Your Medication Works For Your Psychosis and Bipolar Disorder, But You Still Experience Depression. What Should You Do?

Hello Dear Readers! Before I get into today’s topic, I wanted to mention that soon I will be giving a National Public Reading from one of my memoir books and there will be a chance for you to ask any questions you have live with me. I will provide more details as the date comes closer for the talk.

Depression–it seems to be a problem that just about everyone with mental illness has. When I was a teen, I had such crippling depression that I didn’t have a girlfriend, never went to dances or other social events, and could often be found abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism. I should say right away that if you use alcohol to excess, or any drug, it is important for you to be able to talk about it. I suggest that if you have any of these problems that you find a good 12-step meeting to go to, even if you are at the moment unable to quit.

The next thing I would like to see my readers do if they experience depression is to write about it. It can be a very healing process to keep a journal about your feelings and moods. But don’t just write about it in a private journal you don’t show to anyone, write to your psychiatrist. Write them a note or a letter. If you don’t have an appointment soon, send them the letter (yes I know letters are almost things of the past, but they are a powerful tool for many people). If you write a short note detailing your depression and what you are experiencing, give it to your doctor when you see him or her next. There are many kinds of depression and many kinds of anti-depressants available, it is important that the doctor who treats you to know about your depression, he or she may be able to prescribe you something that could help.

The sad truth is, even if your new medication works, it may take some time. Don’t give up hope, and don’t stop taking the medication if you have some minor side effects. Often medications will have some side effects at first that you can adjust to over time, and during this time, the medication may begin to work.

I have been experiencing a few days of the blues lately. My doctor has looked at my medications and decided that I don’t need to keep taking my anti-depressant, they are actually just meant to be a stop-gap resource in most cases. It worries me that I will slip into my severe, debilitating depression, but there are some things I can still do.

One of the big things you can do if you have depression is simply to try and get more fresh air and exercise. Even though I have a bus pass that allows me unlimited travel, whenever I can, I make it a point to walk. Long walks give you fresh air and exercise, help you sleep better, and can elevate depression. There are many ways to exercise no matter what your current health situation. You can go to the pool and just dog-paddle, moving your arms and legs for fifteen minutes or so, then spending some luxurious time in a steam room or hot tub, alternating with cold showers.

Another thing you can look into (besides the 12-step meetings) is trying to get into therapy. I realize this can be an expense for my friends south of the border, but even though it may be difficult to pay for, a few sessions or even many sessions can help you progress and find ways to cope with thoughts and actions that depress you. Most therapists will work on a sliding scale, and if they won’t go low enough for you, tell them to keep sliding or contact a social services agency like Catholic Social Services who may have free counselling or be able to find you free counselling. And don’t delay, the sooner you start to open up about what bothers you, the sooner you will learn coping skills and feel better. And if you ever start to think of suicide, please pick up the phone.

In Canada help is available at 1(833)456-4566

In the USA, 1(800)784-2433 or 1(800)273-TALK(8255)

In the UK, 0800 689 5652

And of course, you can always reach out to me at my email,

All the best dear readers, stay healthy and know that you are loved!

Travel (Pandemic Allowing) When You Have A Psychiatric Disability and A Tiny Income

Travel is one of life’s great experiences. The hardest thing for me since the Pandemic began has been not to be able to travel. For so many who have mental illnesses, travel can be nearly impossible. I want to show you here how you can still do it.

The first thing I think you most need to be able to do is save. There is a short but information-packed book I have read many times on the subject of saving, investing and earning called “The Richest Man in Babylon.” I can’t guarantee it will make you rich overnight, but if you read it and follow the simple advice in it, you are guaranteed to be better off than if you don’t.

So, first you need to determine where you want to visit. Places that are overseas come with expensive airline tickets. Sometimes you may need to set aside money for your ticket as much as a year in advance. This is something I recommend and it has worked well for me travelling to Hawaii twice and to London, England once. I bought my ticket to London well in advance, keeping an eye on prices and seasons. I just wanted to visit the place, it didn’t matter what was going on so I managed a ticket for less than $1,000.00. By luck my trip turned out to be when England was celebrating the Queen’s 92nd birthday and there were a lot of events going on, a lot of flag waving and flowers being laid all over.

In the time between buying my ticket and leaving on the trip, something I did was watch as many Youtube videos as I could about London. I learned how to read their Underground (subway) map and picked out things I wanted to do, good places to eat and where to visit. I was even able to order my bus pass and a detailed paper map online. One of the other things that was key to me going on this trip was that I had a part-time job. I worked as a security guard for just a few hours a week, which wasn’t much, but it was a very easy job and the little extra money for savings made the difference for me.

When I got to London, instead of staying in a hotel, which could easily have cost $200 a night, I stayed in a Hostel, in a dorm room for I think around $60 a night after the exchange, which gave a free breakfast and had free wifi. Free wifi is key because with it, you can make free calls home. Not only that, but I was able to cook most of my meals in the Hostel and store food there rather than having to spend a fortune on restaurants.

I knew of a lot of the places I wanted to see, but after getting there, there were so many more things I want to get to next time. So many of the amazing sights and experiences in London were free. The changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, winding down in Trafalgar Square. Even most of the major museums and galleries were free to visit.

One of the key things I did was to restrict my activities to one per day. I also set a rule for myself that I wouldn’t spend more each day than I would at home. This meant returning home with a little extra money and the ability to not worry about working for a couple of days as travelling overseas can be exhausting.

I do want to caution something about customs. They can be a little tricky, especially with people with mental illnesses. During my trip home I was selected for secondary screening and the customs officer actually went through my medications one by one and also googled me, I guess to see if I was lying about my job or anything like that. If this happens to you, stay calm, explain your illness even if you feel it may look bad and above all be totally honest. You can’t get into trouble for having a mental illness, but you can get into trouble for lying and a lot of trouble if you are taking home contraband or more than your legal limit of products such as booze and cigarettes.

Lastly, if you are going to the US, remember that although it is legal in Canada, cannabis is illegal in the United States. Many states have legalized it but the US Federal Government hasn’t, and that is who pays the border guards down there. Don’t even bring a trace of marijuana or other drugs with you, they can turn you back, arrest you or fine you and generally ruin a hard-earned vacation.

My Best Explanation Of Psychosis Caused By Bipolar and Schizophrenia

Good day dear readers! If you would like to contact me, feel free. My email is

I don’t know exactly why, but when I think of mental illness, pictures like the above one often come to mind. Sometimes I really envy birds, I have spent a lot of time watching them. As a boy, I don’t know if I was that obsessed with birds, but I certainly loved flying and I started from a young age. I was 12 when I first sat in the cockpit of a glider and I later went on to attend commercial pilot school for a while. It just seems sometimes that birds are so free and happy. They just have relatively simple brains and they constantly display incredible amounts of skill and grace as they cleave the air.

As far as psychosis goes, from what I am understanding, it most often comes on gradually. It starts in something called the prodromal phase where a milder mental illness exists and develops into psychosis. For me, it was both anxiety and depression. Some of this could have had to do with the abuse I was getting at home and at school, but my mom did suffer from severe depression, to the point of needing shock treatments. One of the biggest parts of the early phases of my mental illness was a feeling of not being worthy of happiness added to a severe case of anxiety that made it impossible for me to look people in the eye or talk to anyone without blushing. One of the worst parts of this was that I was very slow to learn how to relate to the opposite sex and never even had a girlfriend until I was 20 something.

At a certain point in my life, I think I was starting to get a handle on the anxiety, and I hadn’t had any severe depression for a while. I didn’t notice it, but I was starting to show signs of both bipolar and schizophrenia. Later as a formal patient in a psychiatric hospital, I recall two very esteemed doctors arguing as to whether I had bipolar or schizophrenia. Funny enough, I had both.

What having those two illnesses meant early on was that I had extreme highs and lows and later developed psychosis, which I will explain in a moment. As far as my bipolar went though, I have a recollection of being able to induce a manic or high phase of my illness by drinking alcohol. I was invited to one party at a friend’s house once and was laughing a little too loud, making a few too many jokes and displaying too much energy for anyone’s liking. One of the things I recall about the times when I didn’t have any friends and thus didn’t do any drinking, was that I thought drinking was the only true joy in my life. It was also a social lubricant and if I had a few drinks, I was much more likely to approach a woman to talk or ask her to dance or even start necking with her.

One of the things about Air Cadets was that, possibly because of what the real military was like, there was a huge drinking culture. I recall having a phase of social development where I went from wallflower to life of the party in a few short months, then after I quit cadets losing all of my chances to interact with and relate to women.

To go past this for a little while, I should talk about my psychosis. It is a funny thing to have and a difficult thing to explain. Basically, psychosis is when a person becomes out of touch with reality. In my own case, and I am sure in many from experience, psychosis starts out with delusions. These are thoughts, ideas and beliefs that kind of appear seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes they can take the form of a running commentary of what the person is doing. My false thoughts didn’t appear to be someone talking to me, everything was from inside my head. The next aspect of psychosis is hallucinations. These are sensory inputs (touch, taste, smell, hearing–they can come in the form of any of the five senses) that are false. Often in my case, my hallucinations backed up what my delusions were telling me. I remember spending a great deal of time once when I was in the psych hospital sitting and listening to the air conditioner. It made a sound like a drum roll and inside my head a dialogue was telling me that I was about to be awarded a medal for bravery, all I had to do was walk out of the TV room and claim it. Sometimes this would go on for hours, I would even sometimes go and look if anything was there.

Another time, I was on the psych ward and experiencing false ideas and sensory input and a group of student nurses came onto the ward. One of them kept telling me, “Your Limo is outside.” I am pretty sure she really said this, not because I really had a Limo, but because she understood a lot about psychosis and wanted to see how much she could mess with me. I found it actually very common to experience this sort of cruelty from staff members.

So we have delusions and hallucinations. The next part is a feeling of paranoia. Certainly not everyone who has schizophrenia experiences all of these or even has all the same symptoms. Even when I was taking my medication though, I sometimes felt like others wanted to harm me. This made it very hard to attend school, go to parties, even have a job or a social life.

The next part of psychosis (and I should mention there are a lot of illnesses that can possibly include psychosis, though schizophrenia with 1 in 100 people having it is one of the more common ones) is having a general susceptibility to the false ideas you are receiving. One of the interesting things about symptoms like this is the fact that some ideas that people with schizophrenia get are shared with a great deal of other people with schizophrenia. One is a spy agency planting a computer in your brain to track you and spy on you. Some people with schizophrenia will walk around with tin foil on their heads in public so they don’t transmit radio waves. What I remember is experiencing those false ideas and thoughts, and having hallucinations and tendency to believe them and thinking the most preposterous things. I desperately wanted to make sense of why the CIA wanted me dead and that a super model wanted me to steal a car I saw that supposedly had a million dollars in the trunk (thankfully I didn’t do any of the more extreme things) I made a lot of logical conclusions and reasoned things out and quite often the only explanations that made sense were ideas like aliens were communicating with me or such.

Psychosis sucks. It hurts those who experience it and it puts their family and friends over the brink of never wanting to talk to the sick person again, but it shouldn’t. It isn’t a choice people make, and the goal should be to get the person treatment, not to just get rid of them. When I look back at times when I had psychosis, I am amazed that my doctors were able to bring me back from the brink. I don’t necessarily like all the things I went through in the hospital, but it may have been the only place I could get the help I needed. I will never forget spending five months on the locked ward being thrown into solitary time and time again, weeks, months on end. I honestly feel it exacerbated my psychological health problems, which I believe to be PTSD. But now, 20 years later, my life is on track again. One of the worst things about mental illness is that not a lot of people know enough to help someone they know who is going through depression or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Seriously. Things. Need. To. Change.

Why It Is Almost Always Negative To Make Friends or Find Romantic Partners While In a Psychiatric Ward

drop me a line with some of your own stories like these or other feedback:

I remember when I first met the guy who became one of my few friends after I left the hospital. He was incredibly strange, he looked awkward and was very stuck up. One of the things I remember him doing was running up and down the hospital hallways in short bursts. One time, a nurse slighted him and he went on for hours about how he was going to look up the definition of a nurse in the library and photocopy it and put it where she could see it as revenge. Then, when I left the hospital I found out he lived just two blocks away and I ran into him now and then. One time he was carrying a bottle of milk and I asked him if I could have a sip and he gladly handed it over. It turned out that he had saved rotten milk in his fridge so he could fill a bottle with it and then take it back for a refund. I nearly threw up because of his desire to lie and cheat.

I ended up knowing this guy for a long time. It was hard to let go of friends when I was living marginalized and had few people to talk to. At one point I moved in with a roommate and he kept ending up sleeping on our floor, and being in the way most of the morning. If I didn’t give him permission, he would get permission from my roommate who he barely knew. I was soon ready to carry him off and put him in a dumpster. The bad incidents went on and on, and cumulated in him accusing me of backstabbing and cheating him when he was so clearly in the wrong it was obvious.

It wouldn’t be bad if this was an isolated incident, but this situation kept repeating itself. I had to come to realize that people in the hospital are seriously ill and not necessarily capable of forming a normal friendship. There was one guy who I really liked being friends with, I thought he was the end of the world. We had tons in common, had even been in the same Air Cadet Squadron. But he was a pathological liar. And man, did he tell some doozies. Every day I saw him he told me he had just had sex with another beautiful young woman. On and on he would talk about the money he had, from a farm he supposedly owned to millions of dollars he had made one way or another. He even promised me a job when I left the hospital. I left before him and was unable to contact him, which should have been a good thing. A couple of years later I met him at a camping trip sponsored by the building I lived in. All of a sudden, all the good times and good stories were back, and somehow I believed them.

It might not have been so bad that he was always lying about everything, but the problem was that he wanted to use his lies to control me. Near the end of our friendship, he had me convinced that he had gotten a lawyer to seize a vehicle from a guy that owed me money and that if it weren’t for the fact that I had slept in (I hadn’t) I would have been able to get a cheque for the full amount owed. I had no choice, I had to tell him the friendship was over. He actually tried to convince me that I had to go to a counsellor with him so we could talk about how we crossed each other’s boundaries. He actually thought somehow that by being friends with him we were married or that he owned me. The incidents went on.

It can be so hard to get through those long days in the hospital. I don’t disagree that people should have friends, but I think that you really shouldn’t meet people in the hospital that you continue to be friends with when you leave. There are so many better ways to meet people who will become real friends. I met a lot of people volunteering for my community newspaper. I met my best friend because I worked hard on and then sought help with a book I wrote. Another close friend was someone I simply cared a great deal for who I have been close with for 30 years and we talk every day. I also prefer the company of my family most of the time, the people who will really stick with you through tough times.

If you need a way to get through the long, boring days on a psychiatric ward, consider drawing, doing puzzles, playing board games. Fill up the time in any way you can, you will feel better and get better sooner. I was never any good at drawing until one day a fellow patient suggested I try drawing something, a picture of a tiger, and after a few minutes I was transported to a place where it didn’t matter that I was ill and that I didn’t like my surroundings.

Three times while I was in a psychiatric ward I found romantic partners and learned too late that not only were these people in a vulnerable state, but that soon after leaving the hospital they became ill again and it was literally living hell having a relationship with them.

Another thing I think is important to mention here is that your doctors and nurses are not your friends. You may like them a great deal, and there is nothing wrong with that, it actually may help you recover faster if you feel motivated to take professional advice. But you have to remember that these people are professionals who have strict ethics about how far they are allowed to let the doctor/nurse–patient relationship go. Don’t try and make friends with these people either. Friends mostly come from a shared interest in something, a unique ability to communicate with each other and mutual respect, along with good times. Though they may seem to be nice and treat you well, the sad reality is that they have to treat everyone well and a few years down the road these people will likely not even remember you, they just treat so many people.

I have seen exceptions to this rule, I actually really like my present psychiatrist. She has bought books I wrote and I have loaned her Canadian Poetry books as she is from Scotland and hasn’t experienced Canadian Poetry much. And my nurse/therapist I have known for 30 years and he is a truly exceptional and kind person. But this is in an ongoing clinical setting where I continue to see these people and will pretty much keep seeing them until they retire. I recall running into a former psychiatrist of mine who I had for years and who I had deep respect for. I asked him if since he was retired I could call him “Brian” and he simply said no. But at least he was kind enough to buy, read and write an introduction for one of my books. Sadly though, as much as I respect and admire him, we really aren’t friends.

Don’t Ever Let Yourself Get Complacent With Mental illnesses. Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Anxiety, Depression are lifetime illnesses

In lieu of a photo (it is too cold in Edmonton to take photos!) please follow the link after today’s blog to read a poem I published in my community newspaper!

21 years ago, I went through an incredibly difficult time in my life. I was living in a tiny 10 foot by 15 foot apartment, full to the ceiling with furniture, books, clothes and the things I tried to save throughout my life and I started to allow more time to go by between Psychiatrist visits. I got him to call in my prescriptions, which I was taking. But it had been such a long time since I was ever ill. More time than I had ever gone before in good mental health since I had been diagnosed. I started thinking, “Well, what if I’m not mentally ill anymore.” and “What if my mental health problem is strictly due to a hormonal imbalance.” I was cautious, though not cautious enough. I decided to try lowering my depekane, which was what kept my moods stable. I thought it was doping me up and that I could reduce it and still stay sane. Over the next weeks and months, I kept getting into brushes with agencies trying to get me help, including the crisis team and the police. I was out of it and my parents knew, and they had been trying to get me help (I found out later that depekane has to reach a certain level in your blood to work properly and I was way below.) The worst part about mental illness is that not matter how sick you may be, you likely won’t realize it. Schizophrenia is odd though, sometimes it taunts you and tortures you with hallucinations and voices and you end up wanting to end it all.

I was so lucky to have family and friends that cared enough to help me even when I was on the verge of being dangerous. In the end, I was in such severe psychosis that I thought someone was trying to kill me and that they had placed a bomb in my apartment building. I screamed and kicked on every door trying to tell people to get out any way they could. The end result of that was that I was evicted and I spent the next 6 months in a psych hospital. I have very little bad to say about the staff there, except for one doctor and one nurse who had huge egos, and the nurse was incredibly cruel. To this day, I suspect that my doctor didn’t give me the medication that would get me better because I called him incompetent and asked for a different doctor.

So the lesson to be learned is, treat a mental illness as the most important thing in your life. Over time, with taking medications properly and consulting often with my doctors and therapists, eating a good diet and exercising, and above all, challenging myself to keep doing more things that push back anxiety (getting in front of crowds and giving speeches) and keep my brain sharp (puzzles, reading, taking ginkgo biloba) I am able to accomplish more than I ever thought I would have been able to. I wanted to put in this post a poem I wrote that was published in my community newspaper instead of a photo. As always, it would be great to hear from my readers!

apologies dear readers, for some reason I was unable to copy and paste my poem into this field. Anyone who would like to read one of my better poems, please click on the link and check it out as it appeared in the Boyle-McCauley News