Month: August 2020

Lovers First and then Maybe Friends. Psychosis and Romance Poetry

This is the Provincial Legislature Building in Edmonton, a favourite of mine for getting photos. The grounds are beautiful and well-kept, and young lovers often come here at night on summer weekends to talk and stroll in a romantic setting

 

Seeking Solace

By: Leif Gregersen

cue the music

kill this silence

deep in my mind

I’m seeking solace

I just can’t be

alone with myself

all the things I’ve done

make silence my private hell

and yet somehow

the quiet reaches through

as I close my eyes

and think of you

you and I

were never meant to be

But still my deepest wish

is that you didn’t set me free

why can’t mishap romance

end with two people as friends

was it that much of

an unhealthy love

It was wrong to think

you had to love me back

I still think of you

and regret the past

misplaced love

is all I have

and moments of silence

that always take me back

 

Happiness on a Saturday Afternoon For a Psychiatric Survivor of Schizoaffective disorder and Depression

To order this wonderful book, by the author of this blog, please contact:

viking3082000@yahoo.com

Please scroll past this photo and paragraph if you already have a copy or just want to read my blog

Hello good readers! I really wanted to thank all of you for reading my blog on a regular basis and for your support. With any luck, after much editing and work, I will be making the archives of this blog available as a downloadable digital file and paper book. In the meantime, I need to raise cash for rent, food and covid-19 masks, so I thought I would put the two monumental events together and offer those who read my blog a special discount on my first book. For just $25 (USD or Canadian, they work out the same because I live in Canada and my postage here is less) I will personally sign a copy of “Through the Withering Storm” for you and mail it right to your home. Just email me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will get your copy right out to you. Help me in my battle against ignorance and stigma surrounding mental health!

Today’s Blog:

Hello my brothers and sisters in arms. We have a huge battle to fight, there are so many people out there who still suffer from schizophrenia that don’t know they can get help or how to get help, and there are many more who live in places where there is simply no help to be gotten. On top of that, so many loved ones and families of sufferers are going through hell seeing a loved one succumb to this horrible illness. I just wanted to take another moment not only to thank my readers, but to thank my co-worker, Christine May for being my biggest fan and my best supporter. Christine reads all of my blogs and when I get lazy and haven’t written one in a while, she pokes and prods me into posting another one. Thanks Christine!

I thought a good topic right now might be the whole idea of fun in the life of a person with a mental illness. To start, I was thinking back to when I was in the intensive care (lockdown some call it) ward of a psychiatric hospital and having a really hard time just existing. What I ended up doing was I started to learn to trace pictures to teach myself to draw and sometimes played ping-pong or video games. It was simply too hard to read in there with all the medications I was on. But to go back to it, my fellow patient, a very nice guy, encouraged me to draw while I was there and after we got really absorbed in it for a little while, he said, “See, now it’s no longer a mental hospital.” I know it can be so hard to find things to do, I love to read and couldn’t, and the dose of medications you often get in the hospital to settle you down to ‘normal’ robs you of a lot, especially concentration. I still had to force myself to not succumb to smoking to pass the time or overdoing the snacks for the same reason. It takes a lot of willpower to not do negative activities while in a hospital for mental health purposes, but it can be done. Things like meditation, relaxing music, writing poems, trying to participate in rehabilitation classes or activities can not only help the time go by, it can also let the doctors know that you are serious about working towards recovery and want to help you more and communicate with you more, something essential to getting you out of the hospital. This is something that family members or any visitors should keep in mind. Bring the person a radio to listen to, an ‘easy’ puzzle book to occupy their time. Just try and make sure you aren’t pushing the person too hard. Once someone ends up in the hospital, a lot of things have gone wrong and they don’t need to be pushed beyond a slow pace of recovery in their comfort zone. Suggest, don’t demand that there are things they can do, things they can look forward to. In my case in my last hospital stay the most important thing I had was a notebook I could write my poems now (they now are part of my book, “Alert and Oriented x3” which you can download by clicking on the picture of the Tower Bridge in London to the right of this text.)

Then we have the outside world. So many more things you need to motivate yourself to get done. Cleaning, grocery shopping, managing time and money. In my case a long time ago I had a particularly devastating hospital stay and instead of going right into my own apartment, I went into a very well run and supportive group home until I was ready to live on my own again.

Really what all of that comes down to is, can you find someone who you trust and who understands you and your illness to live as your roommate? Are there broken relationships you can mend? I had a very close friend break off contact with me some 20 years ago and it took all that time for me to get back in touch with him and I found out he was actually trying everything he could to help me 20 years ago, and that all that time had been wasted. But it felt really good to talk to him again and we are on track to becoming the close friends we once were.

So if you don’t have a family and you end up living on your own, you still have to do your best to build a group of people who you can depend on for support, the odd ride to an appointment, and many other things, not the lease of which being recreation. It can be really hard to make friends in the hospital and maintain those friendships after you are released because you have to remember those people have problems too and these types of friendships or romantic relationships almost always end in disaster.

It is so important to have hobbies that interest you that can take up time, make you feel better, and get you out meeting people. One of my first suggestions is that you really should be careful to take up a hobby that doesn’t include a lot of shopping. An expensive hobby like photography is okay, but if your hobby is finding deals in shopping malls on designer clothes, you are going to end up with problems. One of the reasons that an expensive hobby is okay is that you will be motivated to better manage your money, save your money, and then learn all you can about cameras, and there are so many clubs and people to take pictures with and teach you things. Not to mention that you may get lucky like I did and get a job paying $50 an hour taking pictures, not to mention the money I won in contests and other cash I got framing and selling some of my better work.

Sadly, there can be times when you simply can’t handle living on your own. I am lucky to have friends who will come over and play chess with me and the building I live in is focused on housing people with disabilities, so I know quite a few of the people who live here from local events and things put on by the charity that runs the building.

It all comes down to priorities, and nature has already laid them out for us. Immediate health, food, water, shelter, friends and loved ones. Do the best you can to buy healthy food, minimize sugar and fats, read and learn how to make less expensive recipies from magazines you can read free at the library. Come to think of it, make the library your second home, they have resources for everything from chess games to photography books and magazines. Something I started doing when I was very poor was I got permission to eat at a men’s shelter. The food wasn’t that great or that healthy, but it wasn’t harmful and having steady meals did a lot to help me recover and look for things I wanted to do. I think it was the following fall after I went to the shelter for hot meals for a few months that I was able to save to buy a typewriter.

There is really much more to say on the topic, but I know that my readers don’t have all the time in the world. If there is something you would like me to blog about, even off the topic of mental illness, please let me know and I will do my best to accommodate your requests. Ciao!

Illnesses Like Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Schizoaffective Disorder and Employment

Hello to all. Just wanted to let everyone know that I have a stock of my most popular book sitting, which is the story of my recovery from mental illness. Anyone interested in a copy please send an email to viking3082000@yahoo.com and once I get your details, I will sign and mail a copy for $26 Canadian (within Canada) or $22 US (within US, both with postage and tax included) Please support my efforts to decrease stigma and increase awareness of mental illness. Class sets available, and if you are in the media, evaluation copies can also be provided.

 

On to the meat of today’s blog:

So, I thought a good thing to talk about today would be jobs and employment and money. It is interesting to work on a blog that goes to so many parts of the world when often all I really know is Canada with some experience in the USA. In Canada, in my province, when a person is diagnosed with a severe mental illness and has no means of support, they go into a program called AISH which stands for Assured Income For the Severely Handicapped. Most people who are on it, at lease for the first few years as I definitely was, have no other income. I have found though, that once a person has found medications that work well for them, and have made connections in the community, there is often a fair number of jobs they can take on. One of my best jobs was working for the Union that handles labour for concerts as a stagehand and it was a great steppingstone to take me to where I could spend more time writing and teaching writing. It certainly wasn’t easy though, and if AISH didn’t have a policy where they allowed you to work part-time and still get not only the monetary supports, but the essential medications and health insurance they provide the disabled, I wouldn’t have been able to take on this job.

I remember my first day as a stagehand, it seemed impossible, and I didn’t even know if I would make it through the first day. I had a hard time dealing with not just how difficult the job was, but also with people I worked with who made things even more difficult. There was one woman who wasn’t a supervisor or a shop steward or anything who yelled at me for taking a donut from the coffee area one morning. I went to put it back and apologized and she said I had touched it now, I couldn’t put it back, I would have to throw it in the garbage. There were a lot of people like that in the union. I liked most of the people though, and I enjoyed being a part of concerts and such, but after seven years at it I had enough. I didn’t have any savings, but I had job opportunities that would help pay my bills. One of the main things that kept me going was that I had published my memoir, “Through the Withering Storm” and was having some success in selling it as well as a part-time job with the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.

So, I started slow. I tried really hard to minimize my expenses, I even sold my car so I could focus on writing and teaching/facilitating and presenting mental health information for the Schizophrenia Society and any other place I could.

Really though, sometimes things come down to just having a place to go and something to do. I think maybe before even that though, a person should try and get connected to others within their community. I met a lot of people volunteering to write for our local community newspaper, and I also got a lot of great connections and experience doing so. One of the things I think a lot of people with mental illnesses perhaps don’t realize is that most of your recovery from an illness takes place out of the hospital, and just about all of it will depend on you.

Almost 20 years ago, I was in the hospital for an extended stay and I slowly recovered first by going for long walks outside with my dad every day, then becoming involved in my community by attending local events and making friends with the people I lived in the same group home with, then I got a part-time job. The job was the hardest part, and I think I might have been better off waiting more time before taking one on. I did okay with the work, but I kept having people tell me what to do and then still after that report me to my supervisor regardless of the fact that I knew what I should have been doing from working as a security guard for over 15 years. It became very difficult to go into work each day knowing that I was going to face people who had appointed themselves the status as my employer. Of course, as mentioned, the stagehand job was similar and there were many times I just wanted to walk away from the abuse in the middle of my shift and never come back. I have to say what got me through all those times that I didn’t even want to go into work was not just compliance to my treatment and medication, but also to having faith in a creator and learning how to clear my mind through meditation.

Work is still very difficult for me. I have problems with concentration and memory. But I believe that if a person keeps trying and keeps seeking new ways to adapt, anything is possible. I have started making a lot of notes and keeping a calendar so I don’t forget things. I also have put up a bulletin board above my computer so I can print up and post important papers to remind myself of them. Lastly, something I hope could benefit those that read this blog is that I don’t like to let the day go by without accomplishing something towards my goals. Having goals is a very powerful way of accomplishing things, but also committing to working towards them each and every day can take a person a long way towards huge achievements. It could be as small as writing a blog or as large as completing editing of a whole manuscript. I just have to work and reach out in some way, and I find if I push myself to do just a little that before I know it I will be comfortable taking on a lot. Thanks dear readers!