A Sense of Calm During the Holidays

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a sense of calm and normal.  But things are finally starting to settle and slow down.  I’m progressing enough in my chiropractic therapy I go in only twice a week.  My EoE is being treated and I’ve altered my diet to account for many possible food allergies.  So my stomach feels better and I’m not as easily irritable as I was earlier this fall.

After a couple hectic and stressful days last week, things started calming down yesterday.  I made no attempt to fight the mobs on Black Friday.  Instead I stayed home, watched football, listened to audiobooks on youtube, and drank a few cups of black tea.  Found that black tea is easier on my stomach and gives me just enough caffeine to keep sharp for those late night research sessions.  I’ll probably switch over entirely this winter.

My back isn’t hurting anymore.  Even the tail bone injury I had years ago in high school has cleared up.  I always thought it was one of those things I was doomed to live with.  Too bad I didn’t get it worked on shortly after it happened.  But chiropractic treatments were even less mainstream then now.

Now I have my car back and it looks as if the accident never happened.  I have also more or less begun my winter routines.  We’ve already had a couple light snows.  Found my car handles well on ice.  That was one of my concerns going into the first winter with a different car.  But this car is low enough miles it should last me at least ten to twelve years.

I’ve now come to the acceptance part of my grandmother’s death.  I was more easily irritated and depressed for probably three months, which I think was part of my grieving process.  But she was a positive influence on my life for years.  And I was talking to her right until she had a major stroke about ten days before she died.  She was mentally sharp at her birthday party in June but she wasn’t very mobile because of physical health problems.  It has to be tough being mentally sharp but feeling your body fall apart.  It was bad enough for myself knowing my ability to process stress and social situations because of my schizophrenia while my cognitive ability remained relatively changed.  Being in a car accident didn’t help with the irritability and short temperedness.

I’ve also come to the acceptance that, barring some miracle of future science and medicine, I’m not going to ever be able to handle any kind of job where I can use my natural intellect.  Coming to this acceptance has only happened recently and it was by far the toughest aspect of my life I had to accept.  I grew up believing that if one found their niche and developed that niche, then good things would happen.  Found out at a very early age I had some unusual intelligence.  I also learned I had almost no bodily coordination and hated athletics.  So I never had any dreams of playing pro football.  I wasn’t very good with my hands but was excellent with ideas and scientific concepts.  I decided I wanted to be a scientist even before I started kindergarten.  Unfortunately that dream didn’t come true.  After gutting through almost two years of biology and chemistry classes while fighting a mental illness, it became painfully obvious that I wouldn’t get to pursue the dream any more.

The worst part of coming to this acceptance was knowing that I did everything right in life and I still would never use my ability.  I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t have sex, let alone date much, etc.  I spent most of my weekends and evenings studying for my classes while many of my classmates were out partying and screwing around.  And I was well on my way of making something positive out of myself.  But it never happened because of schizophrenia.  It took pretty much everything from me.  And it even messes with your mind, unlike most physical diseases.  Well schizophrenia is the result of brain issues.  It was rough seeing everything I worked for gradually destroyed piece meal.  For a long time I tried to figure out what I did wrong.  Once I came to the conclusion I did nothing wrong, I blamed others for the illness happening.  Once I got past that and accepted it was what it was, I have settled in for the long haul.  Now I’m trying to keep even keel and make the best of a lousy situation.

 

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Thoughts on the Holidays with Mental Illness

The end of the year holidays are upon us once again.  For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family.  Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk.  Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time.  We were often understaffed and running out of popular items.  Not very fun.  I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward.  To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.

The holidays have long been a stressful time for me.  I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old.  By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy.  Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense.  The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday.  I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class.  But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.

For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful.  Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers.  Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs.  And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars.  For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks.  My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day.  So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge.  I’m just selective about being Scrooge.

The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me.  Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family.  Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather.  But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.

 

 

Eating To Avoid Food Allergies and Mental Illness

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It’s been a week since I had my esophagus scoped and was started on two news medications for my EoE problems.  I’ve changed my diet too.  I have severely cut back on bread and most processed foods.  I’m beginning to notice that my mental health is improving in addition to having a more settled stomach.  I haven’t had real problems with delusions and auditory hallucinations since this change.

As EoE is made worse by food allergens, I’m thinking about switching to foods with less gluten or gluten free entirely.  Been doing some research on gluten free foods and found that there are gluten free alternatives for many foods.  Found that some places even have gluten free beer and I didn’t think that was even possible.

So my shopping routine has considerably changed.  For several years I had been buying groceries only twice a month with buying mostly things that had long self lives or could be frozen.  Since I’m buying more fresh vegetables and making smaller purchases, I’ve been to the grocery store at least three times just in the last week.  But I do feel better physically and mentally overall.

Been going to the chiropractor for three weeks.  My back is feeling better already.  I had a tailbone injury as a teenager that for years would flare up on occasion.  But even that has gone away.  I think the chiropractic routines are working.

It’s been an eventful last five to six weeks for my physical and mental health.  I’m still adapting to buying more fresh vegetables and foods with fewer preservatives.  I’m now having to read labels for everything I buy, not just for calorie content.  I don’t think many people realize just how many preservatives are in many supermarket foods, at least here in USA.  Regardless, healthier eating that doesn’t flare up food allergies can be done.  It takes more planning, but it can be done.  I’m still learning how to do this.  I’ll keep everyone posted.

 

Baby Steps In The Direction of Normal

A few changes have happened over the last couple days.  First I got my car back on Tuesday.  It wasn’t in the shop as long as I thought it would be.  As far as I can tell it drives just as well as before the accident.  The guys at the auto body shop did a top notch job.  I can’t tell any difference from the car body appearance.  My car was struck right on the passenger side front tire so I was afraid some engine damage would be done.  I was actually afraid the car would have to be completely totaled.  But once everything was done the car was fixed just as well before the accident.

I had my esophagus scoped as well on Tuesday.  After the doctor took a couple biopsies, he came to the conclusion that I have some inflammation that could possibly be caused by food allergies.  I can’t recall the name of the condition right off hand but it goes by the abbreviation of EoE.  You can Google EoE for more information.  As it looks right now, if these problems are caused by food allergies, I’ll have to severely reduce my intake of foods that contain wheat, corn, dairy products, and other foods known to promote allergic reactions.  I have known for a few years on days I don’t eat bread I feel better physically and mentally.  I haven’t drank milk or ate yogurt on a regular basis for years.  But it looks like I may be having to give up bread and most other foods with wheat.  Have to be reading labels much closer now.

I’m now two weeks into my chiropractic program.  Doing some at home exercises in addition to getting my back worked on in the office three days per week.  Looks like I’ll be doing this chiropractic routine well into the winter.

We got our first snow of the season yesterday.  Got at least five inches of snow after a steady rain.  It was tough navigating the streets in the snow as I had appointments for chiropractic and had to run other errands.  But we have at least four months of this ahead. The first snow is usually the one that catches everyone off guard.

Between the ongoing chiropractic therapy, getting my car back, getting my esophagus scoped, and adding two new medications as a result of the esophagus scope, it has been anything but an average week.  But getting my car back is a step in the right direction of my desire for a return to a sense of normal.

Getting My Car Back, Going Back To The Hospital, and Looking For A Sense Of Routine

It’s been a month since I went to the ER and the doctor found an ulcer forming in my stomach.  On Tuesday I go back to the hospital to get my stomach scoped again to see just exactly what is going on.  Between going to the chiropractor three times a week, going to my psych doctor once a month, my therapist every two weeks, it seems like I’m going to appointments every time I look up.  My routine for the last month has been go to appointments during the day and watch science and history programs on netflix and youtube for much of the night.

One change to my routine coming up is my car is fixed and ready to be claimed.  Had been driving a borrowed car for almost three weeks.  I actually got used to driving a different car.  Might be a bit of a change adapting back to my old car.  But it’ll be great getting back to some resemblance of routine.

I’m also getting into my late fall and winter diet and exercise routines.  I’m tracking everything I eat far more diligently.  I’m starting to exercise indoors.  The weather is still nice enough I only need a light jacket most days but it gets below freezing most nights.  Won’t be too long and we’ll be shoveling snow.  In Nebraska we usually get our first snow around Thanksgiving.  But we can also get several days of almost summer like warmth in mid to late November before winter finally takes over.  But with the warmest days behind us I have to exercise indoors most days until at least late March or early April.  I have struggled with my weight loss and health improvement routines this year.  Didn’t have nearly as much success in 2015 as I did in 2014.  But I’m not giving up on my health improvement routine.  I’m going to learn from this year’s mistakes and shortcomings and adapting.

Physical Therapy

Completed my first week of chiropractic therapy today.  One week down, eleven more to go.  The x-rays on my back show that my hip and shoulder are slightly out of alignment.  Same x-rays show I have little to no curve to my spine.  The doctor said that the car accident only made things on my lower back worse. In addition to going to the office three days a week, I do neck and back strengthening exercises at home every day.  Getting my back into proper working order is going to be another of my winter projects.

Next Tuesday I am getting my throat and stomach scoped again to see how bad my ulcer problem is.  So it looks like I’m going to be getting real familiar with hospitals and doctor’s offices in the coming weeks.  Talked to nurse this afternoon over the phone.  She took down essentailly my entire medical history.  After I get scoped, who knows where we go from there.  I’m not even sure how ulcers are treated.

Right now it is possible I might not get to settle into the routine I so desperately crave.  Nothing in my life has been routine since at least late spring.

Returning to a Sense of Normal and Projects for Winter

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The only constant is life always changes.  I’ve experienced enough change over the last several months to know that this isn’t just a meme or bumper sticker philosophy.  After a long period of flux, joy, and loss, my life has settled into a sense of routine only over the last few days.  From my visits to the chiropractor I’ve found that my back is slightly out of alignment but the bone structure is still sound.  I have a therapy regiment that will be ongoing for three months.  My car will be fixed within the next two to three weeks.  I don’t drive my loaner car much.  But I was driving my car less often than usual for the last several months anyway.  Besides going to my friend’s wedding and my grandmother’s funeral, I haven’t been outside of my town much.  I haven’t felt the need to go anywhere for the last few months.  I can do most of what I need without leaving city limits.  I admit that the accident has made me a less prone to go on unplanned trips.  I never noticed how many near misses most drivers have until recently.  If I didn’t have to drive I’m not sure I would anymore.  The self driving car is starting to look appealing to me 🙂

We are now in the latter half of autumn.  Most of the corn, wheat, and soybean harvests are done.  Most of the leaves are gone from the trees.  The weather has been getting cooler for several weeks.  It now drops below freezing most nights.  I turned on my heater for the first time last week.  It’s all reminders that winter is near.  Traditionally I have done well in the winters.  I actually do better in winter than late summer and early fall.

This winter, like most winters, I have a few projects for the cold and dreary days.  Last winter I studied for my ham radio license.  The winter before that I read a lot of philosophy books, namely Nietcheze and Plato.  One winter I wrote the rough draft of a truly lousy fiction novel.  That winter I learned I wrote better nonfiction.  One winter I wrote a bunch of essays about living with a mental illness that later started this blog.  This winter I’m going to listen to lots of audiobooks on youtube.

Another project for winter is to average one pound per week of weight loss.  I did this last winter because I kept track of everything I ate.  It was tough but worth it.  Unfortunately  I got side tracked during the course of summer and gained back 30 of the 70 pounds I lost.  I’m only now getting back into the healthy routine.  I hope that returning to a sense of normal after four months of flux and change can get me back on my lifestyle change project as autumn begins to fade to winter.