This is basically the busiest place in North Western Canada. Calgary to the South and Vancouver to the South-West may rival it, but this is the Alpha and the Omega of what happens in the North.
Good morning dear readers. Just to let you know early, for those of you who like my poems, I have written one today and will be posting just under the last photo in today’s blog. Kind of a funny thing, I thought I did a pretty good job of writing a blog yesterday, but I didn’t get too many views. I don’t know if I am getting boring or if I am just not using the most optimal tags. There is also the fact that the weather has been gorgeous and sunny over a lot of the places I get hits.
So today is going to be a bit of a lukewarm blog. It is just past 4:00am and I can’t sleep so I decided this might be a good time to foster up some creativity. Oh, before I forget, anyone who likes is totally free to email me about this blog or anything else at: email@example.com I hope you do whenever you get the chance.
So yesterday I was involved in a music festival right in my neighborhood at a small park in what we call little Italy. Some of the music was really amazing and I was given the opportunity to go up on stage and read my poetry. I often wonder where poetry will take me, I love to write it but I seem to lapse into the same kind of style a lot. I will leave you my dear readers to judge and let you know that I would appreciate any honest feedback I can get.
The outdoor festival was amazing, I had a table set up with books and though I didn’t sell too many, I was interviewed by a TV station and I ran into the candidate I am supporting for the next Federal election in Canada which happens in October. She is an incredible, energetic, community minded, hard working and very nice young woman. She is with a party called “The New Democratic Party” or NDP which is a left-leaning party that swept the Alberta elections just a few short weeks ago and has left a lot of people very excited at the direction things are going to go for Albertans. It is my personal hope that more will be done for the mentally ill in the way of funding for hospital facilities and possibly even disability pensions, though I have to admit that I already get kind of a generous one.
So what does a person do when they can’t sleep? I hear the dyslexic insomniac stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog. Okay, that was pretty sick, but you snickered a bit didn’t you? I heard another pretty good one from my good friend James Derksen. He has this book that publishes contest winners who are asked to write in with their absolute worst novel beginnings. In one of them there was a paragraph: “Mr. Van Gogh, I suggest you consider painting as a career because you clearly have no ear for music!” Okay, I will stop there.
Saturday night I decided to do some more serious reading and I picked up a book I had received in the mail from amazon a few days ago. It is called “The Depression Workbook” and it is giving me a lot of interesting ideas. It is written by the woman who founded the course that I am taking which is called WRAP, or Wellness Recovery Action Plan. I have been reading about a lot of interesting new ideas, some that I support, some I have a hard time swallowing. One of them is a statement that I would have been very reluctant to accept ten years ago which states that only you can be an expert on your condition. Doctors can help, but they don’t know which medication really makes you feel better or worse, you have to do your part. Another thing that I already know but really want to look into is having tests to see if my moods go up and down as a result of hormone deficiencies. I seriously doubt my Doctor has been wrong about me having Bipolar all these years but I think it might be a good idea.
It is funny to think back to some of my first days in the mental hospital when I was still a teenager. They doped me up like crazy and my mind was all over the place. It didn’t help that I hated everything about Psychiatry including the Psychiatrists even though a lot of these people were doing everything they could to help me. One of the reasons I think I felt this way had to do with how the initial staff that I encountered in going to the hospital treated me. The people on the lock-down ward I went to first were brutal. There was this one male nurse who once slammed my face into a hard floor and put me into a wrestling hold while someone arbitrarily decided I could use a shot of some evil tranquilizer that made my muscles lock up. By the time I got to see the Psychiatrist, I had very little faith in anything he had to say. The funny thing is that my Doctor in that locked ward right on the first time I went into the mental hospital is my Doctor to this day, now 25 years later.
I am learning a lot from this Wellness Recovery Action Plan. Little things like making sure people know which Doctors you don’t want to deal with and which hospital you want to go to. I had kind of thought that I would never need to go back in the hospital, but a lot of circumstances could put me in there. Having a plan, and possibly even having a bag packed could help a lot. Last time I was in the hospital I had to wear the same clothes for months and had nothing from home. I went through the humiliation of swapping blue jeans with a guy because they wouldn’t give me a belt and my pants were literally falling off me (I wasn’t eating much either). It seemed the cruelty and inhuman treatment was constant. I have to say though that the mental hospital I was in was really a beautiful place. No matter where I went, no matter how sick I got, no matter what happened to me, somehow I would end up back there and I would end up better. Sometimes it felt really awful in there, but it had more to do with me being very mentally ill.
It’s a weird thing but it almost seemed like the staff and others could see right in my eyes whether I was delusional or not. What bugs me the most is that while I was there the people on the staff made me out to be some kind of monster. Quite often other patients had picked fights with me and I did the bare minimum I had to do to defend myself and then I heard later that the nurses were trying to convince those people to have me charged. There were a lot of stories like that, one of them had to do with this female nurse who said she would pick me up a cassette walkman for me and she kept coming back to me and asking for more money for it. They would seize my property and give it to others, and one time they actually tried to force an end to a friendship I had made in the hospital. And this didn’t come from the top, this was a decision made by some random nurse, not even the head nurse. “I have already told her to stay away from you.” she told me. Then others would get angry when I joked around with people and act appalled that I wasn’t making friends with other people. It really is something I wish on no one and sometimes I think I would like to blow that place up and build a proper place for people who have illnesses to be treated like human beings.
Anyhow, that is how it goes, I have been trying so hard to redirect my thoughts when I get into rants or dredge up old memories. I have been using a relaxation video from YouTube, one I posted a few days ago and it seems to be helping. I think what I really need to do is to take a proper meditation class and learn how to be more mindful of my surroundings and less mindful of things in the past that I can’t change and only make me upset. Enjoy the poem Dear Readers, write soon!
Construction has always fascinated me, the very idea of building something that will mean so much to the inhabitants or employees in it, the idea of creating something solid and permanent. The other day I worked building a local hockey rink and I am hoping the puck boards I set up will last through many a fun game played by local kids.
Today I saw a sight that broke my heart
So many downtrodden men with lives all torn apart
As I saw them around me tears welled up in my eyes
For once I didn’t want to wear my tough guy disguise
These homeless men were lining up to sleep upon a floor
A guard was checking for weapons or booze right at the door
One poor soul had neither socks or shoes
Someone was saying Jesus dying was good news
I how I wish I knew a way to really help these men
Without putting myself in their very situation once again
Yes, a few years ago I had no place to call home
Sick and lost and wandering the streets alone
By love and luck and friendship I somehow overcame
Oh my sweet God in heaven let these men somehow do the same
And let me be your instrument to help them in some way
I don’t want to think I couldn’t even stop to pray
So many came here when we put out the call
That there was money here and plenty of jobs for all
For a time here things did look pretty good
But things never seem to change in this neighborhood
Though now a sweeping change is bringing hope
Of giving those who have nothing enough to cope
I wish with all my spirit one day these men have much much more
Than getting just a little bit of money and then being shown the door
As well as stomachs, these men need to fill their souls hearts and mind
With the hope of dignity and self-reliance they themselves find
Some of the wisest words I know of would be a perfect start
“Every one of us has a God-shaped hole inside our heart.”
June 8, 2015
That workbook sounds like it is a good one. It is sad that you had to go through so much as a teen. It must be difficult to process all of those memories and I admire you for finding ways to deal with them. Lovely poem.