Hello Dear Readers! I want to thank my guest blogger for her contribution in the previous blog entry, and thank my readers for being so welcoming. As always, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org with any requests for topics, comments or even if you would like to purchase one of my books.
Speaking of books, I opened my web browser last night and had the most incredible feeling. A few days ago someone bought 4 copies of my books, and I earned a small sum in royalties in Canadian dollars. This felt so great, and so I want to keep up my efforts to let people know about my books. When I opened my web browser recently, I was so pleased to see that 3 more copies of my books have been purchased. It is such a compliment when I get sales like that. I did want to mention though, that if you live in Canada, it may be better to order my books directly from me rather than from amazon because when I get a book order I sign the book and write an original Haiku poem on each one, making each book ordered different. My best contact is my email as mentioned above, which is email@example.com
If you live in the US, or if you have a Prime membership that will allow you free shipping, my suggestion is to purchase all three of my memoirs, which are:
-Through the Withering Storm, (my teen years with mental illness)
-Inching Back to Sane (my acceptance of my illness and recovery)
-Alert and Oriented x3 (A Snapshot of a Severe Psychosis)
If you have read these, and find you like my writing style, I have other books that aren’t about mental illness, which are two short novels, “In the Blink of an Eye” and “Those Who Dare to Dream” as well as two short story collections “The Base Jumpers and Other Stories” and “Mustang Summer” along with four poetry collections. These can all be found on amazon.com at the address: https://amzn.to/2LMSt9W and can also be ordered through me, once again at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now, all commerce aside, I wanted to talk a bit about the good times, the fun days, the times when things go right. When I look back at my days in the hospital, I think of one admission I had in the summer where I got to be friends with a pathological liar. He made out like he was wealthy and was going to help me become wealthy and lend me his farm truck and yadda yadda yadda. Most of what he said was a bald-faced lie, but we developed quite a close friendship and it was cool to pass the time in the hospital swapping stories (mine mostly true, his mostly not) plus we did things like signed out bicycles, play badminton and ping-pong. Having a friend and being in the hospital was so much better than having no friends and living at home. My brother has a phrase for me, he says that I am a shithead magnet. I tend to attract these kinds of people, possibly because I don’t ever confront liars or hold their lies against them. I politely listen, and don’t let on that I think less of them for needing to lie. With this guy from the hospital, he not only had a need to lie about every little thing that happened, he became controlling and abusive, and made it seem to me that I was at fault when things he told me were going to happen didn’t. It really is so difficult to make friends with people when you have a mental illness. My advice if this sort of thing seems to happen to you a lot as well is to be very selective of friends. I have this pattern that I think everyone should follow when they have a mental illness. First, in or out of the hospital, get your medications working for you and get them to a manageable dose so you deal with your mental health symptoms, but also are able to function. Then, start by taking a few life skills courses, the time spent doing this will pay you back tenfold. After that, keep up going to support groups and therapy groups, and also see a psychologist if you can, my suggestion is to inquire about cognitive behavioural therapy, it works miracles if you put the effort into it. Then, with the rest of your time, get as employed as you reasonably can. If you find you can’t get employed or can’t stand the kind of jobs that are available, get some training or schooling. Go part-time if you have to, look into community college programs and faculty of extension courses. And try not to pay out of pocket, apply for grants, bursaries, anything that will help. You will likely not make enough money at this point to save or invest, but when you start work you really should get plans going to do so. Then, the final and possibly most important thing is to make yourself a part of a community. Volunteer around your neighbourhood. Offer to work at a shelter or a kid’s charity. Look for places that need volunteers, like community skating rinks, and so on. Put a high value on each person you meet, though you may want to be careful who you are to be close friends with until you feel confident you can handle people who are toxic.
All that sounds great, but I also wanted to discuss another aspect of feeling good. Sometimes, people can have periods of high energy or elation, especially if they have bipolar disorder. It is so important to become consciously aware of when you get high and low. If you can record your days into a mental health journal, always put your mood on a scale of 1 to 10 at the top. If you find you were very high one day and a couple of days later very low, share this information with your psychiatrist. A change of mood stabilizer, or increase in dosage may be extremely helpful. And, though I haven’t done this in years, be very careful about alcohol and other drugs. Even drinking too much coffee and not eating much can lift you into a state of mania. I have been told by doctors that once you get put on psychiatric medication, you should never drink again. This was something very hard for me to accept because drinking was a large part of my social activities growing up. I even drank to excess with my dad sometimes. I loved everything about alcohol except the next morning. Quitting was really hard, but the way I finally did it was to go to as many abstinence meetings as I could over the course of a year and once I felt good about it, I stopped going but didn’t go back to drinking. I should caution here as well that if you go to 12-step meetings, be very careful as to who in the meetings you make friends with. There is no one checking at the door with a blood test or screening to see if people in the meetings aren’t drinking or engaging in other behaviour that can negatively affect anyone who associates with them. My suggestion is to go, get what you can out of it, and at the end of the meeting, head home.
Now of course, there will be days when you actually do feel great. I really hope there are days like that for you because mental illness is such a difficult thing to experience, and can have so many low points that sometimes people want to give up. But hang in there. If you are far away from any goals or dreams you have given up on, write them down and write down simple, daily steps on how you can achieve them. I used this method to travel, and I went all over Canada and to Hawaii and even London, England. Step by step, day by day. One of the things I did each day was to try and save a little money and earn a little money. When I had enough for an airline ticket, I bought it way in advance, then as I could save and afford more I paid for extras, like tours and car rentals and things like that. Your goals may be much different, you may want to study in University. There is a great new program now where people can attend University classes free of charge, it is called Humanities 101 or Hum 101 and there may be a branch of it at a local University you can reach. Take advantage of it, it is a great bridge to other learning, very interesting and very low stress. If there isn’t a program near you, sign up for one night class towards what you want to study. You can also try correspondence, which often doesn’t get completed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be among the few, and besides, any learning you do will benefit you.
I think I will leave off at that dear readers. I appreciate all those who have read this far, it has been a bit of a long blog and the start was off topic. But I really would like it if you send me your feedback or comments, or requests to purchase books I have written. For any teachers, class sets off my mental health books are available at a discount. Again, don’t forget my email, it is email@example.com and you can find my books on amazon at: https://amzn.to/2LMSt9W