Month: October 2021

Top Ten Things People With Schizophrenia Shouldn’t Do

Good day good readers! How nice it is to be back among you! Today is a very special day and yesterday was pretty amazing too. As you can see by the photo good readers, I did my civic duty the other day and went to the Police Academy to teach new police recruits about mental health and how to deal with people who are experiencing psychosis. Yesterday I gave two talks to students about mental health, then had to travel to the outskirts of the city and teach a class in creative writing. When I have days like this I think back to the old USArmy commercials that used to say, “In the Army, we do more before 9am than most people do all day.” I remember wanting to join the army back then because I was already aware at a young age of how precious our days are, how absolutely irreplaceable things like sunrises, first kisses and time with loved ones is.

Today I should probably try and cover other topics though. The truth is, I don’t know ten things that people with schizophrenia shouldn’t do. The truth is, people with schizophrenia should be able to do just about anything. This brings up two situations I can think of that are somewhat unique. The first is that, provided your medications work well for you, anyone with a mental illness should have few symptoms. To take that a step further to describe my situation, I kind of feel that my only symptoms of note are side effects of my medications. I guess I could add one or two things that don’t generally go away with medication. One is a positive sense of self. Possibly due to the stereotyping of people with schizophrenia and other forms of stigma, many people diagnosed with mental illness can not take their medication, or pick and choose which medications to take. Living in this sort of denial is very dangerous, but the sad truth is the person with the illness is the last person who should be blamed for such a reaction.

When someone refuses treatment, it means that the world has built up walls around them that keep them from their true potential. The reason I say this is because I recall how devastating it was when I first became ill to learn that not only was this a lifetime illness, but it was implied that I would never get the level of recovery I do now. This of course was total garbage, at least on the second point. I almost wanted to post the title above as a challenge to people who don’t accept that things will never happen for them, they will never marry, they will never travel, and much more. There is a sad truth, that is you may need to comply with treatment for a very long time before you see the results you so desperately hope for, but one day any person with schizophrenia can have a decent, normal life.

Living With a Combination of Schizophrenia, Bipolar and Anxiety Can Get Interesting

Well, I actually haven’t had all that much happen today that was interesting. The highlight of my day was finishing reading another Lee Child, Jack Reacher novel. I have taken up reading again as of late and it always feels good when I finish reading anything of sufficient length. For some strange reason, in the past years I fell out of love with books. I still bought just about as many and I still brought home any free ones but I haven’t been reading novels in years. Finding this amazing character “Jack Reacher” has made things easier, though I have read other stuff. Among the books I have been reading recently I have to include “Girl, Interrupted” and “The Collected Schizophrenias” I have been working on a book review for “The News Station” online magazine and these two were of particular interest. “Girl, Interrupted” is a very gripping tale of a young woman coming to terms with borderline personality disorder while in a psychiatric hospital. “The Collected Schizophrenias” is a study of schizophrenia and also a life story of a woman who experiences it. Regardless of how easy it is or how much information is available, I have never found anything to work better than reading an entire book on a subject to familiarize ones’ self with the subject.

There was something interesting that happened to me today. I did a simple buy in the stock market of a very stable stock and took advantage of a very small price move but with a high number of shares and made about $130.00. The markets are so fascinating to me, they are all about numbers, and I constantly work out numbers in my head. What amazes me is that in the past couple of weeks I have owned everything from a share in Uranium mines in Mongolia to Oil wells in South America, not only without leaving my apartment, but without having any knowledge at all in how these businesses are conducted. Normally this would be a recipe for disaster, but I have been buying and selling on how much hype the stock gets rather than anything to do with the stock’s actual profitability. One of the things I find myself worried about is how fast inflation is coming at us, at the gas pumps, in the grocery store and many other places. I thank my lucky star I live in supportive housing, don’t have a car and live alone. The average bills of a family of five like the one I grew up in would break me in short order.

Sometimes that is all it comes down to… Did I do better than my parents? I can answer that with a no, especially since for years my dad was a successful businessman and my mom worked many meaningful jobs.

The thing about the stock market and me… Some people warn me of the risks and caution me. My main problem with it is that playing the stock market can be just about as bad as playing a game of roulette or even Russian roulette if the stakes are high enough. Not all that long ago I had a problem with gambling addiction. It took me years of forcing myself to avoid any place that had gambling, which was a lot of places since the Liquor and Gaming Board has video lottery terminals in most bars. But I forced myself and I am glad for it. A lot of the time it came down to the temptation of simply riding the bus home. When I arrived, there was a number of bars with VLTs that I could stop in at and maybe make a couple of bucks. Not that I would ever stop after just making a couple of bucks. Any former or current addicted gambler knows that it is a sin to leave a place with even a quarter in your pocket.

So basically what I had to do was to get off the bus a couple of stops early and walk the extra distance, trying not to think of gambling. This was fairly easy, all I had to do was keep something on my mind that was more powerful than gambling. So I would fill my head with images of supermodels and former love interests and soon it became easy to go past the bars with VLTs in them. It also didn’t hurt that I soon realized after working in a bar that a somewhere like that is not a good place to meet friends or potential life partners. I kept on running into guys who knew more about ripping people off than they did about the job they worked at. The women in bars, if they aren’t raging alcoholics yet, were often cruel and insulting. At a certain point in my life I decided that as good as all the young women may look, I simply can’t focus my life around a place founded on mutual alcohol consumption. That made it easier to quit drinking, easier to quit gambling and smoking and I am amazed now at how much extra money I have.

Most people out there have a place in mind of where they would like most to live. I often think of the suburban city I grew up in and what it would be like to live on the millionaire side of the city. But for many reasons, friends, love interests, different ideas from our spouse, it doesn’t come true. The sad fact is that 99% of us have to make the most out of what is dropped in our laps. The thing is, just about anything can be good or bad. I have a job opportunity coming up that I just can’t make it to. When I think of not having this job, I try to emphasize to myself that I am already earning close to the limit my disability pension allows, and it will be so much better to have that extra time to complete other projects.

Just about any situation can be treated this way. I joked recently to a friend that I was so positive that if someone told me I was going to die by Saturday I would be happy that this week I wouldn’t have to worry about doing dishes on Sunday.

But to go back to the stock market, I have been coasting on luck and I fear that soon I am going to make a bad deal in it and end up in trouble. One thing I do know is that over this past week I had bought a stock that turned out to be a lot more volatile than it seemed it would be. I bought it at $1.76. While I taught a class over my computer, I was checking the stock in my breaks. It went so low I almost wanted to pause the class so I could sell it. But I held on, and by the end of the day the stock had regained all its losses. I could have been just a little more patient and turned a profit, but I has glad to get out unscathed. What I couldn’t believe was all the pressure and risk I was taking with a volatile stock. Once again though, this anxiety and fear from risking large amounts of money causes neurotransmitters to work double time. There are so many more negative things about getting involved in stocks when the simple truth is that you are more likely to do well running a family business and investing in a home than by thinking you can beat other traders who are just about as devious and shark-like as anyone can get. And if you let yourself become addicted to the experience, you will keep coming back for more punishment.

What To Do When Schizophrenia Ruins a Perfectly Good Holiday.

Schizophrenia is an illness that can get in the way of so many things. I know that by sheer numbers, there are people out there reading this blog that have spent holidays alone, perhaps because they we’re estranged from family members, or they just couldn’t handle another night of having their foibles pointed out.

When I think of schizophrenia ruining a holiday, I think back to Christmas of 1989. I don’t want to get into too much detail, but an argument put an end to a huge feast and by the time the night was over I had to sell my precious Ford Cobra to try and get a place to stay. I was deeply scarred by that experience, and I don’t want to blame my dad or myself. I do want to blame schizophrenia and the boiling pot of madness my mind was in at that time. Although it perhaps wouldn’t have been as bad if I didn’t have the usual teenage idea in my head that the world revolved around me and that I knew more than people who had been around long before I was born.

Now, I should mention that on Sunday I had a wonderful Thanksgiving, one I will cherish in memory for a long time to come. All I did was go over to my dad’s place where just him and I sat down for a fairly simple meal. It was a pretty special occasion because my dad is getting older by the day it seems and I worry deeply how much more time we will have with him.

One of the biggest things of late that has forced me to reconsider and forgive my dad for whatever mistakes he may have made is my latest book (which is available by clicking on the photo of London’s famous Tower Bridge Right on this page). I had my dad write an intro for it and I really didn’t have any idea of how much my dad really did care and really did try and help me.

On to different things though. I have to say that my life has gotten busy and it seems to be the best thing that could have happened. I’m teaching a course, taking two courses and also working for The Schizophrenia Society, and I have been developing a recent interest in reading thrillers. For those who haven’t discovered him yet, I want to take this opportunity to mention Lee Child, author of the ‘Jack Reacher’ series. The books have about 20 volumes, and the main character (who is played by Tom Cruise in the movies) is absolutely fascinating. In the book he is very far from the interpretation Cruise gave in the movies, in fact I had heard that when told that Cruise would be playing the lead role, Lee Child reacted by saying, “Tom Cruise is too short and too old to play Jack Reacher.” I have to agree, but regardless, these books are incredibly entertaining. It is hard to describe the main character, but he is sort of a minimalist. He owns nothing, has no job or income and is constantly on the go from one place to another until a situation happens that causes him to stay in one place. When he stays in these places, he usually gets mixed up in some serious trouble, and how his mind works and the things he does are amazing to witness. Definitely thumbs up on this author.

So it is now around 3am and I am up drinking tea. In the morning the stock exchange opens and I want to be there to keep a close eye on a stock I am holding. It is funny because just a short while ago (it seems) I knew a lot about the markets and buying and selling, but things have exploded since then. (it was actually 20 years ago). There are now so many ways to invest and I keep hearing about exchange traded funds and other instruments that simply didn’t exist when I was investing. I suppose all I really have to say about all that is stock markets and investments can quickly become addictive. Addictions like this one could cost more money than a cocaine habit.

Well, I suppose I should end today’s blog with some information about mental health. I seem to be experiencing some of my better days. Part of it may have to do with the fact that I have been using CBD oils before bed. Somehow they have taken my generally poor attitude towards everything and smoothed it out. To put it simply, things don’t piss me off like they used to. Peace of mind is such a gift, and it leads to so many other aspects of a person’s life falling into place.

Another thing I should mention is my sleep. This too has been going up and down. One of the things I am finding is the hardest to do is to sleep when I know a critical day is coming up. Fortunately, being Canadian Thanksgiving, I have tomorrow off, but Tuesday I am right back to work. What I think I really need to focus on in the next while is putting my foot down when it comes to sleep. I need to stop taking naps, they are ruining my ability to sleep at night. Caffeine and snack foods need to be taken right out of my evening routine, and I need to start getting to sleep and waking up at the same time every day. I know that if I can get a handle on sleep that I can then begin to tackle other problems, like booking more talks online.

Well, I want to mention one thing that is kind of cool outside of all that. I met with a woman named Brenda not too long ago and helped her set up a self-published book she made as a surprise for her 94 year-old mother who wrote the poems published in it. It was such an interesting and rewarding experience that I have taken out a classified ad in Write Click magazine to help anyone wanting to self-publish a book for a small fee.

Well, dear readers, I feel a bit like I have ripped you off,I didn’t talk much about mental health or recovery. I think the only advice I have at all today is for you to keep an eye out for a sunny day and grab a sweater and get outside in the beautiful fall colours (if you live in the same hemisphere as I do) and just get out and walk. Listen to the sounds of children playing, of the wind in the yellowed leaves. Feel the crunch of fallen leaves as you walk and please don’t be afraid to walk in the gutter where the best crunching is to be found. Take a little while and just be. I can’t guarantee anyone the existence of God or any other divine spirit, but I do know that beauty and mindfulness is something that will serve anyone well. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Living One More Boring Day With Schizophrenia

Well, actually today wasn’t really bad at all. I am starting to get concerned about my sleep habits though. To be on the ball, I need 7 hours or so, but it seems that I am just not getting it, unless I nap. A number of people I know don’t nap, but I love doing it. There truly are times when I shouldn’t nap, but one of the main causes of my napping has to do with just not having anything interesting to do. That’s why I wanted to write this blog. Right there I have touched on a key issue. I need to be interested. I need to be stimulated. Serious problem. Let me explain.

Years ago I fell into a crowd that I would say at best was neutral, but at worst was a complete disaster. It was AA. I went to a lot of meetings. Hundreds. The worst part was that they would have the meetings at night and when you were there, the only thing you could really do was drink coffee. Soon after joining I literally became a coffee addict. I am doing a lot better now, having half of my daily beverages as tea or other stuff. Part of the problem came in after I got back from the meeting and had nothing to do. I would walk a long way, get a comic book at the book store, then go to the arcade. Still on that caffeine high, I would go home, read my comic, then watch TV until late. As long as I was going to meetings though, my landlord was happy. He did have some problems though. One of them was that he would let himself into my room when I left it locked without any notice. I told him he couldn’t do that and he replied, “It’s my house, I can do whatever I want.” This infuriates me even now, especially when a more recent caretaker was in my building and I came home one day to find him leaving my suite and locking my door. I don’t know if I would harm a person for this sort of thing, but it is entirely possible that I will consult my underground book “Revenge” one day to pay some of these people back.

To get back on track, when I was staying up all night (living on social services, not looking for work) my landlord was also my AA sponsor. It was his job to advise me and help me work the steps. I actually have a lot of respect for AA I should say here, but I had some very serious, very risk-filled problems that started with me making friends with people from AA. I love the book though, it is what the program is founded on and has a ton of wisdom. There are few books like it, one of them is “The Richest Man in Babylon” and another is The Holy Bible.

So anyhow, I was in AA for a while when I started going to Casinos. Though I didn’t really have much of a drinking problem, I didn’t want to drink any alcohol, but I saw the Casino as a place to pick up some easy money. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I think where it really started in earnest was when I watched the movie, “Casino” with Robert Deniro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci. All the glamour and glitter of gambling seemed so exciting. It seemed like it would be an easy thing for a disciplined person like me to skim off a decent living working and/or hanging out in casinos. The truth was, I would go to one, play for a very long time, and often lose my shirt. That was the way it worked. I knew the odds when you play a game in the casino are only slightly in the house’s favour, but that just made me think all I had to be was a little bit lucky. The truth was that if the odds are slightly towards the house winning, over time the house will take all of your money. And I subjected myself to the torture and degradation of not being able to properly control my own money. At one time a doctor even intervened and had all of my finances taken over by a trustee.

So anyhow, I was talking about my old place and my first sponsor. When I was gambling, he noticed that whenever we got together I would get restless. I would fidget, pace around, smoke a lot. He was wise enough to see that I had accustomed myself to the excitement and adrenalin of playing casino games. What I had to do was to simply stop thinking about the casino or any of the games. This was how I quit smoking once, and how I was able to use a lot of discipline by redirecting thoughts. What I would do was when any thought of gambling came to mind, I would think of something that was more powerful, like a girl I liked naked. I even spent a lot of time journalling and deep in thought regarding money. After a lot of thinking, I realized that money really isn’t important.

As time went on though, even among my family and friends, I have come to be known as someone that likes to make money, likes to get paid for things. I am always willing to give a day’s work for a day’s pay, but I have often had opportunities to make ten days pay for an hour’s work as a writer. Still, that doesn’t mean I will give up working, even for free. But what it does mean is that I am conscious that money is needed in some aspects of a person’s life, and things like strength, courage, ethics, morals, and study are needed at others.

Where the problem comes in is when I decided to start saving and investing my money. I had been told a lot about ETF’s or exchange traded funds, which give a decent return after a year’s time, so I consulted with a friend’s dad who convinced me to buy individual stocks. I bought a few of his suggestions, and some made a little money, some lost a little money. All the while as I did this, I tried to learn a little about day trading. It seemed fairly simple. Look for a bargain, buy some shares, sell when they get a bump.

I made a few trades, and things went extremely well. I did suffer a loss of a few hundred dollars but I pulled out. I wanted to stop. It was extremely time consuming to sit and watch a stock to see if it is going to go up at all, and anxiety causing to see it go down. I realized I was triggering a lot of the same emotions and reactions from my casino days. I talked to a friend who was going to help me stop gambling but we didn’t follow through. I started checking stocks I had sold to see what they were at in the present day, and I even started doing a lot of reading in financial information. I have this theory that stock markets aren’t gambling because over time, most stocks will gain. And there are often anomalies out there that you can find if you are patient that can give significant returns with very little downside or loss of investment.

So basically Dear Readers, that is the tough nut I need to crack. A person can’t trade and let it get to him. He will be dead in months. And someone with my lack of experience shouldn’t trade so eagerly in volatile stocks. Now, as I write, it is 1:33 AM. I can’t sleep. The market opens at 7:30am and there are stocks I need to keep a close eye on. I am near the point of not really knowing what to do. It is exciting, it is fun, you really can make money, but I can’t tell you if the cost counted in quality of life is worth becoming a trader. More to come. Remember, Jesus saves, Moses invests. (forgive me Jesus, couldn’t resist).

Schizophrenia Can’t Stop You From Being Who You Really Are Without a Mental Illness

Good day dear readers! Heavens, it has been a good long while since I wrote a blog. I have missed my fans and their comments. One of the reasons I haven’t blogged much is that I have been working for an online magazine called “The News Station” I invite you all to google it, then search within the page under my name (Leif Gregersen) and read some of the work I have been doing. Recently, I also was interviewed by the Writer’s Guild of Alberta about my latest book (the same one that is available for free by clicking on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge to the right of these words) which can be found on Youtube at: https://youtu.be/StE2mgmBRVc

I hate to say it, but I am at a bit of a loss for words. I have been battling insomnia quite a bit lately. I think one of the worst things I do that don’t help the problem have to do with napping and sleeping in. I have gotten myself in a difficult situation because sometimes I need over the counter sleep aids just to fall asleep and not only are they habit forming, they can be expensive. I have had some respite lately, thanks to some advice from an old friend. I have been taking small amounts of cannabinoids (with very low amounts of THC in them) and my sleep and general mood has improved. Again, look for more on this at “The News Station” as I just completed an article for them on the topic.

I want to try and explain a bit more why I haven’t been blogging. One of the reasons is that I have taken a recent interest in spending long hours of the day reading. It feels so rewarding to pick up a book and to learn from it and follow the characters, lose myself in the descriptions, and to try and figure out where the plot is going. Some days I have been reading for 6+ hours. On top of that, I have had the great fortune to get some part-time work doing online presentations. One of the best of these was a talk through Zoom for a nursing class that not only paid me well but also bought a number of my books from me that I mailed out to them.

And then there is what has caught my interest a little too well. I have been investing in the stock market. The funny thing is I seem to be able to pick stocks that will go up, I just get skittish and sell them before that happens. Something that has been a part of my recovery for some time now is keeping up with the news and such in the world outside my door. A few years ago I remember thinking about how ridiculous the price of gas was, but then realizing that I could save some money, invest in stocks that produce oil and gas and benefit from this situation. Another thing I really like about investing in stocks is that it encourages you to keep a close eye on the media, and your particular stock or stocks. It isn’t an easy road to save up enough money to get involved in the markets, and one of the biggest problems is that money you put in gives you no guarantee of coming back. There are ways around some of these problems though, one of them is to trade on paper only and be brutally honest about the returns you get from pretending to buy and sell stocks. Another thing that is very important is to gain as much knowledge as you can about the markets, and try and get someone in your corner who can recommend safe bets. In time, you should be able to save a little money that you can afford to risk. Once you do this, it is hard not to get hooked.

There is another thing that I should talk about, since many of my readers know me well. At one time earlier in my adult life I had a problem with gambling. That problem kind of went away but I fear the underlying reasons for my addiction remain. I am not 100% sure they won’t, but I am hoping that I can manage my risk/gain/loss in a way that doesn’t let my decisions rely on emotion. What I have been doing lately is taking a small chunk of my savings to one side. Then I search the Internet for information about stocks in the sectors that I feel are going to make moves, then try and find an inexpensive stock and start small. I did find a stock like this and bought it but then after looking at the numbers for the company, it didn’t seem like I made a great decision. What looked bad was that it was a smaller company, and also it didn’t trade a whole lot of shares at a time. I am hopeful though, because it is a stock that mines for Lithium (yes, the very same stuff your Psychiatrist gives people for Bipolar Disorder) which is used in batteries for electric cars and cell phones and such. I would mention the stock here, but I don’t want to give anyone advice as I don’t have qualifications, but if any of my readers out there would like to talk investments, please feel free to email me at viking3082000@yahoo.com

Well, that was a long digression. Life has been full and rewarding was what I basically wanted to say. I do worry though about the reality that a full life with lots of stuff to do can be stressful, and anyone who has a mental illness should avoid stress. One of the ways I deal with the stress of being so busy is to walk a lot. And I mean a lot. I work Mondays at a psychiatric hospital out of town and if I get up early and can’t go back to sleep I will sometimes walk the 5 or 6 miles to the end of the train line where I just get one bus to take me to the hospital. I often walk to a grocery store 2 miles away and return with a backpack and two reusable shopping bags full of items. Today I put in about 4 miles. I know it is much better to swim, but our pools are now closed due to covid. Just to get outside, feel a little sun on your neck, get breathing with a quick pace, and above all to have that time to think really saves me from wanting to give up on all of my endeavours and hide from the world.

So much more to say, but I know with the length of today’s blog many of you won’t read this far. I just wanted to say that I think I have gone through a major shift in priorities since I stopped blogging. When I was young, and for a lot of my adult life, I sought out easy ways to strike it rich. I had the hope that if I could lay my hands on a few measly million I could coast on through the rest of my life. Now, I have stopped caring about looking the best or having the most. I just want to write, to enjoy my life and my friends and family. If I end up broke, I will find more teaching work or freelance work. I really don’t care about becoming rich and I think that is progress. Thanks for reading!