June 19 2019

Been kind of quiet the last few days.  I’m still going to bed around 10pm and waking up for good around 4 or 5 am.  It feels like I get more done throughout the day now.  I don’t know if that’s just my perception fooling me, but I do feel more productive and energetic on days I wake up early.  I’ve been a night owl most of my life but that seems to be changing the older I get.  I’ve felt less anxious and paranoid since I started going to bed earlier.  Been doing this for a few months now.

Been feeling pretty stable.  I still have minor flare ups once in awhile.  But they usually quickly pass after several minutes.  I think they are getting easier to manage all the time. I can be irritable and anxious, yet if I keep silent almost no one knows I feel any kind of anxiety or irritability.  I never thought I was good at keeping my feelings and thoughts to myself.  But maybe I’m getting better about this in adult hood.  Some days I don’t socialize much.  Yet it seems to keep me sane and well grounded.  Sometimes my friends and family are going to be in foul moods.  It seems to be best if I avoid them on days when they are.  Sometimes I’m in a foul mood.  And it’s better when I avoid people when I’m in those funks.

I decided I’m not going to my class reunion.  I’m not sore at anyone from back home or anything like that.  It’s just I don’t have much in common with most of the people I grew up with anymore.  Adult hood has a way of changing a person.  I’m not the same person at age 39 I was at age 17.  Sometimes it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s life when I think back on my teenage years.  I was back in my hometown last slightly over a year ago.  I didn’t recognize most people living there anymore.  Most of the teachers and mentors I had as a kid are either elderly or dead.  Most my friends from that era have moved far away.  Some of them aren’t the people who would enjoy reunions and probably won’t be going.  My closest friends live at least a three hour drive away from me anymore.  My parents and brother live two states away.  And while I’m on friendly terms with most people in my complex, even after thirteen years at my current apartment I still don’t feel like I fit in.  I hope that is my illness talking and not what is really going on.

One of the lousiest parts of my illness is that I am never sure where I stand with anyone. I’m not even sure where I stand with my best friends and family many times unless they specifically tell me we are on good terms.  The illness makes it easy to jump to conclusions and form fears that aren’t based in any reality.  And it doesn’t help that I tend to over think and over analyze people and situations naturally.  I know my desire for constant reassurance annoys friends and family.  I am convinced it killed my ability to enjoy dating or even get dates to begin with.  As it is I haven’t been on a date in a dozen years and I don’t want to date ever again.  It’s just more headaches for me than it’s worth.  At this point in my life I greatly prefer friendships to romances.  I never understood why it was such a bad thing to be friends with a dating interest or a spouse.  And I never will.  The fact that almost half of marriages end in divorce and a significant portion of those that do last for life are unhappy drudgeries tells me that we as a modern society are doing dating and marriage all wrong.  People are not meant to spend their lives in drudgery, anguish, misery, and desperation.

As much as the mental illness knocks me down on occasion, I am overall happy and content with my life.  Sure I could stand to lose some weight and isolate less.  I probably will live longer if I drop some weight and be more social.  As far as how my life has turned out, it could be much worse with this illness.  At least I’m not dead or in prison.  At least I don’t have addictions.  At least I don’t have debts.  At least I’m on good terms with my family and have managed to keep some really cool friends.  And even the ones I’ve lost contact with over the years we can probably pick up if we ever encounter each other.  Considering the illness I really don’t have many regrets I could have done anything different about.

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June 16 2019

Feeling decent overall the last several days.  Had my birthday celebration a couple days ago.  My parents came up for that and brought lunch.  At this stage of my life, the highlights of celebrations like birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc. is spending time with family and friends more than the dinners or gifts.  I’ve gotten old enough now it gives me more joy to see my nephews and niece than it does if I get something cool as a gift.  Anymore I’m as happy with something I can use everyday like t-shirts or pants or shoes as I ever was with the coolest toys and computer games when I was a kid back in the late 80s and early 90s.  We do change with age, hopefully for the better.

Today is Father’s Day as I write this.  This is my first Father’s Day with my dad being hundreds of miles away in another state.  I sent him a text this morning.  Being on a tight budget there aren’t many gifts I can give to the people that mean most to me.  I always make it a point to call my parents at least once a week.  I know someday they will be gone for good.  Many of my friends have already lost parents.  So I appreciate my parents whenever I can.

The weather has warmed up and we clearly are into summer.  We are getting less rain than previous months but this spring was one of the wettest I can remember.  With as cold as it was this winter, I almost forgot what hot and humid weather was.  I still open my windows after dark to let a breeze in, at least if I don’t think it will rain in the overnight.

My sleep patterns are changing too.  I usually take my medications about 9pm and am asleep by 10pm.  I usually wake up once in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I’m usually up for good around 4 or 5am, almost always before sunrise.  I have found I can still enjoy the quiet time of the overnight hours at 4am and still be available to socialize and run errands in the morning.  I usually run my errands late morning or early afternoon.  I sometimes nap for a couple hours in the mid to late afternoon.  I also eat less.  I usually eat only twice a day now.  I usually drink lots of water throughout the day.  It gives me the sensation of something in my stomach and gives me an excuse to get up and going so I don’t sit for hours on end.  I sometimes get stiff if I sit more than a couple hours at a time.  But if I stand up for even a few minutes every hour or hour and a half, I can avoid this.

I have found if I limit caffeine and sugar I feel less stiff and sore on those days.  Back in high school when I was on the football team, our coach didn’t want us drinking soda pop or anything with a lot of caffeine or carbonation, saying such things  “cut your wind” as he put it.  By that he meant, it would make you breathe hard and sluggish.  And I’m convinced that too much caffeine, carbonation, and sugar will make my muscles feel tight and rigid.  Even in high school I felt better on days when I didn’t eat much sugar or carbonation.

Feeling good overall.  I have my routines that, while may be strange to my friends and family, work well for me.  I know I’m getting close to my toughest time of year.  August and early September have always been tough.  At least they haven’t been so tough the last few years.  But I’m doing well now and will enjoy the winning streak I’m currently on.

Avoiding Toxic and Negative People While Mentally Ill

I haven’t been socializing much lately outside of family and close friends.  I don’t post on facebook much anymore because I have better uses of my time than debate and defend myself against negative and toxic people.  It seems to me that the negativity on social media tends to ebb and flow, almost like the tides.  And sometimes I have runs where I’m the only one I know (it seems) who even tries to stay optimistic and positive.  In cases like this, a vacation from the social media circus is in order.  I’ve been doing this for several days now.  I still go on once or twice a day just to see if my friends, family, and chat groups are up to anything new.  And in cases when everything is going negative and irritable, I limit my responses and posts to bare minimum.  I try not to philosophize and ask deep questions anymore, even on friends sites.  It’s kind of tough as I am a bit of a philosopher and researcher by nature.  Have been my entire life.  Joe Rogan put it well when he said to the effect ‘do high achievers spend their time answering critics on twitter?’  Of course not.  I doubt most high achievers and celebrities spend much time on social media.  I imagine most of their posts are really done by a public relations worker.

I used to live on social media.  It could be fun and it could also be stressful.  But like any new tech advances, there is a a learning curve to social media.  I try not to post things I know will start unneeded arguments.  And let’s be honest, most arguments on social media are not needed and aren’t productive.  I doubt scientists trying to accomplish things like making safe AI, trying to crack nuclear fusion, trying to cure cancer, or develop treatments to slow aging, etc. are getting into twitter arguments or trolling scientists working for rival companies or universities.  But I guess I don’t see as nasty and personal of insults online as I did even a couple years ago.  It still happens, but I think an unwritten code of ethics and conduct is starting to develop when it comes to social media.

But I still make a point of avoiding people when they are being negative.  I certainly avoid toxic people who run down other people, especially those trying to do something constructive with their lives.  I guess I really don’t have the patience to put up with negative people.  I don’t want to be bothered with them.  Let them stay away until they stop being so negative and irritable.  My mental illness makes it easier to sink into negativity than it would for most other people.  That’s why I force myself to read optimistic literature and search for good news stories.  I am not a natural optimist.  But I do look at data and trends.

I avoid negative and toxic people but not out of spite.  I avoid these people because I don’t want to be toxic and negative myself.  I have had many bouts of negativity and depression over the years.  I’ll probably be more prone to fall into negativity and toxic behavior for the rest of my life, barring some major breakthroughs in medical and psychological treatments.  I avoid toxic and negative people for my own health and well being.  It’s nothing personal.

Avoiding Pessimists and Overcoming Paranoia

Been feeling decent overall the last several days.  I haven’t had much for flare ups lately.  I think it helps I cut back on caffeine and sugar.  Too much of either can make me irritable and sluggish.  One of my neighbors recently moved out so it’s been quieter than usual lately in my complex.  I signed another lease last week, so that’s finally taken care of.  I guess I was delaying and worrying over nothing.  Since I emailed my bank and social security disability information to my landlady a couple weeks earlier, all I had to do was sign a bunch of papers.  It took maybe fifteen minutes overall.  I was fretting and worrying over something that turned out to be far easier than I thought.  As I had been fighting excessive paranoia and anxiety this winter and spring I was worried about the whole process.  I was even worried I might get evicted.

I guess I have experienced too much negativity in my life that I pretty much expect the worst anymore.  I have lost jobs and friends for some very petty reasons.  After going through that several times, I became convinced anyone in authority can mess me over for whatever reason they see fit and there isn’t anything I can do about it.  It didn’t help any that, in the past, when I asked for help, I was too often denied help and even condemned for asking for help.  It came to where I had zero trust of authority figures for anything.  Anymore I just try to stay low and out of sight.  I can’t stop authority from messing me over, I can only lower the chances that they do.  I never understood why it makes some people feel important when they screw over someone who can’t fight back.  And I never will.

Overall I try to stay out of sight, out of mind with almost everyone who isn’t friend or family anymore.  I am tired of putting up with irritable and angry people.  And I especially hate sarcasm and snark.  Neither are original anymore.  I think empathy and compassion is the new edgy and rebellion.  It sickens me how most people I know and hear from every day have no empathy for others.  And it spills into all aspects of life.  I’m tired of dealing with it.  I’m going hermit until people come to their senses.  If you have nothing decent to say or are just going to be a pessimist all the time, don’t waste my time.  I lost years of my life being a pessimist and believing everything sucked and was only getting worse.  I hate pessimists.  They just drain the life and joy out of everything they encounter.  And they certainly never propose solutions.  And I no longer want to hear it.  I have dealt with schizophrenia for over twenty years, yet I am more optimistic than most neurotypical people I know.

Popular Sucks

Have felt quite decent the last several days.  I have been getting adequate sleep and leaving my apartment for longer periods of time.  I’m keeping my apartment less cluttered lately.  It doesn’t take my cleaning person as long to do her job these days.  Maybe after several months of adjustments and regular maintenance I’m getting on top of hanging issues.  I haven’t had much for flare ups or anxiety for over a week now.  First time in months I can claim that.

I think I don’t feel much for anxiety or depression anymore is for a handful of reasons.  For one, if I don’t feel like socializing I don’t do it.  I don’t socialize unless I want to.  Granted it means sometimes going entire days without talking to anyone.  Which is alright with me.  Some of my happiest times came when I was alone and allowed to read, write, and research answers to my questions without input from anyone else.  And I no longer feel guilty for not wanting to socialize.  Sometimes I will let the phone ring if I’m not in the mood to talk.  Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to interrupt my tasks to listen to a sales pitch, or take a phone survey, or listen to my friends complain about how much their jobs suck, or about something my retired parents heard from one of their neighbors or saw on tv.

Sometimes I just don’t want to be interrupted.  And most of the time mundane crap like talking about the weather, politics, the latest episode of Game of Thrones or The Kardashians, how work is going, or how my favorite sports teams are on a losing streak doesn’t interest me much. Yet most people I know want to talk about these things. Want to talk about it, okay:  The weather is cloudy and humid.  Politicians can’t solve technical and social problems and aren’t the gods mass media and party members make them to be and never were.  Game of Thrones really laid an egg on their farewell season and angered millions of fans all over the world, including many of my closest friends.  The Kardashians are famous just for being rich, pretty, and famous. Come back when they invent nuclear fusion or safe artificial super intelligence.  Most people hate their jobs and work them only for the money (which isn’t that good in most cases anyway). My Huskers have had three losing seasons in the last four years but hopefully the young hotshot we have as a coach can get us winning again and the Rockies are barely breaking even and probably won’t win the pennant.  I discussed all of that in less than a minute.  No need to rehash it.  Let’s move on.

Of course this doesn’t make me popular with my neighbors or family.  Then I’ve never been popular.  Popular is lowest common denominator.  Popular is mundane.  Popular doesn’t change the world for the better.  Popular doesn’t catch the attention.  Popular isn’t thought provoking.  Popular is boring.  Popular sucks because it stands for nothing, has no feeling, has no courage, has no magic, and inspires no one to their highest nature and capacities.  I don’t care about popular.  I care about making people think.  And if it makes my friends, family, readers, critics, etc. angry and uncomfortable, so be it.  I’d rather be persecuted for being beneficial to people than honored for catering to the base nature of our humanity.

Graduations, Reunions, and Life Choices

Got my lease renewed for this year.  So I don’t have that hanging anymore.  Also got a few new shirts in the mail from my dad this morning.  Thanks Dad.  I appreciate it.  Ever since I went more minimalist than most people a few years ago I have less of everything, including clothing.  This means I wear what I do have more often and have to do laundry often.  Maybe I should pick up some more clothing just so I don’t have to do washing and replacing clothing more often.  Unfortunately clothing wears out if you wash it a lot and wear it quite often.  I found this out through my own experiences.

Been going outside more often lately even with it being a damper and colder than usual spring.  I still don’t drive much except when necessary.  I fire up my car at least every few days just to make sure everything is in proper order.  Even though I no longer take road trips like I did even a few years ago, it is good to know I could if I had to.

I might be making a couple trips this summer.  I have a family reunion in Colorado at the end of June I might be going to.  And my twenty year class reunion is the first weekend in July.  I’m still undecided if I’m going.  Sadly, many of the people I spent the bulk of my time with in high school live far away and probably aren’t the types to go to reunions anyway.  Some days it’s hard to believe I’ve been out of high school for twenty years.  Other days, especially when I’m in the grips of mental illness, it feels like someone else’s life.  An incredible amount has changed since I graduated high school in 1999.

I occasionally break out my high school annuals and photographs of high school and college friends.  I remember when we graduated high school, one of the speakers said something to the effect that we wouldn’t truly appreciate the power and beauty of youth until we were older.  So true.  I guess the biggest thing I miss about high school and college is how easy it was to socialize and make friends in those environments.  I was a geeky kid I admit.  I would have been the stereotypical nerd in high school and college except that I had a lot of physical strength (but no coordination).  I was on the football and track teams in high school and did intramural softball in college.  I probably couldn’t have done any other sports as a kid.  I wasn’t fast enough for soccer or coordinated enough for baseball or basketball or quick enough for wrestling.

Another thing about school and college I miss is the academics.  Even though I never got straight A’s in any level of school, I still did pretty decent in classes.  I did well enough grade wise and test wise to qualify for some really good scholarships.  I am so, so glad I graduated college debt free.  I couldn’t manage on a disability pension while paying off loans.  It was tough giving up on the MBA program once I lost my graduate assistant job.  But I wasn’t going to continue on in school if I had no way to pay for it outright.  Debt scared me then and it still scares me even though I haven’t had debts for years.  I don’t know if I even have a credit score anymore simply because I don’t borrow money.

My eldest nephew recently graduated middle school.  He will be starting high school at a large suburban public school this autumn.  So he may be going to college in four years.  I don’t really have any advice for the youngsters except remain flexible and open to new experiences.  We have no idea what jobs will be around in even ten years.  Many jobs could be eliminated due to automation and artificial intelligence.  Of course, many new jobs could be coming too.  I can’t in good faith advise any kid on what career path to take.

I won’t even tell them to ‘follow your heart.’  I saw too many people take that advice and end up with degrees that have few job prospects, at least right now. Yet, I remember an interview Mark Cuban gave on a business news show a couple years ago and he said to the effect that if machines keep taking over jobs, then people with humanities and liberal arts degrees might be in demand more than even business and technical fields within ten years.  Wouldn’t that be ironic; for years kids were discouraged from being arts and humanities students for fear they’d be able to do nothing but make coffee and work fast food.  Soon we may say the same thing about accounting, business, and delivery drivers.

In short, we don’t know what will be available.  In fact, the youngsters coming through the ranks may have to retrain every few years for new job skills.  The tech and science isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.  It is actually getting faster.  We could be going into a really cool future but it could be a rugged journey to get there.  The next generation or two could be quite rough as we navigate the biggest change to civilization since Industrialization got going in the lat 1700s and early 1800s.  I hope we are up to the challenges.

Life After Paid Employment

I am feeling extra creative today.  So here is a second blog entry.  Consider it like a buy one, get one free kind of day.  I haven’t held regular paid employment since spring 2012.  I decided to get out of the regular work life because I could tell it is beginning to take it’s toll on my stability.  It also didn’t help that the more I worked, the more disability benefits I lost and the more I paid in rent.  I did the math back then and realize for every dollar I made in labor, I lost over 70 cents in reduced benefits, increased rent, taxes, etc.  Tell me where the incentive to get off disability is.  There isn’t any.  Besides, my schizophrenia makes holding a forty hour per week job and dealing with workplace politics impossible.  It was becoming more trouble than it was worth.

After I left my last regular job, I got serious about blogging.  I had been writing regularly since I was in college but decided to focus my energies on blogging about mental illness.  I wrote a couple poetry books and rough drafts for a couple novels in addition to keeping extensive journals.  Unfortunately I don’t have most of my original writings anymore.  In my paranoid state I feared that others would see my personal writings and hold them against me.  That’s why I got rid of most my journals and poetry from my twenties and early thirties.  I don’t even self publish my poetry anymore.  I haven’t even written a poem in three years, instead focusing on the blog for the time being.

Even though I haven’t written poems or novel drafts for a few years doesn’t mean I have given up on those genres.  I still occasionally read poetry.  I haven’t read much fiction outside of Issac Asimov, Corey Doctorow, and H.P. Lovecraft in a few years.  I have concentrated on science and tech books instead.  I imagine in a few years something else will catch my mind’s eyes and I’ll dive into that.

I used to make up stories all the time as a kid.  It’s too bad I never wrote any of them down.  I used to spend hours on end roaming my back yard and the alley ways of my hometown just making up stories and thinking in my childhood.  It was something I wanted to do and even needed to do for myself.  As much as I loved learning and exercising my mind in school as a child, school by itself didn’t satisfy my appetite for learning and mental stimulation.  It only served as an appetizer I suppose.  It made me want to learn more on my own.  And fortunately I lived in an area that allowed me to explore on my own and had parents who were willing to tolerate that I desired so much time alone to learn and think. I dare say that thinking is my favorite pastime.  And of course good luck doing that at a regular forty hour per week job unless you work at a think tank or as a scholar.

I suppose that is what I am, an independent scholar.  I have always been that.  Even as a little child I hated being told what to think.  I always wanted to know.  I wanted to read the original works of literature of philosophers and scholars.  I didn’t just want to take someone else’s word for it.  Sure it got me into trouble over the years with authority figures, but I just couldn’t just go along to get along and blindly accept what I was told.  I never have been able to just shut off my mind and go on cruise control.  It has gotten me into trouble at jobs and at school, but it made my life more interesting.  It made me a better friend to others as well.

Overall I know with my mental illness I couldn’t hold a regular job for long without breaking down.  I have been like this for my entire adult life.  Fortunately I have disability pension and Medicaid.  Without these I would probably be dead or at least in prison.  And what a waste either one would be.  I dread to think how many people over the ages had creativity and genius but it was lost because they were forced to spend their lives in conditions they couldn’t control.  I am sure many geniuses spent their entire lives as slaves or serfs or toiling in some job they couldn’t stand.  I am sure many people were never allowed to develop their talents because of the prejudices and social norms of their eras.  I only hope we continue to get better at finding people’s talents and allowing them to develop.  If we as individuals can’t or won’t help kids develop their skills and gifts, the least we as individuals and grown ups can do is get out of the way.