Thoughts on Aging With A Mental Illness

Stayed home this weekend and cleaned in my apartment.  I had to take more frequent breaks than I used to in years past.  I’m just not as energetic as I was even two years ago.  I guess this is what I get to look forward to as I continue to age.  I decided I’m hiring a cleaning service to give my place a complete going over as soon as possible and then have them come back regularly.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to have them do it weekly or every two weeks.  It depends on prices.

I wish I didn’t have to go this route.  But then, I wish I wasn’t schizophrenic either.  There are things that I’m not going to be able to do alone, especially as I get older.  The idea that I can’t be as independent in my late 30s as I was even in my mid 30s is the hardest part of aging that I have had to come to accept. I always had an independent streak in me that didn’t want the help of others and wanted to be my own boss.  I think it runs in my family.  My father, my grandfathers, and I think most of my great grandfathers were self employed small business owners or farmers. I am starting to understand that there are things now that I can’t do alone anymore. I now understand why almost all of my friends got married or partnered up by this point in their lives.  Even the people I know in their forties that never married are closer to their extended family then they were in their twenties and thirties.  I suppose that seeing my limitations and losing some of my old physical abilities are a part of myself having to accept my own mortality.

I have heard from older men in my social circles that when they hit their mid to late 30s, that was about when their physical strength and interest in sex started to wane and decline.  That is also about the time when their careers started to take off, they assumed leadership roles in their jobs, social organizations, churches, and communities too.  This is when their careers, family lives, and leadership skills started to show.  Some men also had their ‘mid life crisis’ and life changing events like divorce and or death of parents occur during their thirties.  I guess this is when many people start realizing they are going to lose their physical strength and eventually die.  Traditionally forty represented the middle point of life even in ancient times, barring deaths from accidents, disease, or war.  At about age forty, that is when people traditionally go from rank and file members of society and start assuming more leadership roles.

In my case, I have found myself a home as a mental illness blogger.  It certainly wasn’t my dream job nor what I thought I would be doing when I was twenty one.  Back then, I had changed my college major from pre medicine to business management.  At the time I was really interested in personal finance and investing, so I thought I wanted to be a financial advisor and help people plan for their retirements, etc.  I interviewed at a few of these types of firms my senior year of college, but was never offered any job.  I had to accept that I wouldn’t be using my business training in a traditional job.  I have accepted that and made my peace with it.  I couldn’t say that ten years ago.  As it is, the blog is reaching more people than I thought it would when I started five years ago.  It certainly took me further than traditional publishing would have taken me.  And this means of work didn’t even exist when I was in grade school.  It makes me wonder what new jobs will be springing up in the next twenty to thirty years.

I am starting to come to the acceptance that I am losing my physical strength.  I probably will never be able to do things quite like I did in my early twenties unless some miracle of modern science and medicine comes along, which as much as I love science, I won’t bet my life savings on 🙂  I’m starting to come to the acceptance that I’m not going to as spry as I once was.  I have to be more careful about what I eat and activities I involve myself.  I guess I’m moving into middle age.  Hopefully I can avoid the whole mid life crisis deal as I’ve had to come to accept many hard truths about myself and life in general years ago when the schizophrenia really started.

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Spring Cleaning and Mental Illness

Currently in the middle of my spring cleaning.  It’s not going as fast as I would like it to though.  My lower back flares up after being on my feet for awhile so I have to go slower than I used to.  I am beginning to fear that lower back pain is something I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life.  One of the reasons this is turning into a bigger than usual job is that I wasn’t keeping up on the cleaning and maintenance this winter like I had in years past.  I didn’t keep up on it because of the back pain and occasional bouts of depression to where I didn’t want to do anything but read and watch youtube videos.  I went through a lot of that last fall and this past winter.  I don’t know if it was the weather that had me depressed or if the illness was flaring up in different ways than previously.  I did go through bad bouts of paranoia when I would sometimes go two to three days in a row without leaving my apartment.  I don’t get the paranoia nearly as bad anymore.  I don’t know if the weather turning warmer or just the natural cycles of my schizophrenia is causing these changes.

It’s not that I was lazy about my upkeep just because I was lazy.  I have lived on my own more or less for fourteen years and I always made a point to keep my place picked up and better looking than most bachelor pads.  I think the mental illness was effecting me more this last fall and winter than I would have cared to admit.  Looking back on some of my winter writings I was really paranoid and too often had delusional feelings of persecution that, in reality, were alive only in my stressed and diseased mind.  I have to admit as my paranoia can flare up worse than in years past and with my physical health not as robust as it once was, I have to bring in outside help.  I am convinced I’ll need to reconfigure my budget and hire a regular cleaning service.  Sometimes I’d be depressed about the apartment looking shabby and the apartment looked shabby because I was too depressed and paranoid to do anything about it.  I know I can get back on top of my current issues.  Living on my own for fourteen years I have proven to myself and others that I can even if it takes me a little longer than many average people.  It’s just a matter of doing so.

I know that sometimes in my blog I probably appear over optimistic about having schizophrenia and being an adult in general.  Sometimes that is be encouraging to the readers, sometimes I write things I need myself to hear.  I imagine I have been overly optimistic when I wasn’t in the grips of paranoia and delusion this winter.

In other news, I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I can tell my clothes are fitting looser and my back pain isn’t as intense.  As far as my diet goes, I have cut out pasta, rice, and bread.  I eat mostly grilled lean meats and vegetables anymore.  And I think I’m starting to see some results.  I want to get back on top of everything that slid during my fall and winter bouts of depression, paranoia, delusions, and anxiety.  At least I no longer feel anxious when I hear footsteps in the hallway.  So that’s a start.

Wanting To Socialize Again

We got several inches of snow over the weekend.  Of course with it being mid April the weather warmed up again within a day or two and I didn’t have to shovel my car out of the snow.  Hopefully it will warm up for good now.  Been spending too much time indoors and avoiding the cold for the last few months.  And I think I’m finally getting cabin fever because of it.  Took four months but it is finally starting to creep in.

I admit to staying home and not getting out much this winter.  Other than a few days at my parents’ house in February I haven’t been outside of my town this winter.  I’m glad my town is big enough to have everything I need and good delivery service.  Yet it’s small enough it’s easy to navigate around when I’m inclined to want to drive.  After many weeks of not wanting to leave my complex, I am now the total opposite.  I want to get out and about.  I think I’m getting burned out on phone calls, computer games, internet research, keeping in contact via social media, etc.  I am ready to get out and interact in person again.  I’ve spent enough time hibernating in my “cave.”  I need to get out and about again.

 

Moving Into Mid Life With Mental Illness

I am no longer sleeping ten to twelve hours a day.  Instead I’m now averaging about six to eight hours of sleep.  Even though I usually sleep only three hours at a stretch, I still feel pretty rested overall.  I’m getting a little more active with each passing day now the days are long and the weather is getting warmer.  I have noticed I have some aches and pains, namely in my back and thighs that make walking for more than several minutes at a time painful.  Obviously the inactivity of a hard winter took it’s toll on me.  I changed my diet a couple weeks ago.  I think I’m starting to notice some difference.  I’m not as lethargic, I don’t get irritable as easily, I need less sleep, and I’m getting to where I actually want to socialize a little every day.  I still have days I want to just stay home, read books, watch youtube, and play computer games.  But with the better weather, I actually want to get out of the house.

I’m currently in the middle of my spring cleaning.  It’s kind of slow going as I still have the unexplainable aches and pains that don’t allow me to work as long as I once could.  Even as recently as five years ago I could spend several hours on my feet without a break.  Not so anymore.  I now understand why older workers aspire to desk jobs once their careers get going strong.  At this point I’m glad I can do a blog while sitting down.  I just can’t be on my feet all day like I could even a few years ago.  I’m sure a lot of this is due to weight gain.  And I gained the weight through inactivity while depressed and anxious.  Many of the psych meds out there do have weight gain as a side effect.  But I guess I would rather have a sharp and stable mind with a weakened body as the other way around.  It’s sad that mental illness often involves trade offs like this.

I am adjusting to the warmer weather and increased activity of spring.  It is a slow and sometimes painful process as my body doesn’t recover from pain as fast as it once did.  I knew this was going to come eventually, but I was hoping I could have put it off for a few more years.  It’s kind of a pity that I start falling apart physically right at the time I am figuring out what I’m good at and where I fit in society.  But I suppose every one goes though this as they transition into middle age.  I miss the vitality I had in my early twenties but I certainly don’t miss most of the younger years drama.  I’m ready to move into mid life.

Trying To Live The Drama Free Life

I just realized that I don’t post as much to this blog as much as I used to.  I just really haven’t had that much drama in my life lately.  I’m not complaining.  Drama and mental illness are vicious tag team partners that are always together.  Normally with mental illness, it has been quite rare that I don’t have at least a minor flare up every few days.  It’s just that as I have aged and matured I don’t act on these impulses nearly as much anymore.  I have learned that yes, it is alright to feel bad.  Yes, it is alright to fume and quietly rant to yourself.  This is especially true if it helps me cope with mental illness and I don’t take out my issues on other people.  Mental illness is scary enough for me.  I can’t imagine how bad it is to someone who isn’t familiar with the ups and downs.

As it is as I have aged and been under treatment for most of my adult life, I have fewer ups and downs than I did in my teens and early twenties.  It is actually quite nice to not have problems like I had in the past.  Yet it did come at the cost of almost isolating myself for much of my life.  Fortunately for myself I can keep myself in good company for days at a time if need be.  It is kind of a lonely life, but at least I have always been one who preferred my own company or small groups as opposed to being Mr. Social Hour.  I enjoy living a drama free life.  At least, my life is as drama free as someone with schizophrenia is going to be.

Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.

Sleep Changes at Spring’s Beginning

Been trying to adapt to new sleep patterns for the last several days.  Mentally I’m still stable but I am not sleeping as much as I once was.  For much of the winter I was sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day.  I’m now down around 5 to 7 hours.  Been this way for almost a week now.  I don’t know if it’s due to longer days or warmer weather or what.  As it is I am not sleeping as much as I was for most of the winter.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the newly found free time.  Since at least Christmas, I had been used to getting everything I need done in the short amount of time I was awake.  I have found over the course of the last several days I’m getting more done, leaving my apartment more often, diversifying my activities, contacting friends and family more, etc.  But I also find myself with times of boredom and restlessness.  I usually take my medications in the middle of the night as I like to be awake in the off hours.  I’m now finding myself wanting to be awake during daylight and not so much just wanting to be nocturnal all the time.  But as I am no longer sleeping 10 hours a day, I find myself being both a morning person and a night person.  Traditionally rapid changes in sleep patterns have been precursors to mental health problems with increased anxiety and paranoia.  But I hope to cut these off and try to get back to some more regular sleep.

Overall I’m glad that the winter is over.  We do have a spring snow coming this weekend.  But those never last long.  Currently watching opening day of baseball on tv in the background.  I’m glad winter is over.  Mentally I stayed stable all winter but at the cost of hibernating much of the winter.  I’m looking forward to doing more outside again.

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College Years and How I Became a Blogger

Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me.  I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it.  I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work.  I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego.  As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension.  It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.

I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body.  Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life.  It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures.  It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing.  That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels.  I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there.  I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu.  Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people.  I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library.  But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story.  And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.

Start of Spring and Changing Routines

As quickly as the weather turned decent, it turned back to cold, dreary, and rainy.  But I actually like rainy weather.  Living on the plains of Nebraska, we need good spring and summer rains for the corn crops.  But now that I’m up more in the days I can spend my daylight hours drinking hot coffee, listening to jazz music on YouTube, playing computer games, and just enjoying the sights and sounds of early spring.  I still force myself out of my apartment at least once a day just on principle.  I didn’t used to isolate so much.  In fact, I used to be rather social to people in my complex until a few years ago.  I think that losing three close friends in less than six months like I did in 2014 really took more of a toll on me than I initially thought.  I became rather jaded and cynical for a couple of years.  But then again, many people I knew became this way right about that time.  So I stopped socializing as much.  I stopped going to the park several times a week.  I preferred to stay home, sleep, and socialize online rather than in person.

I think I’m starting to pull out of that just wanting to be left alone all the time.  I try to socialize some every day, even if it is just with the delivery lady or mail man or cashier at the store.  But I really haven’t talked to my neighbors much this winter.  I’m trying to break out of that.  I see that my complex has had several new people move in during the last few months.  I need to get out more and see who they are.  I’ve been in this complex now for almost twelve years.  In some ways I’m becoming one of the more tenured residents even though I’m only in my late thirties.  Originally this complex was designed for senior citizens and low income disability people.  I was one of the first low income disability young people to move in years ago, at least from what I understand.  For most of those first several years I worked part time jobs.  It was in 2012 that I became tired of office place politics and decided to devout my energies to seeing if I get blogging up and going.  I had been writing poetry, mental illness essays, and a couple novels before then.  It was in 2012 I came to the conclusion I would have a better audience eventually if I set up an online blog.  After a few years of this I have been proven right.  I have had a bigger audience than I could have imagined just six years ago.  It has gotten to where I almost never have days when I don’t have any traffic anymore.  And I almost always have as much outside the USA traffic as I do inside the USA.  It makes sense once I looked up the numbers and found that almost 95 percent of the world’s population isn’t from the USA.  Being in a more isolated area of my country I have to remind myself of that occasionally.

 

Rebirth of Spring and Readjusting Accordingly

Now that spring has started and the days are longer than the nights, I’m going to attempt to readjust my sleep schedule.  I’m in the second day of this so I think it will be kind of a bumpy ride for the next few days.  I just woke up and got out of the bath tub and it’s right at 3 am as I write this.  I went to bed around 12 am but decided to get up once I could no longer sleep.  Usually taking my medications earlier in the night helps me to fall asleep sooner.  I did fall asleep at midnight instead of the usual 6 am.  But of course I didn’t sleep the night through.  But I have always had problems sleeping an entire night even as a child.  So my mom gave me a reading light so I could read and stay quiet while everyone else in the house slept.  By the time I got to high school I didn’t have a traditional bed time, I just had to be up by 7 am every morning so I didn’t miss school.  But I am starting to adjust to sleeping at night rather than in the day.

Yesterday I spent much of the day with unexplainable aches and pains, namely in my back.  First time in weeks I had such problems.  But after a couple hot baths and a few advil pills I was back to normal.  I have also noticed I feel fewer aches and pains on days when I don’t eat sugar or lots of processed foods.  Usually if I stick to water, vegetables, and fresh cooked meat I can do quite alright.

I am so looking forward to the warm weather and long days of spring.  Baseball starts in a week so I’ll have games on in the background when I’m doing my evening activities.  My Rockies had a decent season last year and bigger things are expected this year.  I hope they don’t disappoint.

Now the weather is getting better, I usually keep my windows open during daylight hours.  Since I’m awake in the day light hours more than I was this winter, I had forgotten how much I enjoy the smell of fresh air and the feel of a light breeze.  There are a lot of trees on my property and in my hometown and they are starting to bud again.  I’m sure we will have at least one quick hitting April blizzard like we usually do.  But I am glad winter has passed.  It was a tough winter for me, at least in terms of socializing and moving around.  It was tough that I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Hopefully that nonsense is over.  I’m ready for warmer weather, flowers in the park, and the occasional sun burn.  No season is perfect but at least I won’t be seeing nothing but ice, snow, and gray sky for weeks on end anymore.