Managing Anger With Schizophrenia

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Things have been more or less consistent the last several days.  I’m still getting out and exercising as I’m breaking in a new pair of heavy duty hiking boots most days.  Started lifting weights at least 3 times per week again.  Still working through educational programs and khanacademy.org .  Been watching shameless amounts of old tv shows through Netflix.  I’ve plowed through half of season 1 of Star Trek: Enterprise just in the last week.  In short things have been going pretty good and steady for 90 percent of the time.

Sadly, I still have that 10 percent of the time that still causes me problems.  Many of these problems are partly due to a new neighbor in my complex.  This man has been irritable to almost everyone in our complex.  I refuse to go into details but this individual is the angriest and most closed minded man I have ever met.  He doesn’t believe in mental illness at all.  I will say no more.

I haven’t filed any complaints against this tenant because I’ve previously filed complaints against tenants that we’re being uncivil with no results.  Usually problems like these have wound up being solved when these tenants would move or get evicted over violating terms of the lease.  I’ve been at my current apartment for several years and I have had problem neighbors come and I’ve seen problem neighbors go.  Nothing new.

It bothers me at times and sometimes provokes emotions ranging from mild irritability to a nagging sense of anger.  I don’t enjoy having these nagging senses of anger.  I’m not a confrontational or violent man by nature.  And confronting others will only make things worse.  I refuse to get evicted or committed over annoying and irritable people who will, in time, get a massive dose of karma courtesy of their own actions.  As uncomfortable as that nagging sense of anger is, I just allow it to pass in a controlled and limited burn.  I no longer try to force myself to be happy nor do I fear this anger anymore.  What I do instead is allow myself to feel angry without acting on it.  I don’t fear getting angry because I have the good sense to let it go gradually and constructively rather than allow it build up for days.  Just because I feel anger doesn’t mean I’m going to act on it.  I enjoy having the escape valve of free will and self control.

Learning to manage anger with schizophrenia is not a skill that can be learned in one day.  It is a trial and error process that is ongoing and never ending.  I am much better at it now than I was 15 years ago.  And I plan on being much better than I am now with the passing of another 15 years.  Feeling anger is not bad or evil.  It is how anger is channeled or acted on that determines whether anger is constructive or destructive.  It is also important to note that what we do send out will come back on us over a long enough time line.  Or as one of my college friends crassly put it “Karma’s got a large boot and kicks asses harder than we can.”

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Reflections On Being a Recovering Doom Junkie

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As I’ve been laid up for the last few days with a sore foot that is only now starting to clear up, I have been allowed the opportunity to reflect back on all the changes that have happened over the last several years in my lines of thinking.

I turned 35 years old this summer.  Even after being a college graduate, working for several years, and being on my own for a dozen years, I’m still not as smart as I thought I was at age 18.  But, I enjoy being an adult.  I also have enough years of experience that I’ve survived several supposed “end of the world and collapse” type scenarios that I chuckle every time I see such drivel. After seeing the ’88 Reasons for the Return of Jesus in 1988′, the Branch Davidians, the Hale Bop Comet cult, Y2k, 9/11, the tech bubble, the stock market bust of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession, the Mayan apocalypse of 2012, listening to my grandparents’ stories of the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and World War II, and seeing ‘evidence’ that every U.S. president since at least JFK was supposed to be the Anti-Christ, I’ve developed the attitude of “Meh, let it come.”

I suppose this is an advanced line of thinking, especially since I am prone to unhealthy paranoia.  But the older and wiser I get, the less time I have for doom and gloom nonsense.  I spent a couple years researching some of that doom nonsense myself and even thought some of it possible.  But then, I used to think that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, magical elves, pixie dust, and Disney fairy tales were possible too.  When I was a child I thought and acted as a child.  Now that I am a man I put foolish and childish things aside.  Wise words, St. Paul.

As I’ve experienced changes over the course of my 35 years I’ve come to the conclusion that change is the only constant.  I’ve come to embrace it and actually hope for even more. I’ve also accepted that there are always going to be hustlers and well meaning fools that are convinced that the ends of civilization and humanity are just around the next corner.  If I live long enough I’m probably going to see blogs and youtube videos, or the successors to blogs and youtube, about how the manned missions to Mars are hoaxes, how greedy elites are hoarding the proceeds from asteroid mining for their evil purposes, how we’re all going to die from nanotech and anti-matter experiments gone bad, etc.  I’ve seen enough of this before.  Nothing new.  Since our ancestors survived several ice ages and bubonic plagues I know at least some people will be able to whatever comes our way in the future.  One could make a fortune not betting against humanity.

Dealing With Uncivil Behavior With A Mental Illness

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I absolutely hate any time some fools feel like they are required to spout off and read off a laundry list of transgressions (most of which are exaggerated or imagined) that another group has committed.  I have never understood why ‘normal’ people seem to thrive on interpersonal conflicts and strife.

We see it all the time; liberals vs. conservatives, racial divides, capitalists vs. socialists, men and women calling each other out, religious adherents and atheists unloading on each other, nerds and jocks despising each other on every high school campus, the elderly thinking all young people are lazy and unruly while the young believing the elderly are all parasitizing via social security and not providing adequate guidance, etc.  etc.  Even those of us in the mentally ill community often have our issues with each (namely among the medicate vs. don’t medicate or the work vs. disability insurance routes).  The most ironic part of these interpersonal squabbles is regardless of what side of an argument you are on, each side has at least a few legitimate points.  In spite of our differences we really aren’t that different.  And the way we treat each other over these minor differences is really wrong and petty.

I definitely have my beliefs about many topics that we humans think upon. I will under no circumstances discuss anything of any intellectual weight or contention unless I am for sure that the discussion will remain civil and not devolve into a modern version of two bands of cavemen brandishing sticks and grunting at each other over who gets the last slabs of wooly mammoth meat.  I promise here and now if I ever make it to any kind of fame I will never volunteer to take part in any debate with another person or panel under any circumstances unless I am completely cured of schizophrenia.

To me, listening to debates is the same as watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other. It makes a major mess, the monkeys get riled up for awhile, and nothing is really accomplished.  I may do a TEDx talk if I ever gained any kind of traction, but that is decades away.  I’ve seen too many debates and ‘Crossfire’ type shows to believe that any kind of informing, enlightenment, and mutual respect goes on.  Do not even get me going on politics and voting.  I intentionally lie to pollsters just to throw a small wrench in their numbers.  I know they interview thousands of potential voters, but since politicians have blatantly and knowingly lied to constituents ever since there were politicians and constituents I figure this is my little way of protesting without being labeled like one of these hippies from the 1960s or one of the Occupy Wall Street guys.  I probably shouldn’t lie as it violates the whole Golden Rule (and I don’t mean ‘he who has the most gold has the most rule’).

One of the religious teachings I agree with states ‘let the one lacking in sin (or faults) throw the first stone.’  I have no doubt that every belief system in the world has their own uniquely worded version of this.  It is one that while we do not practice all the time. If we did, at least 90 percent of our interpersonal strife would immediately vanish.  When we are actually intellectually honest we will acknowledge we don’t know everything, we don’t have all the answers, and we have faults in our beliefs.  We are not perfect, no one is, and we would be better off to not expect perfection out of anyone.  We know it is right to treat others with respect.  We know it feels good when we are treated with respect ourselves.  Do to others as you would have done to yourself isn’t just a feel good meme or ancient proverb derived two millennium ago, it is a basic pillar on which civilized life is built on.  The whole idea of I got to get mine and kill or be killed is a relic of pre history that would be best left in a museum, not practiced in our interpersonal, inter business, and inter national relations.

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Anyway, as a mentally ill person I have a hard time dealing with uncivilized behavior and heightened emotions (namely negative ones) without the whole deal feeling like it is becoming a personal attack.  I literally feel physically threatened and scared to the point of anger (anger often is just a mask for fear) during heated discussions.  As a man who is much larger than most, I don’t think it would bode well for anyone if I went Ice Age Neanderthal hunter on an unsuspecting person who is either trying to win a discussion or  just being a troll.

In short, to my mentally ill friends and readers, feeling like melting down on someone in a heated situation may be unavoidable, but never act out on it.  Ever.  Fortunately I haven’t been in a fight since sixth grade, long before I got a mental illness or twice the size of most humans.  Sometimes a person just has to cut their losses and run, especially when dealing with mental illness.  Dealing with people who refuse to act civil and risking an assault charge because you had a mental break is not worth it.

Return to Normal With Mental Illness, Part 2

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Fall is just a few days away after a long and eventful summer.  I saw my best friend get married and we buried the last of my grandparents.  Partly because of these developments I became lackadaisical about my exercise routine.  I was taking so much time dealing with externals that I neglected to take care of myself and gained some weight.  Fortunately I made it through the summer with only one relapse into schizophrenia and even that lasted only an afternoon.  This time two years ago I had just gotten out of a mental health hospital after a voluntary commitment.  Two years in a row now I’ve made it through the roughest parts of the year without a major problem.  I’m feeling pretty good about that.

The leaves are starting to turn, the weather isn’t as hot now, and the corn harvest will be going really hard and fast within a few weeks.  I have always enjoyed this time of year, almost as much as spring.  My mental health always improves in the fall and I seem to get a lot done in these times.  Recently I sign up for khanacademy.org and am working though a few of their free online courses, namely chemistry and world history.  This will be one of my fall projects.  My winter project will be to get an General License in ham radio.  I already have a Technician License that I studied for last winter.  With the increased exercise I have my projects for fall and winter already lined up.