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McCauley Writer is An Open Book About His Mental Health

The cover of Alert and Oriented X3. Supplied

McCauley’s Leif Gregersen is a prolific writer and poet. Much of his work is autobiographical, dealing with his mental health and experiences with medications and the system. His latest book Alert and Oriented X3 is about a hospitalization in 2019.

“The book is about a psychosis I went through (a breakdown which includes loss of contact with reality) as a result of a simple change in my medications,” he says. “I was given the change in medications in the fall of 2018, and by the last day of January 2019, I was literally certifiable.”

The book is not just a narrative of what happened. Leif includes poetry, observations from others, and even clinical notes from his nurses and doctors. “Some of this book was written while I was in the hospital. There are around 30 poems in it that were handwritten, which I pasted into the book and to which I added my own commentary. There are also introductions (family impact statements, if you will). I add in such things as essays and poetry from a time when I was not ill, and other things like an appendix for mental health services and a glossary of terms. Lastly, I added in my actual clinical notes from my nurses and doctors,” he explains.

“I am hoping that just about anyone with a family member who has a mental illness, professionals who work in the field, and, certainly, people who have mental illnesses themselves will read this book and find comfort in it,” says Leif of his intended readership.

Leif writes candidly about his personal experiences throughout his collection of 12 self-published books, which include autobiographies and poetry collections. “I feel one of the ways I help others with mental illness is by being open and honest about it. It is not a shameful thing to get sick, and I really feel that attitudes towards mental illness need to change,” he says. “If more people were able to talk about mental illness when I was younger, I wouldn’t have lost years of my life being in denial and feeling ashamed about having schizoaffective disorder.”

In fact, writing helps Leif, who also does in-person teaching and speaking engagements, deal with his mental health. “It is something that takes my time and energy, and also something I greatly enjoy doing that allows me to have productive and meaningful days. I never feel worse than when I let a day go by and I haven’t engaged in something I love doing. I also love writing because it gets me out in the public teaching others about what I have learned and what I have experienced in public talks through the Schizophrenia Society and in the classes I teach in places such as Prosper Place and Alberta Hospital,” he says.

Readers can order the paperback version of the book directly through Leif, or through Amazon. The eBook version of Alert and Oriented X3 is available as a free download from Leif. You can reach him at viking3082000@yahoo.com. His website is www.edmontonwriter.com.

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