Month: August 2017

Do Bad Memories of Your Mental Illness Haunt You?

 

click here to find a therapist near you

Since they were so popular, I thought I would put links to my two television appearances at the start of this blog:

Click here to see me in an older TV Interview

Click here to see me in a short clip that ran this week

So, I thought I would talk a little about something that maybe doesn’t get a lot of attention but I feel can be extremely important in the lives of a person with a mental illness. I don’t know if anyone  has read my book “Through the Withering Storm” but in it I discuss being a teenager and going through a series of humiliations and negative events that still to this day bother me. One of the things I recall the most was growing up in a house with secrets. It was a secret that my Mom had a mental illness, it was  a secret that my Dad drank quite a bit. It was a secret that my Dad and I fought all the time. It scared me a lot that any of these secrets would come out to the public. None of them ever really did, but I think sometimes that living in that way, inundated with traumatizing events warped me as a youngster. But that wasn’t all. As I first became mentally ill during my teen years, I did a lot of things that I am extremely ashamed of, so ashamed that sometimes my memories can almost paralyze me. For example, there was a time when I was very out of it when I thought I was being told to get in a car with some strange people and I must have scared the hell out of the young girl I sat next to. Once I realized what was happening, I had enough sense to leave the vehicle, but I can’t imagine the fear I must have put this young woman through.

I could dwell on things I did when I was mentally ill all day, but I would rather try and offer my readers some kind of solution to thoughts like this. I am reminded of when I was 17 and there weren’t a lot of ways out there to quit smoking. Smoking wasn’t nearly as taboo as it is now but I wanted to quit. I decided I needed to train my mind to resist the power of smoking. I figured that if I could somehow make myself think of something that moved me more than smoking did, I would be able to quit. Basically what I did was, whenever I had a strong urge to smoke a cigarette, I would instead think about an attractive girl I went to school with and the images of her beauty took over (this specific example may only work for teenagers!) Now, later in life when I want to clear my head of negative thoughts, I have found a somewhat similar but very effective method of quelling thoughts about my past that are extremely negative and even debilitating. I have learned to meditate. It may seem funny that one would have to learn something like that, but there is a lot of learning an effort one must put into meditating to be able to clear their minds and also be able to control their thoughts when they are not meditating. I started out doing a lot of reading on the subject, which will only take you so far. Then I went to an actual Tibetan Monk in Edmonton and studied under him for a few months.

If I were to just cut things down to basics, Meditation is about trying to clear your mind, to declutter your thought process, which you train yourself to do, and to focus on something like your breathing to keep yourself centred. I have a virtual reality headset that I bought a meditation app for and it is amazing. You choose the relaxing setting and what type of meditation you want (I always choose Zen Meditation) and a narrator will talk you through a session of clearing your mind, breathing, focusing your thoughts. I even have an app on my watch that I often use to meditate for five minutes or so when it is convenient. When you can learn to control your thoughts, declutter your mind, you will be able to set aside negative thoughts and memories quite easily. I will try and write more on this topic in the next little while, for now, thanks for making yesterday a new record of views and all the best to you my dear readers!

 

 

Precious Few Moments

The Tower Bridge, London, England (Last Spring)

Hello Dear Readers! Last night was one of my favourite events, “The Edmonton Story Slam” where up to ten writers read their stories (all without censorship) for a shot at a cash prize. I didn’t win like I did twice in 2016, but I had a lot of fun, enough to make the $10 I spent worthwhile. I thought I would share my entry here with you. It is sort of a story, sort of a poem.

Precious Few Moments, Precious Little Time

I once knew a young man who had hope and happiness, to look at this guy you could say he was blessed. But something happened to him left his life in a mess. He was beaten up for declaring his rights, left a bleeding mess, and there were other fights. Now he lives in the streets and begs change to eat, he no longer gets the medicine that once helped him stay on his feet. All of this happened because of racism and hate, and I know there are many more destined for a similar fate.

         I want to tell you a story about what’s going on in this place, about something that not everyone thinks we have to face. It’s about how the world is divided race against race and how these crazy ideas make us look at money and fame and just try to chase posessions and sex and not forgiveness or grace.

         You see we all started out with the same shot at having it all, all of our mothers loved us since we were small. But something went on not long after just being able to crawl, we started to think it was funny when others would stumble and fall.

         This whole idea of laughing at each other’s pain seemed to be wired right into our subconscious brains, but there were a  few who grew and saw that other people’s unhappiness gave us no personal gain.

         So this world that once could have been the perfect place has been overrun in case after case with hate’s prideful, evil, and blood-sucking face. We go to war with our brothers and instead of love it’s the dollar we chase, meanwhile the whole planet could soon be a cold rock lost in space

         I don’t want to tell you there is no more hope, but I do want to say we are nearing the end of our rope. The climate is changing, and the solution isn’t legalizing our dope. It’s in making some changes before we slide down a long slippery slope.

         If we could just join together and do a few things, you would be surprised by the joy and fellowship that it could bring. Not to mention the healing of our planet that would make our hearts sing.

         There has been great people who are already there, people who look at the state of our planet and care. I heard word our oceans are being cleaned up and repaired, that these people are doing so much more than their share. We need to all do just a little, or life will become more than any could bare

         Look now on your neighbors, your co-workers and friends, and realize that on your lead all of this desperately depends. It’s all about sharing and caring and knowing the rewards of kindness will never end.

         A few little things can start mountains to move. Reach out to those who have no more to lose. Let them know they can depend on you, and of course help them understand that they have nothing to prove. There are so many ways to help others and there is no way to lose. When my Dad was a newcomer not so long ago, he wasn’t sure of what all that he could do, good friends and kind people helped him get through.

         So I really have two things I wish we all could each see our way to do. One is to return this planet to what it was like when it was new. Clean fresh air and blue skies, it isn’t impossible for a unified few. We just have to focus on the policies we need to put through.

         Now the next thing really has to do with the first, when I talk about this subject I understand that is is mankind’s curse. It’s war and how there is nothing worse, how it divides people and destroys life, limb, and nature in massive bursts. If we all loved our neighbors and if our leaders spoke with our so-called enemies first, we wouldn’t have to send out men and women to die and destroy huge chunks of our Earth.

         It’s all about love, for those we share this big blue rock in space, it’s all about finding peace in our lifetimes so we can save this beautiful place.

         We may have to sacrifice some money and a few of our toys, but the things we will have instead will be much greater joys. So join me in these dreams to love our planet and our fellow man, and let’s get together to find a way to do what we can. This may be a story, but it’s one laced with words that call us to action. Let’s each do our part, give up the rat race and follow our passion.

         And my friend, the young man who I see on the street? I don’t know what I can do but lay change at his feet. It hurts sometimes that he doesn’t know me after all of this time, to watch a young man throw his life away seems like such a crime.

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

 

click here to find out more about what is bipolar depression

 

“Inching Back To Sane” now available here in all ebook formats

Nice Photo If I do Say So Myself

Hello, dear readers! Well, things seem to be going along swimmingly for me and I have to say that it worries me. The reason it does is because my illness is half bipolar disorder. This means I have to deal with mood swings often. It seems I was in a down mood for a while and now I am facing the opposite. I started out my day with a 5km walk to the swimming pool, swam for around half an hour to work my upper body, then walked 5km back home in the hot sun. This sounds great, but I think perhaps something to do with the sun and all the activity I engaged in, possibly even a bit of heat stroke could have caused me to mood swing into a mania or manic state. It is now 10:00pm and I don’t feel sore or tired at all.

It can be a dangerous thing to go manic. I want to try and explain here a bit about what it means to go into this state. First of all, though it seems like having energy to go on working or writing or doing whatever you enjoy doing for days on end without rest would be good, but it can be very dangerous and can cause damage to your mind (end you up in psychosis) relationships (drive people away with bizarre behaviour and non-stop talking) and body (push yourself way past safe limits, take risks like driving too fast or even abuse drugs and alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate).

One thing you always have to be mindful of when you have a mental illness is not just getting your medications on time, but getting your sleep on time. Right now I don’t see myself as being tired enough to lay down for a long while. As a small measure to help the situation, I didn’t have any tea or coffee for a few hours already and I am considering taking some melatonin (a naturally occurring sleep hormone that I cleared with my psychiatrist to take when I need sleep). I often worry about doing this because if I am manic enough I won’t stay in bed and will get up to work later on tonight. One of the things that has also caused me to go into this high-energy phase is that I have been having a lot of great news come in about a number of different parts of my life and my work life. Aside from keeping the option open of taking something for sleep, I spent a good deal of time today just meditating. I have a virtual reality headset I use and I go into a mountain setting and put on music and guided zen meditation to use my mind and body’s natural willpower to lower myself out of the manic state.

I have written a lot today, so I will just try and finish up with one or two quick things that I hope will be useful to people who follow this blog. What I want to caution people about is that sleeping medication, even melatonin has a lot of side effects. One of them is that you may sleep a certain number of hours, but it may not be the quality restful sleep you seek. Sleep aids of many kinds can block out REM sleep or even make it so you don’t dream. This can be helpful if you have bad dreams that keep you up, but detrimental to your mental well being. The other factor is that a very common side effect of sleep medication is losing memory and experiencing diminished short term memory. There is also the serious problem of addiction to sleep medications, and developing a tolerance to them. I don’t know any of the details, but there has been more than a few celebrities who basically had a key to a pharmacist’s inventory (by way of doctors that would prescribe anything for them) who died. I am not 100% sure, but I know Elvis was on a number of medications and had been abusing pills for a while when he was found floating face down in his own toilet, and Michael Jackson and Prince were also mixing medications when they died. I am sure there are many more than just these cases, and that death by dangerous legal pill mixtures is very common, I just wanted to cite those examples because everyone knows them.

So, I leave you with that dear readers. Please feel free to contact me or leave a comment and promise to do my best to respond.