bipolar disorder

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).

What Are Some of the Wrong Things To Do When You Have a Mood Disorder and Schizophrenia

(blog is beneath the two following photos)

Well, dear readers, I seem to have danced with the devil one more time and come out the other side unscathed. As many of you may know, I recently started investing in the Stock Market. I started out with some very good advice from a friend’s dad who wanted me to carefully place my money into solid companies for the long term. I had some extra capital, so I thought I would make one or two more risky investments. I did fairly well. One time, I put money into a stock then went to check on it later to see it had gone up more than $1,000.00 and so I sold it. Another time I placed an order to buy a certain stock and it went ballistic just as I bought, and mere minutes later I sold the stock for a $400.00 profit. But then I bought an energy stock that deals in oil and gas that seemed really stable, and after I bought it, some very bad news came out about the company and its leadership and I lost just about that whole $1,000.00 I was so happy to have gotten.

It is funny how much investing in stocks can be like gambling. I got so absorbed with investing that I found myself scraping for news, waking up early to check the price of my stock. I decided it was too much. I have other things, very enriching things to spend my time on that won’t rob me of my life savings. I ended up selling all my positions and buying what basically amounts to two mutual funds. They pay a dividend of around $100 a month and I am going to set things up so that the dividends go to buying more shares. I plan to add more to the investment as I can afford it from month to month, but basically my investment, if it follows historical price projections, will give me a little nest egg to have when I am 65 years old, all I have to do is leave it sit.

I should have known that I would obsess over stocks. I obsessed over casinos and scratch tickets and those vile machines we have in bars called video lottery terminals. I don’t know all the science to it, but it seems gambling makes a person addicted to their own adrenalin. I had the good fortune to pick up a book yesterday by a financial advisor who also studies buddhism and Yoga. His approach to money, and to the many things in life that we should value more than money, is very educational and refreshing.

Above all, I am actually pretty amazed that I was able to stop looking at and buying stocks so easily. It may seem funny to mention this here, but recently I have been taking small amounts of Cannabinoid Oil and it seems to have made a huge difference in my mental health (warning: I am not a Doctor and people can react to CBD oil so consult a physician or psychiatrist before trying it). It seems to help me to sleep (I have been getting 8 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep since I started using it) and it also seems to help me with my angry and miserable moods. I am not going to go ahead full bore and recommend it here though, it is much too soon to say if the oil has lasting, positive effects, but I have been able to greatly slow down my intake of sleep remedies and it seems to work well with my antipsychotic medication. I feel better than ever, but a little prone to stay in bed.

Just to say something about myself, I wanted to mention I am extremely happy today because I bought the LP “Revolver” by the Beatles today. I have been really getting into music lately, and I think it doesn’t hurt that I recently connected with an old friend from my youth who had a career as a musician and is an absolute record nut.

Also, I thought maybe this would be a good place to mention that I have been getting attention from some Ivy League Universities. First, I published an article in “The Schizophrenia Bulletin” which is put out by Oxford University Press (yes, same people who wrote the dictionary). Attention from them in the form of a publication got Yale University interested in having me write a peer review of an academic paper, and then I also recently found out that the British Journal of Psychiatry will be running a 500 word story I wrote for them. To me this is pretty amazing, but I also wanted to mention that over the past four weeks, I have been taking a class that has totally changed how I look at journalism. It was put on by “The OpEd Project” Op Ed is short for opinion/editorial. I actually didn’t know very much about Op Ed writing at all, but I sent a couple of articles to a news magazine called “The News Station” and they seemed to classify my work as Opinion Editorial pieces. So, wanting to get more publishing credits, I searched and found “The OpEd Project” and applied for their class on a partial scholarship basis. It was simply amazing and I encourage anyone who feels they have a valid opinion on a subject they feel they have expertise in, and want to find out how you can change the world, check out their class. If you decide you want to take one of their classes, contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will give you a promo code that will save you a few Yankee dollars.

With that, dear readers, I would like to wish you a wonderful weekend and great joy in your lives. As always, I would love to hear your feedback, opinions, stories, poems and jokes at any time. Until then, live with passion!

By the way, thanks Christine, I think your prayers helped!!

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!

Never Get Complacent About the Mental Illness of You or a Loved One

Well, I have to admit it, I have been getting complacent, so I thought it would be a good time to sit down and write. I have some bad news off the top, it looks like there is really no way I am going to have my new book, “Voted Off the Crew” ready for the launch date. On the good side of that, I am having it professionally edited and I think the end result of what will become of the book will be something my readers will enjoy more and I will be more proud of.

As for me, I have been isolating a lot but doing some writing that I really think might help make a difference. I have written essays for the websites, “OC87 Recovery Diaries” and “The News Station”. It feels good to publish, especially since in the case of the above, I am publishing about my mental health experiences. But I almost feel I need to shock myself into getting off my butt and getting down to doing more with each precious day I have.

I think it is something that people with mental illnesses are prone to, for a couple of days all I did was lay in bed. At first I gave myself the excuse that it was because I had a headache, which was true, then I had some pretty severe stomach pains and wanted to use that as an excuse to lie around, but when I got up and went for a mid-day walk, I soon forgot about any headache and my stomach pain went away.

I am not saying that everyone out there with health issues is being weak or lazy, but I am thinking that sometimes when you get into a rut it can be really helpful to get some fresh air and exercise. I love taking walks because they are fairly low-impact and you don’t need any fancy equipment, most of the time you don’t even need to change. You just head out your door and plan not to be back for an hour more or less.

A close friend who was both a medical student and a lifeguard once told me that in the case of just about everything, exercise is the best medicine. Of course there are limits, but if you find yourself in a funk and you aren’t doing anything constructive, try and get a little exercise in. There are also things you can do around the house that can be very beneficial and simple. You can lean against a wall and push away from it, doing what I call ‘low-impact push-ups’ you can do sit-ups, use tension to push your arms against each other at the fists or another point to build tone and strength. You can even find a second hand Yoga mat or invest a few bucks in a new one and go along with some of the many Youtube videos of Yoga classes.

Fortunately, my recent complacency hasn’t made me miss any of my doses of medication. If that happens to you, do your best to resume your medication at the point you are at. Don’t try and catch up and take a couple off doses, if it is Tuesday, start with Tuesday’s dose and move on. If you have been off medications and notice you are experiencing severe depression or voices, paranoia, or any of your old symptoms, either get to see your doctor as soon as you can or get to an emergency room, it could be a long wait, but there will be psychiatrists on call who can assess you and see what the next best course of action should be.

So I am hoping my words will be helpful. Getting complacent is a dangerous place to be in, a person should always remember what things were like when they were in a hospital setting or otherwise having a hard time and make an honest decision as to whether or not they want to go back to all that. Mental and physical health, which are deeply related, need daily and careful maintenance. If you are off your medications and not feeling good about yourself, find a way to see a doctor, and make a phone call before you do anything. There are crisis lines in Canada and the US that can help you through these difficult times, all you need to do is google, dial, reach out, and there will be someone there to listen.

The number for the suicide help line in Canada is: 1(833)456-4566

In the US, the number is: 1(800)273-TALK (8255)

So I Reached A Critical Stage In My Recovery, I Feel Okay. What Comes Next?

Purchase Link for book: http://amzn.to/3qvdlkB

Hello Dear Readers! Well, before I launch into today’s topic, I wanted to thank whoever went online and purchased 2 copies of “Alert and Oriented x3” and 2 copies of “Inching Back to Sane.” This may seem like a small thing, but each time I make a sale like this is a huge victory for me. It means that someone out there who doesn’t really know me is taking a chance that my writing will be good, and I hope I don’t disappoint. It also means I earn a little money that I didn’t have to break my back for, and this means groceries, bills, and more writing supplies.

So, I don’t know if I have really talked about when a person has been through all the bad their illness throws at them and finds themselves stuck in some kind of weird limbo. Of course, the most important thing at this point, which I hope you learned in earlier stages of your illness, is that you continue to see a Doctor and take medications as prescribed.

I ran into some very serious trouble once not doing that. I decided it was too much effort to wake up and cross the city on a bus to see my Psychiatrist. All he really did was talk for a few minutes and renew my prescription. So I stopped seeing him. No one came and tracked me down, and I was still getting my prescriptions, they were just being filled by my family doctor. After a while, with no one qualified to go to for an opinion, I cut back on one of my medications. I didn’t stop it, I just cut the dose in half because it seemed to be making me too tired. Serious. mistake. What I didn’t know, and what my doctor would have told me is that the drug I stopped (depekane) only worked at a certain level in my blood stream and that a simple test would have shown me this critical medication wasn’t working. Then end result was that I ended up getting sicker than ever before and spending 6 months of my life in a hospital. Don’t take chances with your mental health. Find a doctor you can work with, commit to seeing him or her, and take medications as prescribed. There is really no other path to recovery if you have a major mental illness like schizophrenia.

But now there is a lighter side to all of this. Your recovery process can be amazing. One thing I wanted most to do when I felt myself feeling better was to give talks about my experiences. I started out writing short stories about things that happened to me, and I developed them into a loose collection, which became the book you see above (http://amzn.to/3qvdlkB for more information) further to that, I got involved with the schizophrenia society who paid me to give wellness workshops, facilitate support groups, give speeches, give educational presentations, and even work as a telephone peer support person. So now I had two main sources of income and a great source of sharing my thoughts and feelings in a way that could help others. Like I have said a few times before, not necessarily with respect to mental health recovery, you simply establish yourself, force yourself through the difficult times of doing stuff like this alone, and soon you will make friends, feel better about what you are doing. Of course you don’t need to join the schizophrenia society, I couldn’t even guarantee there was one in many of the places this blog reaches, but I think there is a pattern. First of all you may need to go into a hospital or see a psychiatrist. More often than not, you will be prescribed medication. Then you go through the process of finding the optimal medication and go through the process of getting used to it. Then next step when you feel halfway better is to try and get into a life skills course and build your communication skills. Then you are really on your own. But I don’t suggest taking advantage of not having many activities and just sleeping in or staying up every day to watch Star Trek. What I suggest is to either find part-time work, or look at part-time studies that will help you later on when you are looking for work. I happened by photography, which got me a job paying $50 an hour. I could still be doing that, but I wanted to focus now on my writing and I am also teaching. I still take photos when I can, and it even brings in a little money. But I am now teaching two classes a week part-time, and other things present themselves, like the pay I am going to get to be a guest lecturer at a University. All I really have to do is tell the story of my recovery and then answer questions for some first-year students. The idea though that I would progress to the point I am at now considering that for 6 months I was literally a raving mentally ill person in need of being locked up is amazing, and the greatest part of it all? The more I give back, the more I advise those who come after me, the easier it becomes to do the things needed to maintain my mental health. Each time I go to the hospital and see people who have attempted suicide because they stopped their anti-depressants I become more of an advocate for regular, supervised medications. And so much more. Anyhow, anyone who would like to help support my efforts to reduce stigma and increase awareness of mental illness, please purchase my book “Through the Withering Storm” on amazon. Read the reviews, there are some glowing ones. Find the book at this link: http://amzn.to/3qvdlkB and I hope you have a wonderful day and a wonderful read!

Leif Gregersen

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.