Another Sleepless Night-I’m Just Going to Ramble Today


Good morning dear readers.  I have been interested lately in graphic novels.  I was even having fun collecting them, but not only do I have an obsessive side about collecting things, I have poor impulse control when it comes to buying things.  I also have a thing that I think is unique to people with Bipolar/Manic Depression in that I somehow need to purchase things, or find some kind of excitement.  When I was much younger I collected comic books, younger than that I collected movie trading cards.  All the time I had to be working towards a bigger collection or earning money to increase my stocks.  It is a good thing I think to try and do at least one thing a day, but my desire to find something memorable in life to do, brought on most likely by manic behavior can be good and bad.  It was good when I was learning to write and I would either write a full page in a journal or a poem each day, but when I was a teen I simply had to get out and at least try and meet a member of the opposite sex and also have a few drinks on a Friday or Saturday night.  I am sure I was one of the few people who went into a Pentacostal Church on a Sunday not having completely washed off the hand stamp from the night club from the night before.

This drinking culture was a very negative thing.  I don’t think I ever, in all the times I went there, met a young woman who I could date or even dance with.  What I do remember doing was going to these places and either having to shout over the music and never have any kind of conversation that would allow me to get to know someone, or to simply hang around looking for young women I had known from before that I could strike up some kind of conversation with.  Neither of these led to anything.  I don’t know if I am simply not attractive or if these places are just selling a dream for the price of a cover charge and alcohol.

Being in a 12-step program not long after my teen years ended didn’t even help that much.  As things began, I went 6 months without a drink but then a fellow member who I regret ever meeting, decided he was going to be some kind of hero and buy me a drink.  This followed with a very nasty relapse into binge drinking and cost me a couple of close friends from my teen years.  What I did find though, was that whether or not I was attractive, if I could get to know a female around my age and let her get to know me, I would do very well with the opposite sex.  Places like the bus, bookstores, work and classes I took were the best places.  The problem became when I would sign up for a class and only stay in it long enough to try and pick up the attractive women who were taking it.  It is almost frightening to think of how many of my thoughts revolved around sex and my ego as a pickup artist.  It was a bit different when I was in flying school, I would meet all kinds of prospective partners and get their phone numbers-Vancouver was a much easier place for me to ‘operate’ partly because I was away from all the bad memories that Edmonton held for me, partly because I was much more confident, and I am sure a good part of it had to do with my almost limitless energy that didn’t manifest itself quite yet in delusional thinking.

Delusional thinking was for a good part of my days a driving force.  The funny thing is that once I got proper treatment and accepted my illness, life got to be better than any subconscious constructed world of delusional thoughts.  Having things like a motorcycle and a nice home, a satellite dish and a sports care were just a few of the things life dropped in my lap.  One of the things that is perhaps hardest to deal with is that to this day I still have some obsessive thoughts about a female from way in my past.  I have no desire to contact her, no desire to have a relationship with her.  I don’t even think I would recognize her voice if she called me up and I am pretty sure she is married with children, but she pops up in my thoughts a lot.  For a time I wanted to contact her to confront some of the delusions in my head that told me she was trying to help me through some of my more difficult times, but whenever I tried I was either ignored or even had the police called on me.  I felt so bad about it for a while that I told my Doctor that I thought I was a stalker even though I have had extremely limited contact with this person and he told me that a stalker would never come to a Doctor for help, never admit there was anything wrong.  The other thing that is funny is that it seems that this ‘perfect princess’ syndrome cuts across a large swath of people with mental illnesses.  There is a guy living in a building a friend once lived in who repeatedly tried to approach a young woman who has screamed at him, ran away from him, and put ultimatums to him.  Another friend is obsessed with Tiffany Amber Theissen from the old 90210 TV show.  This is a little less harmless, but I see this again and again.  For a time this weighed heavily on me, and I tried to study what stalking was all about and came across instances where people were so mentally ill that they took it upon themselves to kill the object of their desire.  The funny thing I have learned though is that in the vast majority of cases, this never happens, mentally ill people are no more violent or criminal than any other segment of the population, and when they are violent it is more often directed at themselves.  I hope this gives a bit of comfort to anyone out there reading who may have this problem.  I can’t just sit and tell people to let go, it would be very nice if I could ‘let go’ but these thoughts are beyond my control.  What I simply keep telling myself is that the delusional person has nothing at all to do with the actual person the delusions represent.  I also try to keep a close eye on my manic episodes, even though they are much milder, and I am the first person to request a higher dose of medication if I feel I am slipping away from sanity.  The sad fact for a lot of people is that our illnesses, be they schizophrenia or bipolar or OCD, could possibly get worse and there is no special assurance that physical health will go the other way than mental health.  What I mean to say is that we already have all the problems of normal people plus the cross of our illnesses to bear.  My best advice is to keep seeing a Psychiatrist, be as honest with him/her as you can and build relationships not based on alcohol or drugs or sex.  Find true friends and life will always be worthwhile.


Sold My Soul For Rock and Roll

DSC_0038     Well, here is an example of what you can do with a 300mm lens on a new Nikon camera.  I was able to get this shot from about 30 feet away.  I have a couple of other photos that came out a bit clearer, but I liked this one for some reason.  My Dad has a wall full of bird photos he printed up, he even has a bald eagle and all kinds of rare birds.  It makes me sad to think of all the innocent and beautiful little birds I killed simply for sport when I was younger.  I always felt that it was one thing to kill an animal and another thing to waste it’s body and essence for lack of a better word.

Regardless, it is a new day and I am finding the words told to me about being a writer are very true… you really have to have a thick skin and a lot of patience.  I have been expecting a cheque for some time from a magazine and another from a bookstore that has sold a few of my books and nothing seems to be coming.  On the lighter side though, I had an old friend from school come by yesterday and buy one of my books and he also took me for coffee and it was really great to reminisce and hear what he’s been up to.  He also has written a book which I stayed up late last night reading.  I was in a part of it, it was from a time when a bunch of us went in his mom’s car to a drive-in movie and this really cute girl and I got in the trunk to save the gate admission.  What I didn’t know was that he expected me to make a move on her while I was in there and thought for all this time that I had.  I actually didn’t want to do anything ungentlemanly not only because I was that type of guy, but also because her 6’4″ boyfriend was with us.  I remember her well though, her name was Stephanie and she was beautiful, gorgeous.  If I had thought I had stood any kind of chance with her I would have gone for it (with the help of a few beers).  But that all was almost 30 years ago.  Sure is good to reunite with old friends, thanks Facebook!

In other news, as I am trying to make this a bit more of a blog about mental health, I should mention that I have been struggling to keep my weight down for some time now.  I got word from a very nice young woman I work with about a drug called Lamotragene or Topomax.  I saw my Psychiatrist the other day and asked him about it and he agreed that I should do something about the weight and that we could try this drug.  It seemed great at first, my craving for food greatly diminished, but I found that I was very tired even though I was only on a very small dose, so I decided the best thing I could do would be to stop the medication.  It also gave me an odd, very difficult to describe feeling.  I didn’t seem to have too many physical symptoms, but I just felt really ‘dumbed down’ like I had a cold and was taking cold pills or something.  I can’t really say if these effects would have lessened if I stayed on the pill for a while, I just know that with the job I have, feeling that way can be dangerous.

As far as my job goes, I got to work a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert the other day which was pretty amazing.  I didn’t get to see much of the show but it felt so great to be a part of setting up something like that.  I think that if I ever did permanently move on from this job I would really miss it.  The money is nice of course, it is what allows me to print and distribute my books right now, but sometimes I get a chance to work with some really great people.  As some may know, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s band lost 3 members in the 1970’s in a plane crash and there is kind of a ritual that everyone on the crew observes.  There is a road case (a big box for show equipment with wheels that is sturdy enough to transport in a semi truck) that belonged to one of the original band members and they have used it all this time, always giving it the highest respect and never putting anything on top of it or letting it get damaged.  I also got to put the brass eagle on the band’s piano and fly the Alabama and US flags as two of the curtains for the show.  I feel very privileged to be a part of such cool rock and roll history.  Very difficult and stressful job though sometimes, but I have the odd show that I really enjoy and the other night was definitely one of them.

I wish I could impart some piece of wisdom, something in me that could help others who may be out there struggling with a mental illness.  In all despite that I have had some pretty rough times, even extended rough times, I somehow got through all of them and now I see myself as a very lucky dude.  If anyone is out there and hurting or needing help, I hope they can find a way to talk, to get their pain out.  I myself held it in and never wanted to admit that I had a mental health issue (which is common) even when my life was at risk because of my denial.  The first step is to find a family Doctor, and talk openly with them.  It scares me to think that so many people out there in the world in poor countries or remote places have no hope of overcoming their illness because there are simply very few or no Doctors and even less Psychiatrists or treatment.  Once again I would like to offer my email to anyone who wants to ask questions or needs help, no matter where they are from.  Just email: and I will do all I can.


DSC00283I met this happy little guy at the Edmonton Zoo


Blog for today:  Personal Psychiatric Directive

Good day dear readers!  It is early in the morning, but I thought I would get an early start on today’s blog.  I went to a class the other day and learned some very interesting things about mental health through the Schizophrenia Society.  One of the things I learned was that there are some really smart things you can do while you are well to avoid and speed up recovery from a relapse.  For those of you who may have Schizophrenia, you might be aware that sadly quite often your illness will get worse over time, meaning you will one day be sick again and your whole life could fall apart.  For me what happened the last time I was ill was that I simply scaled back the dose of one of my medications thinking it was making me too tired and over time I began to go into a manic and delusional state.  It is incredible to think of what happens to my brain when I am not being properly treated for my illness.  It had been such a long time then since I had been sick I didn’t think I would get sick again.  I slacked off in my medication taking, I reduced one of them and I wasn’t seeing a Psychiatrist on a regular basis who could evaluate me and most likely could have avoided the terrible relapse I had that ended me up in the hospital for 5 agonizing months.

What we talked about in the class I went to was something called a personal directive.  You actually have to sit down with a lawyer, which may cost some money or may be covered by legal aid or a local charity that helps those with mental illnesses.  Basically you sit down and map out what you want to happen if you ‘lose your mind’ for lack of a better term and end up in hospital.  You can write down what Doctor you want, what hospital you want to be sent to, whether or not you want to consent to shock treatments (ECT) and even what type of diet you want (vegetarian, vegan, etc.).  This to me seems like a great idea and I want to get one as soon as I can because I really had a bad experience with an egotistical ass of a Doctor last time who took me off all of my medications to spite me and treated me like garbage.  He even left orders that if I did anything at all out of the ordinary I was to be put into the solitary room and I was put in there so many times I don’t know if the emotional scars will ever heal from that.

Another really good idea I got from this group came from a participant, he had the idea of keeping a bag handy with things he wanted to take to the hospital or be able to get someone else to take to the hospital for him if he ended up there.  On my last stay, I literally had to wear the same shirt and pants for five months and had no books I enjoyed or a radio or anything.  I had to save up for a little walkman out of what I like to call ‘convict’s wages’.  I would do manual labor in the hospital and I would be paid $1.50 an hour for it while the people who supervised me were getting upwards of $25 an hour.  The injustices were many, but thankfully I have hopefully learned from that.

As a bit of a side note, I was watching an information program about spousal abuse and I saw something I would like to do if the situation came up.  This one person had a neighbor who he could hear each night was being abused by her spouse and one day he went to her and told her she could keep a ‘getaway’ bag at his house if she ever wanted to leave.  At first she declined and denied there was abuse going on, but later she brought over a bag and needed it not too long after.  This is the sort of thing that I think is really valuable because (1) it shows compassion and (2) it reminds me that mental illness is not the only problem people have in this world.

Last night I met up with an old friend from my high school days and went to visit another person who we grew up with who is living in a nursing home with Multiple Sclerosis.  The first friend is on medications now too, having been diagnosed with Lupus.  It really makes me feel kind of lucky, reminds me of how blessed I am in so many ways because though I do have physical problems, they are manageable and I am actually in really good health.  It also makes me feel better about my one problem, my bipolar disorder

Aside from that Dear Readers, I think I will leave things alone from here.  I am looking forward to my day because I am meeting my ex-girlfriend’s mom for lunch.  I met my ex-gf some 20 years ago and though we only went out for a short time a very long time ago, we still are close friends, even best friends and just about her whole family calls me a family member.  I talk to my ex on the phone nearly every day and I do things with her sister and mom and of course have her niece on Facebook.  I feel like a bit of a cad about it but years ago I actually was sort of dating her niece ( this was a full grown woman I should note, she was the child of my ex-gf’s much older sister).  I really liked her a lot, she is married now too though but we keep in touch.  Not long ago, though it was actually a joke, a Facebook friend posted that she was in love and wanted advice, and I think I came up with a pretty good gem.  First of all, without putting pressure on them, or going overboard, make them your best friend and then let the relationship grow from there if it wants to.  Anyhow, I should run.  As always, I am open for emails from any and all of you who like to read this,

DSC00221This is a statue in West Edmonton Mall honoring all the oil rig workers who made Alberta a wealthy and prosperous place to live