Another thing my schizophrenic mind hates is politics. I will not under any circumstances discuss my opinions about politics with anyone outside of a couple family members and my two best friends. For one, I’m open to the possibility I could be way off. Two, I consciously know I am only one vote among millions so I don’t feel like I am completely in charge of the whole political process. I don’t have delusions of grandeur in that regard. And third, I have nothing but complete loathing and absolute hatred for how continuous and nasty the whole topic has become in recent years even among close friends. And every time I turn on my tv or log onto Facebook, that’s the main thing I see on the news or in my newsfeed. I have unfollowed dozens of friends and family members because I don’t want to hear about politics anymore. I unfollowed people I agree with even. I don’t want to hear about anyone’s politics any more than an atheist wants to hear about your relationship with God. I unfollowed these friends and avoid news channels because I don’t need that level of confirmation bias and headaches. No, I don’t have it all figured out even though I am 35 years old. I missed that memo that said I had to have all my opinions and beliefs for life formed by age 21. I’m open to changing my beliefs. I don’t identify myself with how I voted in the last election. And I am absolutely sickened by how no one wants to compromise on anything and how much everyone fights over the pettiest nonsense. Politics is a religion for far too many people. I am more than my vote. I am more than my opinions. And I will be glad when the mass insanity of the election is over. I have enough stress and tension in my schizophrenic mind. I don’t need to deal with nonsense that I as one person can’t do anything about. I’m convinced that normal people are more insane than I am, at least when it comes to politics.
As I am now well into the process of changing medications, I’m noticing changes in my behavior and habits. Most of these are good problems to have but they do take adapting to none the less. I have noticed I now feel lonely more often. On my old medications I could gladly go days on end without interacting with anyone in a meaningful way. I used to avoid contact with other people as much as possible. In my paranoid and delusional states I used to think that most people were stupid, malicious, and not worth spending time with. And the hallucinations, when my mind would talk to me without my permission (that’s what my auditory hallucinations are), would just go over all the times when I was let down by other people’s thoughtlessness and slights. It was massive doses of confirmation bias by means of my schizophrenic mind.
When the hallucinations (or my mind working without my permission) gets into working like that, it takes a lot of work to break out of that. Sometimes it will just burn itself out. Other times it can lead to completely unrelated trains of thought that have no connection in reality but are interconnected and related in my schizophrenic mind. This can lead to extremely bizarre thought patterns and behaviors on my part. When I was in college I used to believe that people were going through my trash or watching me at all times. Once I did see another student going through the dumpster, so that was all the confirmation I needed for a real long time. This lead me to throwing my trash in the Wal Mart dumpsters on the other side of town and doing all of my shopping in the overnight hours. The thought that it was a coincidence was never entertained by the hallucinations.
Confirmation bias can be really nasty for someone with schizophrenia, especially for those with unhealthy and crippling levels of paranoia. I shopped in the overnight hours for years to avoid being watched. I always listened to my music with headphones so no one could listen in my music. I still really don’t feel comfortable talking about my tastes in music for fear people will be excessively critical of my tastes.
I’ve now been working through medication changes for over three weeks. I see my psych doctor again next week to see if there are any other adjustments that need to be made. With the newer setup I am noticing changes that are requiring adjustments to the life I had carved out for myself over the previous two to three years.
I now don’t need as much sleep. Most nights I can get by on six to seven hours and I’m more likely to sleep through an entire night. I used to wake up at least once in the middle of the night every night. Even before I became mentally ill I didn’t sleep all the way through a night. While I am a little slower to get going in the morning I have no other problems with my morning routine.
I read much more again. For over a year the books on my shelf were gathering dust simply because I wasn’t reading. For me not to read means something isn’t right. I haven’t ever needed encouragement to read. Instead I had to be encouraged to put down the book and socialize. But I ordered three books through amazon this month and read one of them already. I have read parts of several other books too in the last few weeks. For months before this current medication change I would do only audiobooks or educational programs on youtube. But I’m getting to where I want to read again. I even went to the library today for the first time in almost a year. Kind of odd being a writer and not spending time in a library, but that was my reality for most of the last year.
I’m even watching more tv but playing fewer computer games. Normally I wouldn’t celebrate watching tv. But for months I found most tv mind numbing and stupid. I found it so annoying I couldn’t stand to have it on even as background noise. I still find most tv shows dumb but I don’t find them irritating. I still haven’t brought myself to try to watch cable news. But the press only presents bad news because that is what we as humans are drawn toward. I think we pay more attention to bad news or threats because it is hard wired into our genes. I don’t watch the news, haven’t for years. If there is anything I really need to know I’m going to find out, cable news or not. Besides almost no one I know under age 40 gets their news from traditional sources.
I’m to where I actually want to socialize again. I am finding myself leaving my apartment more often during the day and for longer periods of time. I have found a writers’ group that meets twice a month at my local library. I’ll go check that out next week. I’m even toying with the thoughts of getting involved in my old writers’ group and mental illness support group again. I haven’t been involved in either one for two years so most of those contacts are rusty and dusty. But I don’t suppose it would take too much to get back in.
I’m also on the lookout for writers’ conventions in my home state. I used to belong to the Nebraska Writers’ Guild. But I let that membership lapse about two years ago. Looking back on things, it seems like most my socializing and extra activities fell apart around two to three years ago. I had my last round of medications changes in early 2014. The meds I went on then may have helped me lose weight but I lost a lot of social skills and mental stability.
I have not worked on a regular basis for a few years. I’ve done jobs for the family and temporary work but nothing I had to regularly go in for awhile. At this point in my life my confidence in my ability to do good work and navigate workplace politics is gone. If I could navigate the workplace I would be open to going back to work fifteen to twenty hours a week. It is definitely a blow to your pride and ego to know you did extremely well in school only to get mental illness that won’t allow you to hold even a minimum wage job. I wouldn’t mind going back to work if I thought I could handle it mentally. It does get boring at times not having a routine and not feeling connected to anything. That is why I have zero patience for any one who complains about their job. Not having a job is worse than having a bad one and not being able to support yourself is even worse.
I actually get bored not having anywhere to go and not having many friends nearby. I didn’t used to get this way for months. There would be days I was just content to not leave my apartment at all, especially in the winter. But I actually want to socialize and be out among people again. I might even have to go to the movies again just to be among large groups of people again. I have almost forgotten what that was like.
Being more easily bored, wanting to socialize, wanting to join a writers’ group, reading a lot more, and even toying with the thought of finding a part time job are some of the changes I am trying to manage after three weeks of a medications change. These are adjustments to my previous lifestyle and they are good adjustments to have to make.
I am now three weeks into a medications change. I have been completely cycled off one of my old medications and onto another. And of course different medications have different side effects and issues. One issue with my new meds set up is that I don’t fall asleep as quickly. My old set up used to make me sleepy quite fast. Not so with this new set up. So it’s no longer like I can drink caffeine in the evenings and still fall asleep at a reasonable time. So I am adjusting to no caffeine after about five p.m. or I’ll be awake all night.
Another change to my habits is that I now actually get frustrated by the lack of opportunities to socialize in my apartment complex. I used to just exercise in the late mornings and then spend the rest of the day often not socializing at all. I found a lot of socializing in the past boring because many people just aren’t that interesting. How much can you seriously discuss the weather or the problems with your neighbors and job before you’ve said it all before? I miss the older and interesting friends I had who were able to talk about things I was interested in. Now many people in my complex are just old, irritable, and uninteresting. I would love to socialize more but where am I going to get the social interaction humans need? I can’t really work anymore because of the mental illness. I really can’t volunteer because who really takes on single men in their thirties as volunteers? Seems to me most volunteers are retirees in their seventies and housewives. People already look at me like I’m a freak. I simply won’t go back to church. The churches I’ve been involved in don’t take kindly to singles over twenty five. Besides I do not believe that God (if there is one) is interested in human affairs or at all concerned about human suffering. I can’t take part in anything I don’t believe in just to make friends and look good. Really, what are good options for single men to socialize outside of work? Does anyone even care?
Not being able to fall asleep quickly and the frustrations I face because I want to socialize now are the two biggest drawbacks to my having switched medications. I imagine others may crop up eventually. But so far most things are looking alright.
It’s now been two weeks since I started the process of medication changes. I will go off one med entirely starting tomorrow. I’ve already noticed positive changes in my moods and mental states. I don’t get as easily irritated and I seem to deal slightly better with stressors. I have a stronger want to get out of my apartment and do things other than blog and mess with computers. I even found myself looking through the job postings of my local newspaper just to see what was out there. While I don’t believe I’m stable enough to hold employment, I have found myself kind of bored with the life I had carved out for myself over the last two to three years.
I find myself wanting to socialize now outside of close friends and family members now. To this end I talk more to tenants in my complex and participate more in online discussion forms. I didn’t realize until the last few days just how bad I had let my socializing fall apart over the last year or so. I actually feel bad now that I haven’t been socializing. Yes I have gone from being irritated and annoyed by most people to now actually wanting to be around people more often. I doubt I’ll ever become Mr. Social Hour as I have been an introvert my entire life. But I do enjoy people watching at the park and the mall.
I haven’t been as active as I would have liked. But I hope that’s mainly because of chillier weather the last several days. I don’t think I eat any more than I did previously with exception to the first few days of the change over. I don’t crave sugar all the time now. Hopefully that was a passing thing as I was adapting to different medications. But I haven’t had much for auditory hallucinations nor have I had much for paranoia the last few days. I’m not even that bothered by driving any more, at least not as much. I don’t get overly irritated if someone is driving too slow or not following standard road etiquette.
And there are some things that haven’t changed that much. I still don’t watch that much traditional tv, especially not the news. The news I usually get from online sources. In fact, most of my tv watching besides live sports is online. I will watch some baseball most days or at least have it on in the background while I’m doing something else. And I’m involved in the same fantasy baseball league I’ve been with for the last several years. It’s a free online league of myself, a few college friends, and several friends of friends. But just because it’s a free league doesn’t mean it’s not competitive. It makes me watch games almost everyday and pay attention at least ten minutes a day to my team.
I see my psych doctor tomorrow to discuss the next phase of my treatments. We could be going anywhere from here. But I know we won’t keep doing what we have been for the last several months. I can hardly wait to see where we go from here.
It’s been one week since I started the medications change. I’m noticing big differences already. For one, I make it a point to leave my apartment multiple times a day whereas I may have left only once or twice a day if at all. Not only am I getting out more, I actually want to get out more. Driving doesn’t cause me as much agitation now, so it’s easier to get across town. Been to the park most days this last week.
I am more motivated and less lazy too it seems. Finally shaved my winter beard. I looked more like a mad prophet than a mountaineer with my growth. I never looked good with beards. I rearranged my apartment. I even find myself watching baseball every night, especially since the season started a few days ago. I used to go weeks without watching regular tv as I thought it was mind numbing and soul killing. I still think most tv is mind numbingly stupid but I no longer swear off it entirely.
The only real negative I have seen is that I do get hungry more frequently. Used to be I could eat a large breakfast, a small afternoon snack, and a decent dinner and that is all I would need for the day. Now I have eat smaller meals every five hours it seems. I’ve also developed a bad craving for sugary food. This may make my weight loss tougher but then I have always been a naturally very large person. I was one of these heavy kids in high school and college who had a lot of muscle in addition to being a little fat, so I looked a lot better than my measurements would have indicated. I have had female friends for years tell me I was handsome despite how big I am. I never put much stock in it until I hit my thirties because, really, how many teenagers and twenty somethings are satisfied with their looks even on a good day? I guess my sugar cravings have replaced my cravings for caffeine. I have drank maybe three cups of coffee in the last week. I used to drink that many before noon most days. I don’t have problems with blood pressure or cholesterol, at least not enough to be on medications. But maybe my decreased want of caffeine will lower my blood pressure and reduce my anxiety level.
It has been an eye opening first week of a medication change. I normally don’t experience this many changes this soon when switching medications. But I hope the positive changes keep coming and the negative ones can be compensated for.
I started the process of changing to new medications a few days ago. And I’m noticing some changes already. I have found I actually need a little less sleep now. Used to be I got 8 hours a night like clock work, now I need only 6 to 7 hours. I have even been making a point to get out of my complex more. Went to the park for an hour and chatted with a bunch of neighbors on Saturday. Found out three tenants are moving out within a month. One of those tenants was the grumpiest and angriest man I ever met in my entire life. I mentioned him in a previous blog. He’s one of these old guys who doesn’t believe in mental illness. He believed that people like me were just making these problems up because we “are lazy and don’t want to do any real work.” I hate people like that. Guys like that are petty people and just have to make everyone else miserable. Needless to say I won’t miss this ornery old man. His impending departure was the happiest news I have heard in weeks.
Got out quite a bit today. It was quite warm here today, more like late spring than early spring. Currently have a baseball game on in the back ground. I enjoy watching baseball. It is more relaxing than football, that’s why I enjoy it more. I’ve been out more the last few days than the previous two weeks. In addition to wanting to get out and about more I’ve been wanting to socialize more. I actually felt lonely today for the first time in months. I previously haven’t minded the solitude and have actually wanted it. But now I’m starting to actually want to socialize.
I’ve been listening to more music too. Found out I like some of the newer dance, techno, and dubstep music. Normally an older guy like myself would like only music they grew up with. But I have never cared about when music was made. Good music is good music, I don’t care if it’s Mozart, Louis Armstrong, old Delta Blues, John Lennon, hard rock, hip hop, or techno. I never did like these old guys who always complained about the “lousy kids.” So I vowed at age thirteen that when I became an old guy myself, I’d go easier on the kids than my elders did. Been watching a little more tv too. I’ve been watching ‘Marco Polo’ on Netflix. If you are turned off by violent shows, I don’t recommend it. But it is a cool show about how different cultures interact with each other. Another series with similar themes I’ve been rematching is ‘Hell on Wheels’, which is about the building of the first transcontinental railroad in America immediately after the Civil War. I still watch ‘Star Trek’ every so often. But with wanting to socialize outside my apartment more, I may be finding myself with less down time. And that would definitely be a change.
Saw my psych doctor a few days ago. We agreed that a change in medications is in order. Neither one of us think the meds I was on for the last two years are as effective as they once were. He had me do a DNA cheek swab to be tested to see what medications would be effective given my DNA. The results will be in probably by the time I see him again in two weeks. The tests may not be perfect but they should give us a better idea of what will and won’t work. But these tests weren’t even around when I was diagnosed fifteen years ago. For most of my illness we were merely throwing darts in the dark hoping to hit on something that would work. We were just guessing, especially in the first year. For now I am starting the process of switching back to one of my previous medications. I was on that med for several years but wanted to switch because it was known to promote weight gain. But it sure was effective. It’s too bad I let the side effects sabotage my previous attempts at weight loss. Looking back, I think I used the side effect as an excuse not to be serious about my health.
In spite my recent mental health problems I managed to lose over twelve pounds in the first month of tracking my eating and exercising. I’m seeing now that keeping track of what I eat is the difference between losing weight and gaining weight. I was simply unaware of how much I really ate when I wasn’t tracking. I am one of these people who would sometime eat just out of boredom. But that has changed. For my diet I cook almost all of my meals and I severely limit carbs. I don’t even keep bread in the apartment anymore, haven’t for almost six months. The weight loss has been the bright spot of this last month. And I haven’t been crazy about my exercising. I usually just walk twenty minutes a day probably five or six days a week. I intend to keep this up even while changing medications.