dreams

Mind Wondering, Wandering as January Comes On With a Vengeance

DSC_0048           Couldn’t resist juxtaposing today’s poem with this lovely shot of daisies in bloom. 

(scroll down past today’s poem for today’s blog 🙂

January Musings

 

Soft crunch of snow

Underfoot

Resounds

In pleasure

Even for tired feet

 

Mile after mile

Each day brings

New joy

Walking

Feeling fit, happy

 

Romance is a lie

For those

Who can’t be alone

Can’t be whole as one

Because those who can

Are never alone

 

Night sky in winter

So alive

Crisp, moonbeam and starlight filled

Fill my heart

As I watch the northern lights

Dance

 

No need to hold on to

Anything

Anyone

We are all brothers and sisters

One flesh, one world

Under the night sky

 

Leif Gregersen

January 6, 2015

     Good day dear readers!  Well, a good deal has gone on since I last posted.  One of them that I don’t know if I mentioned is that I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  As a long time fan of the Star Wars movies, especially the first three (they were a religion to kids my age when they first came out), I have to say this was an extremely well done and satisfying movie to watch.  The plot was incredible, the references to the first movies was awesome, and the stunts and effects were almost beyond belief.  GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

On to other topics, I had a great day yesterday.  As many of you may know, I work giving presentations about mental health for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.  We are doing a new thing where we are going to have Psychiatry students come in to answer questions that normal presenters can’t handle.  So yesterday I met the young woman I will be working with and she seemed so cool.  She was very attractive and introduced herself as Doctor Olivia…  and I was really pleased to think I could get to know someone so intelligent and dedicated to have gone this far with her education.  Being part businessman, I thought I would show her my books about mental health (Through The Withering Storm, Inching Back to Sane) and to my great surprise she had read and greatly enjoyed one of them already.

Now that is a nice little story all in all, but I want to use it to illustrate a point.  When you are a writer or even just a person with a goal in mind such as owning a business, if you give it your all, it may take time, it may take a lot of time, but if you persist, huge rewards can come.  When I first put my book out, I was very distressed that no one seemed to want it, very worried that I couldn’t cut things as a writer and now a few years later I am reaping the rewards of my efforts.  One of the things I did was to get a copy of a book called “The Writer’s Handbook” which comes out with a new edition each year and I sent off proposal after proposal to write articles.  In this time I started to learn how to write better proposals and I have had a few really good opportunities come my way.  One of them that happened recently is a case where a man who owned two mental health magazines called me up from a query I had sent him two years ago and had me write him some articles.  He liked my work a great deal and now I am kind of a staff writer for his magazines and it pays fairly good.

There are many other little things too numerous to list here, but I just wanted to illustrate that when you have a dream, as I had a dream of being a well known writer, you have to give it your all and keep giving it your all and not give up.  Your goal can be anything though.  One thing I learned in Phys. Ed. class in school (yes, you can actually learn things in gym) is how to set down what I can do and make goals for what I want to be able to do.  I think this really applies to mental health patients.  Fitness of course can be a part of it, you could say you wanted to walk a mile a day and work your way up to more, but you can also say you want to have five close friends or a part-time job by the end of next year or have saved up for a trip.  Goals are very powerful things, and if you don’t have them, you are basically just floating around without direction, which sadly can end up leaving you with years of your life gone.

Well Dear readers, I hope my words can help and inspire you.  I have to run but it is my strongest prayer that the words I put down here can make a difference for someone, so if you enjoy what I have written or even if you just wanted to talk or ask my something, as always I would love to hear from you at viking3082000@yahoo.com

All the best!!!

 

A Little About Dreaming and Sleep Aids

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Well, above is another bee photo I took, this one in my kitchen.  I really like to take photos of insects, but bees especially not only because they are beautiful to me but also because bees are an extremely important part of our ecosystem.

In the news for me this week some may know I had my camera stolen.  Thanks to the fact that I have been working hard and saving I was able to replace it and with some luck I might also get some help in doing so.  I have a casual part-time job as a photographer for the City of Edmonton so it was pretty necessary that I get another one right away.  I was going to get another Nikon D3200 as I was very happy with my last one, but I found out they have been discontinued and so I spent a little extra and got a Nikon D3300 which so far seems to be a very nice camera.

As far as my mental health goes, I don’t know how much of this I should share, but I seem to have come across something that is really helping me.  I recently visited Toronto and found out that my sister’s husband takes a herbal medicine called Skullcap when he gets too far into an ‘up’ or ‘manic’ mood, and I decided to try it myself.  I have also been trying something that I got at a health food store called ‘True Calm” which has valerian and Taurine (one of the ingredients of energy drinks) among other herbal stuff in it and I occasionally take them when I need to sleep.  I have found that they calm me down, get me to sleep and seem (when I don’t take them more than one night in a row) to give me a full night’s sleep rather than just a short sleep which often leaves me feeling tired the next day.  I am very much against sleeping pills and tranquilizers, but lately I have been taking something called ‘Rivotril’ or ‘Clonazepam’ which has calmed me down but I worry it will be addictive, so I try to use it very sparingly.  It is so hard for me to sleep sometimes though, so for now I am going to keep taking it once or twice a week, alternating days with trying to sleep with no help and using the skullcap and true calm and occasionally also using melatonin.  I think the biggest difference with this new stuff I am taking is that it seems to allow me to have dreams that are much less disturbing.  I could write volumes of theories on the subconscious mind and things like delusions and dreaming, but they wouldn’t mean much because I am not qualified to speak on such matters.  I guess I will kind of sum up what I think in a few sentences, but please don’t look to me as any kind of an expert.  Basically my theory goes something like this:  I personally feel it is impossible to have more thoughts than we have had input into our brains, but many people, including myself have things like disturbing dreams and delusional thinking that seems to come from somewhere.  What I feel all of this is, is something that is taken from our subconscious mind, that huge massive 2/3 of the iceberg that we don’t see, the part that is hidden underwater.  These thoughts surface when our grip on our conscious mind is weak, but they are things we have experienced and learned but have forgotten for a number of reasons, sometimes our minds have made them unavailable to our conscious mind because they are disturbing.  Anyhow, I don’t want to get into this any further, but I would love it if anyone who regularly reads this blog could comment and start a discussion with me.  If anyone out there wanted to talk and needed a peer supporter to email, feel free to contact me at viking3082000@yahoo.com  Hope you all had a good Canadian Thanksgiving/US Columbus Day and don’t forget to scroll down to read today’s poem!

 

Growing Up

 

I was so naïve and stupid

Thinking I could beat all the odds

I just simply had to try it,

Hope I had favor from the gambling gods

 

When I look at what they turned me into

Those games of luck and skill

It means so very much something saved me

Despite my self-destructive will

 

One wouldn’t think a simple game of poker

Or the pull of the arm of a slot machine

Could destroy someone so completely

Make them into something lowly and mean

 

How old could I have been

Those all too many years ago

When that demon crawled under my skin

And possessed my very soul

 

I started with scratching tickets

Even with money that wasn’t mine

I found with each bet my beating heart would quicken

As I strayed further from the straight and narrow line

 

I went through pain, withdrawal, depression

At times I wished I could totally give in

But soon with help my resolve was newly freshened

And I learned a weakness isn’t in fact a sin

 

With a lot of work and help I recovered

Managed to set gambling aside

It scares me now the lies I told

In the name of manly pride

 

Love never seemed to find me

Back when I was pissing my life away

The need for risk and danger blinded me

And pushed family and friends away

 

So many terrible addictions

I had to overcome and more

I found precious golden freedom

When faith opened a totally new door

 

Leif Gregersen

The Question of Goals, The Question of Dreams

143This is an incredible scene from Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park, one of my favorite places on Earth

     Well, I am really fond of quoting a study done on a bunch of Harvard graduates a while back.  They took a graduating class and asked them how many of them had clear, written goals as to where they saw themselves going and what they saw themselves doing and only 3% of them actually had them (please don’t quote me, I am only estimating, it is a while since I read the actual study).  They went back to these students a number of years later, and they found that regardless of whether or not the people had stuck to their plan, the 3% group had made more money than the entire rest of their graduating class.  Lesson?  Know where you are going, be a planner!

But how does that apply to mental health?  In some key ways it applies, especially if you have become part of the growing movement in the WRAP or Wellness Recovery Action Plan course.  I took the course and tried to get everything out of it I could.  I attended every session, which was my main goal at the start of the course and as a result I now have a written plan as to what to do if I get sick, what some of the things are that could make me sick again, and warning signs and much more.  For those that are interested, there is actually a ‘wrap app’ for most smartphones where you can plug in all of these things and come up with a plan to improve your life that applies across many situations.

There is still another thing though, what does planning have to do with someone who suffers, who can’t work.  Well, you could write down a goal as something like I did which was to find a decent part-time job.  As a note here, I strongly recommend that anyone who does get a job that has a mental health issue should be as honest as possible to their employer about it and also try and get a union job.  I am in a union that does so much for me.  I can turn down work if I don’t feel up to it, I have the option of cancelling shifts if I am sick or for no reason if it is 24 hours before, and I am paid well and treated well.  This isn’t the end of the story though, there are many jobs out there that are non-union that can be just as good as mine.  I think the important thing is to try and move towards some kind of employment, staying at home and doing little than posting to forums and chatting on Facebook can be very detrimental to one’s mental health, especially if you are not maintaining a proper sleep schedule.

So, basically, the first goal is to try and get yourself ready to be employed.  There are a number of things that can get you started, but I think the first thing you need is a reason to be employed.  Myself I wanted the extra money and when I had saved enough I bought a laptop and I also took a trip to visit my sister on the other side of the country.  I did this in two stages, one stage was where I simply tried to sleep while the sun was down and stay awake while the sun was up, and then the second stage was that I needed to get physically fit for a job.  I happen to live in a city where bus passes and gym memberships to city facilities are greatly subsidized though I used neither of these things at first, I simply rode my bike as much as I could, and this was something that did me a world of good.  If I hadn’t gotten into good shape I would have never been able to hold down the job I have had for 7 years which has put a lot of money in my pocket.

So baby steps, goals, plans.  They all have their place.  I can’t even begin to describe the mess my life was in when I was back in my 20’s, but a strong commitment to taking my medications, listening to my Doctors, honoring the wishes of my parents to get well and a number of other things came together and a miracle happened.  I have a life now when there was a time when I felt my life had ended.  Try this.  Try sitting down and writing out all the things you want in life.  Do you want a motorcycle?  Write it down.  Do you want a violin and lessons to get back up to snuff?  It might be a great investment if you are good enough to busk in the streets or play for parties or even fancy restaurants.  Write it down!  There really is no limits, this is your mind having fun.  Then, when you have written it down, make a plan.  It may take ten years, it may take two months, but until you figure it out you will be a lot less likely to follow through.  And I want to mention something for the younger people who may read this blog.  A wonderful fact about life is that as you get older, even if you get the same money you will get more money.  How?  Maybe you will be able to quit smoking and put $5 to $10 more in your pocket each and every day.  Maybe you will strengthen your legs and learn the joy of walking and save on taxi fares or learn how to discipline yourself not to eat in restaurants but to prepare your own food.  And another factor that comes into play is that as you get older more jobs will come your way, especially if you are able to overcome depression (perhaps through newer meds, or trying different ones) or other illnesses that can often make you feel like you don’t care about being a good worker.  Anyhow, I hope this leaves my readers with a sense that they have learned something.  Please don’t be afraid to comment and as usual, don’t forget to scroll down for today’s poem which is meant to be themed to this post.  All the best Dear Readers, and if you like my blog posts, please support my efforts to bring them to you and purchase a paperback or eBook of my writing from the ‘purchase books’ link above.

A Beautiful Soul, Loving and True

Does your soul long for things grander than the sky
You know, you can have those things if you really try
I have had many hopes and dreams that I held close
Wonderful things, only those I wanted the most

When I think of these things I see my perfect wife
A spacious home, beautiful car, all that’s good in life
I may never have all that I so deeply desire
But these goals keep my heart on fire

I never understood why some aim low
Never let their dreaming mind thrive and glow
Our time here is so short and it is a beautiful place
So why not run as though to win the race

Just ask your inner mind how you can earn it all
Give yourself a reason to get up each time you fall
Write down on paper all you want to have and be
You can have it all, this land is strong and free

I just want to ask if you do end up with more
Look back behind and hold open the door
There will be someone wanting to get through
Please remember someone held the door for you

We all must share the gifts that life lays at our feet
And when you do this people will say you are kind and sweet
Then who knows perhaps your future mate will see in you
Your beautiful soul, loving and true

Leif Gregersen
August 10, 2015

The Question of Pills

leif-desk     There is so much about pills these days I thought I could write a whole blog entry on the subject.  Above is a picture of me at my desk and you can clearly see that I am not the thinnest person in the world.  The fact is, I weigh 260 pounds right now and I feel awful about it.  As a young adult, I was 18 and could do 7 chin-ups, 30  push-ups and run for 20 miles if I had to, and that was when I smoked.  Now, though I swim, walk long distances, bicycle longer distances and don’t smoke, I don’t know if I could do any of those things and it really comes down to the weight I gained taking the pills I am on.  Of course a tiny pill doesn’t add any weight to a person, but what my pills do is make me so very weak and hungry that I have to be eating just about all the time.  For some years now I have managed to hover around 250-260 which is better than gaining, but I really wish I could get to a healthier weight.  Most of my younger days, including my adult years right up to age 30 I was 170 pounds, a significant difference.  I met a young woman at a support group once who had been on a medication that caused her to gain weight and switched to another called Lamotragene and she lost a lot of weight.  I thought all my dreams had come true but I went to my Doctor and tried out the drug and it left me so tired I could get very little done.  I have to say though that I am very grateful for the pills that do this, they have kept me from having a serious breakdown for more than 14 years which is incredible and unprecedented with me.  I also take a pill called Prozac, and I feel a bit bad, but the fact is I love this pill.  I take it in the morning and often go back to bed for a few hours because after you take it you have the sweetest, happiest, most perfect dreams.  Instead of my usual nightmares, I have dreams of high school crushes and large amounts of money and all kinds of pleasurable things.  Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.  I am very reluctant though to like any kind of a pill because it seems just about all of them create a dependence, a tolerance to the drug and all kinds of side effects no one may know about for a long time to come.  I find myself taking a lot of ibuprophen and acetominophen for headaches and sometimes these drugs help me sleep a little, but I worry if they make me sleep because of a lack of pain or if they make you sleep because they are sedative.  If they are sedative I am of the mind that I shouldn’t take them.  It seems a bit silly to say this, but I have seen a lot of people who have allowed themselves to get addicted to pills, sadly my own mother was very much a saint in many ways but her and my Dad were of the belief that it was perfectly okay for her to be taking more than 10 kinds of pills despite repeated medical advice.  Anyhow, I should stick to my own problems in this blog, I just want to talk about one more pill, something that I find helpful but again somewhat risky.  It is melatonin, a type of sleep hormone that is very effective in helping insomnia, but I have a strange problem when it comes to sleep.  I am very much subject to milder forms of mania, the kind one gets when you just find yourself talking to fast, laughing too hard at your own jokes and being able to forgo sleep as long as you want to.  If I am in one of these states, often brought on by excessive coffee use, there is little melatonin can do for me, and what it and other pills I have tried to help me sleep does is leave me pretty drowsy the next morning.  I should note though, that melatonin has another interesting side effect, it actually enhances sexual pleasure, but I strongly hope no one takes more than a recommended dose of this pill towards that purpose.  I can notice almost right away with melatonin when I take too much, it is a very unpleasant feeling and can come about just by taking a small dose three days in a row.  You feel extremely restless and can’t sit or lay still and you just about have to get up and pace until the feeling goes away, which could take hours.  I personally cleared use of melatonin with my Psychiatrist and only use it when I am desperate for a sleep solution.  I hope some of this helps my readers treat their illnesses with more care, once again feel free to write me any time you like, I will do my best to answer.    viking3082000@yahoo.com   And yes, there will be a poem today, just look below!  (sorry, I will be posting photos of Toronto soon!)

 

I Can Feel It Coming Back

I once thought all the joys of life were done
But in reality they had just begun
After a time of pain life became just drudgery
I felt so sad for all I would never do or see

But step by inch, life built its way back up
I soon drank from the wellspring of God’s loving cup
I took a chance and flew away far from home
And soon I learned no one really wants to be alone

It was hard at first, I had lost a dear true friend
But love triumphed and we reunited in the end
I thought wealth was passed, happy times were done
It was just a different part of life newly begun

I still recall the moment when it all changed so wonderfully
Those simple words my sister said to me
Next time I see you, an Uncle you will be
From that time on life was happiness and glee

I have to also say I owe two precious friends all I achieved
With their support I did more than I could have believed
One friend had kept a forgotten draft of my book
Another angel friend had an editor take a look

Now I feel I am a valued piece of my beloved home
No longer broke and hurting, no longer all alone
It all took just a little step each day
And the odd marathon of effort I have to also say

Now I’m living proof that though things can knock you down
As long as you believe in you there will be another round
But I ask you don’t forget without love, family and friends
Dreams can come true but won’t fulfill you in the end

There is a trinity called love, hope and work you see
That can make all you dream really come to be
Never tell yourself that you can’t succeed, achieve
What occurs in our lives is always what we believe

Leif Gregersen
August 9, 2015

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Hello Dear Readers!  Well, if anyone is interested, I am now participating in two blogs.  The other one is on a site called ‘Goodreads’ and I am maintaining that one so I can blog about books, especially books that were influential in my life.  Today I wrote some stuff in it about “On The Road” by Jack Kerouac, which I thought was pretty good.  I want to keep this blog going though, I kind of want to make it about mental health and other issues.

So, I don’t know exactly who all of my readers are.  If any of you get a chance, pick up a copy of one of my books from the ‘purchase books’ page, in kindle eBook or paperback and let me know what you think of my longer works.  Two of my books, “Inching Back To Sane” and “Through The Withering Storm” are memoirs about my lived experiences with mental illness, and I feel have a lot to say to people about how to deal with and manage and all things to do with mental health.  I would love it if more people would come forward and tell me what they think, possibly these sorts of things could make me a better writer.

So today I wanted to talk about a subject a lot of people, especially those who feel they are ‘sane’ don’t like much to talk about-I want to talk about the mental hospital.  I’m going to attach a video I made of Alberta Hospital where I spent a lot of time just below this and then after I will continue writing.

 

So, this was the place I spent 6 months in back in the year 2001.  I only remember the year because it was the same year the twin towers were hit by planes.  All that seems so surreal to me now because I was just getting over being very sick at the time and was actually still in the hospital.

The mental hospital can be a very unpleasant and frightening place.  I think because of extended worrying and poor treatment there I developed a digestive condition that I still deal with 14 years later.  I wonder though if the place had anything to do with it.  There were people that made my life difficult, including my Doctor and most of the nursing staff and a lot of the patients, but I wonder if that would have been an issue if I hadn’t been so sick.

One of the main reasons I had to be there had to do with my own mistake.  I had been on a dosage of 1000mg of a certain pill and I thought it was doping me up too much and cut it in half.  Just that small change was enough to make me very sick.  The fact is though, that the staff there do a lot to try and accommodate people in the hospital.  There was one staff member who would often take me out for walks, there was people there simply to talk to and play cards with (staff) but all I seemed to be able to do was worry.  It really scared me that after that hospital visit I would be unable to have any kind of relationship with a female, that I would never travel, that a lot of my life was over.  What is a bit scary is that those things may have happened if my Doctor had gotten his way and kept me for 2 years as he had wanted.  But my medication was brought back to the old level, I got a lot better and even quit smoking.  I can also recall a fun day when we went bowling and I got the top score.  And when I got out, life improved.  I used a tactic to do this that I have worked into my life for a very long time.  The way it goes is, no matter what, no matter how bad things get, you should have goals to reach for and try to accomplish at least one of them each day.  Now I have traveled, I am back in touch with a lifelong female friend, I have a great job and my writing is becoming known all over North America.  I started out with very little, but I pushed myself and got a job as a security guard, saved up my money and bought a nice computer, eventually a used car and by luck got an even better job for way more pay working as a security guard on movie sets.  Who made all this happen?  I couldn’t tell you, but I did have to keep working harder, doing more, taking all of my medications and keeping up with my responsibilities in my home and at work.  Will this work for anyone?  I couldn’t say really, I just know that my life is very blessed.

But, in the middle of that ramble, I will leave things so I will have more to write next time.  Thanks so much for reading this far, scroll down just a little further for today’s poem, and keep checking back because I brought my camera with me and Toronto is a beautiful city to photograph.  All the best!

 

Throughout My Days I Need You

My dear friends I dedicate this poem to you
Because I have come to learn it is true
Without your devotion and love I never could write

Though sometimes words do come through
Words that are fresh, sweet and new
Like now deep inside the night

But I often think of dear friends I have lost
And the terrible cost
Of wanting to seem too tough to care

I pray that once more our paths will cross
And that I never again casually toss
Away the beautiful love that we shared

As I sit and remember fondly the times
When true friendship was mine
I wish those I hurt back in my life

But it can be hard when in the past one was unkind
To change all those minds
Of those you turned away because of deep down strife

Always, forever hold onto those who are dear
Don’t be left shedding a tear
Because the worst thing is to be alone

Keep your loves and your family near
Be always ready to lend an ear
That is the only way to truly have a home

And when you have people to care for
You’ll find you don’t need much more
I’ve learned as I write out my words

And always be ready to walk out the door
Life will indeed give you much more
And feel the joy of knowing your soul’s longing was heard

Leif Gregersen