Update: Dealing With External Crisis With A Mental Illness

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It’s been almost a week since my auto accident.  An update is in order.  I went to the hospital immediately after the accident because I told the EMTs I had some back pains.  I had x-rays taken and fortunately no breaks were found.  On Friday, the day after the accident, I received a copy of the accident report from the police.  With that report I went to the other driver’s insurance agency to get the paperwork started to see whether they would cover the costs of repairs.  The first estimate I had from an auto body shop said the cost of repairs might be more than my ten year old car was worth.  Early this week I was informed that the insurance company would cover the expenses.  But the repairs are going to take a minimum of three weeks once everything gets settled.  In the meantime I borrowed a car from my family rather than rent one.  I’m relieved the car will be fixed.  The car had one previous owner and only 38,000 miles so it was in as good of shape as a ten year old car could be.

For my health, I’m dealing with the changes and stresses pretty well.  While I’m not happy about what happened, events are in motion that will clean up these issues.  For my physical health I’m seeing a chiropractor to get a second opinion on my back.  Since I wasn’t at fault in this accident, the other driver’s insurance is covering the expenses.  Some chiropractors do accept Medicaid but only for some of their more basic services, from what I understand.  If the other driver did not have auto insurance I would be looking at more problems with this process but the other driver would be looking at far more serious problems.

In all of this I have been more diligent about watching and tracking what I eat.  I’ve had to be extra careful as I have been having more unexplainable pains slowing me down.  In spite of my auto accident I’ve managed to get my weight loss regiment back on track.  Overall I gained at least 25 pounds with my friend’s wedding and my grandmother’s funeral.  I’ve since lost close to 10 pounds since October 1st.  I didn’t give up on losing weight.  I just had a setback or two. I’m on track to recover from all the events of the last few months.  Hopefully this will be a quiet winter.

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Dealing With External Crisis With A Mental Illness

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A few days ago I was in an auto accident.  Now I’m alright physically and I was not at fault.  But it looks like my car has to have a lot of work done on it.  Fortunately this whole ordeal has not sent me into a psych breakdown.  I’m a little depressed at the thought I may lose a good car that would have lasted me at least ten years.  But since I was struck on the passenger side I wasn’t hurt.  I am currently getting around my small home town with a loaner car.  Unfortunately my town doesn’t have very good public transit.  But I’m dealing with it all the same.  I’ll keep everyone posted on what transpires.

Fifteen Years With A Mental Illness Diagnosis

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I have been having problems with depression, anxiety, delusional thoughts, and excessive anger since I was seventeen.  I was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression in October 2000.  I’ve been treated for these mental health problems for fifteen years.  In fact, today as I write this is probably the anniversary of when I was diagnosed.  I’m not exactly sure as those hectic weeks leading up to my diagnosis are a blur.  I do remember that I was having mini psychotic breaks at least twice a week when I was call home and just yell at my family members for no real reason.  Now, I had a good family as a child.  While I had a good family I struggled socially.  I didn’t have many friends or confidants, likely because I was eccentric and one of these really smart kids who was too stubborn to hide the fact I was smart.  That didn’t win many favor points with my school mates.  But, the fact I did have a good family who held me accountable was probably one of the reasons I was able to do well in spite of my mental illness.

I grew up in a very small farming community of less than 500 people in rural Nebraska.  It was one of those places that life changed with the seasons more than anything.  Social activities centered around farming, school activities, and church groups.  It was one of those places where everyone knew at least one thing about everyone.  It was also one of those places that was remote enough that we thought nothing of getting in the car and driving an hour and a half to the nearest Wal-Mart.  Lack of access to proper mental health care is one of the reasons I left my hometown.  Yet I’m only an hour and a half drive from my family, so not terribly far in case of crisis.  But also far enough I’m able to have my own space and my own life.  I currently live in a small college town of less than 50,000 people.  So it’s still one of those places were the pace of life changes with the seasons.

After I was diagnosed with schizophrenia, I still wouldn’t withdraw from college until the next spring.  By then the mental health problems were bad enough I left my dorm room only to go to classes and twice a day to go to the dining hall.  Had no social life and I was in danger of flunking out of school entirely.  So I left college and took several weeks to regroup.  I went back to college in the fall of 2001 with a changed major and better treatment for my mental illness.  I originally started as a pre-med student before switching over to business management.  I graduated in May 2004.  Even though I never worked a job requiring my degree, I am glad I had those classes because they taught me budgeting and how economics works.  I probably would have found a job requiring a degree had I left the farm belt of Nebraska.  But with my inconvenient mental illness flare ups I would not have held such a job long enough to support myself.  I ultimately qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance in late 2008.  I have worked since, primarily as a part time evening janitor and maintenance man at the county courthouse.  Held that job for four years.

I haven’t held a “real job” besides doing temporary work here and there for three years.  But I have come to the realization that my self worth as a human is not in the job I work.  Many people forget this, especially men like myself who tend to be obsessive about our pursuits.  Even though I’m living on social security disability money I am also debt free.  Not making payments any more is a good feeling that takes away a good deal of my previous stress and anxiety.  I’ve also been blogging about mental illness issues for two and a half years.  Feel free to look over some of my previous posts.  It’s been a long, hard, and strange trip.  But one that I have survived and learned a great deal from.  Who knows what the next fifteen years will bring.  It’ll be 2030 by then and I’ll be fifty years old.

Return to ‘Normal’ with Schizophrenia

It’s been a week since I was in the emergency room for getting my esophagus scoped.  Had to take it easy for a couple days but I’m back to normal.  At least as normal as things are going to get with schizophrenia.  It’s been two weeks since I had a third anti psychotic medication added.  It appears to be doing the trick as I haven’t had any kind of upsets or flare ups in anxiety or agitation for several days.  I’m even sleeping better now.  I still keep odd hours as I typically do better at night when there are less stimuli and fewer people out and about. I can say things are starting to return to normal again.

It has been some time since I was able to have any routine for any length of time.  I had my best friend’s wedding in July.  In addition to the wedding I had the last of my grandparents die.  While I wasn’t completely torn apart by my grandmother’s death, I know it effected me in other ways.  I got out of a regular sleep pattern, which makes mental illness problems worse.  I became especially lazy about watching what I ate and didn’t exercise as much as usual.  I was more irritable and short tempered too.

I had what has essentially become my late summer or early fall mini psychiatric break in early October.  Traditionally I have my break downs in August or early September.  I was hoping to make it through the rough patches and lack of routine without a breakdown.  No such luck.  Fortunately I was able to talk down and burn myself out.  For most people as bad off as I was, going a mental health hospital is the best option.  Since I have such a great support system in my immediate and extended family, I was able to talk my way out of my flare up.  I don’t know how my family is able to deal with my flare ups and break downs without taking them personal.  It has to be hard.  It’s hard enough for me when I’m going through them.  I am concerned for when my family members begin dying off and I have to find different support people.  This is a fear of mine.  Perhaps by then treatments will be developed that are even better then what are available now.  Maybe there will even be a cure.  In the meantime I keep moving on and attempt to keep a since of normal with schizophrenia.

Physical Health Emergency and Mental Illness

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Earlier this week I had to go to the emergency room because I had a piece of chicken get caught in my esophagus.  I couldn’t swallow water or even saliva.  I couldn’t even get the chunk out by forcing myself to vomit several times.  Didn’t get anything but dry heaves.  Since this happened in the overnight hours (I’m a serious night person) I went to the emergency room after a few hours of unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the caught chunk of chicken.

Fortunately the e.r. wasn’t very busy as it was about six a.m. when I checked in.  I was seen by a nurse who took down my entire health history and she told me that they’d have a doctor scope my throat to dislodge the blockage.  Since I wasn’t the only person who had to see this doctor that day I was in the hospital for probably four and a half hours total, including check in, initial consultation, prep for the scoping, and the actual procedure.  It wasn’t quite the in and out, but I did have a camera attached to a cable slid down my throat and have blockage removed. The doctor also saw what looked like a small ulcer.  I’m now on a medication for ulcers and have to see him again in a month.  Wish me luck.

I had to take it real easy for the rest of the day, so I just slept much of the rest of the day after my dad brought me back to my apartment.  Spent the next two days eating mostly oatmeal and apple sauce to go easy on my esophagus.  But things are almost back to normal, at least as close to normal as a life with mental illness will allow.

Recovering From Several Rough Days With Mental Illness

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Had several rougher days than normal lately.  One of those days involved a bad episode where I was close to checking myself into the local psych hospital.  Fortunately one way for me to break out of bad episodes is to just talk my way out of them with friends and family, literally allowing myself to speak out of my distress.  It is a tough process for all involved but it does work, at least in my case.  I do not recommend this for most people because there can be many hurt feelings on the part of support people, friends and family.  I think the reason it works for my case is that I grew up in a stable family who would drop everything for one of their own at a moment’s notice.  My family handles these problems like champions and saints.  I don’t know how they do it without taking these episodes personal.  After I’ve burned myself out I make it a point to tell them that it’s nothing personal and I’m sorry for what happened.

Saw my psych doctor on Monday afternoon.  We added a new psych medication and a temporary medication to aid in sleeping.  Haven’t been sleeping terribly well lately either.  The psych issues and the sleep problems just feed on each other no doubt.  But I’m a couple days into a recovery.  Things look promising again.  I hope things keep going better.  I’ll keep you posted as I document these last rough several days and my attempts at recovery.

Social Struggles and Being Single with Mental Health Issues

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I had only five people I felt I could tell anything to in my entire life until I went to college.  Two were school friends, two were grandparents, and one was a cousin.  I really didn’t have any true friends outside of my cousins until I was eleven years old.  But I guess that happens when you’re the odd smart kid who’s too proud and stubborn to hide your smarts and eccentricities.  Maybe I would have done better in an environment where I wasn’t the odd man out all the time.  But I’ll never know.  It was lonely.  But I eventually came to prefer to be alone most of the time because I didn’t fit in among my classmates. I didn’t learn much in the way of social skills until I was well into my twenties.  Even at the age of 35 I still feel like I’m behind the curve in the way of social skills.

Today none of my friends and confidants live in the same town I do.  I moved here because the job prospects and health care in this town were better than my home town.  I wanted to start over.  Yet the older I get I find the less opportunities I have for traditional socializing.  I have better socializing and more in common with anonymous posters on Facebook and youtube forums than I do with people in my hometown.  I really don’t like the idea of going back to work because 1) I’m tired of dealing with the same old office politics and low grade hostility I’ve faced at every job since age sixteen and 2) my confidence in my work performance is gone.

I really don’t like the idea of going to mental health support groups because the ones I’ve been to I’ve seen too many people who can’t or won’t learn from their mistakes.  I can’t claim to be perfect on this myself, but at least I don’t ask for advice and then just do the same old nonsense over and over.  I just don’t ask for advice anymore.  I won’t go to AA or NA because I don’t have drinking or hard drug problems.  I won’t go back to college because I can’t afford it and there really aren’t that many 30 somethings in college, at least not from what I’ve seen or will get to see.  I certainly refuse to do the bar scene.  Last time I was at a bar was three years ago at a New Year’s concert and some girl chatted me up and was all sweet to me just to make her boyfriend jealous.  I still don’t know how I talked my way out of receiving  a beat down on that one.

It seems there aren’t any options for singles in their 30s to socialize outside of work and the bar scene.  Don’t start with the religious organizations idea.  There aren’t any singles over 25 in those organizations, certainly not men (unless you want to be a Catholic priest or monk).  I might join a gym in a year or two after I lose another 70 pounds on my own and can actually keep up with some of those guys and gals.  When I was a gym member I felt embarrassed watching some of these people who looked like marathon runners and body builders and I was having a hard time doing thirty minutes on a treadmill.

I imagine there are lots of lonely and single people in there late 20s and older out there who would love to do some activity that doesn’t involve working, drinking, or church.  I read an article that stated that, according to the 2010 census here in USA, there are more unmarried adults than married adults.  First time in U.S. history that has ever happened.  Granted this includes divorcees, widowed, and probably live in long term relationships.  But I have no intention of ever marrying and I’m completely content with that.  Would have been cool to have married the proverbial college sweetheart, worked in medical research (I wanted to be a research scientist since I was five years old), had the 2.3 kids, cat and dog combo, and picket fence kind of life.  But that is an illusion from an era that no longer exists if it ever did.  But a lot of social organizations and businesses are flat out missing out in not trying to attract singles in their late 20s, 30s, and older.

I wouldn’t be surprised if within 10 to 15 years you’ll see a lot of single men and women in their late 40s and early 50s who were smart and tight with their money in their younger years who find themselves financially independent and able to retire if they want.  I imagine for every person who has $50,000 plus in student loan debts, there is at least one other who learned a trade at a two year program or someone who got out of a four year program with little to no debt.  I also know guys who didn’t even go to college who worked on oil wells, in mining, and farming and made close to six figures by their late 20s.  And these guys are saving most of their money.  I also know guys who started in the military in their early twenties and are staying in for the twenty years required for a pension and they’ll transition to civilian work in their early forties while the military paid for all their education. Many of these young professionals (currently in their 20s and 30s and thus invisible to most people) are living minimalist while being smart with their money.  In short, there’s a lot of potential business and money that is being completely ignored because singles in their 30s are not a traditional demographic with any real numbers.

I don’t socialize much but not because I don’t have the money to.  With zero debt and some emergency money now stored away, I could afford to go to the sports bars most evenings or to concerts on weekends.  But having nerdy dork interests in a small town setting doesn’t lend itself to good socializing.  I’m also interested in exercising but I don’t have the build to run marathons.  I’m the only person I know who lifts arm weights while watching Star Trek: Enterprise reruns.  Just because a dude is smart and interesting he doesn’t always fit in to all social situations.