suicide

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)

Overcoming Suicidal (and other negative) Thoughts

The first thing I am going to say in today’s blog is that I really don’t know anything. All I know was that years in the past, I had a lot of very serious suicidal thoughts, and, in at least one occasion, I acted on it and deeply regret it. If you are having serious suicidal thoughts right now, I suggest that you look up a suicide or other type of help line. If you feel your addictions are causing these thoughts, please match your addiction with an appropriate 12-step group such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Gambler’s Anonymous and look up their local number, call them, talk to them and get to a meeting. If you have tried all of these things and it hasn’t helped, I invite you to write to me at my personal email, viking3082000@yahoo.com and I will try and match you with the services that best suit your situation. I want people to know though that I am a peer. My only qualification to give advice or help is from me having lived experience of mental illness and addiction. Please read on.

There was a time, early in my years of recovery where I did think a lot about suicide. I was isolated, perhaps I wasn’t being treated by my psychiatrist for my exact illness, I don’t know. All I know is that I was isolated, unpublished, and I thought unwanted. One of my strong desires at the time was to try and turn back the clock, go back to living with my parents and go to my old high school to finish my diploma. Life seemed ideal when I was in that situation previously, but not only had I burned my bridges, I was way too old.

For a while at that time, I had tried going to church with a friend, but as I went to more functions with these people, I seemed to get less and less respect for them. One incident comes to mind where a bunch of people walked out into the wilderness, lit a fire, and one guy was expected to throw his entire ‘secular’ music collection into the fire, which he did. I didn’t get it at the time, and in a few ways I still don’t get it. I love music and artists like Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen, Sheryl Crowe, and on and on were musicians that I felt brought out good things in me.

So Eventually stopped going to that church and eventually found another, which in some ways was better. But being around people, especially when my medications weren’t right, wasn’t all that much of a help. I still recall a cold winter’s day I just got sick of feeling bad about myself and walked a long way to a medical clinic, and the doctor, an asian man, was appalled that my family and whoever hadn’t supported me, helped me. I left with a prescription for prozac, which worked wonderfully, and that was a turning point for me.

Still, this wasn’t an end to my suicidal ideation/thinking. The way I got through it was, when I was feeling okay, I would make sure all the possible methods of suicide were out of my apartment, trashed or given away or abandoned. No sharp objects other than a butter knife, no poisonous cleaners, no excess of medications or large stashes of pain pills. This was good in a way, and I think this is a good place to mention that there was a person who inspired me to take these steps, a very wonderful young woman who I went to school with for a while who has been a dear friend for many years now. If anything gives you a reason not to commit suicide, it will most often be a dear friend. Really, it is so important to make good friends, form strong relationships and nurture them. Let your friend know they are special, be kind and thoughtful to them. Do the same and more with a romantic interest, but also try not to depend too deeply on just one person, even if it is a romantic partner, a broken heart can be a terrible thing. Do what you can to build your relationships, but keep many friends and even places (yes, I am fond of mentioning all the people I know from the pool here) that you can go where you feel good, relaxed, accepted.

There is, of course, another important thing you can have in your life that will help prevent suicide, a pet, a dog, a cat, a snake, a gerbil. Taking care of an animal, especially say a dog that unconditionally loves its owner, can really get someone through the tough times.

Above all of these things, the most important factor is to be honest with your doctor. Most doctors will recommend a client should keep a journal. You can use a coil, hole-punched notebook. All you have to do is write the date at the top, then your mood from 1-10 and then whatever you want. It can be good if you talk to yourself in this journal about things that worked and things that didn’t work, even be honest about any thoughts of harming yourself or others. This is all information you want to share with your doctor, and if you feel funny about telling him or her about these things, write down key points with a brief explanation on a piece of paper and hand it to them when you go to your appointment, even mail it to them.

Something that I know has helped me a great deal is meditation. I read a lot of books on it, but didn’t finally start getting some of the wonderful benefits of meditation until I went to a small local monastery and studied Tibetan Meditation from a real Tibetan Monk. This man was so full of joy and caring, and was such a warm and dynamic person that I really wanted to one day be like him (not become a monk, but just have that joy). Basically what he taught was that before you go into meditation very far, you have to understand your brain, your consciousness, is like a monkey running around from place to place, playing here, screaming there, tipping this over, running on to tip over the next thing. What you need to do is to train your ‘monkey mind’ to focus and to stay clear, and stop running around, to train the monkey to stay in one place and become more calm and thoughtful. This is accomplished by walking, or sitting and just trying to keep your head clear. Each time you find your ‘monkey mind’ is going a little bananas, simply guide yourself back. Some people try to count their breaths, in and out, one, two, three, four, until they get to ten, and if a thought jumps up, simply go back to one and begin again. The power of this meditation practise is amazing, I have even heard of research studies that have proved over time that meditation is so good for the brain it can reverse brain damage.

So of course, being honest and open with your doctor is essential, meditation, journalling, and even Yoga can be of huge benefit. Next comes a therapist or psychologist. This is territory I am not familiar with, but I do in the last years of my mom’s life, her time with her psychologist was, as my dad said, the only type of appointment that helped her. My mom had both physical and mental health issues, and her psychologist helped her greatly. I won’t dwell on this too much. I do want to say that if you can get to see a psychologist, that is wonderful, if you live outside of Canada and can’t find one for free, you should ask if they have a sliding scale to fit your budget, and make an effort to work with them.

All that I really want to mention now is how I myself attempted suicide. I was on medications, I was managing my mental health okay, then at some point I just decided that I didn’t need my anti-depressant (prozac) any more. Without me noticing it, I slipped down into a deep, dark place. Shortly after, wasn’t working and I had just been treated cruelly by some people I grew up with because of my mental health condition. In a state of severe depression, I took a lot of pills. One thing led to another, and I ended up on the intensive care ward. Burned in my memory was the thought of my mom standing there, bursting into tears because my doctor had told my family I wasn’t going to make it. Because of this attempt, I took a whole new view on suicide, and also on how important the people in your life are and how much it would hurt them to commit suicide. I should have known this mind you, shortly before my first major hospitalization, I was crushed by the death by suicide of a close friend. Not long after, his mother died in the same way and I was devastated. Each time I think of him I count up the years he would have had, the things we could have done together. It really is very sad.

So basically, there are steps here just like in some 12-step meeting. The first step is, are you okay right now? Do you have a strong desire, and the means to kill yourself? Two: Find a way to become safe. Get rid of excess medications, sharp objects, poisonous cleaners and the like. Three is, are you properly medicated? This leads to four, which is, if you are not properly medicated, be honest with your doctor or even find a better doctor until your major symptoms are dealt with in a way you can handle. Five would be too keep a journal to make this honesty easier. Six is to put extra effort into your relationships, family, friends, and romantic partners. Make a solid base of people you are close with. Seven would be to look into exploring your spiritual side, by using things like meditation and Yoga as you are comfortable. Eight would be to find a psychologist, and work hard to deal with and find a way to live with the things that are making you feel worse, basically learn how to handle life better. Thank you for reading this blog to the end, let’s all stay safe and get through this pandemic, there are some good times ahead!

Every Little Victory In Our Lives Leads to a Place of Happiness

Hello Dear readers. I have been breaking with convention a bit and posting things of a slightly different nature as you may know. There have been a couple of things going on, one of them is that I have been experiencing a fair bit of stress lately. The funny thing is that the stress seems to stay in my blankets. Namely, I feel stressed about facing the world but if I can get up and get dressed I stand a much better chance of facing my problems and at the very least leaving the house to try and do them. Last night was kind of a special night for me because I love to participate in 5-minute live story readings for cash prizes, and the theme for the story was ‘disability’. I couldn’t have picked a more perfect theme, I loved the idea of talking about my illness and where it took me. The main problem was that I had to make it as though I were telling a story, even though my story was pretty much completely non-fiction. I won’t go too much further into it, I thought I would try and post a relevant photo first and then paste in the text of the story I wrote in case any of my readers would like it. Once again I strongly encourage any regular readers to write me with any questions, I can even keep the responses anonymous, and I have no problem even doing some heavy research to answer any questions you have. I think the biggest thing I can say is that once you find a good medication and have a stable life, you can then go into things like a life-skills group where they teach you to better communicate with others, then perhaps once done this successfully, a person who has been in a hospital for a long stay for psychiatric reasons can look into part-time education (and I often recommend distance learning, especially if you are a little older), bettering themselves, keeping their lives low-stress, and then when you are ready move to the next step of finding normal employment. I think this is a time when volunteering is really good because a lot of employers like the idea that you will work for nothing (just kidding) and many other advantages like filling in any large gaps of time in your resume. So, here goes, picture below and then at the bottom of today’s message I will paste in my winning story. Take care everyone!

 

Story Slam Winning Story

So much of my life I wanted to be a hero. Fight for your country, catch a criminal, save a life. People who did these things and looked good doing them were heroes or so I thought.

 

Getting older changed the game. Drink the most beer, pick up the best-looking girl, make the most money. Then, one day as I was near to finishing school it happened.

 

I had heard of phthalidomide before but had never seen a victim of it. A young, healthy man, born without arms, changed me forever. He spoke to our school for an hour, and as he went, he played the saxophone, talked about going to College, and what it was like for people to stare at him everywhere he went.

 

This young man was a true hero. Someone who spread hope. I could hardly even imagine what he had been through. I told my mom that I felt bad that this unfortunate, birth-defected person had done so much while I had done nothing despite that there was nothing wrong with me.

 

Soon after, I dove into a self-improvement kick. I quit drinking, smoking, started working out and retreated into my schoolwork every free moment I had. Somewhere in that process something went desperately wrong. As the pressure built, I kept being harder on myself. I began to slip away from reality.

 

I have no idea what set me off. All I know is that I started to have thoughts and ideas that no rational person would. I gave things away, fell into a deep, dark depression. My mind, my senses were filled with confusion. I was slowly going insane and had no clue what to do about it.

 

One day a friend came to pick me up and I just wasn’t myself. I was nothing like myself in any way. My friend had the presence of mind to take me to a hospital and soon I was given a powerful injection and confined to a seclusion room.

 

I just couldn’t seem to understand that despite that this had never happened before, it would happen again, and would never go away. When they released me, I threw out my pills, and just days after, I picked a fight at school and was taken by police back to that horrible place and was kicked out of school.

 

It took years after that for me to find myself. I ran from my illness. Vancouver, California. Trouble was, I brought my brain with me. Each day was a struggle to keep sane. After another relapse, I finally returned to Edmonton, accepted my diagnosis and took my medication.

 

So much happened over those years. A thousand lifetimes lived and lost in dreaming or reading or trying to find some kind of work I could handle. I was in no condition to deal with stress, sleeping 12 hours a day because of medications. I was dirt poor and there seemed no hope, no future. When I was around 25, after a harsh rejection from a young woman I once cared about, I took a near lethal overdose.

 

I laid in bed for days, and while I was under my dad came by and put twenty dollars under my door. That money was enough to get me a cab to the hospital where I spent five more days in intensive care. I wasn’t supposed to have recovered, but miracles happen, and they happen for a reason.

I left the hospital after seeing how much I hurt my family and friends with a new determination. Life from then on wasn’t perfect, but each moment, each sunrise and sunset was precious. They were borrowed moments, time I would never have had if no one had cared about me.

I still became severely ill. Once while in psychosis, I took a tour of the Legislature Grounds and was so abusive and obnoxious that I was escorted off the grounds. It’s a fact that people with mental illnesses are more often victims of violence than perpetrators of it. The misguided attitude that you can do anything, the poor choices you make are the cause. I needed to be in a hospital, and things were so serious this time I wasn’t let out for six whole months.

Some of you may know the rest of the story. A long incarceration, a longer recovery. A new job spreading the word about stigma and mental illness. Other work teaching Wellness, Recovery, and Creative Writing to people who suffer. The years slid past and here I am. How far have I come? From being kicked out of the Legislature to being given a special recognition by Canadians For a Civil Society to Participate in Human Rights Day in the same Legislature I was kicked out of eighteen years ago. Am I a hero? I couldn’t tell you, but in my long journey of growth and recovery I think I may have come to a point where I have done more good than harm. Thank you.

Mental Health: Is Holding On and Waiting Enough?

When have you done too much waiting for your mental health to get better?  When is the time to throw in the towel and stop holding on?  I hope you never give in or give up.

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        I am so fascinated by these little creatures in so many ways.  Took this on the front steps of my sister’s house in Toronto this past summer.

Please scroll past today’s poem for a very important blog post

Younger Days

 

 I was feeling trapped by loneliness and pain

I never thought life would get any good again

As a young man, I was scared of growing old

I didn’t like the stories about old age my elders told

 

And now I’ve made it all the way to middle age

Trying to make my way with words upon a page

And I have to tell you things really aren’t that bad

I have all the toys and friends to keep me from being sad

 

In fact, when I look back now upon my youth

I kind of wish someone had told me the honest truth

That there may be some pretty hard times when you are young

But if you dig in and hold on life can get so very fun

 

When I think of all the joy my little niece has given me

I can’t deny her arrival set my soul free

I love that little girl more than anything

I can’t describe the joy a young child can bring

 

When she was growing up I was born all over again

And I didn’t ever have to lie, be fake, or pretend

I could just be the Uncle who loved her so

I hope that these are things you already know

 

Now I have so many friends I truly love

True friendships are a gift from up above

So stand fast and don’t worry about being a child

I promise you that life will get so wonderful and wild

 

 

Leif Gregersen

October 15, 2016

   Have you ever sat and watched a spider spin their web?  It is a mind-numbingly tedious process.  But in order to eat and to survive, they must do it.  Spiders have to start at one side of where they want their trap to be, then climb back and forth, back and forth, spinning their tiny web enough times for the most amazing geometric structure, then spin the inner circles that connect those lines.  If someone comes along and wipes out their work, they start right over at the beginning.  I hope that this is the way you see overcoming your mental illness or other difficulties in your life.  Never, never, never, never give up.

     I don’t know how much I can handle sharing with you, my dear readers, but at a time I was very messed up and didn’t understand what was happening.  It amazes me that I got through all of that and now am a successful writer with many friends, a past of many wonderful trips and experiences and a genuinely happy life.  Twenty-six years ago I was a far ways from it and maybe if I can share a little of my story with you it might help you to help yourself or your loved ones from going through the same thing.  First and foremost, I had no understanding of mental illness, and it crept up on me.  The illness manifested itself while I was in school and I did a lot of irrational things that got me in trouble.  I was taken to a secure ward in a mental hospital which was absolutely the worst experience of my life.  It felt as though my brains were scrambled, but still there were a lot of people at the hospital who really were trying hard to help me.  The thing was, because no one I knew had ever talked about mental illness, my opinion was that if I told these people about the thoughts and problems I was having they would simply lock me up longer.  The miracle of it was that in short order medications were found that had me back in excellent shape in a surprisingly short time.

Of course, I didn’t continue to take treatment.  Over the years, I was in and out of hospitals a lot, and I came to a point where I just wanted the pain to end.  I took a serious overdose of acetaminophen and came very near to ending my life.  When I saw the pain and difficulties I caused my family, I decided I would never attempt suicide again.  I had to have some kind of hope in my life though.  It was excruciatingly difficult, but I kept trying to find a doctor and medications that worked for me and I forced myself to get a job and at least try and make my own way in the world.  I found a lot of help going to church and some 12-step meetings, though for years it almost felt like my whole life was just about going through the motions.

One of the things I needed to do perhaps the most was to get my life on a schedule, even if I was occasionally sleeping all day or staying up all night.  My method of doing this was to start going to the swimming pool.  By the grace of God, the city of Edmonton started a plan where people who were disabled or impoverished could get a free pass to use city facilities.  It was very hard at first, but I forced myself to go and forced myself to fit into the groups that went there at the same time as me and before I knew it, I had friends that went there and worked there and lifeguards were helping me train and it was fantastic overall.  This exertion made me sleep better, made me feel better, and improved my life in so many ways.  In a lot of ways I thought I would never participate in sports again after knee injuries as a youth, but now I was getting very fit and it was helping nearly every part of my life.

Being in shape led me to be able to work more, and eventually just by the sheer fact that I got along with people and was helpful, I was given a job working security on movie sets in Edmonton.  This led to other work as a stagehand for concerts and life just kept on improving.  As time went past, I started to use my free time to work on my writing, and basically just took things one step at a time until I had built a body of work that I was proud of.  Meanwhile, my niece was born and my purpose in life soon became all about spending time with her and trying to be the best Uncle I could be.  None of this would have ever happened if when I was younger I decided life sucked now and would suck forever and stopped trying.  If you have a goal or a dream, sit down and make a plan.  Keep a success journal to record yourself moving towards that goal each and every day.  It can be something as simple as taking a walk to a community college and looking at courses that you could take.  It could be as simple as just taking a walk.  But please, never, never, never, never, never give up!  Life can take you so many amazing places and I honestly believe that our Creator will never give you more than you can handle.  Joy and happiness to all of you!

Leif Gregersen

Mental Health and Life Management With a Poem To Entice You

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                This is a photo I took with a special close-up lens.  Photography can be so rewarding and fun

Today’s Poem:

All We Really Have

 

Take a moment now and stop and stare

At the green glow of summer everywhere

White whispy clouds and deep blue sky

Don’t stay inside where you will surely die

Venture out under the sunshine all you dare

 

Summer may be coming near it’s end

And it does become harder to pretend

We won’t miss the sun again this year

 

Soon frozen winter hands will encroach

All the outdoor spaces and places we love the most

Are all our happy, carefree days simply done?

 

It saddens my heart, my mind, my soul

That we must now make toil our only goal

Until once more the outdoors are warm and sublime

 

Through the colder months of wind and snow

We get older as the young children grow

Pausing only to mark the birth of Christ

 

And then in Springtime as the flowers bloom

We fast and try to comprehend the doom

Of the only truly loving one who never sinned

 

Then once more our thoughts turn to different things

Such as the pain and joy a family brings

But not a man or woman regrets it for a moment

 

Because no matter how much I will lament with this pen

The Summer sun will be here again

To turn our sad faces to smiling happy bursts of light

 

But yes even then we will soon forget

That for each hour of joy we owe a debt

Of an hour of ice wind and snow

 

And when those times come upon the land

I think our Lord God understands

We need to sleep in curled up and warm now and then

 

And to cuddle close as we watch TV into the night

As lonely others pass and envy our light

That comes not from TV or light bulbs at all

 

I just ask that you heed me a little and hold close to your heart

As we wait for this precious summer to depart

Those who have shared your life with you from the start

And those who pierced you with cupid’s dart

For all in all love is all we really have

 

Today’s Blog:

Good day my fine readers and friends!  I have to say though the poem I wrote has a touch of sadness to it, I had one of the best days ever today.  My sister is in town with her husband and my niece and she threw a party for her old friends and our family and I had an amazing time.  It was one of the best parties I have gone to for many reasons.  One of them was that my sister’s friend Steve was there and he was a good friend of my sister’s when I was just a 12 year-old kid and as I sat listening to my sister and him talk it reminded me of the many things that I am so grateful for with regards to my sister, that she really works very hard to help people and has huge wellsprings of compassion in her heart, mind, and soul.  For a long time I just saw her as kind of an angry person, but when she was with her friends I guess her guard was let down and she was able to talk about some of the humanitarian efforts she makes like when she taught literacy in a penitentiary and how she now teaches mentally challenged students.  I had a fun time with my niece too, she is an amazing girl and we laughed ourselves sick at the ‘Instagram’ face-swapping app she used to take pictures of all of us.

All that aside, I have still been trying to keep up with my work.  I don’t know how many people out there have read my books, I have had a friend who has given me the incredibly kind offer of helping to edit and re-work the book “Inching Back To Sane” which has some good content but is in dire need of better organization and maybe a few other things.  I am also working on a manuscript of short stories that the well-known Canadian author Richard Van Camp is going through for me right now.  I feel so blessed that I have been able to win three cash prize contests and make the short list of a fourth.  September will actually be the first time a story of mine has been chosen for regular publication in “The Canadian Tales of the Heart Short Story Contest”  (in case you want to look it up in September, the title of the short story is “Sandra: A Love Story.”

All in all, I have been finding in the past few years that my forties are the best years of my life.  I have gotten over all that boyhood shyness, I don’t feel any more like I am some second class person in older company, I have developed skills that help me to thrive and I have not only overcome addictions but I have learned many ways to manage the money that my addictions were costing me.  This may seem funny, but in a large way this relates to suicide and how sad it is.  If young people who felt their life wasn’t going to get any better and that killing themselves was their only option, I have to say that if you stick to your guns, keep working hard, never give up on yourself and more, there truly is a much better life ahead.  Of course this also makes me think of the homeless people and how hard it must be to have nowhere to feel safe and to sleep through the night.  Even if they get a job (which is extremely difficult if you are dirty and ragged) it seems like such an impossible task to save the money required for a room or apartment on top of all the other needs a person must have.  What breaks my heart even worse is when you see people using needles and you just know that they are extremely addicted and likely infected with HIV or Hepatitis.  I don’t know what I can do, I do little tiny, minuscule things like giving people a few bucks, buying a person the odd sandwich, but there is so much need out there for these people to be helped.  All I really have is words.  They say the pen in mightier than the sword, maybe if I can truly master this craft of writing I could somehow change the way people look at the homeless and truly do something significant.  Anyhow, I think I am going to attach another photo below, I hope you have enjoyed your blog experience for August 5th!

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This is a building called “The Admiralty Arch” which leads a person from Trafalgar Square to Buckingham Palace.  I am so happy that I took this vacation, I am tempted to go there again already.

Riding On A High, Living My Dreams

DSCF5660             A NEW HOUSE BEING BUILT NEXT DOOR, TAKEN WITH MY NEW CAMERA

MY DAILY ADVENTURE:

Well, I attended a small film festival showcasing Aboriginal works last night and it was literally amazing.  The first short film was called ‘Psychosis’ and showed a young woman going insane in the backdrop of both a school and in nature.  I have to say that I don’t watch horror films because normally they don’t phase me, but the images and symbolism of this one freaked me out.  At one point there was a scene where the young woman was sitting beside a grave and they used special effects to make a man that was with her disappear and reappear, it really hit home.  What kind of amazed me was that in these films there was a recurring theme of not only residential schools, but of suicide.  For those who aren’t from Canada, we have a very sore spot in our history where native children were taken from their families and put into residential schools and the whole of the aboriginal nations are still healing from it.

The other film that really stood out was one made in a place called Fort Smith called Mohawk Midnight Runners.  The person who wrote the short story that inspired this film is my good friend Richard Van Camp who has edited and helped with just about everything I have written.  This film was actually about streaking in one way, and in another about depression and suicide.  As the story went, a guy named Paul (sorry I forgot his last name) was a lawyer in this small town and when he had a few drinks he would head down the road jogging naked.  In the film, his friends start a running club where they go out at midnight and run for various causes.  The quality of the filming was superb, very professional and they had rights to use the song “Come On Eileen” which I loved and it was very moving and funny.  What was even more moving was that my friend Richard got up after the film and talked about his friend and about the pain that suicide causes, tears forming in his eyes.  It was a very strong message, a very emotional experience.

What struck home for me was that some years back I had stopped taking my anti-depressant (prozac) and I made a very serious attempt to kill myself.  It hurt my family so much that I decided that was a horrible thing to do.  Later in life, while writing “Through The Withering Storm” my editor commented on a situation where a friend of mine had committed suicide when I was 17 and she said that “suicide is the ultimate form of revenge”.  I don’t think this was true in the case of Richard’s friend, but it may have been in my friend’s death.  I haven’t pieced together everything, but it seemed that my friend (Brad Latta RIP) had lost a girlfriend to a close friend and had been kicked out of his mom’s house and just saw no way out.  I don’t think he intended to hurt so many people and I also have a strong suspicion he had Bipolar Disorder, but it was a terrible tragedy.

Well, I hope I haven’t made anyone feel down with all this dark talk.  Really life is going very well for me.  Yesterday I went to a meeting regarding our local poetry festival (anyone in the Edmonton area contact me for details.. viking3082000@yahoo.com) and on Friday I am going to be paid to participate in a panel discussion about mental health awareness.  I am feeling truly happy and truly validated.  I guess I want to say to anyone out there that reads this blog who suffers from mental health issues that there really is hope, there really is healing.  I also am starting to edit a Young Adult Novel I recently completed the first draft of and all is right with the world through my eyes.

DSCF5354                      MY BEAUTIFUL HAWAII, BIG ISLAND, TWO STEP BEACH

Short Story Blog and Prison Poem

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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!

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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