*As a note, I’ve been skydiving eleven times and engaged in some amazing cliff jumping, but would never recommend these activities for others. They were thrilling for me and skydiving is so peaceful when your chute is open; The whole world as far as the eye can see becomes vivid and vibrant, at your touch, yet far below. I survived in one piece. This is the song:
Once more. I wrote this about twenty years ago. It is about the struggle with art and mood. The relevance here is that I am working hard to find ways to improve people’s quality of life. This is the main reason why I started this blog. So far it’s been fun, anxious, and sometimes harsh! I am working on revising a few ideas. Good times!
This poem draws on some very deep feelings and some monumental challenges. The ‘resolution’ is more realistic: find shelter, try to be relaxed, be optimistic, have friends, and be good to yourself. Written around 1992.
Again – the dialectic, the opportunity to share ideas, can help solve a lot of problems: boiling down wild ideas into pragmatic truths. Until we are content and the problems that we challenge are solved – we persevere. Taking time to relax is important. This can be a luxury, but learning to relax in difficult situations can enable a steady balance that can encourage success.
Thinking about things, outside of this world,
Could have understood it, but now I’m unsure,
Sky’s clouded over – life’s ways become hazy,
Lights fading away, today’s driving me crazy,
Looking up above at a wet grey sky,
So much sadness and I wonder why,
Rain starts coming, down, down, again,
Soaked to the bone, it’s pouring rain,
Thinking so hard, mud slides in torrential rain,
Digging for some answers, dug deadly insane,
I made an advance, I know I made a good impression,
Hardly learning my lesson, they say maybe manic depression,
A cycle of life, a system easy enough to see,
Situation goes to hell, don’t know what to believe,
Thought I had a foothold, but in confusion caught,
Slip-sliding fast, no support for my thoughts,
Slip-sliding too fast…
A thought flashes brightly in the night of my mind,
Together but all alone,
Try to run for cover, in confusion and fear,
Scared senseless by thunder’s fierce tone,
Falling down, help! When will I make it out?
I’m up to my neck in a pool of doubt,
Sinking down, down,
Deep down into despair,
Listen to what I say: it’s not too much to bear,
Too much to think,
Here comes the weight of the world landing on my shoulders:
Split by enlightening,
nowhere to run and hide, my legs won’t walk,
Like steel rain,
on my brain,
Pain beats ice down on my head,
Wounds still bleeding wounds, already done bled,
Talking bloody blue-sky after the storm we had?
Freezing up cold all hopes that have gone bad,
Thinking about things inside of this world,
May understand, in fact I’m pretty sure,
Blue skies overdue after the storm we had,
People who find shelter, can always be glad,
Looking up above at a bright blue sky,
So many people see it at any time,
Here comes the weather, for another long day,
Exploding with energy, every single last ray,
Thinking slowly, from a different perspective,
It is just within reach, found a new objective,
I made the decision, hell made a good impression,
Finally learned the lesson, I can fight off depression,
Some might say, ‘opposites attract’. In today’s world social situations can be very diverse and people can be brought together for a vast number of reasons. People meet through random encounters, through work, school, on-line or many other types of association.
The following poem seems to be fairly self-explanatory to me. I think it may reflect a very common relationship in modern society. I would strive for more consistency, and it may be difficult to exist like this, but I think it is pretty normal. I think that if love is found, perseverance is favourable. It is also important to have awareness of when a relationship becomes too hard to handle, and if it is having a negative impact on you. If you are living with negativity, this may arise from a lack of understanding, a backlash of your own behaviour, or also from the significant other’s behaviour. It is important to stand up for your health. If your health is being threatened – it may be necessary to challenge the status quo; Recognize the needs of others, but also assert your own needs.
Relationships can be very complex. It would seem that love needs to be fiercely nurtured to promote health in a long-term relationship. Open channels of communication, awareness of each other’s needs and willingness to compromise can be a good set of tools to work with. When making decisions, I try to do this in a calm mood and always use reason – even when emotion also plays a role (or especially when emotion plays a role). If we try to see the net outcome of continuing a relationship, and see more benefits than costs, both emotionally and in terms of the health of all individuals affected by the relationship: Perseverance is the best thing. Sometimes we do have to look out for number one, but I also try to take all others into account when making decisions – within reason.
The Pace (Intermittent Intimate)
It’s raining today, but it’s kind of intermittent,
While yesterday’s massive storm left me drenched,
Even the calm does not refresh,
After the moments of stress,
You were twisting your words like a wrench,
Sticking in my head, where you have thrown them,
Where they have gone and still wait,
In my heart, you could total,
Where they have gone and soon fade
A ballot cast by the voter,
Rumbling low like a motor,
There’s a pain in my head, but it’s kind of intermittent,
While yesterday’s massive thirst has been quenched,
Now the peace is not quiet,
But like an internal riot,
I am twisting around in this trench,
You do not know, that you have carved it,
Where I’ve gone and still twist,
And I am still starving,
But the inner strengths never missed,
Just sometimes a target,
(really, just hardly?)
Roll with it,
Roll with it,
Always keep up with the pace,
It’s just another night, and the calm is intermittent,
This is a poem about optimism. I believe that optimism can contribute to success. In psychology we learned about a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’. Doesn’t it seem like a good idea to be optimistic when these occur?
I have found that certain things can encourage optimism, such as: sunshine, looking up to the stars on a clear night and/or sitting by the waterside, like a river, lake or ocean. A connection with nature often helps calm the nerves and even promotes optimism. If that time is endangered: this can be fuel to challenge troubles.
Some people are hardwired to have the desire to persevere and maintain or regain optimism. Even a walk in the park, a glimpse of the mountains, or gazing at the sky can help one gain strength by proving that nature will persevere… Well then: So can I.
I think anytime is a good time to be optimistic. I am not saying that I always have unquestionable optimism, but I always strive for it.
Premonition Now – Positively Change
When the season’s right upon life’s dealing,
It might tend to leave uncertain feelings,
But the recent changes in the weather,
Finds it lighter at the time of day and…
Another passage, you are thinking of it,
There is not a second you can ever doubt it,
You have changed – they are changing too, so,
Just about the time you make your move, no:
Pondering unreal things,
Wishing it would finally happen:
Know that it is always
Sparkling in the water,
Jumping in, diving in,
Knowing only the stream as we are flowing,
Cold and moving, strong and proving,
There is always change,
When the timing’s pushing on your healing,
It might tend to send you through the ceiling,
And the recent changes from the mood swing,
Makes it harder, as if we can’t be choosing,
Every moment you are thinking of it,
There is not a minute you can ever doubt it,
They must change while you are changing too, so,
Just about the time you break on through, know:
A little ray of sunshine makes you happier than
The cloudy crowd that’s all around,
and dull and dim and on the ground,
Days fallen over your shoulder made you feel so sky-high,
Chance you couldn’t get hold of, made you feel like nighttime.
When the climate’s right upon your feeling,
It would even seem like you are stealing,
But the truth is: you are now the real thing,
Just like when you accidentally motioned:
Provision for good feelings,
Envisioning new real things,
Wishing success is happening:
Know that it is always
Sparkling in the water,
Jumping in, diving in,
Knowing only the stream as we are flowing,
Cold and moving, a song that’s soothing,
There is positively change,
A little ray of starlight makes you happier than
The darkened space that’s all around,
and full and real and the only sound,
One fallen over your shoulder made you feel so sky high,
One that you got a hold of, makes now the right time,
Jumping in, strive to win, following the river that is flowing,
I want to emphasize a point in maintaining optimism and not falling into despair. Part of this is about learning to harness the power of the future, and of possible future joy. As I mentioned, joy may be extremely rare, coming up – once in a blue moon… but this is all in perspective. Joy can be as simple as a conversation with a friend or a feeling of peace in art or beauty. It is often necessary to endure situations until we get to the next contented moment, and find that next joy. In some cases mindfulness may be best set on the future, with reminders from the past of what is good, and what we can expect. I pray that we all have something, however simple and temporary that we can look forward to: a drink to quench our thirst, a vision to behold, or the conversation of a friend or family to look forward to. Even our own creativity and thought can help keep us find content. It is important to persevere till we get to that moment. Enjoy the present, but if that is not possible, there is still something ahead that makes endurance worth waiting for.
The following poem was written in the mid to late nineties. My recent conversation brings me back to it.
Got to choose your next move,
Got to do what you think
Is really going to make a difference,
In your little world,
Plush carpets and amber lights,
A ride that’s free in many ways,
Cushions on a couch save me,
Living hell for many days,
How did I pass my time today,
Hard cold floors and bright lights,
My mind is cool most always.
Patterns on the walls they change,
In never-ending hallways,
How can I pass my time this way?
I’m climbing through. I’m climbing out,
It’s only me, just with everything else,
My soul within everything else,
Got to groove as you proceed,
Got to do what you think
Is really going to take you all the way,
To the next contented moment,
Tight with my fretful friend,
Fingers dance on steel to play,
Notes will tell the mood of life,
Come back for another day,
How can we pass our time today?
Sitting on groves of green grass,
Trying to cure the grey day,
My blood thirst for red wine,
Just to pass the night away,
How did I pass my time today?
Climbing free, climbing out,
It’s just me, with everyone else,
We’re so close to climbing out,
It is only work, forget everything else,
The soul without everything else,
Change of pace and growing old,
Forget about the distant days,
Still need to understand the soul,
And have something good to say,
How did you pass your time today?
Finally free, finally out,
The soul is one and everything else,
Finally free, finally out,
The soul is one just with everything else!
The conclusion is a bit finite, but I really feel that it is whole. You need to have something good to say about every day: My couch was comfortable, patterns on the wall were interesting, and in my case, I played guitar. I recommend hobbies and mindfulness in simple pleasure that one can draw on in times when it is difficult to easily endure. It is important to be aware of potential joy as we are experiencing it. It is also necessary in times of stress, as a means of coping: to remember that there are always other moments to look forward to, sometimes just by looking inside.
Hi! My name is Mike. I am a support worker for people with diverse needs. I also support my four children. Three of my kids have special needs in mental health. They need help coping with anxiety conditions, including panic attacks, bipolar disorder, which is a mood disorder and other challenges. I personally have overcome bipolar disorder myself to have many successes in life.
I am an artist. I write poetry, philosophy and music. I enjoy photography and cinema, going to the movies, or staying home to watch a movie. I have always had a strong athletic interest too and I still take part in hiking, camping, swimming and sports with my family.
I knew I was different even back in elementary school. I was both creative and spiritual, with an edge. In grade five I took an interest in guitar class and soon got my own guitar. My parents loved Rock and Roll, Motown music and even Disco. I learned to love it all too.
I loved writing. In grade six I wrote a twenty-page love letter to a girl that I really liked and mailed it to her when she was on holidays across Canada for spring break. That was not that well-received… I also wrote a fifteen-page science-fiction story for grade seven Language Arts class. That was appreciated much more. By grade eight, I had an electric guitar and became much more interested in Hard Rock. I grew out long hair and wore jeans and leather jackets. I started drinking alcohol. This got me in trouble. I had run-ins with the police and did some stupid things, like making myself really, really ill.
As a student I had close to straight A’s right through grade twelve, and into my second semester at University. That is when I began to lose focus and pay more attention to partying and experimenting with drugs. That is when I began to have very serious episodes in bipolar disorder that could have killed me or others. I had a problem with driving fast and had many car accidents. That was definitely my dangerous side. I have learned my lesson. Safe-driving saves lots of money, prevents injury, pain and potentially loss of life. I also avoid driving if I am feeling emotional or detached, or in a mood.
I was deep in mood, emotion and concscious thought at many times in those years. Because I wasn’t getting help with this, and hadn’t figured out my moods for myself, it wasn’t always easy, or even possible for me to slow down. I believed in mind over matter and was fearless with that. I have done a lot of cliff-diving, into water and I also jumped out of a perfectly good airplane from up to four thousand feet, eleven times. That was partly in an effort to become a licensed instructor and get free jumps!
I put myself into a lot of rough places with my expressive behaviour and fearless nature, situations where I was lucky to make it out without more damage. I was rather “out there”, and not aware of some expected boundaries for my enthusiasm and loud nature at times. Many people didn’t know how to react. Many still don’t.
People started to treat me like trouble and assumed that I was a bad student, up to no-good. That was not all true. I still aimed to be kind and promote wellness. I still got straight A’s. Often stigma got the best of me.
Stigma is the negative view that a person or group of people have of another person or themselves. Stigma is often misinformed and based on assumptions. Stereotypes are judgements of people based on beliefs of how a certain type of other people behave. For example, some might think that all people with a diagnosis in mental health like bipolar disorder, are always ill, or dangerous, or unreliable. This belief may arise because the negative view is popular in some parts of the media or because some people that live with the condition have shown these characteristics in a major way, like in the news, that people remember.
The idea of a stereotype can transfer negative views onto a person with a belief about them that is inaccurate and based on misinformation, such as those popular views that are mistakenly promoted in some media portrayals. Stereotypes lump someone into a category, where they are believed to share the same characteristics of everyone else in that category. This is wrong. We are all different. We need to consider people’s personality and try to share empathy. Try to understand their position, human to human, not letting stigma or judgmental guesses creep in.
People living with a diagnosis such as bipolar disorder can become ill in certain situations, but that can often be prevented by proper attention to healthy living. A person with bipolar disorder might be extremely talented at music or science, and not dangerous or unreliable at all.
Stigma often develops into discrimination based on stereotypes, rumours and by not looking past the surface of a person or situation. Discrimination can hurt people by depriving them of respect, personal needs and by excluding them when they deserve to be included.
Because of the clothes that I was wearing, attitude and my long hair, some groups of people disrespected me, especially by not giving me time to share my views, when other people did receive that opportunity. People, including professionals should have known better. We are all people, and we all deserve respect. Every one of us.
Truthfully, I was judged almost by my own choice with a stigma. I was getting in trouble. My friends were getting in trouble. In some ways I chose to be known as trouble even though I really wasn’t…. Well at least: not to begin with.
I was never mean, but I could have cost lives or lost my own life more than once. While difficulties in focus landed me in motor vehicle accidents, street drugs caused me to get in other dangerous situations. On one occasion when I tried a harder drug, I ended up smashing a guitar over a drum-set at a party and wound up in hospital with my reputation permanently damaged. I am flat out lucky to be alive. I stay away from hard drugs.
Meanwhile, the stigma from those episodes has had a lasting dramatic effect, even to today, over twenty-five years later. I have persevered and overcome obstacles.
I achieved my psychology major in my bachelor’s from Simon Fraser University in 1997. I completed my degree while I was fighting off dangerous manic episodes and hospitalizations. It was the worst time for my illness. I still learned a lot from my school, but I made sure to also learn a lot from my experience. Because of my illness my grades in finishing my degree were not seen as excellent at the time. My first job with my degree was bagging groceries and collecting shopping carts at a grocery store.
In 2000, I got married and started a family. I have not had a severe struggle with bipolar disorder since my last clinical episode in 2001. My battle has been more about the stigma since then.
In order to support my wife and baby, I started my electrical apprenticeship within the first few months out of hospital. My recovery included five years of hard, dirty, and dangerous work in construction. I became a licensed Red Seal electrician by 2007. I soon became a successful foreman in charge of projects and crews of workers.
In this time, I also began coaching my sons in baseball and soccer. We won nine championships. I also have helped my two stepdaughters with school and at home over the last seven years. The youngest kids are still in grade school, grades seven and twelve. Many members of our family have struggled with mental health concerns.
My oldest son, my two stepdaughters and myself have conditions that require special attention and treatment according to medical and educational professionals. Some of us require medication or special help from doctors, teachers, and caregivers, to take care of ourselves best.
We also have challenges in social interactions that can be caused by how we express ourselves and how we behave differently sometimes. These challenges often come from the environment and social networks too. Others perceive us based on their experience with us, but also based on what others say, and based on stigma and stereotypes that come with our differences and diagnoses.
It is hard to know how to act sometimes.
Again, I will emphasize, this stigma still hurts me today, after I have been healthy for twenty years, just because of mistakes that I made back then, that are still connected to my diagnosis, behaviour and how others view me today.
Once I had made a few mistakes, it was hard to get away from them. In some cases, it was too late. I had lost credibility, even in the fight for justice. Some friends eventually just ghosted me, as if it was my fault and left me stuck in problems that stigma had caused. The part that was my fault was the over-indulgence in drugs and alcohol.
The social implications of substance abuse can be so awful, like losing many friends or hurting people or dying. With the lethal street drugs today, there is no way that I would ever take that risk.
For me, the stigma of mental illness was largely tied to the episodes that I had. My behaviour outside of the episodes, to some people, seems to confirm stigmatizing views. My personality can often be completely misjudged. Once people have a stereotype in their head, it can be hard to shake it. We need patience, effort and mutual respect to overcome stigma.
Even then, time constraints can still be an issue. People have treated me as this stereotyped version of a troublemaker, according to stigma. Sometimes, in the real world, we just don’t get the chance to explain ourselves and dispel stigma, if we don’t get the right time and place. That’s why, in my opinion we always need to have an ear open for others and try to be willing to discuss mental health with others.
Sometimes my attitude was a problem. It was like I was “too cool” or too full of pride, to associate with a teacher or someone that wasn’t in my group, even if they offered help. Sometimes I was just scared or embarrassed. This is how I closed myself off from help, including from friends.
After the 1990’s, the strategies that I learned for mental health and to battle stigma, have worked for me. They have got me through with a happy home and great potential for the future. For stigma especially, I think we need to try to speak our mind when we get the chance, but not always push it if we don’t think it’s the right place, audience or if we don’t have enough time.
We need to be confident in communications but also patient and kind. Some people still won’t get it. We have to be accepting; remain patient and forgiving of others, and ourselves.
I continue to be involved in research on mental health after publishing a project as a co-author in 2016 with the University of British Columbia in the Department of Psychiatry. I have just become a part of the Family Research Advisory Panel with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.
Having personally lived with a mental health diagnosis for close to thirty years, I truly appreciate the chance to understand and contribute to research and studies in academics and healthcare, especially how that relates to children, youth and families.
I am currently a support worker. I work with kids who need extra help in elementary schools. I have also worked with youth and adults with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
I retired as an electrician and construction worker, mainly due to physical injury and finding opportunity in mental health research and support work.
Don’t let stigma get you down. Life is hard sometimes. That is a fact of life. Stories and kindness help. Empathy and optimism help.
Make good friends. My wife has been one of my best friends since the early 1990’s because we talk with honesty, care and humour.
For mental health, I always aim to maintain physical health by getting enough exercise, getting enough sleep, and having a nutritious diet. If I need help, I get in touch with healthcare and I always follow through with prescriptions.
When I suffered the worst from my mood disorder, the strategy of calming myself became so important. Deep breathing and self-reassuring words have been most valuable in helping me to ground myself in stressful or surreal times.
In my study with UBC, the focus on maintaining “Hope” was identified as a key to mental health. I build my own hope with optimism. I learn to adapt by knowing that things will always work out, one way or another. Efforts in optimism help me to get past moods that could otherwise be awful or terrifying.
I set my hopes high to include everyone. If I show empathy for others to try to understand their feelings, it seems more likely that they will show empathy for me.
Empathy is our ability and the work we do to understand how other people feel. We work with others best if we understand their needs. Some of us just hope for a cup of water, a meal, clothes, shelter and a bed.
Others are fortunate to hope for some other cool things, like electronics or even vacations and cars. We may want more friends or more time with our friends. Sometimes to get through stigma and illness it just takes people from our social network to show empathy and engage on our needs.
We can always find hope. I make that clear to myself. I don’t ever let myself deny it. When I am feeling not well or if I am feeling stressed out, I look to what I am doing today. I look to find some moment of enjoyment or progress. I look to helpful memories and even just to feel glad when I can have thoughts to myself to think about things. I also look forward to success in tomorrow, whether that is a high score, a good grade or just some comfort and fun.
For the benefit of everyone I aim to maintain Respect and Empathy for other people and their goals. In my life, for mental health and for my goals, I aim to be Calm and Optimistic.
It’s a Bright day All the way Free as the cloud’s grey Take it out Without doubt I make my way into the atmosphere * When I close my eyes The more that I think The more I sink Into my clear Love of life * Let’s turn it into a great day All the way Free as Love that stays All the way * It’s a Bright day All the way Free as kids play and Work it out Without doubt Fun can pave the way when the sky is clear * As I calmly focus The more I feel The more I heal The less I fear Love of life * Let’s turn it into a great day All the way As Free as Love that stays All the way * We’ve got the right-away Fear is left behind Love as clear as day Peace is on our mind
We want equality That we can fully measure We all want and need Our own fair share of pleasure
We should all be free To savour life and have no greed No hoarding of resources By the most arrogant of forces *
Its a Bright day All the way Sun free-falling Like words I say Let’s get out Without doubt We make our way into the atmosphere * Behind my eyes The more I think The more I sink Into a sheer Love of life * Lets turn it into a Great day All the way As Free as Love that stays All the way