Summertime Heat Wave & Little Sleep

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Just thought I would put together a few thoughts. Western Canada and the Upper West Coast of America are experiencing scorching heat. Washington state at one point saw the temperature reach 116 degrees Fahrenheit.

The last several weeks have been somewhat productive. For the first time I was able to get into my best friend’s car and do some personal shopping. It felt great to be anywhere, but my living room. Of course we went at 7 a.m. to avoid the heat and a crowd.

I have started my work on the book I have wanted to write. And I am now just hitting sixty thousand words, just a very rough draft. I have no time limit on when I will finish. I have turned to my best source, my blog posts on my secondary blog site.

I finished Don Lemon’s book, “This Is The Fire, What I Tell My Friends About Racism”. It is a gripping first hand approach about racism, his own personal experiences, his upbringing, and covers history with a look at the movies.

I have been accomplishing those things with very little sleep. I spoke to my doctor concerning my issue with insomnia and he prescribed Trazadone, an anti-depressant medication. I am finding little help with it, in helping with the sleepless nights. So, come early Monday morning I will be putting in a phone call to him.

I am working my way slowly through two other books and have ordered President Obama’s newest writing.

I have been encouraged how people are still finding blog posts and hitting the “Like”. Lets me know that I have done something correctly. Thank you to all those who have decided to follow! Also, to those who have kept following during my time out.

So dear reader, just a brief few thoughts about what is happening in my realm of the world! Would love to hear about what is happening with you at the start of a very heated and humid summer! Stay cool!

Perspective & Mental Health

*** This post was inspired by an article written by former Mental Health Nurse, Ashley L. Peterson. The title of that post was, The Role of Values in Acceptance Commitment therapy(ACT) ***

Having surgery for hip replacement has given me some time to think about many things in life that I value. Things such as, walking, feeling the sunshine on my face, visiting with neighbors outside, and even being able to cook my meals once again.

I have been giving a fresh new look at all those things and more. There once was a time where I could walk all over the city to do shopping. I would love to be able to do that again, but putting it in perspective I first have to conquer being able to walk through Walmart to do my shopping.

I love to cook and also bake. I once entered a apple pie and a loaf of fresh bread in our local fair. When the winners of those categories were announced I could hardly believe that I one first prize in both. I would love to bake an apple pie, but putting it in perspective, I will have to wait until I am given the green light to be able to bend down to the level of my oven.

When I was told that I would need a hip replacement I accepted it. For me it couldn’t come fast enough, I kept hoping each day that the phone would ring and that it would be the operating schedule office with a date. Putting that in perspective I just had to take a deep breath and tell myself it will happen when it happens.

I always dreamed of buying a big log style home where I could enjoy sitting at a piano playing to my hearts content. Putting it in perspective I had to accept the fact that I could not have it because of finances. The best I could do was buy my current place on a rent-to-own contract. By the way, I paid it off in just over seven years.

It is easy to get through each day, step by step, moment by moment, by keeping things in perspective. As I finish this, the movie, “What About Bob“, and the quote “baby steps, baby steps” to Bob, the main character played by actor, Tom Hanks.

So dear reader, are you able to keep things in perspective when dealing with your issues in your current life? I and the other readers would love to hear your thoughts about “perspective”!

Therapist – Good Report

This morning I was at my appointment with my therapist, and she was very happy with my progress. She did some measurements to check the length of my legs, a test to see if both hips are aligning properly, and last was to see how my range of motion in my hip. Happy to see that I have full range when kicking out to my side, it was twenty-five degrees.

I now have new exercises that helps my stability, one exercise is practicing standing up from a chair without using my hands. Other ones are for me to have the ability to roll on my sides, which I find great because before the operation I slept on my side. She also encouraged me to practice getting into the tub and standup to see if I can shower that way without the tub bench.

Finally, after I came home and had some rest I took my first walk around part of my neighborhood, although using my wheeled walker. It was a feeling of satisfaction for reaching part of my goals for this summer. Also, was able to stop and visit with two of my neighbors for a good twenty minutes.

My stability using my cane today has greatly improved Getting my own coffee and other things feels so liberating.

So dear reader, once again I am reminded that if you do the hard work, you will see results!

p.s. – I cannot tell you how I feel mentally. I think I reached the clouds combining both of the days!

Good Doctor’s Report

This morning I went to see the surgeon. After waiting an hour I finally was called in only for him to send me for a x-ray.

So, away I go using nothing but my four-legged walker. Once again, more waiting. After the x-ray back to see the surgeon.

He came in and told me he looked at the x-ray and gave me a great report. I can now put as much weight, as is comfortable, on the replaced hip. So, I can go back to using my wheeled walker, but for the most time I walk around my home with just a cane.

I spoke to him about the exercises that I was given by the therapist. I mentioned about the exercise where you simulate making a snow angel. He became upset and told to stop the exercise. His reason, you wouldn’t make those type of moves even with a good hip. So, when I see the therapist tomorrow I am going to ask why the contradiction.

It feels great that I no longer have to see the surgeon and that I have gained some more freedom of movement.

So dear reader, this almost sixty year old guy has just jumped one more hurdle on my way to reaching my goal of walking around outdoors. Well, maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks…lol…chuckles!

A Brief Update

I have not written a post for several days. I have just not much to write about.

My recovery is going great and this week I will find out how well I am doing. I have appointments with the surgeon and the therapist. Also, on the vaccine front I will be having my second dose on Friday morning.

I have had a couple of battles with companies, one was about a return and the other is getting a refund. The former is solved, while the latter is ongoing.

I have been concerned lately over how many sites are starting to require a cell phone number, for which I do not have one. I wonder how many people worldwide would this affect. I have not had a need to own a cell phone and the biggest reason is the cost. For those on a fixed budget that can mean whether you pay rent or the phone company. I have three services from my phone company that cover, landline, internet, and television. For those three I pay much less than the cost of the cell phone.

So dear reader, that are some of my brief thoughts for now!

Attitude of Gratitude

One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity .Edward de Bono

I have for the past several days taken and worked at my exercises. I am progressing slowly, but some of those things were things that I never thought about when doing them. One of those things is putting on long legged pants. Since I cannot bend I have to use a tool called a “reacher”. I have conquered that task and I was elated when I did it correctly on the first try.

Yesterday, I made a small step towards being able to go outside. I was able to walk down my ramp to the first landing, then making it back to my living room. I realize that this seems trivial until you have to teach yourself how to do something using a new technique. Each day has caused me to know how I took things for granted when I had two good operating hips.

For instance, I have been shown what a true friend is. I met my best friend in the latter part of the nineties. It was a basic friendship, basically cordial and someone to visit. My friendship with my best friend has grown into more like a family. His mother used to tell people, “he’s my son of another mother” when speaking about me. He is more than just a friend now for I consider him to be the big brother I never had.

During this whole journey with my hip he has went far and beyond. He has been cooking meals for me and while I was in the hospital he watched my house. He walked through the pre-op along with me which was about six hours. I tell him many times a day how much I appreciate all that he has done.

I have realized that even the little things deserve our gratitude. Even while in the hospital I always told the nurses how much I admire and am thankful for all the work they do for their patients.

So dear reader, I wonder what little things you are thankful for. Is there something that you have come to the conclusion that you have taken it for granted?

Progress…Slow & Steady

“Sometimes life knocks you on your ass… get up, get up, get up!!! Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” ― Steve Maraboli,  Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Yesterday, Friday I went for a session of therapy. It was to check how I was doing since surgery. The good news was, that I had gained a ten point in range of motion, since pre-op measurements, for most areas of the new hip. It gave me the feeling that, like little Johnny, I had received an “A” on a test Then the therapist gave some new exercises for me to do to help move that range of motion even further. The whole session lasted about an hour.

All my life has been one challenge after the other, challenges that if I wouldn’t have had the attitude to move forward, I would have never attained some of the gains in my life. I am someone who needs a challenge, something to cheer me on, to keep my eyes looking forward and never backwards. The therapist also added a new challenge, it is to start conquering walking up and down my wheelchair ramp. I am looking forward to conquering that, it means my goal of walking around the neighborhood is one step closer.

My next appointment is the middle of June where I will see the surgeon one day, then the next day more therapy.

I hope that maybe my posts about my battle to walk again might inspire others to keep moving forward, face the challenges that life throws your way.

So dear reader, once again I wish thank everyone for their support and their cheers from the sidelines!

Quitting, Not An Option

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.- Confucius

Today the home care nurse was here. It was a two goal stop. First, intake for home care, then to check on the dressing on the incision. Everything was good and next Monday the staples come out. Hallelujah!

Growing up I heard a saying more than once, “no pain, no gain”. I have decided that quitting is not an option for I am the one that loses if I do.

There have been several people on the maternal side that have experienced hip replacement. My grandmother, two aunts, and one uncle. It is the uncle that has motivated me to work as hard as hell. He had fallen and broke hip hip, but for some reason he gave up and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. I do not want to spend the rest of my natural life in a four wheeled chair.

I have battled lots in my crazy life, from a fall out of tree breaking my arm in two places, to being thrown off the back of a motorbike landing on my behind ripping my back apart. I am also a suicide survivor. I didn’t quit then and I am not quitting now.

For me I am at the end of this tunnel and daylight is only a weekend away. Tomorrow I have to go for therapy and I feel the therapist will be amazed at my progress.

So dear reader when I am at the end of my rope, I tied a knot and held on tightly!

Now Working For My Recovery

Well in the hospital they started working with me to get me back on my feet. The work is hard, but it is necessary if I want to use this new hip for what it is intended.

I spent most of my lone time to go back to what I love, reading! Since their so called tv. system is a joke I needed to find a way to fill my time. One of the therapists went down to the main floor and brought up two books written by two of my favorite authors, Tom Clancy and James Patterson. I am currently reading the writing of the latter. It is a true story that takes place around the birth of the twentieth century. It is dealing with the lynching and the K.K.K. in the deep south of America. The Title, Alex Cross.

I am grateful that I could have a hip replacement. I think about those who are not fortunate to have a health care system like that found in Canada. If I were to be in another country I may not have been able to afford this surgery. My heart goes out to those who suffer with health issues and do not have the resources to seek help.

I am told my recovery will take about three months before I can walk without a four-legged walker. I cannot use my other walker because it has wheels.

What kept me going forward was my thoughts about an uncle that had hip replacement and for some reasons he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

I feel that anything you work hard for is worth having, which for me is being able once again to walk my dog, Natalie and visiting my neighbors.

So dear reader I am on my way to the end of the tunnel!

May 10-Home

I arrived today around 1 p.m. MT.

The surgery went well and I have a new hip. I do not know how long the surgery took, but most believed it was about two hours.

I woke up in the recovery with no side effects. I was taken to my room around 3p.m. MT, the rest of that day is a blur.

Iam writing sitting on the side of my bed using an android box. Sittin at the laptop may be a challenge due to the fact I cannot go past 90 degrees. I am learning new skills for my walking, standing up from a seated position. Learning to put my socks on using sock aid to keep my seated position correct. It goes the same for putting on shoes and my pants.

I had no wifi connection, but also was not allowed to take my laptop. It does feels great to be home, having access to the web and also to catch up on some t.v.shows.

It will take some time to catch up reading all of the great posts.

So deader, for all those who was sending good will my way. I have much else to write about. Now I need to continue the hard work of getting back on my feet soundly!

Almost There

It has been a busy time for me this week. It started Monday where I spent almost six hours going through tests, meetings and information overload. When I made it home I basically fell into my bed and stayed there until morning.

On a positive note about my appointments is that I met with an anesthesiologist. He looked at all of the results from echocardiogram and an x-ray of my lungs. Both tests were great, my heart is strong and so are my lungs.

Tuesday I met with the surgeon for the last time before the surgery. He too was pleased about all of those tests.

The hospital here is only booking surgeries one week at a time. This outbreak of Covid has everything in a tailspin. The surgeon and also the anesthesiologist said that if surgeries are put on hiatus that the both of them would fight for my surgery. My hip is that bad and growing worse.

For the first time in my life I have the utmost confidence in all those who will be working during my surgery. They seem to feel that I will only be in the hospital for about five days. I am not going to be anxious to push going home, I know they will discharge me when it is safe to do so.

I have to use a four legged walker, not my own with wheels. The therapy department ordered one for me and it was here over night. So, I am trying to learn how to properly walk with it according to a video that was sent to me from the O. R office. The video walks me through from start to finish. What happens during an hip replacement, then speaks about the post-op afterwards. There are exercises, how to put on socks and pants of which I have a tool to help. All these things are there for me to use that will ensure a complete and successful hip replacement.

I appreciate all those who have sent good will my way. I am not sure when I will be able to post again, but I will at that time tell you of my hip replacement.

So dear reader, take care of yourself, stay safe and I will chat with you on the exit from this tunnel!

I Can See Light at The End of The Tunnel

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. DESMOND TUTU

Tomorrow I head out to the hospital for everything of pre-op. They will be measuring my hip, taking blood work, chest x-rays, and I will be seeing an internist. I was told it will be about six to seven hours. I am looking forward to this, the beginning of the final last stretch to my hip replacement.

I find I am buoyant about everything leading up to May 3, 2021. I am praying and hoping that there will be no postponements. I am being extra careful and cautious not to cutting myself while shaving, etc., The surgeon will postpone the surgery if there is any cuts or scratches on me. He is picky about infections and to be honest I am thankful that he is that way. I have total confidence with this surgeon. This is not the first time I have been to him for all things orthopedic. I saw him for a fracture in my knee and one in my foot. Yes, he has relayed all the things that can happen. I guess this is necessary, probably it is the hospital’s policy.

I was sent a link to a YouTube video that the hospital produced. It is concerning everything I need to know about the surgery. It ranges from pre-op straight through to post-op and recovery at home. It shows you all the things that you should have in your home. I am fortunate that I have all these things already installed, except for a raised toilet seat.

So dear reader I start counting the steps that will lead me to the exit of this tunnel called “hip replacement”!

p.s. – I thought that this day would never come around!

Update – My Journey to Hip Surgery – 3/16/2021

You may notice that I have not posted many over the past several days.

My hip and the pain have grown worse this past week. It is becoming more difficult to move around the house. With the aid of my cane and walker I hobble about.

Sitting and laying are limited and it is dictated by the pain that I am experiencing.

My best friend acted as an advocate and called the office of the surgeon. He spoke with the receptionist, explained what he has been witnessing concerning me. After speaking with her she booked an appointment for me to see the surgeon once again to assess the condition where he will determine my need for hip surgery. This could result in the change of urgency and placement on the waiting list for the surgery.

I may not be as active on WordPress for the next amount of time. I will write posts and publish them depending on how I am dealing with my pain.

So dear reader and fellow bloggers, I will check in to at least look at my notifications and to read some blogs that I follow. I will keep you updated on the progress I am making.

Molded, Bended, Incomplete, Identity, Gender, Adequate

“Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way to redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.”- Jay Z

I guess have wandered for most of my life, fifty-nine years, who am I. I take out my wallet when asked for identification, my birth certificate states my full name, the date of my birth, and where I was born, for me that was the province of Ontario, Canada.

But I still ask the question, who am I? Is it the color of my eyes, my gender, my faith, or even my anatomically body. Is it define by the ones I have chosen to love, those who I have decided to let into my circle of friends.

This question of identity was brought home that one sunny day when I found myself in a hospital ward that deals with people who are suffering and challenged with mental health issues. Even in there I hid a part of me, a part that I thought, and maybe still think, is hideous.

I started this blog because it piqued my interest, the wanna be journalist inside me, and maybe a wanna be novelist. I am the first one to admit that my strength is not writing. I probably make grammatical errors after time I publish a post.

I chose what I knew the most, it was my faith and my knowledge and understanding of the Bible. My posts didn’t move the needle. Oh, every once in awhile someone would take note of what I had written. Yet, there wasn’t a fire in me, a fire that said, that urged me to sit at the computer and write posts. My writing then was spotty with my thoughts rambling from post to post.

Feeling like I belong, I have it all together, and nothing to worry about, these descriptions speaks of someone of who I wish I was. I entered high school weighing less than ninety-nine pounds. My muscle tone was in hiding, so at the height of six foot one inch I looked like something of a half made coat tree.

I relate to others who are belittled, treaded upon, and pushed to the sides of the ride by those who are maybe smarter, are at the top of their game. I still do not have it all together, but, I have learned ways to mask those feelings of inadequacies, those feeling of inferiority. It may answer why I watched cartoons and TV shows with super heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and even Batman.

I would watch shows, see posts of, men who had a six pack for ribs, and there muscle tone ripple from their shoulder down to their forearm. Honestly, I still have feelings of inadequacies when I see some guy who looks like he has spent all of his extra time in a gym somewhere to give himself that buffed look.

Maybe, my writings, my posts brings across of a guy who has it all together. A guy who knows who he really is. I am far from that, I am not that super guy like the one you would see on an Harlequin romance novel. No, let me assure you, I am not some six foot, a body with ripped muscles from my head down to my feet. No, I am not that man who could pick up a lady and whisk her out from the gangs while held by my arms as I swing her to the ledge of a window.

However, my identity, the person that knows itself when he closes his eyes at bedtime, that person is under there somewhere, somewhere beyond the words written together, the being behind those words that create paragraphs, that speaks about those things I have faced in this body, one person who needs medication to keep me stable, one medication to help start my day, an another one that is meant to keep me stable. Then at the end of the day a pill to give me a calm, and a peaceful night’s sleep. All those medications are taken, that have their purpose to keep this bi-polar man walking up-right.

So dear reader, who am I, who is this person that wakes up day after day, places two feet on the floor, and does his best to be the best human I can project in this world that I am travelling through.

So, I am the sum total of a man, who has a function, a man who is working through this life being the person I am meant to be. To learn, love, belong, engage, to listen, learn from others that I encounter along this path, a path at it’s very best, a road map, from beings of all different sizes, shapes, and colors.

So, hear me, listen to me, engage with me, and help me in my path of who I am on this journey. I am not complete, I still am learning, still encountering along this journey those things that are helping to make the best man I can be. For I am more that I was yesterday, still being shaped and molded into what I hope and pray will be the best, just me, the best me.!

My Journey To Having Hip Replacement

Yesterday morning started my long journey to having a hip replaced. I saw the surgeon and he started the exam by explaining what he saw in an MRI. He said I really didn’t have any hip left. It was obvious that I needed a hip replaced.

The he lead me to an exam room where I was asked to take my jeans off and climb up onto the exam table. He began to move my leg around when he moved it to a certain position I let out a scream. I am sure those sitting out in the waiting area heard me.

Then he sent me back to the hospital to have a up to date x-ray of my hip. After that I was back in his office where he proceeded to explain things that will happen just before the surgery. I will have a meeting with an anesthesiologist and one more person connected with the surgery.

Next came all the scenarios of what could go wrong. I have a history of blood clots and will have to stop the blood thinner, Warfarin at least three days beforehand. He was blunt that it could be possible that my heart may stop. There was much more, which I cannot recall at the moment, then the big question was “do I want to have the surgery”? My reply was simple, “of course I do”.

I had prepared years ago a Living Will(Advance Care Directive) in Saskatchewan. This was written after my first blood clot battle. So I will make a copy to be given to the hospital to be on record for my surgery and recovery.

I wrote my aunt yesterday about my meeting with the surgeon and told her ‘that I don’t feel anxious’. Whatever comes of it I am prepared to meet it head on.

So dear reader, I thought I would journal/post about this journey I am taking to having my hip replaced.

The Interview Moderated by Ashley L. Peterson – A Continuation

Once again I would like to say, “Thank You” to Ashley L. Peterson whose blog is Mental Health @ Home.

This is a continuation of the initial interview by Ashley , you can find it here.

As you read you will find I answer questions at great length, I truly did my best to pull back the curtain on my journey to great mental health.

After you have read the interview use the comment section to ask your own question. When I have enough I will gather them together using a post to answer them.


The Interview

Moderator: Ashley L. Peterson


Continuation

What’s the process been like of establishing views that diverged from the religious beliefs you’d been exposed to?

To put it bluntly, it’s been hell. I dropped all my relationships with fellow ministers, stopped contact with fellow musicians. There was a long time to where I wouldn’t even open the Bible.

I have, still do at times, second guess myself.  Then I read some of the comments that people have left lets me know I am basically on the correct direction.

For instance, the gay life style was preached against, it was taught as a no-no. I now view it this way, they are humans, they walk, talk, pee, poop, the same way all of us do. I started re-visiting this attitude about being against them, I started making friends with those in the LGBTQ community. I still have those friends regardless what some people believe about them.

As life has gone on, has your ability to trust others changed?  What prompted that?

In many ways my trust in people has changed. Here is how I view it, People needed to trust me, some who told me about their sexuality, yet they have not come out. I have kept that trust.

Things really did start changing when I began to change. When I started dealing with all the issues that were at the base of my depression. Feelings of inferiority, shame, loneliness, and a chest full of others. After the death of my grandmother I was fortunate to have a Psychiatrist who showed compassion, actually listened, and started me on a regimen of medications.  Now I consider her a friend, she stopped and talked with me when I had a slight scare that sent me to the hospital for four days.

How has your physical health impacted your mental health and vice versa?

My physical health has impacted my mental health severely. I face it every morning, getting out of bed is usually an exercise dealing with pain in my hip.

I have dealt with pain since my teenage years, it grew worse after a motorcycle accident. That messed up my back for life. It has only been better after two periods of have cortisone shots.

There was a time when I was on different pain killers where they became ineffective. I had to change doctors. He looked at my history, he then said we have to change your medications. He explained to me that many pain killers when taken over a long length of time actually work against the body causing pain. I have later read and heard that this is the case. I take for pain at this time Tylenol 4 and a small derivative of morphine. They basically along with a sleeping pill allow me to have a decent night of sleep.

There are days when I think I should start the process of going to an assisted living facility.  Let me explain, I now have to use a cane, or my walker. It has left me so that many things I would normally do for myself I cannot accomplish. Fear grips me every time I need to use the shower, thoughts about falling breaking a hip courses through my mind.

Also, I am truly thankful for my best friend for he is the one who has prepared my meals. I cannot move well enough to manage pots, pans, etc., I also fear I wouldn’t be able to respond if there would be a grease fire.

Some may have noticed that I read and comment on their blog posts sometimes eighteen hours or longer. It is usually because I cannot sit up at great lengths of time. I start my nighttime routine early. Most nights I am asleep before 9 p.m.

So, it is a back and forth with my physical effecting my mental health, mental health effecting my physical being.

Has your time as a preacher shaped the way you tell your own story now?

This is a great question, one I have never thought about. It probably has, and does shape how I tell my story.

There are parts of my story that at this time grapple with because it involves someone who has died, but, has living relatives. I do not want to cause them any embarrassment or pain. I just have not come to an answer about how to tell that. Even without mentioning names it would be obvious to many friends, colleagues, and relatives if they were to come across this blog.

Also, I must consider at this time my own daughter and grandchildren.

[b] I re-read the first answers of the interview where I can see that how I write seems guarded. I guess it has been a learned response from over many years.

How have your hospital stays influenced where you are now in terms of your mental health?

Before my major stay in a mental health ward I was fighting with being bi-polar without any awareness of the fact.

I am thankful for those times in treatment, the group sessions, the one on one with my Psychiatrist for it gave me tools to fight with. The recognition of the highs, lows, and all the rest that comes with being bi-polar. I also know that if needs arise that I have the ability to go back and voluntarily admit myself. There are so many ugly myths about mental health care, some I think come from the days of sanitariums, probably through the eighteenth and nineteenth century.


So dear reader more of a glimpse on what I call “a journey to great mental health”.

If you are facing battles to keep your mental health great, remember, you are not alone!

Find someone to talk to, whether it is a friend, a help line, or your doctor. Do not suffer alone, there is help available for you! I have located a website that you can access for phone numbers of helplines around the world. It is called Check Point

The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home


Several days ago I had an idea which I thought might be interesting. The idea; flip the scenario of the interview. The questions would not be posed by me, but, it would be from someone else, the questions would be for me.

So, I needed to find someone to ask if they would help with this project. The person I turned to was Ashley L. Peterson of Mental Health At Home. I contacted her about a week ago to which she agree to help. If you have never visited her blog put it on your things to do list.

So below is the interview. I may revisit the questions to add to it more insight. I have tried to answer the questions with honesty and truthfully.

At this moment I want to say, “Thank you Ashley for Your Help”! I truly appreciate this!


The Interview Moderated By Ashley L. Peterson

Mental Health At Home

Were there things that your blog has allowed you to get out that weren’t able to express before?

There were many things that I could not express before. Some would be looked upon as weakness, short comings, others would be considered non Biblical. Things about gender, sexuality, race.

Did you ever feel it was necessary to mask what was going on inside you?  If so, how did you do that?

Yes, I did wear a mask. The first that held that mask on was a lack of trust. I held many things to myself, not even telling my wives, family, because I learned that familiarity is dangerous. It usually ends up with them turning on you by breaking trust. 

The next thing that I believe that held the mask on was ignorance. Believing what you have been told all of your life, things concerning the Faith. It wasn’t until I finally started my long journey of healing of my mental health that I started to question in earnest what I truly believed. I came to the conclusion that there were many things I felt was wrong, some that really did not have a sure foundation in the Scriptures.

Has there been any form of creative art or expression other than writing that’s been significant for you?  What role did that play if your life?

My whole life has been about the music, it still is. I am thankful that I have a small home organ within my home. It had a fantastic price attached to it, “FREE”. I couldn’t refuse it. When I am totally at whit’s end when possible I sit and will play old hymns and other songs. It usually quiets my mind. There are other times, especially when I need a bit of inspiration, I turn to my iTunes music. One artist is foremost is Michael Bublè, his music is similar to that of Frank Sinatra.

What role has religion played in the course your transition into adulthood and beyond?

I am going to be honest and frank, I have held onto my faith in God, but, I have let go many other things. As I said this journey of healing has been intense. It has caused me to look inward, question everything, search all things, to become honest of who I truly was as a human being. Notice I did not say “person”,  I could be any person, but who am I as a human.

Has your sense of who you are and how you relate to the world changed over time?

The resounding answer is, yes I have changed in relation of discovering who I really am.  I couldn’t see it while I was in the midst of it, but, looking back, even just over two years, I can see change.  I really do not have fear about how people see me. Yes, I hope they see the real me. Yet, I can understand that they may have, like me, trust issues.  That is where true acceptance comes into place. I hope people would respect where I am in my walk of healing, I also hope I can respect others on their walk of healing in obtaining great mental health.

How did mental illness enter your life, and what are some of the ways it affects you?

I look back at my life, especially my teenage years through my early adult years and I can see signs of mental illness already showing itself. My sudden outrage for even the littlest thing, comment, etc., Also, I can recognize the times of mania, and deep depression that inserted itself during those years.

It wasn’t until around 1990 when I started experiencing panic attacks. One time while grocery shopping in an almost empty store I suffered with a severe panic attack. I left the cart in the aisle and ran back to my bachelor apartment a block away. It wasn’t long after that when I attempted my first suicide.

At times it has left me mentally crippled, all my interests seemed to melt away. On the mania times it was almost nonstop activity.

There were many mornings where I would wake up with no memory of the night before. No recollection of conversations, what I ate, what I did like watching television. My best friend would find me passed out in the oddest places, once under my sewing machine. It left him terrified every time he would come into my house in the morning.

What have been some of the most difficult times or circumstances you’ve dealt with in terms of your mental health?

The hardest time of dealing with my mental health condition was the very first time, the time when I woke up in the mental health ward after the attempted suicide. 

I basically stayed to myself, did not interact with others who were also dealing with mental health issues. My memory of it is vague, basically going to the smoking room. There was the first day that they decided that we should watch the movie “Groundhog Day”. I remember, why this, what does it have to do with me getting out of here. Honestly, I still have no answer for that movie.

Has family played a major role for you?  Have there been certain family events that were particularly significant in your life?

Family meant something for me, I should clarify, my maternal family. I was very close to my grandfather and grandmother. I felt more at home there then I did at my parent’s home. I felt accepted there, yet I am glad they were not around in my worst days. I sometimes wonder how they would have reacted.

I only have one blood relative that I am close to, being my maternal aunt. She has always been a part of my life, babysitting, singing, just there. After she goes my connection to that part of family will be gone.

I am now a grandfather of three, my daughter, and those children are now my world. They love talking with me when they are here, they have their heads in the right place. The oldest, my granddaughter, just turned thirteen.

Were there things from your childhood, either positive or negative, that have really stuck with you over time?

There are two things that have stuck with me over time. How I deal with others, growing up in a multi-cultural area it wasn’t a big thing to have friends, acquaintances, from other cultures, etc, Maybe it was because of my mother and grandmother. I never heard an unkind word, slur, put down, to come from their lips. I could take any of my friend’s home or to my grandmother’s knowing they would be accepted without question.

The other would be anger. I decided as a kid that I did not want that in my life. My dad would explode at the slightest slight. It was to the point that I would make excuses when he would ask if I wanted to play a game of Chess. I always said no, I knew if he lost, it just might mean an eruption of anger. If I am around someone who shows anger of that sort I find myself looking for the exit. I can be angry at something, but never to the point where it is physical or emotionally.

Are there life choices you’ve made that you feel grateful for or regret now?

There are probably many things I regret now, only because hindsight is always twenty-twenty. Dropping out of high school, two divorces, not always being there for my daughter while she was growing up. Those are probably the ones that come to the top of my thoughts.

The biggest thing that I can be truly grateful is that I can to the acknowledgment that I needed help, that I sought help, and that I continue to work to achieve great mental health.

The other is that I have learned how a true friend acts. I write about my best friend, twenty plus years. He has been there through my worst. Days where I lashed out at him, times when I would threaten to move away from him. He has been in the room with my family doctor, Psychiatrist, and all other specialists. He also manages my medications, which came about during one of my inpatient times. While at home I was double dosing my Oxycontin medication. So there was an agreement between myself, my doctors, and at that time my Pharmacist, that was back in 2004. He still goes with me to my appointments, sometimes is because my mobility is not at its best, mostly because my short term memory is spotty.


P.S. – That is the interview. Let me say this, I am not done with my journey towards great mental health. There are issues that I am still struggling with, issues that at this time cannot disclose.

If you read this, if you are also on your journey towards great mental health, let me give you a word of encouragement.

You are not alone, there are others on a similar journey with issues all of their own. There will be others after you. Please help those who are coming up with words of encouragement, make them feel at home that they have a safe place.

So dear reader keep keeping on!

What Doesn’t Kill You, Will Only Make You Stronger!

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“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”– Martin Luther King, Jr.  https://www.developgoodhabits.com/quotes-about-strength/

Back in the beginning of the 90’s just before my first attempted suicide I felt defeated.  My marriage failed, the wife took my daughter and both moved back to her home area of Saskatchewan, Canada

To add heartache on top of heartache I received a phone call that my daughter of about three years old was diabetic.  My heart just sank.  I fell into a deep depression blaming myself for her illness.  It’s a idea that “evangelicals” take from the Old Testament “that the sins of the father are visited on the children, grandchildren, all down the line. That debate is best left for others.

It just felt like Murphy’s law had come to being, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.  Things were coming at me from all sides.  I was beaten down and barely felt like a human being.  I was going through the motions, yet, there was a disconnect between my mind and my body.

I decided to leave the city of Toronto, and move back towards the Kitchener, Ontario area.  I moved into a bachelor’s apartment.  It wasn’t all that bad and it really did fit my budget.

I wasn’t sleeping much and when I did sleep I would felt worse when I woke up than when I fell asleep.  I finally relented, went to a doctor and he prescribed a sleeping pill,  amitriptyline.  It helped the sleep but did very little to the funk I was in.

Then everything crashed in on me. Not sure exactly what really triggered my outrage but it totally caused me to snap.  I grabbed the sleeping pills ran into the bathroom and downed all that was in the bottle.  That was it for when I came around I found myself in the mental health ward of the local hospital.

I look back at it now and for some reason it feels more like I am watching it happen to someone else.  I don’t understand this but that is how it feels.

That was almost thirty years ago, many ups and downs, good times, bad times, yet somehow I have come through it all a bit stronger.  The bad times I have now pale in comparison to those days way back there in the nineties.

Like the title of a book by Reverend Robert Schuller:

Tough Times Never Last, but Tough People Do!

Just Live!

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“To create more positive results in your life, replace ‘if only’ with ‘next time’.”– Unknown – From: https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-change-in-life/

It seems like yesterday, the day my daughter was born. I was sitting in the waiting area watching t.v.  My mom and her boyfriend decided they were going have some breakfast.  It was a Sunday morning, around 7:05 a.m. a nurse brought a little baby girl out so that I could hold her.  They didn’t clean her up yet, but that didn’t bother me, my whole world at that moment was revolving around this tiny little human.  That tiny little girl has just turn thirty-five years old.

There is something that I use to tell young people, I guess I still would, “before you settle down and start a family do yourself a favor, take some time and see your country.  I was fortunate for I was seeing my country playing the piano or organ, better yet I was being paid.  Those are memories I hold close to me, they are what comforts me when I get the itch to move.

Now I am experiencing a new part of my life, life as a father, and a grateful grandfather.  The youngest turns eight in February.  When they come to visit it gives me a rush of adrenaline.

All through those years I struggled within me, highs and lows, not understanding what was ailing my mind.  It wasn’t until around 2004 I had the answer, I was bi-polar.  With the help of my psychiatrist I was put on a regiment of medications, medications that keep me balance. 

If while you are young and able to go, go see the country, experience other cultures, their food, their music, taste, feel, hear, and listen.  So, when the family comes along you will have some memories that no one, anything can rob you of them.

So, take a deep breath, and just put your foot one in front of the other. Go and just live life to the fullest! You won’t regret it!

May I Present To You…

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Negative thinking is subtle and deceptive. It wears many faces and hides behind the mask of excuses. It is important to strip away the mask and discover the real, root emotion. Robert H. Schuller
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/mask-quotes

I have lived my life guarding it from all onlookers.  I kept people at a distance, never truly trusting anyone.  I have been hurt the worst when I did open myself to others.  I learned that this saying is true; “familiarity breeds contempt”.  

I started this blog to write about all things Biblical.  I struggled to write any posts for deep inside me there was this person who needed to surface to have some fresh air.

Somewhere in these passing few months that person surfaced, ready to share his true feelings, feelings of fear, dread, hating to get out of bed each morning.

I learned a lot as a preacher, musician, about how to put on a show for people.  Giving them a caricature that wore a mask.  

I was the preacher everyone thought I should be.  I knew all the right portions of Scripture, every nuance, how to weave a message from beginning to end.  I was full of energy while ministering in song and the Word. But, as soon as I reached the inside of my apartment I was drained, weary, and feeling totally abandoned.

Even now being in a crowd I have energy while being with them, but cannot wait to leave the gathering and just disappeared into my safe little world of my space.

Slowly, very slowly, somewhat cautious, that person who needed to breathe has been revitalized able to express himself.

I would like to thank everyone who has clicked “follow”, left a “comment”. 

Thank you for the encouragement that has allowed this person to be begin to breathe.

May I present…

The Next Big Wound

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If your body is damaged, wounded, it can be fixed, but if inside, mentally, you are wounded you cannot fix it, it’s hard. Haile Gebrselassie
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/search_results?q=mental+wounds

As a child I climbed a tree, one that I was told not to climb, along with my sister.  I was on a branch and said to my sister not to step on it with me.  Well she did not listen, the branch broke and down we went.  She walked away with just some scrapes, I broke my arm in three places, it hung in an almost perfect circle.  It healed rather slowly, but, it did heal.

Now when it comes to our mental wounds the initial sting of the wound fades over time and it’s place is a scar that we carry with us all of our lives.

So it is with me.  Scars of being told I would never be anything, I would always be poor, and the list goes on.

1999 was nearing the end and I had planned to sit up and watch the New Year ring in. I wanted to see if the Y2K threat would materialize, which it did not.  Just before December 31st I received a phone call from Ontario.  It was about my mother who became ill on Christmas day and now being rushed by ambulance to London, Ontario.  I was told to come home because this was rather serious.

I made a series of phone calls trying to arrange some funds to travel to Ontario.  I did receive the funds and found the next Grey Hound bus, the ride would be about seventy-two hours.  I remember half way through the trip I thought to myself well mom has gone.

In Toronto I decided I needed some sleep, I called my family and told them I was spending the night in the city and would catch the bus out in the morning.  I arrived at my grandmothers place and was filled in with all the details.

My uncle said he would take me but I would have to drive.  We arrived in London at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  We found my mother’s room.  I walked in and I did not recognize her, she had swelled up to three times her size.  She was in an induced coma and one of those thin silver blankets covered her.  It shocked my system seeing her that way. I stepped out of the room to get some air. As I was walking I felt someone pushing something against the back of my knees.  It was a nurse who recognized that I was about to faint. The nurse made me sit down.

That was January which rolled into February. One afternoon as I was approaching my mother’s hospital room a doctor approached me.  He told me to contact the family, if they wanted to see my mother once more.  Only my brother and one uncle showed up.  They arrived later that day. 

We were asked to step into a conference like room where doctors explained my mother’s condition, that she would not recover.  They asked for our permission to withdraw life support.  The next morning they did, within minutes she passed.  That was February 11, 2000.

In fours year after her death I hit rock bottom mentally.

So, I urge those whose has a mother still living, love her dearly, give her her roses now, not when she is dead.  You only have one Mother.

(continued…)

Cast Away

Strong

Not sure how it happened, suddenly there I was in the hospital, what’s more the mental health ward.  I don’t remember being admitted, for that matter do not remember much about arriving at the hospital.  My last memory was me running into my bathroom and downing a bottle of sleeping pills.

Before all of that. Let me back up I knew something was happening, sliding into the abyss.  Here I was in Toronto living in a rooming house because my second marriage had just ended.  Trying to keep things together at my job, manager of the breakfast shift at a fast food franchise.  That didn’t last either, I handed in the keys, outfit and waved goodbye. 

Around the corner was a walk in clinic which I had used before.  There I was telling a doctor how I was feeling, the feeling like I was on an island and the water was rising all around me.  Ten minutes later prescription of Prozac in my hand.

I can imagine this is not strange for some who read this, but, to me it was defeating.  My head felt like it was twice it’s weight.  My arms and legs heavy like iron, I was moving but not connected to reality.

Finally I moved out of Toronto away from the rat race. I moved back to the area near where I use to live.  A bachelor apartment on the main level of a converted house.  Down the street a new grocery store had just opened twenty – four seven.  My friend went with me to buy some groceries.  I thought I was safe going at midnight avoiding a lot of people. I was wrong, a cart full of groceries and then a severe panic attack. I left the cart and bolted for home.

So, that was the slow spiraling trip as a cast away!

(the story continues)

 

 

Pessimist/Optimist?

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There are lots of things, including changing the kind of inner dialog, that can mitigate anxiety. And yes, there are people who have the glass half full and glass half empty, and I’m afraid the glass is going to break and I’ll cut myself on the shards. Scott Stossel
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/half-full-quotes

Just imagine a young man who thought he had the tiger by the tail, that the world was his’ oyster.  A world where there was a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow.  That young man use to be me.

I am not quite sure where that young man went, it seems he gradually just faded away.  In his place was a man that felt like the whole world had went black.  Each hurt, disappointment, promises not kept, each one caused that young man to wither little by little.

It wasn’t noticeable, the change was undetectable.  Yes, I had very good days that morphed into just good days, then not so good, until it was a struggle to get up and look at the sunshine.

Eventually a total collapse, the will to fight had vanished.  There didn’t seem to be an answer, tired of just breathing, fed up with trying to put a smile on my face.  Every joint, fiber, my total being  feeling like total defeat.  Then the frustration led me to the overdose with sleeping pills.  That was early nineties, it seems like a century ago.

Life seemed to deal blow after blow, this young man found himself being admitted to the Mental Health Ward not once but several times.

Now, today’s older man is stable, and I must admit I still have some black days.  Fighting extreme pain day after day wears on me.  I am thankful for the support I know is there if I really need it.  Thankful for the medications I take that brings me balance in my mind.

So, onward I trudge forward for I do not want to go backwards!

The Ministry – The Travel Years

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People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built. Eleanor Roosevelt
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/experience-quotes

It was 1980 that year was a year for me of learning that no text book in formal education could have taught me, nor prepared me for the road I was going to travel.  This was the year I had just bought my first car, a 1973 Ford Pinto Station Wagon.  Moved into my first apartment, bought groceries and stood at the checkout and cried realizing how little money I had until the next pay cheque.


Later on in life I saw a sign on a refrigerator door that said:

Please move out

While you think 

You still know it all!


Then I was asked by an evangelist to join his team as the organist.  I knew piano well enough to play with some confidence, but the organ, I didn’t have a clue.

Well I didn’t say yes right at that very moment and told the evangelist I need to thinks about it.  I first told my grandmother, then my mother, and then finally my Pastor.  This sparked a huge commotion within the local church family.  Some were totally against me going, others were ambivalent.

My Pastor was in the camp of don’t go and when asked why all they could say was they had heard stories, rumors.

To make a long drawn out story short I made up my mind and told that evangelist that I would join.

This was the beginning of a journey I would never have guessed that I was going to experience.  I entered a world that changed my outlook on evangelists in a completely unexpected way.

More to come —-

The Ministry – Small Beginnings

I actually grew up playing the piano in the church and was deeply involved in music ministry. T. D. Jakes
Read more at https://www.brainyquote.com/topics/ministry-quotes

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Taken in 2006

I can recall telling my mother that I was going to be an evangelist.  I barely knew what an evangelist was, did, etc.,

My music was the key to opening doors for me.  If my music was accepted I knew that I would be accepted in my preaching.

I did not start travelling for several years.  The pastor of my home church would allow me five or ten minutes to speak.  Those were the training wheels of my ministry. I didn’t have a clue on how to stitch together a sermon.(Some would argue “I still don’t”).

I am no Billy Graham or Billy Sunday, yet I feel adequate in my speaking skills, skills that I developed as the years passed by.  I did not mimic another preacher for I needed to be realistic, just to be me.

I was sixteen and was invited to a Minister’s Convention. I accepted, attended the convention. It was held in a tent.  It was in a little town outside of Ottawa, the Town of Spencervile.  One thing led to another, I became the main piano player, then they asked me to take and minister in some morning and afternoon.  The result of that time was I received ordination.  As far as I knew I was the youngest ever.

I eventually found my way back to my home area, moved into a small apartment above a bank.  Began work in an orchard, after work travel to an evangelistic meetings near by.  That led the way for that evangelist asked me to travel with him to be part of his music team.  I accepted and began travelling with him in July 1980. I was seventeen years of age.  With that I entered a crazy period of my life.

To be continued – The Travel Years