bipolar recovery

Time Management For People With Schizophrenia, Bipolar or Depression

Photo by Brooke Campbell On Unsplash

Hello Good Readers! (click here to see my books) I can’t tell you how pleased I am that my following has grown to over 1,050 people! For those of you who are interested, the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) made a mini-documentary about me which you can view here: If you are interested in seeing more, simply go to the website and do a search on me (Leif Gregersen) then you can read the article that went with the documentary.

I wanted to talk a little about something of a funny topic, time management for people with mental health issues. A lot of the time, people who are struggling with their mental health have too much time on their hands. But changing this, so a person is more busy (ie, gets more done each day) is also a type of time management.

First of all, I want to address sleep. One thing that is going to bother you throughout your life if you don’t find a way to handle it is that you will most likely sleep in almost every day. One of the reasons for this is, people with mental illnesses take medication to help them sleep and it carries over into their next day.

Sleeping medication by itself isn’t totally bad, but I have been told by my doctor that the healthiest sleep is the one you get without any medication, and I can vouch for this simply through my own experience with being on and off sleeping medication. I don’t know all the why’s and how’s, but I think it has something to do with dreaming and sleep quality.

The best way to sleep less and be able to sleep without medication is to get up and stay up, at a regular time, go to bed and stay in bed at a regular time, never changing your schedule, and also not taking naps during the day. One of the ways I have found to get up and stay up is to always take my morning medications at the same time, then get up, go for a walk, even a long walk and either grab a newspaper or walk to a mall in the North end of Edmonton and buy just one small bottle of water (It makes little sense to buy much more than that) and then use my subsidized bus pass to ride home. I have found when a get some exercise like this, I am much less likely to fall back asleep.

There are of course days when I have to get up and do something in the morning and on days like these, the night before I load up my briefcase with all the things I need, making sure to charge my phone and laptop. Then I board the bus and grab a few last winks of sleep as I ride to my destination. There are also situations where I use my bus time to prepare for the meeting or event I will be attending.

Now, I should talk a little about what you do to get through the day after you have woken up. I think getting out of the house first thing can be critical, getting exercise is also critical (whether you go for a walk or a jog or a bike ride or a swim, or even if needed ride an exercise bike for a little while). For those of you who want to go to a pool or a gym, I recommend 20-30 minutes of cardio each day and spending around an hour lifting weights 3 days a week if you are so inclined. There is nothing really wrong with doing more, and you don’t exactly have to go hard to meet these requirements, but it would be very beneficial if you can meet these minimums.

Just as one last piece of advice, if you don’t live in a great city like I do where the city allows people with disabilities to work out and swim for free, consider getting a discount membership at the YMCA or similar place.

Okay, now you are awake. What is there to do? I strongly suggest that people get up early, so even after you take your walk or swim there won’t be too many people up. Reading the paper (or online news) is a great way to get started. I used to go out each morning to pick up a free paper and then spend some time doing the Sudoku. If you read online news, why not do a couple of online puzzles? Most PC computers come with free games like solitaire or mahjong. The idea is to get your brain kickstarted.

For me, after I do these things I often find myself in demand and the day kind of falls into place, but I understand it isn’t that way for everyone. What I suggest to just about anyone with a disability is that they have a group of 5-6 people they can talk to at times when they may not feel their best. I suggest this number not only because some of your friends may not be available, but also because it isn’t a good idea to rely on any one or two people too much. Unburdening yourself may become difficult on just 1-2 people. I always try to have something positive to say when I call friends. I always say using comparisons and looking at the positive side of things can change any situation. If someone said I would die on Saturday, I would be delighted to know that I wouldn’t have to do laundry that Sunday like I had planned. (bad joke, but worth a try!)

Another thing you can do is volunteer. If you get to be good at your volunteer job, you may decide to look for part-time work within or without the organization that is paid. In Alberta I am lucky because I am allowed to earn just over $1,000.00 a month without penalty. If you are on disability you should check and make sure you know how much earnings will disqualify you. It is important to know because often if you are on supports and have a mental illness, your medications will be covered and they can get to be extremely expensive. But never stop taking medications because you want to go off supports, they can be critical.

Another great thing to do is to try and join a support group. Google for a list of different support groups in your area. I also recommend that people look into free or subsidized counselling. I recently got 10 sessions of counselling for free and I noticed big results right away. You might join a support group for family members of parents with Alzheimer’s or even a 12-step program, there are many, even for those who are affected by the addiction of another person that can help a lot.

Now, you have done quite a bit and the day is starting to wind down. Resist the urge to nap or to skip a meal. If you have symptoms of bipolar, make careful note of your mood as the day winds down. I find that if I’m not careful, I can get into sort of a ‘manic’ high and have a hard time sleeping, especially if I haven’t exercised much that day. Cook yourself a healthy meal (I would like to talk about the benefits of an apartment freezer and buying meat and frozen vegetables in bulk in a later post). Make it so 1/4 of your plate is protein, 1/4 is carbs (pasta will do, I often like to make egg noodles that aren’t made with yolks) and half of your plate should be green vegetables. There are so many ways to vary ingredients and change a plate of food set up like this. I often have either a pork chop or a chicken breast, some whole wheat pasta and then a combination of greens like peas and broccoli. Ever since I have been eating like this, I have been losing weight steadily.

So now supper is done, what comes next? I think a great thing to spend your evening doing would be to read, but reading isn’t for everybody. I just think that there are so many books on so many topics that could enrich a person’s life. I recall times when I couldn’t focus on the repetitive novels I normally read so I got myself a memoir of a rock star who had lived a life of extreme hedonism. It made for some truly interesting reading, I wasn’t bored for a minute and it was hard to put the book down.

Of course, you can also watch TV to pass the time. One of the problems with TV is that it can get your adrenalin going. Also, TV is known to help relax a person, but the relaxed effect goes away as soon as you turn off the TV. One of the things I did to keep my TV costs down was that I got cheap Internet (Telus Internet For Good for anyone who may be serviced by Telus, it is for the poor and disabled and only costs $10 per month) and then I got a subscription to a service called “River TV” which gives me most networks and some specialty channels like History (I just love watching ‘Pawn Stars’). The cost of both is only $27, which is cheaper than just about anyone charges for simple Internet. Since I was saving so much, I got a membership with Netflix and kept my membership with Prime TV. When you have such a wide choice of programming, it becomes easy to find interesting things to watch.

So, then you go to bed. There are many questions to be asked about going to bed. One of them is, “Should I use Melatonin?” I have found Melatonin to be helpful to get me to sleep, it is a natural sleep hormone, but I have also found that if I use too low a dose I get a strange, very powerful restlessness in my legs that keeps me from even staying in one place while trying to sleep. I also noticed that when I take Melatonin, I am often much more tired the next day. Sometimes I can even sleep the morning away as a result of taking melatonin. I was told it works best when you take it two hours before going to bed, though different doctors have told me different amounts of time.

So here you are, medicated, tired, not having napped and ready for bed. Clean sheets are a must, and also a fan or a space heater depending on the season. If you have an alarm clock, turn it away from you. Above all, try not to do any activities in bed like watching TV or other stuff. Beds are supposed to be only for sleeping and intimacy. Doing anything else like reading or the like just gets your mind off the idea that when you lay down you need to get your 8-10 hours.

Well Dear Readers, that is about all for today. I wish you all the best. I wanted to thank the person who may have read my blog for purchasing a copy of a couple of my books. If anyone else would like a copy, of course you can download “Alert and Oriented x3” from the main page (click on The Tower Bridge). But if you would like to purchase books, visit this page: Leif’s Books on Amazon and have a wonderful and safe Fall!

Author Interview With University of Alberta Hospital Doctors (Grand Rounds) Regarding Mental Health

Hello good readers. I will most likely make a full, regular blog tomorrow evening, I just wanted to give you all a chance to have a look at a video made of an interview I was in on the 6th of April, 2022. Click the link here: and I hope you enjoy, even if you just want to see how silly my voice sounds and what my un-tanned, bald talking head looks like. 🙂

Sacrificing For Those We Love: It’s About Our Mental Illness and Their Caring

Some of you may have heard me talk before about my dad. When I had the worst hospital admission of my life, he was there for me. He would drive all the way to my apartment, across town, and then we would drive to the beautiful Edmonton River Valley for a long and soothing walk. He did this with me for a very long time until I was fit enough and well enough to go places on my own. Just that little bit of company and that little bit of exercise was enough to put me through a powerful transformation, recovering almost 100% from my hospital stay.

Then, yesterday, it was time to celebrate my dad’s birthday. I can’t help but notice he seems a little shorter, a little more helpless, but no less funny and kind and lovable. He was turning 83.

I think my dad somehow understands that he isn’t going to be around forever. I don’t think he ever imagined me, the youngest, would be taking him out for supper near my 50th birthday, but he is starting to understand. It is getting harder for him to concentrate, he forgets things more and more. There will be a time some day soon we will have to look for a place for him to live that has more care.

Something that is very important to remember is something that a young woman who was studying social work told me a long time ago: “The worst thing you can do is use your illness as an excuse.” I think, for me anyway, that being the best writer, best son, best friend, best brother, and all of those things are extremely important. Sadly though, there was a time in my life that I didn’t live up to what was expected of me on these counts, and I lost friends and girlfriends, and I almost made my family sick of me.

I think it can be a good idea to find someone, be they an actual family member, or even a fictional character on TV that you admire and use them as a foundation for how to treat your loved ones. Now, all that is good, but there are some things a person can do that will almost guarantee they will have good friends and that they will be close with family members.

  1. Be able to listen just as much as you talk, and even try and talk less to your friend or loved one than they speak to you. Listening skills have to be cultivated, and it is so important to give each person the ear they deserve.
  2. If you can’t work full-time, try and work casual or part-time. Be careful with your money but not cheap. This seems like an irrelevant point, but the truth is that if you never have any money of your own and you end up making friends or family members pay for you, they will want to have less and less to do with you. A little money is also good for things you may want like a second hand mountain bike or other wish items
  3. Having a job (or even a volunteer job) pays back in a few ways, it will make you a more interesting person. Who wants to hear the run-down of the latest TV shows each time you meet up with them? Volunteering is also a great way of building skills for a future job that may be just what you dreamed of.
  4. Keep drinking or drug use to an absolute minimum, and if you smoke or vape, do your best to stop. Doing these things will increase your worth in the eyes of your friends and loved ones (unless you currently hang with the ‘wrong’ crowd, which I suggest you work on changing). If you moderate and quit these things, so many barriers come down for you, and you will definitely have more pocket money. With the price and danger of smoking tobacco or vaping, quitting is almost a no-brainer, but I want to emphasize you can’t get feeling better or be in a better financial situation than you will be in if you stop smoking.
  5. If you are able to stop smoking or vaping, and you are not physically disabled, getting involved with sports can be a great thing to do. I personally have osteo-arthritis in my knees and I have a few health issues from torn cartilage in my feet to a thick head, and I am still able to walk long distances and to go swimming. Doing these things not only opens a new world to me in things to do, it has allowed me to meet and get close to some pretty wonderful people.

Well, that is about it for today, I hope you got something from all that writing. I think I could close in saying one of my favourite modern phrases:

Use things and love people. It never works out the other way around.


Mental Health During Times of Pandemic and Isolation

Right now, I know that a lot of people are hurting. My heart goes out to young people who are caught in a trap most of them don’t fully understand. I have a neighbour, a brilliant young man who is going to University while his family is taking on a work term from Denmark. He really is missing out on so many of the things that makes University such an enriching experience, from the sports to the interactions, parties, and many other activities. On the other end of the educational grid, elementary students are extremely tough to manage and so many parents are opting for home schooling.

What I feel is a little more relevant is how all this is affecting those who suffer from mental illness. A lot of us already isolate and now it is getting worse. The Canadian government has pledged a very small amount of extra support for people with disabilities but still aren’t being very clear about when or how they will be doing this. I really fear the possibility that this is going to go on for years more. When one figures the impact on not only our own wallets, but the government’s resources, and the economy’s resources, it seems that something will one day have to give.

I like to think of myself as a source of advice but in this case I really don’t know what to say. When you have a mental illness, first and foremost you need to get your medications right. If they aren’t, you are going to have to get after your psychiatrist (I now meet with my doctor only over the phone which isn’t nearly as good as in person) Once again I feel for my American readers who don’t have the resources I have access to in Canada. If I have serious issues, there is no question of getting in to see a doctor, I have numerous options available. I recently had a physical health problem and ended up using my health care number to contact a physician over the phone and get a. prescription called into my pharmacy. I put my mental health as my number one priority. Even if I lose my home and sleep in a garbage bin I will still take my medications and see my doctor, and follow his advice. I also feel it is so important to do all the research you can, and set up supports as much as possible. One thing I recommend for anyone is to join an organization like the Schizophrenia Society, and take all the free courses and take out all the library books you can about your illness. You can get through this, it just needs time, work, patience, and perseverance.

Next to my strong desire to take my medications, see my doctor and maintain a good diet with exercise, is very simply, my apartment. I had to wait a long time to get into this place, but it was well worth it. I now have a huge apartment (for my needs as a single disabled adult) and my rent is very low. One of the things I would strongly suggest to add to approaching the Schizophrenia Society is to join or start a group on Facebook for others who are in the same physical, mental, or financial situation you are in. The government plan to give money to people with disabilities in the province I live in is called Aish–Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped. There is a Facebook group just for those getting it and it helps me a great deal. I get to connect with people, I learn about new programs and subsidies, information about housing, and much more. One of the more recent things it has helped me with is getting my Internet bill lowered greatly under a new plan for people with disabilities. I now pay just $10 a month for Internet compared to $80. That $70 buys groceries, the odd 12-pack of diet cola, or whatever I need.

So, if you can find it, put your name on a list for subsidized or co-op housing as soon as you can. Every dollar you can save counts. I think it is kind of obvious to state, but it is also a really good time to look at habits. The cost of cigarettes in Canada has gone through the roof, along with gas and alcohol. I don’t want to demand anyone give these things up, but the way prices are, you may find if you do some calculating, that you could afford some stuff you really desire if you find help in putting aside your vices. Imagine taking a penny-pinchers trip to Hawaii or a train ride across Canada. These things are possible if you can manage to quit some of your habits and find a part-time job you can handle.

I do suggest that if a person is able, a part-time job is a great idea. I work on a casual basis for the Schizophrenia Society and also have a two-hour a week job as a computer tutor. Even this little bit of work feels stressful sometimes, but it has allowed me to get a lot of things and do a lot of things that would be impossible without them. Volunteering is an alternative that should be considered. If you volunteer, you pretty much pick what you want to do, and when you become good at it, there could be a paid job in it for you down the road.

The last topic I wanted to mention is entrepreneurship. I hope this is something that people with mental illnesses are free to do wherever this blog is read, but I am not sure. Entrepreneurship is when you make your own job. The simpler forms of it are collecting deposit bottles and asking for change. I heard of one guy who will stand out on the road and ask for change and one day out of the year-near Christmas, he can rake in $1,500.00. I don’t recommend this approach, but it is an example of something that can be done if there is a true need for funds, especially around Christmas when you want to buy family presents or have a large meal with guests.

There are many kinds of entrepreneurship. One of them is to do what I have done and write about your experiences and have a few copies printed to sell. You really have no idea who your story could help until you try. It can be a long process but extremely rewarding. One of the best places to start if you feel you are ready for a regular job, even if only part-time is to apply at Goodwill. They have a strong reputation of hiring disadvantaged people. I know one person who made enough after a lot of saving to buy a second-hand luxury car and a top rated motorcycle. Once again though, I have to remind you that none of this will matter if you aren’t taking care of your mental and physical health.

Something I have been a part of is putting together a collection of poetry. The first step in this journey is to get involved in local poetry events (or short stories but poetry can be simpler to put together) once you meet a few poets, get one or two to help you set up a contest and then canvass the businesses in your neighbourhood to donate prizes or funds to rent a space to hold the giveaway night. Put the word out that you are looking for poetry, and that there are prizes to be won, then make a simple zine with the poems in it and you can charge $5 or something after the contest is over for the books, and keep the profits. I did this twice, and I met a lot of people and I like to think gained a lot of respect from people in my community. Something that I have seen being done in many cities is for homeless or impoverished people to have things like a poetry zine or a newspaper that they can stand in the street and sell for a fixed price or donations. One many I knew that did this in a popular part of town often would come into a pool hall I went to with a wad of cash. Even if you make just a small amount of money you will feel you earned it and feel better about yourself, and have esteem in the community. These projects can take a lot of work, but there are people out there who want to help and volunteer to help. The important thing is to never take on more than you feel comfortable with. I have to make sacrifices often to get through the month on my 2-hour jobs, but as I’m nearing 50 I don’t mind so much not going out to a bar on the weekend and spending my time reading books I get from the library.

And so, dear readers, that concludes today’s blog. I wish you health and wealth and happiness. Feel free to write any time and suggest a topic for me to write on. My email is


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:

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 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!