know.  Some people may be bold enough to pick up a member of the opposite sex, go to bed with them the same night and decide from there if they want to continue on with them, but I have to get to know someone.

When I was quite a bit younger, I think some people may have said I was a bit of a hound, always sniffing at the rear end of any woman even remotely attractive.  In a way I was like this, but I never slept with any of the young women I would meet and add to my ‘little black book’ (if anyone remembers what one of those are since we all now have cell phones).  I would go for coffee with them, chat with them on the phone, sometimes even meet up with or lend books to.  It was kind of a negative way to go about things because there was no real basis for a relationship.  Then, when I was 20 I started going to adult high school and one day while out having a cigarette, I met a very pretty young woman and we talked for a long time.  I learned she was a born-again Christian, something that was important to me at the time and that she cared deeply for her family and those around her.  She had a boyfriend but that didn’t stop us from becoming good friends.  That was 23 years ago and I still talk to this young woman to this day.

More recently, I had a female friend who was very attractive, but always seemed to be getting into the wrong kinds of relationships.  She was struggling with addictions but had enough of a head on her shoulders to be a top rated chef/cook and to get a degree in English from a local University.  A great catch for just about any man but constantly getting the wrong ones.  I think a lot of it had to do with the adult children of alcoholics syndrome.  I had met her mom who was a lawyer but not her Dad and my Dad had known her grandfather.  I don’t know where the alcoholic was in their family, but from my reading of the subject (I am an adult child of an alcoholic) this seemed to be the case.  One of the things about a family that has an alcoholic in them is that there is a set of rules that the addiction brings about, one of them being the rule of silence–many people in alcoholic families will live somewhere for 20 years or more and never talk to their neighbors, they have a secret and they don’t want to show it.  There are many other rules of course, but the thing is that when you are an adult child of an alcoholic, or this syndrome is passed down to you by a more distant family member, when you go out looking for a relationship you seek out people who ‘know the rules’.  I wish I could have helped this girl more, I think to an extent I may have been happy to be in a relationship with her myself, but it was not meant to be.

I can recall a few people, including the young woman mentioned in the previous paragraph wanted to know how to find a proper partner.  Looking for someone who ‘knows the rules’ could be misinterpreted as a woman looking for a bad boy.  Many women don’t necessarily look for the bad guy, they may just be looking for someone who understands the rough times they have been through.  Regardless, this young woman and others have asked me how to find a good life partner.  I think the best way to go about this is to find a community to be a part of.  It can be a church community, in fact it often is a church community where some of the healthiest relationships begin because these relationships often have the support of a lot of friends and family members and a good moral foundation to build a good relationship on, but I don’t think that by going to a building once a week you win any special favor from God.  I do love God a great deal, and I have to admit that as soon as I finish this blog today I am going to mass, but people can be healthy and happy no matter what they do with their Sunday.  Some people can join a sports team, some people can find someone they work with and those who don’t participate in things can volunteer and meet some wonderful, giving and caring people.  There is also people you meet at bars or pubs, but I don’t think these are the healthiest of relationships–just my opinion from trying it myself.

The next step after meeting someone is to make them your friend.  If time passes and you can make them your best friend and let things grow naturally from there (which they will if they were meant to be).  I remember when I was younger I knew this was the way I would find my perfect partner, and though in the end my relationship with the girl I went to school with mentioned above wasn’t meant to be a partner/spouse relationship, I have something that means a lot to me and gives me much joy and fulfillment–I have a friend for life.  To put it in terms that younger people may want to understand, if you go out and just try to get lucky at a bar and do pick someone up, maybe do it a few times, you will have a quick release of emotion (and exchange of bodily fluids) but not only will it not be very fulfilling, you run the risk of becoming addicted to cheap thrills and one day you won’t be so much of a stud and you will find a great sense of loneliness in you from never having established an adult and caring relationship.  This is not a hard and fast rule of course, and by no means am I any kind of clinician.  I just am relating what I have seen in my 28 years or so of good and bad relationships.  As always, I am here to talk, if anyone had any further questions feel free to email, my address is still:  viking3082000@yahoo.com

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How To Succeed in Life When You Have Bipolar

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Well, today’s title suggests a tall order.  In fact, I really don’t know how to succeed in life despite my Bipolar because I haven’t sat down and written out what I think I need to do to succeed in life.  Maybe that could be a good topic to consider-goals.  I really like to quote a study that was once undertaken where a graduating group was asked if they had clear, concise, written goals for themselves and when the same people were checked years later, the three percent or so that had written goals had made more money than the entire rest of the graduating class.  What this tells me is that writing has power.

When I was younger, one of my goals was to write books and I had written down these goals.  I had other goals I didn’t write down like learn 3 or four languages, get my pilot’s license and become a military officer.  None of these came true, but my goal of writing-that really went a long way.  One of the reasons I think this is was because I worked at it a tiny bit each day for a very long time.  I regret to say that for a period of time I did nothing but chat in various chat rooms and pursue relationships with people I would never meet, but I kept returning to my writing goal knowing that if I failed at it I would be losing something very important in my life and it came true.  One of the reasons for that could be the power of keeping  a journal.  One day soon I want to head down to the basement and read some of the journals I wrote when I was just starting out as a writer and see how my thinking has progressed.  I do know that now as it has been a long time since I drank alcohol, a long time since I gambled, and a very long time since I was without proper medications that my thoughts have cleared up a great deal.  Years ago I had some thoughts in my head that I had a very hard time letting go of, everything from resentments to imagined relationships with females, and I think for these reasons they have gotten a lot better.  I also would like to thank the power of meditation for clearing up my thinking.  I haven’t done it in a while, but meditation is a powerful tool for freeing the mind from negative thinking.  You can actually train yourself to push away negative thoughts and embrace positive ones through meditation.

One of my favorite forms of meditation is simply snorkeling at the swimming pool.  I start out my workout by sitting in the hot tub to get my joints moving and then strap on flippers and mask and snorkel and propel myself through the water, enjoying the silence and freedom from the outside world.  It is so relaxing and renewing.

Another huge part of being a success, aside from sitting down and getting a clear idea of what you want to accomplish to succeed, is to become a part of a community.  I have lived in the neighborhood I now live in for 14 years and it is simply wonderful.  It took some time, but now when I walk down the street I know my neighbors and am always glad to stop to talk with them.  It started out with me volunteering at the local community newspaper, something that looks great on a resume and it grew so that now I have many friends living near me and many opportunities as a result of knowing these people.  The editor of the paper, Paula, edits my short stories and other writing for free and gave me a great deal on this website.  My neighbor Gary down the street is an accomplished writer himself and is a great guy to go to poetry readings and other events with.  There is also a community in the people that live in the group home I’m in which is perhaps the most important one in my life right now.  There are around 20 people who I can call at any time, who I can talk to each day, borrow from or lend to.  There is also staff, but there is something very important about having other people around who have mental illnesses because I need to feel comfortable as a person with a mental illness and when people around you are going through the same thing, you can feel so much more free to be yourself.

I often wonder about some of the people from the US who read this, especially the ones that suffer from Bipolar Disorder or other mental illnesses, not to mention some of the people from far off countries.  I had a person read my blog from a place called Qutar the other day and I wonder about what it must be like to live in a more judgemental type of atmosphere and have a child who suffers or be someone who suffers.  As usual, I am always more than ready to talk to anyone who wants help in understanding what they may be going through, viking3082000@yahoo.com

So when you boil it all down, what does it take?  First, you need a plan, you need to brainstorm what success is to you.  It can be owning a motorbike or a car, it can be having a job or having a better job.  Details count.  Then you need to find people who will be your friend and support you in your quest to accomplish these things.  Many people out there don’t want to see you succeed but quite often if you talk with them and perhaps even impart some of these principles to them they will not only support you, they will learn how to succeed themselves.  Then, once you have got your list, you need to make realistic and achievable steps to get to these goals.  If you want to know more languages, start with a free course from the library.  If you want to make more more money, read the book I talked about “The Richest Man in Babylon” and take the advice of carefully putting away 10-30% of your income after all of your expenses and learn how to make more money.  If you want to simply have more friends and a better social life, seek out organizations in your community where you can meet people your age.  It can be a political party, it can be a writer’s group, it can be a mental health organization.  If you want to write, commit to filling a page each day with your journal entries and writing about each movie you see, each book you read.  I am a firm believer in the library, I think a lot of things can be found there like book clubs, books on making more money in your chosen profession, books you can read to help you write better.  A lot of larger libraries will also have a writer in residence you can talk to about your writing goals totally free.  So you have to know when you will consider yourself a success, you need to take small steps, take advantage of resources out there, and make friends that will support your efforts.  I have taken these steps and life has gotten incredibly good for me over time.  Bipolar?  Take your medications, see your Doctor, work on your life issues with counselors and psychologists and in group therapy and then just baby step yourself back up.  If you are interested in seeing the choices I made and the things I went through, order a copy of “Through The Withering Storm” or “Inching Back to Sane” from the ‘books’ section of this website and let me know how things go.  All the best to all my readers!

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Sold My Soul For Rock and Roll

DSC_0038     Well, here is an example of what you can do with a 300mm lens on a new Nikon camera.  I was able to get this shot from about 30 feet away.  I have a couple of other photos that came out a bit clearer, but I liked this one for some reason.  My Dad has a wall full of bird photos he printed up, he even has a bald eagle and all kinds of rare birds.  It makes me sad to think of all the innocent and beautiful little birds I killed simply for sport when I was younger.  I always felt that it was one thing to kill an animal and another thing to waste it’s body and essence for lack of a better word.

Regardless, it is a new day and I am finding the words told to me about being a writer are very true… you really have to have a thick skin and a lot of patience.  I have been expecting a cheque for some time from a magazine and another from a bookstore that has sold a few of my books and nothing seems to be coming.  On the lighter side though, I had an old friend from school come by yesterday and buy one of my books and he also took me for coffee and it was really great to reminisce and hear what he’s been up to.  He also has written a book which I stayed up late last night reading.  I was in a part of it, it was from a time when a bunch of us went in his mom’s car to a drive-in movie and this really cute girl and I got in the trunk to save the gate admission.  What I didn’t know was that he expected me to make a move on her while I was in there and thought for all this time that I had.  I actually didn’t want to do anything ungentlemanly not only because I was that type of guy, but also because her 6’4″ boyfriend was with us.  I remember her well though, her name was Stephanie and she was beautiful, gorgeous.  If I had thought I had stood any kind of chance with her I would have gone for it (with the help of a few beers).  But that all was almost 30 years ago.  Sure is good to reunite with old friends, thanks Facebook!

In other news, as I am trying to make this a bit more of a blog about mental health, I should mention that I have been struggling to keep my weight down for some time now.  I got word from a very nice young woman I work with about a drug called Lamotragene or Topomax.  I saw my Psychiatrist the other day and asked him about it and he agreed that I should do something about the weight and that we could try this drug.  It seemed great at first, my craving for food greatly diminished, but I found that I was very tired even though I was only on a very small dose, so I decided the best thing I could do would be to stop the medication.  It also gave me an odd, very difficult to describe feeling.  I didn’t seem to have too many physical symptoms, but I just felt really ‘dumbed down’ like I had a cold and was taking cold pills or something.  I can’t really say if these effects would have lessened if I stayed on the pill for a while, I just know that with the job I have, feeling that way can be dangerous.

As far as my job goes, I got to work a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert the other day which was pretty amazing.  I didn’t get to see much of the show but it felt so great to be a part of setting up something like that.  I think that if I ever did permanently move on from this job I would really miss it.  The money is nice of course, it is what allows me to print and distribute my books right now, but sometimes I get a chance to work with some really great people.  As some may know, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band lost 3 members in the 1970’s in a plane crash and there is kind of a ritual that everyone on the crew observes.  There is a road case (a big box for show equipment with wheels that is sturdy enough to transport in a semi truck) that belonged to one of the original band members and they have used it all this time, always giving it the highest respect and never putting anything on top of it or letting it get damaged.  I also got to put the brass eagle on the band’s piano and fly the Alabama and US flags as two of the curtains for the show.  I feel very privileged to be a part of such cool rock and roll history.  Very difficult and stressful job though sometimes, but I have the odd show that I really enjoy and the other night was definitely one of them.

I wish I could impart some piece of wisdom, something in me that could help others who may be out there struggling with a mental illness.  In all despite that I have had some pretty rough times, even extended rough times, I somehow got through all of them and now I see myself as a very lucky dude.  If anyone is out there and hurting or needing help, I hope they can find a way to talk, to get their pain out.  I myself held it in and never wanted to admit that I had a mental health issue (which is common) even when my life was at risk because of my denial.  The first step is to find a family Doctor, and talk openly with them.  It scares me to think that so many people out there in the world in poor countries or remote places have no hope of overcoming their illness because there are simply very few or no Doctors and even less Psychiatrists or treatment.  Once again I would like to offer my email to anyone who wants to ask questions or needs help, no matter where they are from.  Just email: viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will do all I can.

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