mental health coping skills

The Importance Of Relaxation and Sleep When You Have a Chronic Mental Illness Such As Schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder

I thought today’s photo might be relevant, especially since Spring and of course Summer are coming and one of the best ways to feel relaxed is to get out and enjoy some outdoor sports. A psychologist once told me that she was very glad I worked out because our physical selves are such an important part of who we are. When you get regular exercise, including kayaking, you look better, feel better, and are able to deal with stress better. Not to mention that exercise is one of the best insurance policies against getting lazy.

Before I get too much further into today’s blog, I wanted to mention once again (and if you are reading this from my website you will be able to see above this) that I am having a National Public Reading next Wednesday. This is your time to interact with me one on one, listen to stories from my book “Through the Withering Storm” and ask questions, and even order signed books if you like.

Yesterday, I was feeling stressed and had a lot on my mind. One of the things a person can do that is supposed to help with stress is to take B-vitamins. These are supposed to replace what you lose in your body when you are under stress. I recall when I was on just the odd vitamin here and there that taking a B-vitamin and having a nap was a great way to deal with things. Now, I actually take more vitamins than I take medications and it is hard to tell what the B-vitamins are doing. I am considering not taking the B-vitamins for a few weeks to see how I feel.

So, about yesterday–I have been so busy lately, as some of you may know by not getting blogs from me as much as usual. So I poured a hot bath–a hot, hot bath. It was so hot I stepped in and thought I was going to have to cool it down before I sat down in it. I didn’t, and I added in a few handfuls of Epsom salts. These are amazing, my former family doctor recommended them once for haemorrhoids and it has worked better than any other remedy I have used (don’t laugh, those things hurt–you get them from sitting on cold benches in the winter or when you have a lot of diarrhea sometimes. My medications used to give me the diarrhea which I changed by adding more fibre and cheese to my diet). One of the other reasons I wanted to put Epsom salts in my bath, aside from knowing that it was a great help for sore muscles, was that relaxation tanks that people pay big bucks to float in while in darkness, have a ton of the same salts in them.

So anyhow, I had a nice long bath, cleaned myself and then rinsed out the tub and I was still hot and sweaty when I got dressed. I decided to just lay down and the amount of relaxation I experienced was intense. After laying there for just a few minutes, I drifted off into the most relaxing sleep I have ever had and an hour went by with sweet dreams. If I didn’t have dry skin I would take a hot bath like that every night before bed. It works better than any of the pills I take to help me sleep.

One of the problems I have is possibly due to the bipolar disorder part of my schizoaffective disorder illness. I wake up and I have a very hard time not falling back asleep, always have experienced this. It has become an issue in my adulthood, especially back when I used to smoke. I have set more than one mattress on fire waking up and lighting up a cigarette and then falling back asleep. So I strongly urge you if you smoke, not to smoke in bed. I would also really like it if you could somehow quit, and perhaps I should dedicate an upcoming blog to how I was able to quit after an intense 18-year habit. So anyways, now that I don’t smoke, my big problem waking up is that I will make a coffee or tea and bring it back to bed with me and then fall asleep before I can drink it, and when I wake up and am able to drink it, it is sitting at my bedside, cold as anything.

The flip side of it is that by the time the evening comes around, I find it very hard to relax enough to go to sleep. I have tried meditation, self-hypnosis, medication, and so many things. What I have learned is that it is very important to listen to your body’s subtle rhythms. Watch out for any caffeine intake after say 5:30pm. Make sure you have gotten plenty of fresh air and exercise each day. Make sure you always have clean sheets, and wear whatever you consider to be pyjamas. I used to like wearing pyjamas until I found a very comfortable pair of sweat pants/track pants that I use along with a t-shirt. Another thing is that you should keep your bed only for sleeping and sex. For some reason when you bring your tablet or laptop or book to bed and read or work or do anything like that, you forget how to switch off your brain. I have also learned that screen time should be reduced a few hours before bed, not always possible when you are a writer.

There is so much more to relaxation that I want to cover. One thing I think I should make sure and mention is that I don’t think it is good to rely on medications like Ativan to help you relax. When I took it, I found myself getting addicted to it and it left me too groggy. I would often take it and then have a long nap. Naps are great, they feel wonderful, but they should be kept to a bare minimum. The more of a nap you have during the day, the harder it will be to sleep at night.

Well, dear readers, I will leave things off at that. Please feel free to leave a comment, I always love to hear from you folks. If anyone has downloaded and read my book “Alert and Oriented x3” I would really like if you could put a review on Amazon.com for me. Looking forward to meeting some of you in my upcoming reading, please do take care and remember all of you that you are loved.

The Strange Thing a Person With Schizophrenia and Bipolar Dreams of While War Rages On in The Ukraine

Be Sure To Read the Last Paragraph to Learn How to Control Your Dreams

Cold War Dreaming:

Good morning readers. It is 5:25 am and I just woke up. As per usual, I had a disturbing dream. This one was interesting though, so I thought I would share it in the hopes that someone with knowledge of dream meanings could give me feedback

First of all, during the Cold War that ended when the Soviet Folded, I used to have a lot of bad dreams. Now, whenever a war flares up that relates to Canada, I get ‘War’ dreams, and this morning was no exception.

I forget how some of the dream started, but it seemed I was in a class of some sort. It was near the now reclaimed land our municipal airport used to sit on. They are building houses there and there is an aviation museum and gathering place for large sales and such. In the dream, for some reason, my teacher was laughing and joking about small planes. I kind of took offence to this having been formerly a student pilot who loved flying small planes. She then said something to the effect that she only thought it was funny because it was so rare to hear them overhead.

So Now the Critical Part of the Dream Came

I dreamed about a jet plane. Not just any jet plane, but an old Korean War era jet. My old Air Cadet Squadron used to have one, or a shell of one as a monument, with our squadron numbers on it. I start to realize I am dreaming when I see jets in my dreams. My Dad told me that when Denmark was enslaved by the Nazis in WWII, the sky went dark with planes overhead. So now when I dream about WWIII, I dream about planes. But now there was just one.

As the teacher or group leader said, it was rare to see a plane there, so I took careful notice of this jet. The pilot flew past where I was, then flew past us really low. I could see that he was missing part of a wing and was in trouble. Still, somehow, the pilot was able to come in for what looked like a smooth landing, and then did a touch and go. This is when your wheels touch the runway, but you add power and take off again. The plane then circled around and crashed right in front of me without exploding.

This is where curiosity got the best of me and, knowing he was dead, I went to look at the pilot. He was still moving a little, but after the way his plane crashed, I knew he was dead. Other people from the class came to look too, and I tried to shoo them away. Then there was my bully from junior high. He was much taller and larger from me and from experience I knew he was mean and aggressive. But I did everything I could to keep him from seeing the body, even locking him in the classroom and running around to make sure he did exit another way.

All this may seem just a little strange, but I am thinking that of course, once again I am afraid of a global war, that is obvious. But I am also thinking I am having problems with self-esteem and the loss of my Mom. I think the dead body was partly a symbol of the last moments I spent with my Mom when she was taken off life support. I didn’t want the bully to see because it was a personal, family thing (even if I still considered him a pilot-pilots are a very cliquish bunch).

Taking Charge of Your Dreaming

I would encourage my readers to write down their dreams and if they have a psychiatrist, to talk about some of the more vivid or upsetting ones. As per usual, I also suggest people keep a journal, which is a great place to keep dream content, and that they write down everything they want to discuss with their doctor when they see them and, if they are unable to talk about anything, at least give your doctor the note. The funny thing is, once I was a formal patient for 6 months in a psych hospital, and one day I went to the computer room, typed up a list of what I wanted from my doctor, then printed it up and the doctor for some reason was very amazed that I was able to use a computer and printer and even asked for a copy of the note to show my nursing staff. Though I had a very tough go of things that hospital visit, after I saw that doctor it was few short weeks until I was able to leave.

I just want to say one last thing about dreaming. I learned once that if you want to control your dreams, fly and all that, all you have to do is ask yourself five times a day, “Am I dreaming?” Soon you will be able to tell whether you are dreaming just by using your senses. As that happens, you will be able to take control of your dreams because asking yourself that will increase your dream awareness.

Write To Change the World

Hello Dear Readers! Not a whole lot to say today. I have been putting some poems and writing on Medium if anyone wants to check it out. I also had kind of a cool thing happen today, I had an article published in “The Ottawa Citizen” I will put a link to my article below, be great if anyone had any questions or comments for me, you can always reach me at viking3082000@yahoo.com

Link to my mental health/refugee article by clicking this text

Friendships, Family and Romantic Relationships When You Have a Diagnosis of Psychosis, Bipolar Disorder or Depression

So this is a photo of me and my best friend, Richard Van Camp. Richard is such an amazing guy, he is a writer as well and his first book was made into a major feature film with Benjamin Bratt (Julia Roberts used to date him) and some amazing young actors. Richard is such a kind and funny guy. During the pandemic, we haven’t been able to meet up much but Richard and I keep our friendship strong, me by coming by his place to sit on the cold patio and chat, and him by bringing me things like boxes of books he came across or even a breakfast from a fast food chain which I eat in my parking lot while we talk.

It is such an important thing to have a friend, but when you have an illness, it is almost essential to do your best to have a few friends. Even those we are close to can feel pressured when we call them too much or constantly seem to be in crisis. Something another friend suggested for me was that I get a counsellor and talk with them only about all of my angst and emotions and save the fun times for my friends and family.

This can work, but still I find myself telling friends about my tough times. What I feel is important is to circulate through friendships (with Covid-19 all of these seem to be over the phone). I have six or seven friends that I will talk to for ten or twenty minutes here and there, aside from when we get together. During the pandemic, in cold weather, get-togethers can be difficult. I suggest to most people that they should try and involve themselves in winter sports when they can. Skating, ice hockey, skiing, cross-country skiing. These will not only get you out, but if you make an effort and prove to people you can be a trustworthy, solid friend, you can also meet people.

A lot of people with mental health conditions have trouble meeting people. This is such a shame because this can lead to loneliness and depression which can lead to self-harm and hospitalization. Then you are in the hospital and your mood is lifted and some may accuse you of malingering. The other negative part of this is that it really isn’t a good idea to meet friends in the hospital, even though you may have a lot in common with them. I have heard doctors declare this and a nurse say she has seen a lot of people continue friendships outside of the hospital and get ripped off and there is nothing the people in the hospital can do. I am sure there are other reasons. In my own case, I left the hospital, was dating someone from the hospital and she became very ill soon after being discharged and thought that I had stolen from her and that the book I wrote was actually her story that I had taken from her somehow.

So that leaves us with the question of what to do if you are depressed and lonely. First of all, I always will recommend people see their doctor. I had a long bout of depression that only ended when I got onto an anti-depressant that worked for me. When I was feeling better, I was able to get out more and meet more people. The last place I want to meet people would be a bar. So many people in bars have messed up lives either through alcohol or drugs or many horrible things. I suggest getting a volunteer or part-time job. I am so fortunate to be able to work for the Schizophrenia Society and to make a little money which is allowed with my disability pension. Check with a social worker if you are getting benefits, there are often limits on what people are allowed to make.

Another great way to meet people where alcohol or cheap sex isn’t as serious an issue is to go to poetry readings and story slams. I used to read a lot of poetry in cafes and such, and I have actually won cash money in a few story slam competitions. Not only that, I met some pretty amazing people.

While you are in the process of working, try and find a way to either finish school or upgrade to something you feel you may enjoy more than your previous field. You will meet people at your new school and education is never wasted, even if you decide later you want to drop out. I took a series of courses through my library that were free and it allowed me to get jobs writing and teaching writing and it literally changed my life. Before that, I went to finish my high school (30 years ago) I met a young woman who became my other best friend who I have been able to be close to for most of my life.

Relationships take work. Family relationships may not be as difficult, though many people rebel in their teens. I certainly did, but eventually my dad and I found peace and he is such a great listener and support for me. I also have a brother, a sister and a few cousins who I know will be there for me no matter what. Friends are the next level up. We have to cultivate our friendships in many of the same ways we do with romantic relationships. I think one of the big things is that it is important to be equal with regards to money. Try to pay for things you and your friend do at least half the time. Surprise a friend with something you know they like, like a chocolate ice cream cone.

Then we have romantic relationships. I am about the worst person in the world to write about this topic, but it basically starts out trying to meet someone who is intellectually equal, stable and someone you are attracted to and hope you are the same for them. There is no shame at all in trying online dating sites, though many of the free ones are only set up for one-night sexual conquests.

I always used to tell a friend that he was lonely because he didn’t do enough, and I stand by what I said (in his case) I really feel that if you do interesting things, find interesting ways to better yourself like taking extended budget trips or volunteering for Greenpeace, then you will have something to talk to your friends and potential life partner about.

Well Dear Readers. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to click on the photo of London’s Tower Bridge at right to download a copy of my latest book (if you don’t see it on your newsletter, please navigate to the website at www.edmontonwriter.com and do so). I also encourage you to save a copy of the link

You can also visit the page that has the link to my two online public readings by clicking on this text

One of My Most Prestigious Accomplishments: A Story Published in The British Journal of Psychiatry by Cambridge University Press

Hello Good readers! Just wanted to encourage you to click on my Writer’s Portfolio page link above and scroll to the bottom of the page to read my “Extra” Article from Cambridge University Press. Please feel free to download and share this file (PDF). https://edmontonwriter.files.wordpress.com/2022/03/bjpsych-21-0722_proof_hi.pdf

I thought some of you might enjoy reading one of my more recent poems as well, the title is simply, “Love Villanelle” and you can link to it below: