Career, Family, and Mental Illness

I always wanted to have a great career in the medical science field.  I loved hearing stories about scientists like Einstein, Curie, Pasteur, Edison, etc. even as a small child.  One of the earliest books I remember reading was about Louis Pasteur and his ideas about germs.  I wanted to make good discoveries that would benefit people.  I wasn’t so concerned about becoming rich as long as I was making a positive difference.

As much thought as I put into my future career as a child I didn’t put much thought into marriage and family.  I figured I’d probably follow the same path my parents and grandparents did, meet someone a couple years after finishing high school and get married a few years later.  But I ran into problems with the beginnings of my mental illness while still in high school.  It was my best friend who suggested that I may have a serious mental illness rather than traditional teenage moodiness.  Turns out she was right even back then.

Since I was struggling to figure out the nuances of my mental illness and trying to keep my grades up in college, I swore off dating entirely the last three years I was in college.  I probably could have dated some but I thought I needed to devout all my time and energy to getting through college and my outside reading.  I also didn’t feel right about burdening a woman with my mental health problems while I was trying to figure them out for myself.

I have had flare ups on family members and close friends.  They were painful for me and no doubt painful to those who were catching the force of my breakdowns.  I would much prefer to have a mental illness that would allow me to break down and uncontrollably sob and weep.  But my illness, being what it is, doesn’t allow that.  I haven’t cried in over ten years about anything, not even at my grandparents’ funerals.  Unfortunately the way my mind is wired I have breakdowns where I’ll yell at and curse even those I care about the most.  And I refuse to put a girlfriend or wife through that.  I especially refuse to have a psychotic breakdown around children.  My brother has four kids, aged twelve, nine, seven, and five.  I haven’t had a breakdown around them and I avoid them when I am feeling shaky.  I have had to not attend Thanksgiving and Easter in years past because I was fearful of having a breakdown around my brother’s or cousins’ kids.  As it is I am the uncle who treats the kids essentially the same way I do adults and joke around with them.  I don’t want to ruin that.

I don’t have a wife or girlfriend or kids because of my mental illness.  It’s bad enough dealing with it on my own.  I refuse to take my problems out on anyone else if it can be avoided.  I know myself well enough that I know I would be a bad and unstable husband and father because of my schizophrenia.  That’s why I won’t marry or even date.

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Thoughts on Employment and Education Options While On Disability

I live in a small town that hosts a small state university.  School began for the fall session earlier this week.  Even though I haven’t been enrolled as a student at any school for ten years…

Source: Thoughts on Employment and Education Options While On Disability

Budgeting While On Disability

A Life Of Mental Illness

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Bought groceries and supplies today.  So I’m set for another couple weeks even if it means the money is going to be tight for awhile.  Such is expected being on disability insurance and having limited funds to work with.  Being able to budget money is a skill everyone needs.  But it’s vitally important being on disability insurance.  Social Security Disability Insurance isn’t designed to make it’s recipients wealthy.  It is usually enough to get you by if you do a little planning and budgeting.

Every time I’m out shopping I hunt for sales and discounts.  I also have a rewards card (not a credit card) through one of the regional grocery store chains that gives discounts on gasoline purchases.  I have planned to where I usually get a 50 cent per gallon discount when I buy fuel.  As I don’t have a SUV or a pickup truck I can usually…

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Dog Days of Summer and Mental Illness

Been feeling pretty decent mentally for the last several weeks.  I haven’t really felt much anxiety or aggravation this month.  I am back exercising again.  Still have a long way to go to build up my stamina.  But it is better than even two weeks ago.  I am starting to get out of my apartment complex more often.  I haven’t been to the park much this summer but I am beginning to get over my fear of driving.  It’s been quite hot in my town this summer, especially this month.  So far the heat isn’t effecting my mood.  I usually do better in colder weather than hot weather.  Winter and spring are usually my best times of year.

Heard back on my insurance claim from my auto accident last October.  They’re offering to cover my medical expenses and give a little extra for my troubles.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the money as I already live debt free and really wasn’t planning on getting anything extra.  I’ll probably put the money into my savings.  When my car was wrecked, the auto shop had to do a few thousand dollars worth of work on the car.  It was almost as much as the resale value of the car.  If the airbags would have deployed or the damage much worse, the car would have been scrapped.  It’s a good car with only 42,000 miles and only one previous owner.  It was a commuter car for a nurse who took good care of it.  It’s a good car and hopefully I can hold onto it for the next ten years.

It won’t be too long before the weather starts cooling off and school starts again.  School starts in 3 1/2 weeks in my town.  Since I live in a college town, this town really comes to life again in the autumn.  I went to the community open house at the local state university last year.  Had enough fun I might go again this year.  I haven’t done much for socializing or fun this summer.  My nephews and niece are visiting their grandparents next week so we’re talking about taking the kids to a museum and for a picnic lunch in my town when they are here.  It’s their last fling before school starts.  The oldest is starting middle school this year.  And the youngest will probably start pre kindergarten this year as well.

The Olympics start next week too.  I always enjoy those.  I especially like watching the track and field events.  I hope it goes off without any problems.  I really haven’t watched much for tv or sporting events since the end of the Copa America and Euro tournaments.  I especially had to watch when Team USA played.  Other than getting blown out by Argentina the US team put up a better showing than I thought they would.  It would go a long way to popularizing soccer in the US if they put up a good showing at the World Cup in a couple years.  I follow soccer some, especially if Team USA is playing, because I have a niece and a nephew who are big soccer players already.  And I have to keep reminding myself that unlike football or baseball, soccer doesn’t have tv timeouts every fifteen minutes.  More than once I have had to visit the restroom while watching a game only to miss a goal.

The weather will start turning cooler within four to six weeks.  The leaves will start turning by late September and the corn harvest will begin in late September and be in full speed by October.  This has been a long summer for me but it is almost over.  I’m pretty happy that I have gotten through much of the summer without any prolonged problems.

Recovering Doom Junkie

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Rarely can you turn on your tv or log onto your internet without seeing some piece of bad news.  Any given day you can hear about some mass shooting, some terrorist attack, or some natural disaster.  Yet we rarely pay attention when something really good happens.  Whenever we get poor customer service we usually get upset with the company and feel free to tell all of our friends and coworkers.  But the vast majority of the time we received good or even great service, it’s nothing but silence.

I don’t think it’s ingratitude that cause people to pay no attention to good things and good news.  It’s how we are wired.  We are much more likely to pay attention to bad news than good.  It served us well when we were still prehistoric hunter gatherers trying to forge a living in an unforgiving environments.  Not so much anymore.  We make little note of the facts that we are much less likely to suffer violence in our lives or cheated in business.  We pay more attention to these facts because we hear about every murder and every foul business practice. ‘If it bleeds, it leads’ is still true today.  And I am convinced constantly paying attention to these needless fears and anxieties are not good for our mental health.

I had to consciously stop watching the news because I knew that everything that is going on is not being equally reported.  About all I have heard on my news feeds for a year now was election this and election that.  Seriously?  That’s the only thing that matters in our world for the last year?  You have got to be joking.  We’re sending probes all over our solar system, just finished digging a huge tunnel under the Swiss and French Alps, are testing medications that could severely slow down degenerative brain diseases, the Olympics are starting in early August, the Chinese are about finished building the largest radio telescope in history, Nicaruaga is building a canal to compete with the Panama Canal, we’re testing vaccines for HIV, and we’re discovering new exoplanets all the time.  And that is just a short list.  We are living in really cool times and the media isn’t even covering most of the good stuff.  All the news that’s fit to print, right.

People wonder why I haven’t watched cable news in almost ten years.  I have enough going on in my own life and I see enough cool stuff going on through non traditional and specialized media sources to pay attention to the cable news dinosaurs.  I really don’t know anyone under the age of 40 who watches cable news on a regular basis.  My brother and most of my friends don’t even have cable or satellite tv.  I wouldn’t have it except I get it with my apartment.  All I watch on traditional tv is live sporting events.  Cable news companies, if you want to quit losing your audiences try reporting something other than calamity and politics.  Some of us actually want an easy source to find out about science and tech advances and humanitarian efforts.  The latest violence and the politician who got busted in a scandal doesn’t matter to most people.  It certainly doesn’t matter to me anymore.  That’s why I’m no longer a viewer.  And that has gone a long way in helping me manage my depression and anxiety problems.

 

Reading, Learning, Advances, and Hope

Ever since I changed medications back in March I gradually started reading more.  For several months before I changed my psych medications I had little interest in reading.  I had gotten rid of some of my books.  I still had several hundred ebooks and I kept my books I wanted to reread.  But I hadn’t been reading much for a long time.  I had just lost interest in reading.  I was watching a lot of educational videos on youtube and netflix.

Now it was quite unusual for me to lose interest in reading.  I have known how to read even from my earliest memories.  I didn’t have to be encouraged to read as the village library was a second home to me.  While most of the neighborhood kids were playing basketball or throwing around the football during our summer afternoons, I was spending my time at the library.  I never really did like fantasy books or get too much into fiction.  But I absolutely loved books about different animals, different plants, different nations, and the high achievers of history.  Reading so much nonfiction during my summers off from school really helped me in my classes once school started.  Sometimes I would read ahead in the textbooks because I wanted to know what would be covered next.  I read ahead especially in science and history books.  I didn’t have to be encouraged to read.  I had to be forced to put down the books and get physical activity with the neighborhood kids from even an early age.

I read because I thought learning something new was entertainment.  It actually makes me feel good physically to learn new things.  Reading a good book and learning new ideas gives me a high that no booze, money, or woman could possibly give me.  I know I’m weird for loving learning, at least I’m weird in my culture.  But I certainly wouldn’t want to ever be where I couldn’t read.  That’s why I would prefer to go hard of hearing rather than lose my eye site.  It’s sad that not very many people continue their education after high school or college.  For me that’s when my self education really took off.  I’ve learned more history, economics, philosophy, biology, chemistry, and literature since graduating college than I did when I was in school.  Being in school laid the foundation but my love of reading took it to levels that not many achieve on their own.  I would rather read a book than go to a nightclub.  I have always been that way.

I know some people think they were born in the wrong era and would have been happier in medieval times or in the old west.  I don’t look to the past like that even though history was one of my best subjects in high school.  Part of me wonders at what excellent things my five year old nephew will see in his lifetime should he live to be in his late nineties like my grandmother.  I think about some of the changes she saw just in her lifetime.  She went from being in awe of Henry Ford’s automobile to having a Facebook account that she used to keep up with friends and family.  She didn’t even have indoor plumbing in her house until after she was married.  My grandfather used to trade in his car after it had over 50,000 miles because it was wearing out.  Now a car can last much longer even with minimal maintenance.  My five year old nephew will never know a world before the internet or basic automation.  He will never know a world where we didn’t know the human genome.  He will probably never own a music CD.  If self driving cars gain wide spread acceptance, he might not even need to own a car or even have a driver’s license.  I can’t imagine what he will see in his lifetime, let alone his children’s lifetime.  For me things have gotten really interesting just in the last twenty five years.  I wouldn’t want to live in the past.  I would be even more ridiculed in the old west because of my reading.  I would have been burned at the stake as a heretic in medieval times.  I would have been a terrible hunter in the Ice Ages.  My only hope then would have to become the tribal medicine man providing I didn’t kill myself from doing experiments with poisoned plants and mushrooms.  In short I love learning and seeing advances.  I love seeing the advances I have seen just since I was old enough to pay attention thirty years ago.  I can hardly wait to see what advances come by the time even I’m an old man.  It’s things like these advances and seeing people becoming less accepting of violence, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty that give me hope for the future of my species.

 

Exercise and Depression

It’s been a little over a week since I started tracking what I eat and exercising every day.  It took some adjusting but I am finding myself eating less and getting more physical activity after only one week.  It was cool enough today I was able to walk outside after dinner.  I’m still out of shape compared to where I was one year ago but I am making progress.  I definitely got rusty and out of practice during the weeks I was limited because of my back.  I’m beginning to get back on track with my exercise again.  It feels like an uphill battle as I have been forced to be inactive since late spring.  But I have won battles like this before and I can do so again.

I’m beginning to spend more time outside of the complex again.  I chatted with some of my neighbors this afternoon while avoiding the grouches.  It can be kind of tough avoiding grouchy people in the tight quarters my complex offers but it can be done.

Some things I have found myself doing these last several days is avoiding sugar and eating more vegetables.  I still get cravings for carbohydrates but I have met this need by adding more rice to my diet.  I cook most of my own meals and I have found I feel more clear and less depressed on days I don’t eat lots of wheat or fast food.  I still like the occasional delivery pizza but I have found I’m not as weighed down and bloated if I order the thin crust pizza as opposed to traditional.  I still get upset stomach and feelings of lethargy when I eat lots of breads or pastas.  So I wouldn’t be much fun dining at a high end Italian restaurant 🙂  I haven’t had much soda pop over the last several days.  I think I’ve had only two diet sodas in the last ten days.  I still get caffeine in the form of coffee and iced tea.  I guess caffeine is one of my guilty vices.  But I do feel mentally less irritable and less sluggish on days I don’t drink soda pop, even diet soda pop.  I really can’t drink too much regular soda pop because of too much sugar.  I do like Mexican Coca Cola when I go to Mexican restaurants though.  But that is only a rare treat.

I have spent most of the summer more inactive than I would have liked.  As a result I have gained some weight and lost a lot of my stamina.  But things are starting to come back after a week of exercise and better diet.

 

Optimism, Delusional Thinking, and Schizophrenia

Optimism and schizophrenia are two things that normally wouldn’t go together.  Few who suffer from this mental illness would tell anyone that their hallucinations and delusional thoughts are conducive to optimism.  Most of my personal hallucinations are voices telling me all the things I’m doing wrong or how I’m angering the people in my life.  Fortunately for me my hallucinations aren’t usually loud or overbearing.  They are often whispers or low volume, much like the play by play commentary of a ballgame on television.  My hallucinations have never told me to hurt anyone or myself.  So for that alone I can be optimistic that my schizophrenia is manageable.  It does cause me irritation and anxiety that the voices are almost always there.  But, in my case, the paranoia has to be the worst.

I have had issues with paranoia even before I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I didn’t keep journals or do any writing on my own when I was growing up because I saw my brother reading the journal I kept one summer while in junior high.  I was afraid to record my thoughts as I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door and my parents often entered my bedroom when I wasn’t there.  Once when I was in junior high I lost over $60 in birthday money.  For years I was convinced my brother stole it.  I never confronted him about it because I was paranoid the problems it would cause would be even worse than suffering in silence.  I was paranoid enough to believe my parents wouldn’t take my side in the argument and I still wouldn’t get my money back.  To this day I never found that money nor have I ever confronted my brother to see if he took that money.  I don’t know if he did or not and probably doesn’t remember it anyway.  My paranoias involve fearing people are going through my trash, people are listening in on my phone conversations, that I’m being watched every time I step out in public, etc.

I could have worse delusions.  I met some schizophrenic when I was a guest speaker at the state mental hospital that was convinced people were trying to poison his food.  I met another mentally ill man one time when I was in hospital that was convinced he was going to prison for a minor offense and wanted to hang himself.  He was on suicide watch and that was scary seeing someone that distressed.  I have met people who had great careers and families and lost them both once their mental illness took full effect later in life than mine started.  In my case my problems started in my late teens and for years I was under the delusion that I would overcome my illness and still go on to have the career and family I had dreamed about since I was five years old.

I realized I was having problems that weren’t going away on their own when I was a junior in high school.  I didn’t think much of my problems at first because most teenagers I knew were often moody and mean. It was when it was constant and interfering with my school work and activities that I decided to self medicate.  I didn’t turn to marijuana or alcohol, I turned to herbal remedies.  A friend of mine who had a rather unhealthy distrust of modern medicine recommend I try things like St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, multivitamins, and fish oil pills.  I try numerous combinations of these for two years with no noticeable effect.  Non modern medicines may work for some cases but my case wasn’t one of those.  I may have been delusional enough to believe I could treat my mysterious problems on my own.  But I have to be optimistic that I wasn’t delusional enough to believe that modern medicine was ineffective and some elaborate conspiracy.  Some people I know are delusional enough to believe that even without schizophrenia.

Some people I met were religious people who believed that I needed to pray more and be more faithful to God.  I was already the most knowledgeable student in my Sunday school classes since I was four years old.  I read the Bible almost daily to where I had read the entire book at least a few times.  I was more faithful to the teachings of the Bible than most people three to five times my age as a teenager.  For a short while in junior high I even thought about the ministry as a career.  But none of the prayers eased my anguish or calmed my delusions and fears.  Even though I went to a Christian college I was attending church maybe only two to three times a month.  I got to where I was aggravated watching people I knew who didn’t take religion as seriously as I did just seemingly coast through college and life.  I was thinking, ‘Alright God, what are they doing that I’m not.’

Finally a couple years after college I stopped going to church entirely.  It wasn’t because I was mad at any one person, but because it no longer made sense to invest that much into something that had no results.  None of the prayers or Bible studies did anything to alleviate my delusions or allow me to cope with my paranoias.  It just got to where it seemed senseless, unproductive, and even delusional.  I don’t know if God exits or not.  But I do know if the only thing keeping someone from hurting and abusing others is fearing God, than that person is indeed a sorry excuse for a human being.  I do find it just lucky that of all the thousands of beliefs that existed all over the world and throughout history that I happened to be born into the one that was most approved by God.  If I was born in India I would have been a devout Hindu.  If I was born in ancient Egypt, I would have been all for Osiris and Horus and regarded the Pharaoh as a god.  So it just gradually came to me the idea of burning in hell for all eternity just for the crime of being born into the wrong religion, wrong time, and wrong culture was delusional.  Most of my friends won’t agree with me but let them.  I won’t convince them that if there is a God that God is indifferent (that’s what the evidence I’ve seen so far convinces me).  And they won’t convince me that God will send someone to hell for losing the guessing game of picking the right religion.

As far as delusional thought goes, I am open to the possibility I could be wrong on anything.  I never got the memo that said I had to form my philosophy on life by my early twenties.  I am also not delusional enough to defend an idea I have that is being proven wrong.  Even though I am schizophrenic I have to be thankful that I don’t have the delusions of defending an idea I know to be off base.

 

Thoughts on Late Summer and My Life’s Work

The time between July 1st and middle September has traditionally been the toughest time of year for me.  I can expect at least one major psychotic break during this time of year every year.  That is the way it has been ever since I was diagnosed with a mental illness in 2000.  The first time my parents witnessed me having a psychotic breakdown was in the summer of 2000.  I committed myself to a mental hospital in September 2006 and again in September 2013.  I had a bad breakdown in August 2014 when I almost committed myself.  If it would have went on for another two hours I would have gone to the hospital.  Late summers have been tough for me my entire adult life.

It’s not uncommon for people with mental health issues to have times of year that are tougher for them than usual.  Many people often feel depressed and sad during the darker winter months.  But my toughest times have always been during the late summers, usually around the time the school year starts.  Where I went to school, we usually started the third week of August rather than wait until early September.  My therapist has suggested maybe the idea of school starting again brings me added anxiety and aggravation.

I really didn’t enjoy school that much even back in grade school.  I hated the social aspects of school from about second grade on.  And sometimes I was bored in class because much of what was covered I had read on my own already.  I was not popular at all in school.  I was essentially the non athlete who was not socially savy enough to hide the fact that he was smart.  I got a real hard time for years because I didn’t like sports and I loved reading.  The close friends I had experienced the same thing.  Since I went to a really small school, I just couldn’t hide out with other nerdy kids.  As a result I never developed traditionally nerdy interests.  I have never bought a comic book. The only real science fiction I like is Star Trek.  I don’t like fantasy novels and movies.  I never played Dungeons and Dragons.  I can’t program or build computers.  I wasn’t socially savy enough to fake interest in popular culture and sports.  I played football only because I was big.  If I wasn’t 6’2″ and 270 pounds  I would have never made the team.  I was usually the slowest man on the team and I couldn’t even bench press my own body weight.

Besides my best friend (who was female) I didn’t date much in high school.  There were rumors that I was homosexual because I did so poorly at dating.  It wasn’t a matter of not getting a second date, it was a matter of not even getting a first one.  Needless to say all of this effected my outlook and probably my personality.  One of the reasons I went to a college where no one from my high school attended was so I could rebuild and start over.  Even though I was going through the worst of my mental illness in college, it was far more bearable socially because I wasn’t the only odd man on campus.  I was in an environment for once in my life I wasn’t penalized for being smart.  I met some people so smart even I couldn’t keep up with them.  I also met people who were C average students in high school suddenly pulling all A’s because they had a purpose for once in their lives.  I met people even quirkier and eccentric than I.  I still didn’t date much but years later I found out there were a few women who wanted me to ask them out.  Had I not been so badly burned in junior high and high school, I might have picked up that these women were interested in me.

As it is now, at age 36, I have lost all interest in dating.  I am more focused on blogging, reading, learning, and my other pet projects.  Having talked to older men in my life, I have found that many of them started having less interest in sex and chasing women and became more focused on their work and outside interests about the time they hit their early to mid 30s.  That’s about right for me.  I started getting really interested in writing for public consumption and became cool with the fact I didn’t have to date or get married about five years ago. In my twenties I was distraught that I wasn’t getting a lot of dates or was attractive to women.  I readily admit I am not attractive.  I look like a cross between Shrek and Tony Soprano 🙂  Never have been  handsome and never will be.  But I’m all right with it.  I’ve accepted while I’ll never get married and have kids, it’s okay.  I’m cool with it.  I’ll throw my efforts into blogging, writing, reading, researching, learning, being a good friend, being a good uncle to my niece and three nephews, being a trustworthy son to my now elderly parents, and becoming the best Skyrim and Civilization player I can possibly be.

I kind of want to be a Most Interesting Man even though I’m not classically handsome or a world traveller.  I may have not travelled the world outside of USA and Mexico, but my writings certainly have.  Earlier this month I added up how many nations I’ve had readers from and it’s around 90 different countries where I’ve had at least one reader.  My parents as health care providers can’t claim to have treated people in that many countries.  My brother the engineer can’t claim to have designed projects in that many. And that’s in only three years, two hundred blog posts, and about $100 in advertising.  Long live the internet.  If I thought I was photogenic at all I’d start a youtube site.  Maybe I could just do voice overs and feature my friends’ artwork 🙂 It’s a few ideas worth kicking around.