Transitions: How Can We Better Deal With Them?


Many things in life can be a transition.  When we finish high school and either get going with a job or a relationship or College, we go through the transition of leaving our parents’ home and starting out on our own.  When we meet someone and either get married or just take the step of moving in with them, we go through a transition that can shake the foundation of our relationship or cement it into something that will last a lifetime.  The transitions I most want to talk about today is what a person with a mental illness goes through in different situations.

The first transition may be the most difficult one.  You are young, you are healthy, maybe you are happy, maybe you aren’t.  And then all of a sudden you hear a voice in your head that tells you something disturbing or you start to have delusions that you are something you are not.  Delusions can be anything.  I don’t always feel comfortable talking about mine, but I will share some of them here.  One delusion I had once was that I was soon to become King of England.  This seems absolutely preposterous, but in small increments with what was going on in my head it made sense.  First off I was deluded into thinking that I had some kind of great wealth.  I owned companies, land, I had held offices that were paid jobs that I simply managed by telling people that I was in a meeting or at a conference.  Somehow all of these things came together to make me feel I was wealthy for some reason.  Then there was the book.  My Dad has a book from Denmark that was researched about our family.  It traces my blood lines back all the way to the twelfth century, it looks amazing, the cover is hand-carved wood and most of it is in Danish.  My mentally ill mind put these things together and then hallucinated news reports that the Queen of England was finally stepping down and that the ‘book’ told of Kings and Queens in my past and there you have it.  Incredibly far from the truth, but very real nonetheless.  I ended up going to the hospital willingly after reports from my Doctor, my parents, and I am sure others that I had gone completely out of my mind.  The transition of going into the hospital was a difficult one.  I had to get on medication and give it time to work.  It took months because my Doctor labelled me as ‘difficult to treat’.  Basically, I got sick of him, requested a different Doctor and called him incompetent.  Let me warn you that it can be extremely problematic to poke a hole in a Doctor’s ego.

So the next transition that I speak of is the one of going into the hospital.  I had such a hard time existing in that place.  I was a heavy smoker and we were only allowed to smoke during the day.  At night there was no way to access the smoking room.  This seemed cruel and unusual, but I guess it is even worse now because the hospital has become a non-smoking institution.  Smoking is a big thing for psychiatric patients, our bodies react to cigarette smoke in similar ways that we react to medications.  It stabilizes our thoughts.  I have strong memories of getting up in that hospital ward and having horrible hallucinatory delusions that got a little better with each smoke I had.  First off the TV was talking to me and was very grim, then after a smoke it got a little better and so on.  I suppose this was a transition from relative insanity to relative stability.  But the really difficult transition was in going from my comfortable little apartment where I felt comfortable and could have coffee or cigarettes any time I wanted to being under extremely strict rules.  Another thing that was hard to adjust to was to having to live not just according to a written set of rules, but to the rules of each individual staff member while my a$%hole Doctor had told them to put me into isolation at any time they felt like it.  I would get so angry in there, scream and kick at the door and do things like pee in the bottle they left in there for me and then try and throw the waste under the door so the person watching me would be standing in it.  It was the worst.  But deep down inside I kept telling myself that one day this would end, one day things would get better.  I thank heaven that the emotional scars of those experiences weren’t so bad that they torment me with bad memories and dreams each day as some of my first hospital experiences did.

The transition I really want to talk about is perhaps the most important one.  It is the transition of leaving the protection of the hospital, going back out on your own or at least to a place outside the hospital.  In the past I have moved into places that were obviously there to take advantage of mental patients and the tiny incomes they get from disability benefits.  I was in a house for three months where the rules were ridiculous, the landlady picked favorites and treated everyone else like shit, not even giving them enough food to survive on and screamed in your face any time she felt like it.  Although I knew it would most likely lead to poor mental health, I tried to move into a private apartment after that one.  The cycle would have started out with me getting off a regular schedule, isolating myself, and then literally wanting to go back to the hospital just to ease the loneliness and depression.  But instead I was very lucky and I ended up in the group home I live in now.  It is run by a company called E4C, or “Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation” and is such a great place to live.  I am in a house I share with just two roommates, and it is a 5 bedroom house and I live in the master bedroom.  There is a weight set in the basement, we have free digital cable TV, there is  a park nearby and the neighbors around us are awesome and we all take turns cooking suppers and the food is actually really good.  I have clashes sometimes with the staff or other people living here, but they are soon settled.  There is something I really have to watch in myself that was spoken about very well not only in a 12-step group I once attended, but also talked about in a sermon by a TV preacher Dr. Charles Stanley, one of the better ones of that group of preachers.  It is called H.A.L.T.  basically, you have to be very careful of your actions, and if you want to avoid making poor decisions, watch out for when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.  I find it is usually under circumstances like these when I get a bit angry at my roommates or staff members.  Anyhow, I think I will leave you my dear readers at that.  I think the last thing I want to say is that going through the transition of leaving the hospital can be a rough one, but if you can find a place where you feel you belong, where you feel a sense of community and self-worth, either by volunteering or by working with people you like doing things you like, and if you faithfully take your medications, you will get through and hopefully not ever feel so bad that you either want to go back in the hospital or do something drastic.  I think I have boiled it down to a few key things: medications-on time.  Exercise-a half hour a day so you feel better and sleep better.  Meals-healthy and don’t miss any, and also try to eat healthy snacks like fruit if you must snack in between, and try to get eight hours or even a little more sleep than that each day.  Best wishes and email any time.


IMG_7279             This truck was just too beautiful to pass up.  I really like to see old vehicles                                that have been restored or kept up for as long as this one must have been.

Well, tonight has been pretty productive.  Although I went home after supper and fell asleep right at around 5:30pm I got a fair bit done in the darkness hours.  It is a really hard thing to change your schedule to a normal one after doing what I did, working night shifts for 15 years or more.  As a note to anyone out there who works night shifts, I have heard from various sources that shift work will take ten years off your life and I don’t doubt it at all.  The thing that keeps me up working nights though is that my house is relatively free from distractions after midnight.

So, after getting a few hours of sleep I picked up a book that arrived in the mail yesterday (I LOVE getting brand new books in the mail!)  The book was, “Human On The Inside”, published by University of Saskatchewan Press, written by Gary Garrison, a friend that lives just up the street and is a member of the same poetry society I do readings at now and then.  The book was absolutely incredible and Gary did an excellent job of it.  It talks at great length about how Gary went through a breakdown of sorts and had a hard time even walking outside his house (Gary has a PhD in English and was an editor) and how it was suggested he find a way to interact with people different from him.  He decided to get involved in prisoner visitation program at the local maximum security prison.  The story was totally engaging, Gary interviewed a lot of people who had served time in prison and made things so real by his descriptive scenes flashing between his own childhood and family life as an adult, his decision to avoid the draft by coming to Canada in 1970.  He even spends time with victims of crime and guards in his book.  I am not done yet, but the book has me gripped by the collars, I am hoping to read the rest of it today and I am going to buy a second copy to send to my sister who worked in Kingston Penitentiary, one of Canada’s most infamous prisons.

After reading the book for a good while, I decided to take a bit of a break and I wrote a poem and I don’t want to post it here.  I really want to start getting my name out as a writer and though I love putting up poems and hearing feedback, when I even put a poem or a number of poems online I am kind of shooting myself in the foot because that counts as being published and what I really need to do is get into literary journals with my poetry and they clearly state you can’t have published your poems anywhere else or it won’t even be considered.  To that end, I recently purchased a great resource that aspiring poets out there should try and get ahold of, the 2015 Poet’s Market, which is chock full of places to send poetry.  At the moment, I have been experimenting with iambic pentameter poetry and as soon as any of it gets published, I will be able to put it up here.  I do have some published stuff that I could put up, but it is older work of mine and it is very hard to look at one’s own work from before a major life change (or so I feel for myself at least) because of two factors: a writer is his own worst critic, and a poem is never really finished, it is only abandoned.

I feel kind of compelled to write a bit about mental health at this point.  I saw a pharmacist yesterday and I asked about some new medications that have come on the market.  As some of you may know from my book, “Inching Back To Sane” I went through a difficult period in my life first being on Lithium (mood stabilizer) then Tegratol (also mood stabilizer) and had horrible side effects.  Not long after, I literally begged my Psychiatrist to put me on something else, and I was given a medication called “Depekane” which has much less side effects, but still causes the runs and weight gain.  I have recently found out about some even newer medications which work well and can actually cause weight loss.  At the moment, I am nearly the heaviest weight I have ever been despite trying hard to maintain a healthy diet and exercising a lot.  So, I will keep my readers updated in detail in case they experience similar situations.  I would be very interested to hear any similar stories, so please feel free to message me.

As a last note, I don’t know if I mentioned, but I have written and now edited (2nd draft-I expect to have a third and a fourth) a Young Adult Novel about a young man who joins the army in Canada during World War Two and goes overseas to battle.  I should mention that if anyone is interested in having a peek at my work, I have some poetry and short stories posted for free on this website and also at a website called ‘’ (short stories, poetry, flash fiction) and valhalla books on facebook (poetry) I would appreciate any feedback and welcome any questions people have if they want to check them out.  Aside from that, Dear Readers, I hope you enjoy my photos today and my words and thank you for your support!

IMG_7191                                          This litte dude was found pilfering food from birds!

Short Story Blog and Prison Poem








Well, here it is Saturday and I fear I would most like to be shopping. There is a flea market where I can pick up comics by the ton and I have been enjoying reading the comics and then giving them to young kids around the neighbourhood and sometimes also giving them out when I do book signings. The other day I went to a party for the new library writers in residence and my neighbour and friend Gary was asked to read portions of his new book about his prison volunteer efforts. Gary is really an amazing guy, he not only works for numerous charities, he is a musician and has a PhD in English. I met Gary in the neighbourhood and then found out we are both poets and so we car pool to one of my favourite Edmonton events, “The Stroll of Poets” meetings which take place Mondays.

Another kind of cool thing about Gary is that he is raising his Grandkids. His granddaughter is this feisty little 7 year-old who is never afraid to speak her mind, she is really a neat kid. Spending time with children really makes me wish that I could have raised a child or two of my own. But all that aside, things are going well. I have this very strong urge though to save up and buy a brand new Nikon Camera on boxing day. There is one that would just take amazing pictures, has a 24.3 MP sensor and comes with two lenses. The main problem is that I most want a good camera for when I go on vacation, but if I buy this camera I won’t be able to afford to go on vacation.

As for my next trip, I am not sure if I want to go to Hawaii again. It is such a beautiful place, and one of the things I really like about it is that it is part of the US. Which means you have all kinds of standards for road quality, clean water, safety in emergencies, and on and on. A lot of friends have been telling me about Costa Rica which sounds pretty good, but I will have to do more research before I commit to it.

This week I wrote two short stories, which I am submitting to literary journals for publication. Before sending them out I had two writer friends look them over and they seemed to like them, but I wonder if they have as much ‘literary’ content that these publications look for. At the very least I will be compiling these stories and others into another collection, and possibly trying to submit them to be published. Right now I am waiting to hear from a publisher on the West Coast of BC about a young adult novel I wrote which I think has promise, but as is often said, any writing is never really finished, it is more just abandoned.

Well, I don’t want to disappoint, so I have written another poem for you my good readers, you can find it just below the photo I am posting under this entry. Enjoy, and please leave your feedback!


Down Through The Years


I used to often feel as though I were trapped inside

My dark and quiet room in which I sometimes hide

It seemed so easy to zone out and cover up my head

When I felt bad and needed my soft and yielding bed

Though I am not a young man I am always in bed alone

I was never able to have a family, have my own home

Through the years I have made some amazing friends

My inner thoughts sometimes fear they all just pretend

To see me as equal, a person who is whole

Not this shell I sometimes feel I am, without a soul

I am not like most, I have a bad affliction

Though not by choice like an addiction

It’s been called an illness, some say I’m just crazy

Some say I’m faking, some say I’m just lazy

My diagnosis gets me treatment and a pension

But still I wait and hope for some new invention

That will whisk this disease right out of me

So I can break these chains, one day be free

Before I was on my pills I did things I can’t forget

Hurt lovers, classmates, increased my family’s debt

How these people were kind enough not to put me away

I am more grateful than I could ever say

Things changed for me, after years I learned to adapt and grow

Each day one small seed of recovery I would sow

My dear old Dad also cared an awful lot

Even though many times we yelled and fought

And then one day I learned a friend had saved some writing

And another close friend inspired me to keep trying, fighting

Not long after that I had a book to show for all my pain

And I slowly started to become whole again

The stories in the book told of what I went through inside

It filled me with new hope, my loved ones with pride

And now when I meet someone who has been wronged

I let them know there is a way to feel as though they belong

Just like me they can take up the pen

Tell their deepest fears, feel young again

Life will not ever be perfect, I still need help and medicine

But I will never give up on myself again

You see, I did that once, I tried to end my life

I put my loved ones through so much pain and strife

I will never again look for a solution in suicide

I now have my work to let out what I feel inside

Bit by bit when you write your life down

You see new miracles all around

The joy of a warm spring day, the smell of flowers

The renewing aspect of travelling’s powers

And then of course is my wonderful niece I will see soon

More beautiful than a warm happy day in june

Since those past dark days I have gone so far

Expressed so much, I have healed my scar

And now I tell you dear reader with these lines

No matter how bad it gets there will be happy times

Think not on all you do not have or will never do

And hug someone who cares for you

Leif Gregersen

December 13, 2014