Found out I’m getting my new carpet in the apartment next week. I have started rearranging and cleaning my apartment so the work can go faster. I still have another day or two of work before the place is ready to go when the work crew gets here. I imagine I’ll have to vacate my apartment for a day or two while work is being done. But I have needed new carpet for years. Hopefully this can get done quickly.
I am now completely adjusted to my new medications after being on the new plan for four months. I definitely feel a positive change in my mental health. I am slower to anger and less apt to fall into depression. I have fewer hallucinations. The only time I have hallucinations is when I’m under high stress. I don’t just go out and wander nearly as much as I used to. While I am doing better mentally I did gain a lot of weight after hurting my back. Too little activity and too much comfort food. Since my back finally healed up a month ago I have recommitted to eating healthier and getting more exercise. I have given up sugared drinks and most unhealthy eating out. When I do eat out, it’s usually sub sandwiches or wraps at a deli. I’m still rebuilding my stamina after two months of inactivity. It is a slow and frustrating process. When I was rearranging my apartment I had to take more breaks than I am used to. It’s going to take a long time to get back to where I was before my car accident I think.
Speaking of car accident, I got my settlement from the accident a few days ago. I put most of it into savings as I pretty much already have most of what I want. I did buy some used books from amazon. They were some books I had my eyes on for awhile but was waiting until the settlement cleared. These will be my fall reading. I got lazy about reading when my back was hurting. I’m only now starting to get back into the reading routine. My car is still running well even though I still don’t drive as much. I guess since I became more content with my life and what I already have, I haven’t felt the need to go a lot of places and spend a lot of money. Buying books on amazon is the most frivolous purchase I have made in months. I just no longer feel the need to own a lot of things. I’ve been a minimalist for probably two years. It certainly makes it easier to clean my apartment and keep track of things. I am glad to no longer have to deal with clutter and junk. I refuse to be like those people on ‘Hoarders.’
This month of August has involved tying up loose ends and resolving long standing problems. I’m scheduled to get my carpet and blinds replaced. I got my settlement from the car accident. My back is healed. I’m back to exercising and eating healthier. I made it through the hottest parts of summer with fewer mental health problems than previous years. I’m adjusted to my new psych medications. I’m back to contacting my friends and family more often. I’m making a regular thing out of this blog. I’m thankful for the messages I get from you readers. I know I’m not always diligent about responding to everyone who writes to me. But thank you everyone who has read this blog and thank you everyone for the words of encouragement. Maybe I am making a positive difference with this blog.
Been feeling pretty good for the last few weeks. I haven’t had my traditional summer break down. Hopefully I can get through the next couple weeks without any issues. I usually start feeling better in early September with the passing of the warmest weather of summer. I never have dealt well with the heat of summer. I had problems with summer heat even before I had a mental illness diagnosis. I have always enjoyed winter and spring more than summer.
It might help that I really haven’t been outside much this summer. When I do exercise it’s usually walking the hallways of my apartment complex. I didn’t go outside much this summer so I was never truly exposed to the heat and humidity. I have driven less this summer and driving does sometimes cause me aggravation. I definitely try to avoid driving anywhere when I’m going through excessive paranoia and depression.
I think the change in psych medications has helped me greatly this summer. I was having flare ups every several weeks before I switched over. Haven’t had any prolonged breakdowns since. I switched over to a medication my DNA testing said would really benefit me. I know I have been less physically active but I have also been more mentally stable this summer than previous years. It’s a pity that I have to choose between physical health and mental stability. But years ago my only options would be long term hospitalization with no way to alleviate my symptoms or homelessness.
In spite my previous problems I am still hopeful for the future. Of the three medications I am currently on, two of them didn’t exist even five years ago. The DNA tests that told me what medications would be most effective didn’t exist until recently. When I was first diagnosed in 2000 we had to try medications at random and hope that something took. We were wandering in the dark in that regard. I am glad that I wasn’t born in 1930 instead of 1980 with this diagnosis. Back then my only treatments may have been long term hospitalizations and electroshock therapy. As it is I can essentially live alone, granted with a government sponsored disability pension and taxpayer sponsored medical treatment. But it could be that this route is cheaper than long term hospitals like the 1950s. Being on anti psych medication, having a small routine, having enough money to cover food, rent, and minor entertainment, living on my own, etc. is certainly more humane than being long term hospitalized, prison, homeless, or dead. For most of human history I would have been dead with this illness before my 36th birthday. As it is my worst problems now are occasional flare ups and my sleep apnea. I am thankful for medical science and it’s advances. I probably have a shorter life expectancy with this mental illness than I would normally, but I plan on staying around for awhile and seeing what I can accomplish in spite of this illness.
When I first applied for disability insurance ten years ago, I pretty much thought my life was over. I thought I would be regulated to a short and brutal life of being anonymous, poor, tormented, and unknown outside of family and a few friends. I didn’t plan on writing a blog about the experiences I’ve had over the years. But even with this diagnosis I didn’t want to waste my talents. I didn’t want my losing my shot at a career and a family to have been in vain. I didn’t want this mental illness to destroy everything. That’s why I blog as much as I do. I suppose if I knew anything about making videos I would start a small youtube channel about life with a mental illness. But that is probably a future project.
For a few weeks now I have been feeling quite decent and not having any flare ups of my schizophrenia. I had some minor flare up this afternoon. I’m not sure what caused it but fortunately I remained calm and quiet and just let the feeling pass. Traditionally during flare ups I call my family and just yell incoherent nonsense to them until I calm down, usually taking an hour or two. Fortunately this time I kept calm and kept quiet. I stayed in the apartment, turned off the tv and social media, put on a computer game, and kept myself distracted. After about a half hour of this I calmed down I went to a fast food restaurant near my place and ordered a large dinner. I brought it back to my apartment, ate quite well and drank lots of water. Oddly eating a protein rich meal can often make me more calm. I haven’t been eating as much as I normally do as I’m trying to get that back under control. For a week I had been eating protein only one meal per day. I broke out of that today. High protein foods like steaks and hamburgers have a calming effect on me, though I’m sure they’re not good when you’re trying to drop weight. I am convinced I’d never make it as a vegetarian.
I’m glad that I was able to find another route to ward off my flare ups. I’m glad that I was able to break out of past routines. I’m sure me yelling incoherencies to my family isn’t easy for them. My parents will be gone someday, probably sooner than I would like. While it might be true that problems associated with schizophrenia lessen with age, I do know I can’t yell at random friends and therapists and hope to stay out of a mental hospital or even jail. Perhaps my mental illness problems are starting to lessen. I know that my interest in dating is far, far less than it was even five years ago. I have heard that many men in their mid thirties start losing interest in sex and find more interest in their work or life’s calling. I’m also not as quick tempered as I was five to ten years ago. I have also noticed that I can better deal with the minor annoyances and irritations of every day living than I could even a few years ago. The flare ups I have had even going back to last Christmas weren’t as bad or frequent as the flare ups I was having in college. Perhaps it is that as I age I am learning what will make things worse and just make points of avoiding those things. Maybe this instance of just isolating and keeping myself distracted with as little noise as possible until I calm down is another tool in my toolbox. And maybe I should think about eating fewer carbs than I have been the last few weeks. But I am definitely glad I was able to prevent a flare up from becoming a full breakdown.
It’s been a quiet and calm week for me. I can tell the weather is starting to cool and that autumn is only a few weeks away. School has already started in my hometown. I was at the Wal Mart on 10pm on a Friday night and the place was packed with high school and college students doing last minute back to school shopping. Years ago when I was in school, it seemed like the place to be on the weekend before school started was parties that amounted to the last fling of summer. Maybe the younger people today have better priorities than what previous generations had. It was also the first time I used a self check out machine. Just scanned my items, swiped my debit card, and bagged my purchases and left. Sure this may put some cashiers out of work but who dreams about being a cashier working for minimum wage when they are kids?
From about early July to the first week of September has traditionally been rugged times for me. Both times I checked myself into a mental health hospital were in early September. Many of my major flare ups and breakdowns have come in July and August. The first time my parents saw me break down was around Independence Day back in 2000. I didn’t have the serious breakdown last summer besides yelling out a store clerk in early July (which I immediately apologized for). Originally I thought I didn’t have the breakdown last summer because I had extra resiliency because of my grandmother’s death. Besides yelling at one friend over the phone for a couple minutes and writing a nasty email to a second friend last month, I really haven’t had many problems this summer.
I still don’t go out as much as I had previously. Anymore I’m somewhat content to just stay home, read books, write blogs, play computer games, and Facebook with friends. I call friends and family on the phone almost daily. I am having more frequent and longer conversations with my best friend from college. We usually call each other every Sunday night and chat. For the first several months after he got married I kind of backed off and just gave him and his wife their space. He’s a huge history and sports geek (just like I am) so it’s not uncommon for us to be discussing baseball statistics, the ancient Greeks, 19th century German philosophy, and American foreign policy within the same phone conversation. I love people like that. Tragically I don’t find many people with those kinds of interest. My old friend Pastor Verne was one of those types. He was fluent in both ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek from his days in seminary. He was a brilliant man. I’m glad I got to know him. I hope to be that interesting and sharp if I ever make it to that age.
I got my insurance settlement this weekend. I wasn’t planning on anything extra from the accident besides getting my car fixed and coverage of my medical bills. But I am now sitting on top of a wind fall I wasn’t really expecting. I imagine most of it is going into the emergency fund. One of the positives of being debt free is I don’t have the pressure of having to make payments every month. It feels good to not have debts, to have an emergency fund, and a few options. Those are the best stress busters I have ever found.
As this is a lazy Saturday afternoon in late August I currently have a college football game on in the background as I’m writing this Football is one of my guilty pleasures. I’m not obsessed over it but I do like to have a game going on in the background on idle fall weekend afternoons. I do kind of feel bad about watching young men maim themselves for my enjoyment. But at least it’s not as violent as Roman gladiators fighting. I can tell that summer is all but over now that I’m watching a football game. From the Summer Olympics to fall football within a few days of each other.
Managing money is one of those vital survival skills that just isn’t taught in schools in many places. It certainly wasn’t taught at my school. My parents taught me how to balance a checkbook and told me to avoid credit cards when I was growing up. But that was the extent of my money training until I took business classes in college. I learned to keep track of money pretty well but the idea of avoiding credit card debt wasn’t a lesson that sunk in until I ran up some debts and was in danger of getting behind on payments. But everyone has to learn on their own time I suppose.
Over the years I learned how to make a budget for things like rent, food, clothes, medications, household supplies, and fuel for my car. I didn’t get it perfect at first and turned to a credit card to cover the difference. Big mistake. Before I knew it I had debts that weren’t getting any smaller even though I never got behind on my payments. Looking at debts with my only income being my disability pension and a part time minimum wage job scared me. I knew I couldn’t ask for more hours at work as that would put me in trouble with Social Security’s earning limits. So I had to drastically cut back on my purchases. I had to quit going out to eat. I had to quit going to the mall. I had to live on cheap groceries (think lots of Ramen noodles, potatoes, baloney, and rice). I had to cancel my magazine subscriptions. I had to stop buying books and computer games. I couldn’t buy new clothes every few months. I had to limit my driving. It took a lot of work but I eventually learned to live without going into debt. I’ve been debt free now for over two years. And I have less stress because of it. I am sure some of my mental illness problems were made worse because I was worried about my debts.
If you have a mental illness and your only means of support are disability insurance and or a job, I would highly recommend if you’re going to have a credit card to use it only for emergencies. I don’t have a credit card anymore as I know myself well enough to not trust myself with one. Instead I have a small emergency fund I can get to in case of emergencies but I don’t have immediate access to it. I have it set up I have to have at least twenty four hours to access it as I don’t keep it at my apartment or in my bank. I budget to where I buy extra non perishable food and fuel my car to full every time I get paid. I also maintain my car and don’t run it hard so I don’t have to make expensive repairs. I have learned how to have a good time with friends, family, and by myself without spending much money. I probably will never have much for money but I really don’t spend a lot to begin with. Having no debts and having an emergency fund are the best sleep aides and stress busters I have found. I don’t make much but I don’t worry because I don’t have to make payments to anyone. If you are on disability or have a limited income, I highly recommend getting out of debt and staying out.
Went to the family acreage for two days over the weekend. Helped the family with some odd jobs but mainly relaxed. I was needing a couple days out of my hometown and out of my apartment complex. Two days of a change of scenery allowed me to realize just how much I missed this summer with back problems. I’m only now getting some of my stamina back and adjusting to the warm weather.
This has been a tough summer physically. I hurt my back and I couldn’t do much of anything for two months. As a result I’ve gained 15 pounds since mid May. This definitely isn’t what I planned for this summer. While it was boring to have to spend all my time at home it wasn’t as tough mentally as I would have thought. Besides the one day when I had a breakdown on two friends I really haven’t had any major flare ups of the mental illness this summer. I think that the changes in medications I made in the spring have helped in that regard. It helps that I am intentionally avoiding stressful situations and people. I still don’t watch much news on tv or internet. About all I watch on tv anymore is live sports. During the Olympics I watched more tv in two weeks than I did the last four months combined. I wouldn’t have cable if it didn’t come with my apartment. I just don’t watch much for regular tv anymore. Almost everything I want to watch anymore is online.
I can tell that fall is almost here. The weather isn’t as hot and the nights are getting longer. The nights are getting cooler and school has started. I feel like I squandered this summer since I couldn’t do much. But I’ll just have to make it up this fall.