Man with mental illness finds peace in poetry

Wendel Guedo was inspired to start writing by a friend, as well as by the song 'Fly Like an Eagle' by Steve Miller Band. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Wendel Guedo’s past was spiralling out of control until he learned to transform his schizophrenia, crime and addiction into words to inspire.

He’s part of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Writing for Your Life group in Prince Albert.

Facilitator Lynda Monahan said it’s for those with mental illnesses to come together and squash stigmas through writing.

“Many have spent a lot of time in a psych centre. Everybody has severe mental illness and is a large part of the Canadian Mental Health Association, they’re all clients of CMHA,” she explained.

Guedo was one of five writers who participated in an author reading at the John M. Cuelenaere Public Library on Tuesday evening.

Although he’s mostly a poet, he has a collection of stories called Reflections in Time and Space Gone Too Far.

“I started writing poetry in 1979 and then in 1984 I became a so-called political lobbyist, and there’s an awful lot of drugs in all that too though, some bad politics, some vice, some violence, crime,” said Guedo. “I’m not proud of the things I’m ashamed of. I’m proud that I have enough sense to be ashamed.”

He untangled the questions filling his head from schizophrenia.

“I used to think reality was based on my own dreams. I took me a while to realize my own dreams are based upon reality and not the other way around,” he said.

Guedo added his importance of truth, and how he strives to be as an honest as possible when he stares at a pen and paper.

“I get to use my illness as a creative sort of thing. (I) continue to be learning the same lesson over and over again. I don’t care what the diagnosis is, schizophrenic or not, I’m a human being.”

The authors’ pieces get published in Transition magazine, edited by Ted Dyck. He began the Writing for Your Life groups in Southern Saskatchewan.

Together, him and Monahan set up the group in P.A. seven years ago for mental health clients in the city to express themselves.

They meet every second Wednesday at The Nest.

Monahan said keeping the writers connected to their thoughts has opened her eyes more.

“I feel truly honoured to even know them, never mind write with them. It’s been a huge gift in my life and I love them, what can I say.”

Guedo spoke about how writing is a coping mechanism for him, but still, it doesn’t take his daily struggles away.

“(Writing is) a tremendous outlet for my emotions. I put my heart and soul into my writings,” he said.

“I don’t overcome, (but) I do get to learn to control the disease, the addictions, the schizophrenia.”