Month: November 2021

Life Expectancy of a Severely Mentally Ill Person: Is My Clock Running Out?

Good Morning Dear Readers! Fortune has smiled upon us, it is time for a new blog! What does that mean? Basically it means I can’t sleep once again and had a lot of thoughts running through my mind.

First off, the photo you see is not me but my father. He has been my rock and my hero for such a long time, but at 84 he is finally starting to show his age. He keeps somehow forgetting how to turn on the cable box for his TV. He forgets passwords, then forgets where he writes them down, and then I have to come over and fix everything. I don’t really mind, I love spending time with my dad. Anyone who reads my book, “Alert and Oriented x3” (which you can download by clicking on London’s Tower Bridge to the right of this article) will clearly see that he has done so much to care for me and help me despite some very hard times with my illness. I don’t know if it is the source of all the troubles, though something does make sense. I have heard information that states my dad is so confused and forgetful because he has a blockage in an artery in his neck and needs it cleared, and after that is done everything will be fine.

It is such a scary thing to go through, and I can’t imagine it is easy for my dad either. Some 10 years ago now, we lost my mom. My dad sometimes still sees her or thinks she is still with us. I know to many it sounds like Alzheimers or dementia, and the fact is I am very worried it might be. My grandfather, my dad’s dad has Alzheimers and so did his brother, my Uncle Nille. Basically, I am going to have to help him and support him while he waits for surgery and while he is recovering and it feels like it is taking a lot out of me.

On other fronts, things seem to be going well for me on many counts. Not the least of which is getting a story in an online newsmagazine about the three most important books I have read that help me to deal with mental illness. Anyone interested can link to the article here: https://thenewsstation.com/three-books-that-helped-me-overcome-my-mental-illness/

I guess I also want to talk a little more about my recent decision to use Cannabis Products, specifically high CBD, low THC pills to help me sleep. In a way, I think the Cannabinoids (CBD) are taking away some of my ambition. But along with that, they also seem to solve a very serious problem I have that has been with me for decades. It is an antisocial mindset where I feel angry and slighted and say and do things that make others feel bad to make myself feel better. For a while, I was watching videos by a man named Noah Elkrief, and he had some amazing insights on how to stop being angry all the time. Basically the foundation of his theory was that if we truly put ourselves into the shoes of the other person, looking for ways to exonerate them for whatever angers us, there is really no way to keep being angry. It worked really well for a while but then I lost the habit, and now that I have been ingesting CBD pills, my anger is somehow medicinally lowered, and I am able to resume my habit of empathizing with people. If you add to that my improved sleep, it is kind of miraculous. I think I have said most of that before. I have always had a problem with sleep in my life. I can remember as far back as being a toddler and being in my parent’s bed watching an ancient digital clock flip over numbers. I was so young I couldn’t tell time, but for some reason I remember looking at that clock and wondering how late my parents were going to stay up.

This leads into another situation that has me a bit concerned. For the past couple of years I have been using sleep aids, and ever since, my memory has been declining. As you just read, I don’t have any problems remembering things that happened almost 50 years ago as a child, but my brain goes into fogs where I can’t remember the name of people I have worked with for three years. I was talking to a friend about my dad and she pointed out that I am losing some of my faculties and I am much younger than my dad. It was a humbling experience.

Well, dear readers. I have another friend who always tells me not to worry about getting older, that age is just a number. Unfortunately 12:00 midnight is also just a number and I have to take my dad to his doctor tomorrow. I do want to leave you with one thing though. When I look back at the joy my dad gave me, the opportunities he made possible and the love he showed when I was at my worst, my only real regret is never accomplishing the dream I had for most of my life of having a child to teach everything to and to love just like my dad did with me. Perhaps there will be someone out there, someone who never had a father, never had a dad who can read these words and understand that there is always hope, that just about every life is without limits. And maybe a million years ago some visitor from a distant planet will find my archived blogs, read them, and see that in so many ways, life on Earth is a beautiful thing.

-LG

Poetry, Mental Health and Addiction, and How Our Work Defines Us

Just a heads up, if you click on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge to the right, you will be able to download a free copy of my latest mental health book!

I wrote a poem during my writing class that I teach Mondays and Thursdays (please email viking3082000@yahoo.com if you want to join, there are limited spots). I wanted to write about the executive lifestyle and how some people, especially over-achievers will go to business school, work their way up the ladder, end up very successful, then realize that they never really did in life what they wanted.

In the poem, the main character is basically in the middle of a nervous breakdown and all he really knows how to help himself is with drugs and alcohol. I hope you like it, let me know what you think.

Incidentally, some time this week I will be published in the Ottawa Citizen, in the opinion section. I will put a link to the article here for anyone interested.

Big City Headache

By Leif Gregersen

Killer migraine pounding my head hard

As I wake up in some stranger’s yard

Wandering cold, no place to rest, no way to clean

So many live like this, it seems so obscene

Eat at the shelter three meals a day

Life until now was never this way

So much has happened, so much was lost

Once I had so many possessions, caring not of the cost

No need for coffee, no need for sleep

Just us two would do, cocaine and me

It’s hard to conceive but I forgot my name

Still in some small way I’m more happy insane

My wife came and found me as I sat on a curb

Tossed me her wedding ring without a word

Desperate, I pawned it, then got a room

Sat down and took stock of the poisons I had consumed

I started working temp labour to pay the rent

Fell dead asleep exhausted each night, fully content

I bought back the ring, then went for a walk

But I knew my ex-wife wouldn’t even talk

I walked a long way to a bridge and looked down

Nothing to stop me, no one around

In that desperate state I knew what to do

I tossed in the ring and felt happy and new

Then I did some walking and thinking all night alone

Caring not for my trophy wife or my former home

I now make minimum wage for very hard work

But I’m a real person now, not some uncaring jerk

Cannabis and Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Depression

Just about every one of us have some kind of moral guidance in our lives when it comes to using cannabis products. I think just about as many people oppose it as support it, and both sides claim to have incontrovertible evidence. I don’t use THC, and to be honest, I haven’t spent as much time thinking about it to make a fair judgement that I want to pass on to you, my dear readers. What I do know is that cannabis has been made legal in all of Canada, while only some of the US states call it legal and the Federal Government declares cannabis illegal in all states, leaving many in a difficult and precarious position.

A few weeks ago, more likely a few months, I wandered into a pot shop and started asking questions. One thing I know about THC–I should avoid it like the plague. It makes me paranoid and unbalances my precarious hold on my mental health. But they had product that contained no THC which had cannabinoids oil and capsules. I had heard a lot about the benefits of cannabinoids and decided to gamble $15 Canadian on a few pills.

The first one I tried had kind of comical results. I thought I was getting stoned when in actuality I was just anticipating feeling stoned so much that I believed it was happening. Eventually I fell asleep and had one of the best rests I have had in a long time.

It is now months after that. I have been using cannabinoids for a while. One of the best things about it is that it takes away my susceptibility to get angry. Yes, it clears/calms my head. And I can take some, then take a nap or go to sleep for the night, and fall asleep easier, but wake up refreshed, not drugged.

The expense of the product is a factor that still bothers me. $15 for 15 CBD pills, $50 for 30 of the extra-strength CBD pills. The inexpensive alternative is to use the CBD oils but I have tried that and it seems they don’t have as much as an effect on me.

So, all things considered, I still need to ask myself if I support cannabis products. As a consumer, it is hard to tell anyone they shouldn’t, but I do think anyone who has a mental illness should consult with a psychiatrist, making sure to tell them what type of product you want to/already use. In my case, THC isn’t worth it, but CBD is. Doctors always weigh the risks of a medication based on what it gives you and the negative things that can happen. My understanding is that THC has more risks than rewards in people under 25, and that over 25, if you aren’t prone to paranoia, there are more rewards than risks.

Something I always think about was interviewing a renowned psychiatrist for a radio documentary I was making, and asking him what the most important thing he had to say in closing. He looked very serious and said to me: “The most important thing for people to understand is that marijuana and alcohol are not benign drugs.”

I will be honest with all of you. There were times I was in the psychiatric hospital and there were patients who were normal before chronic pot use and had to spend years in mental health treatment. Their diagnosis was “drug induced psychosis.” If you have a family history of poor mental health, please avoid THC. If you are under 25, please understand that your brain hasn’t stopped developing yet and you may be damaging it by using THC products. Also, look at THC use as a fun, recreational experience, and watch out that your using doesn’t take over your life.

Living With Schizophrenia: Take Me For What I Am

Hello Dear Readers:

A lot has been going on lately. I marked the passing of a friend named Walter Warren Miller. He was an amazing man. He had served in the military, travelled the world, worked a full career as a Canada Post Employee, and he dealt with mental illness.

What I would really like to talk about today though, is how all of us are flawed in some way. Perhaps in our haphazard interactions with the rest of the human race, we can’t help but make mistakes. But all of us do. We forget to spend time with those we love who may be struggling. We give what we think is our love but is actually just meaningless money.

This is where I end up having problems with many born-again right-wing churches. Their take on making mistakes almost seems to be that if you made one, you are a marked person and because you made that mistake you don’t love Christ and should be cast away.

I encountered so much of this in my time in the Pentecostal Church. It was never a written rule but it seemed that, according to them, if the Pastor gives an empowering speech and you walk to the altar to make ‘a decision for Christ’ that is all you will ever have to do to go to Heaven.

However, in Catholicism, they have a way for people to work on themselves continuously, confessing their sins. Even when they pass away, it is understood that they will spend time in a place called Purgatory where people go to work off the debt of their sins.

But to not just throw all my will and power to the major religions, I should talk about my own philosophy as to dealing with sin. First of all, I think educating people about sensitivity and understanding for the people they interact with, should be done as intensely as you teach a child to brush his or her teeth or work on math problems.

Then, if and when the child you carefully instruct gets older, when they make a mistake, it isn’t seen as a reason to mark that person for life, but an opportunity to educate the person on why what they did was wrong, how the people on the other side of the equation are made to feel about it. Instead of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, the baby gets the time and attention it needs to perhaps feel even closer to society and emerge a better person from the experience.

I would like to try and relate what I was talking about to mental illness, but you know–I am a bit reluctant to. Mental illness is something far different than criminal or abusive behaviour. Mental illness takes away everything you have and so very many people who are chronically afflicted end their own lives.

If I were the head policy maker of this nation, I suppose which can be called “Edu-Nation” seeing as how it is based on educating rather than penalizing people, I would do a few things for the mentally ill.

I think the first thing I would want to do would be to develop some sort of housing, mental health resources and more to homeless people. There are so many people out asking for spare change these days who are just killing time, having nowhere to go. All to often this leads to alcoholism and substance abuse which exacerbates any mental health issues.

All too many of these transient people die on the streets every year. One thing I would like to do would be to train roving support workers to go to these people on the streets and alleys where they live. Find out what is keeping them from getting treatment, give them socks and long underwear in the winter. Bring them inexpensive meals when possible. Basically, try to entice these people to come back to the regular world.

Well, good readers. This was a ‘woke up in the middle of the night’ blog entry. I hope it makes some sense to people, I really shouldn’t write when I’m so tired. Have an awesome day and thanks for visiting! Don’t forget to click on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge to the right of this blog to download your free copy of my latest book (digital format).

Some Warning Signs To Heed When You Have Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, or Schizoaffective Disorder

Here is me with my boss Tanya just after giving a presentation to the Edmonton Police Recruits. Doing this is what makes my job worth the sacrifices. But things aren’t alway perfect.

One of the things I struggle with is money. Certainly, when I was younger and wasn’t getting the pension I get now things were a lot harder. Living alone in a $300 apartment with an income of $560 a month was really hard. But what affected me the most was the loneliness. I thought my best solution to the money and loneliness problem was to get a roommate. Unfortunately, getting a roommate was the worst experience of my life.

The guy who moved in (and took over everything) started inviting all his street friends to stay and threatened severe violence if anything he did was questioned. In no time there must have been ten or fifteen people staying in my small one-bedroom apartment. There was one time I asked him if he was ever going to pay me rent and he said vehemently, “You’ll get every cent.” Later I heard the very same day he had told another person, “I’m not going to give him one cent!” he never did give me anything. He also took a lot of stuff from my place when he moved and kept coming back for more, whether it belonged to him or not, meanwhile refusing to give back my keys. On top of all that, he left me with a phone bill larger than my month’s income. I can’t believe how much of an asshole that guy was.

I will never forget an old Mad Magazine cartoon with a priest and a salesman holding protest signs. The priest’s sign said “The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil.” the salesman had a sign that just said, “Lack” which he was holding over the “Love” part of the priest’s sign.

The truth is, if you have money in your family you have some pretty good options when it comes to treating an illness. The hospital I first went to was so old, cigarette smoke stained, and oppressively jail-like that I had no intention of continuing to see my Doctor or get my prescriptions after leaving. This is a condition known as anosognosia, where a person is so ill that they don’t realize how serious their condition in.

As far as warning signs, I am actually experiencing one now that I’m worried a bit about. I have been spending tons money on myself and others and there is no guarantee at all I can afford all my spending. The whole thing struck me like a lightening bolt when I found out my job was in danger of ending.

Spending money, acting impulsively, not seeing the logic of stopping can all be symptoms of bipolar disorder. But what if you have other symptoms? Part of my diagnosis is anxiety, which I believe fits. I get freaked out when I am around girls I like. I have this vivid memory of sitting in front of a young woman I had a very serious crush on but never being able to tell her I liked her, though she even gave indications of liking me. With any type of diagnosis of bipolar disorder, even a sugar rush can lead to serious situations. Getting excited because of consuming a lot or sugar or caffeine or both can shoot a person’s into the sky. If not controlled by medications, it may be months before the afflicted person returns to normal.

Another part of my illness is schizophrenia. It messes with a person’s thoughts even when they are doing well. When you aren’t, the illness is powerful. You end up having delusional thoughts which can be paranoid or grandiose or religious. Then you have hallucinations that back up the false ideas. Part of all that is being very prone to suggestion, which makes it easier for you to believe false ideas and hallucinations (false sensory input).

I now feel as though I have grown out of my loneliness. I have a few friends I can call at just about any time and I try to keep as busy as I can. If I’m not working away from home I’m trying to drum up business and book sales, and if I’m not doing that I’m either writing or reading. For others I would suggest trying to find a hobby that you can work into a small business. My sister does beading and sells her work at Farmer’s Markets. A close friend who did well in school hires herself out as a tutor. I also teach a creative writing class and I would encourage people to do anything they can to teach, even if it is just volunteering to teach English as a Second Language. Teaching is so rewarding, and you actually learn as much if not more than your students.

The simple truth is, if you keep busy, try to get out of the house when you can, you will spend less time worrying or stuck in memories of past opportunities. Another thing I like to do when I have a lot of free time is do long-distance walking. I just treated myself to a new MP3 player so now I can rock and roll while I’m going places.

Above all though, it comes down to comfort zones. Living with anxiety means that I have to constantly push myself out of comfort zones to attune myself to being able to do more. When I started with the Schizophrenia Society, giving talks to large groups, I started with single high school classrooms and worked my way up. After a few dozen presentations about my own mental health journey, I have become so comfortable with it I no longer need to read from notes. Above all though, never think for a minute that there are things you can’t do. I have listened to people talk who are psychiatrists who suffer from severe schizophrenia. Set a goal. Write out a plan which is your road map to get to your goal, try to advance toward your goal even just a tiny amount each day, and before you know it, your dreams can come true.