Holiday Routines

Spent a few days in my childhood home over Thanksgiving weekend.  It went better than expected.  I was worried that things wouldn’t go well with so many people in one house.  Fortunately things went with no problems and I got to see my brother’s family for the first time in months.  I had been avoiding socializing in person for months just because it seemed that most people were always in foul moods.  That is all I had seen on social media for the previous two years at least.  Finally I quit checking my facebook and twitter accounts.  I don’t use either one except to promote my blog now.  It saddens me that I had to lose contact with some of my oldest and dearest friends because some people insist on being blowhards and jerks to other people online.  I always wondered what people like that were like in person.  It would be an interesting experiment.

Returned home over the weekend.  I have pretty much avoided going shopping or even on the roads to avoid the holiday crowds.  I never did enjoy crowds, even before I became mentally ill.  I pretty much do most of my shopping online anymore.  I found out that there is a grocery store in my town that will allow online orders and home deliveries.  I have used that a few times lately.  And I’ll be using it even more now that the holidays are here.

As far as celebrating Christmas is concerned, I’m not as excited about getting gifts as I was when I was growing up.  Anymore I just care about spending time with family, having good food, and watching my brother’s kids have a good time.  I also enjoy going around my town and looking at the decorations, especially after dark.  And since we usually have snow on Christmas were I live, it adds even more beauty to the season.

All and all I am ready for winter.  Summer was hotter than usual and autumn seemed to last longer than usual.  I am not as worried about being in closed quarters with my neighbors as I was in years past as several of my problem neighbors moved out this autumn.  It has been quiet and peaceful ever since.  I leave my apartment more often and I’m more apt to make a point of socializing with neighbors.  Used to be I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment.  But those problems are over.  It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for rude people and stupidity.  And I am noticing my friends in my age bracket are becoming the same way.  Thank God I haven’t gotten to the point were I’m complaining about the “lousy kids” yet.  If I get to that point, I hope somebody knocks some sense into me.  I spent my entire childhood and my twenties listening to my elders gripe and moan about people in my age bracket.  Going through that, I promised I would never do that to anyone.

Overall my life is rather no thrills.  I spend a lot of my days playing computer games, reading online articles, talking to friends and family over the phone or online, and chatting up my neighbors.  I am still slogging through the Star Trek spinoffs on Netflix.  I would eventually love to have watched every episode of Star Trek.  I still have a long way to go.  It will probably take a few years.  On the bright side, I’m no longer sleeping twelve hours a day anymore.  And the hallucinations I have now are no longer frightening, they are just annoying.  Maybe mental illness does get less severe as a patient ages.  I think it has in my case.

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Thoughts on Changes Since Childhood

I’m currently at my parents’ house for a couple days for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My brother, his wife, and their four kids are here too.  We have seven of us sleeping in the basement but at least I get my old bedroom.  That way I can retreat and regroup if need be.  But my brothers’ kids are well behaved and old enough they shouldn’t give me many problems.

This is the first time in months I have been back to my old childhood home.  A lot has changed in this town since I moved out in 2005.  For one, all of my old high school friends have moved away.  The cousins that stayed have families of their own.  Most of my old teachers have retired or moved to bigger schools.  All my grandparents and a couple of my uncles have died.  My old grade school was torn down.  The retail store I worked in during the summers went out of business.  In many ways this isn’t the same town I grew up in during the 80s and 90s.  I haven’t been getting back to my parents’ place much the last several years as none of my old friends live around here anymore.  In many ways, this is no longer my town.  It doesn’t feel like home and it hasn’t for several years.

I bring up growing up and the changes my parents’ place have gone under because, with my mental illness, those years I grew up here seem like someone else’s life.  I started having problems with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen.  I was doing quite well in school and involved in many different activities.  It seemed like I was on the fast track to a career and life of my dreams, at least that was until the depression and anxiety started.  Twenty years later, my seventeen year old self wouldn’t even recognize the thirty seven year old man I am now.  I imagine my seventeen year old self would have seen who I am today as a failure.  Back then I knew nothing of mental illness and disability.  Like many teenagers, I also didn’t have as much empathy as many adults who have had their ups and downs, wins and losses.

If nothing else, fighting this mental illness for twenty years has taught me how to have more empathy for people different than myself.  It has taught me patience and how to accept things I can’t change.  It has taught me that, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t about keeping up with other people.  Life is mainly about competing with your self and being the best you that you are capable of being.  He who dies with the most toys is just as dead as anyone else in the cemetery.

I haven’t been giving much time to reflecting on the past for the last few years.  I have mainly been focused on the present and future possibilities.  I normally have little use for nostalgic thoughts.  But I’m sure having them now that I’m at my childhood home for the first time in months.  I guess the nostalgia has shown me how much I lost because of this mental illness.  Yet, in spite of the life that never was, I think I still have a great deal to stay alive for.  I’m interested to see what the next twenty years in this life of mental illness will show me.  I can only guess what changes will have come by the time 2037 rolls in.

I’d Rather Be Eccentric and Interesting than Acceptable and Boring

 

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Still getting out of my apartment a couple times a day and spending a few minutes socializing with my neighbors.  I still find normal conversation boring and mundane, but I tolerate it like getting stuck in traffic because I’m expected to.  Most people I have met can tell right away I’m not like most people.  I don’t enjoy talking only about the weather, sports, how much I hate my job, how idiotic my coworkers and neighbors are, politics, etc.  I’d much rather talk philosophy, poetry, history, tech advances, science, international news than talk about the weather or my work.  Half of the time when I’m listening to someone prattle on about the same things for the hundredth time, I have to remind myself to fake interest and act like this conversation is actually fascinating.  I hate to say it, but I find some people mundane and even boring.

Most people go through life without taking any real risks or standing out in any way.  Seems that many people when they were teenagers were content with their C’s and D’s on their report cards, going to ball games on Friday nights, and spending their weekends trying to get laid or getting drunk and stoned.  I never saw what was so great about being normal.  I was that smart guy on the football team that knew right away he needed to do his homework because there was no way he was going to get a scholarship.  I was the guy who considered it a personal failure every time he didn’t get an A on a test.  I was the guy who’s best friend was a girl.  She still is my best friend.  Even though I got good grades, I was still sometimes skeptical of what of my teachers taught me. I knew some really smart kids in high school and college who did poorly grade wise because they were skeptical of the teaching but didn’t play the game well enough to get the good grades.  I was rather skeptical of a lot of what I was taught, particularly in the non science and math fields.  But I gave the answers I figured the teachers were looking for while doing my own reading and research during the weekends and summers.  I still spent time with my friends, but my friends had the same nerdy likes and interests I did.

Developing a mental illness when I already had a reputation for being eccentric and odd didn’t help my social life any.  But considering how small my windows of opportunity for socializing with like minded people were in my youth (before the internet got really big), my social life was going to be lousy anyway.  My parents used to worry about how little I socialized and how little I enjoyed school and church activities.  It’s not that I am anti-social, I can be social for hours on end with like minded and interesting people.  I just can’t stand chit chat and normal conversation.  I find it too restricting and too predictable.  I found out pretty early on that most people were quite predictable if you spent enough time around them.  People in general don’t like change.  In fact, most people are scared senseless of changes.  I learned this when I was telling people about science and tech advances and what was actually going right in the world.  I got almost no positive responses out of anyone besides my mother, and I think she was doing that mainly to humor me.  Most people told me I was a liar or we would never live to see these advances.  Just in my lifetime, I’ve seen the rise of the internet, the rise of genetically modified crops, the decline of communism, the decline of network and cable television, the rise and fall of CDs, DVDs, movie rental places, and most brick and mortar companies in direct competition with internet companies like Amazon, Alibaba, Facebook, etc.  Even me, living on disability pension, can enjoy most of these advances that not even the richest man in the world could have enjoyed in 1985.  Do not tell me we aren’t living in cool times.

I know most people reminisce about past eras and would rather live then than in their current times.  I know people who would have loved to live in Medieval times.  I couldn’t do without toilet paper long enough to be burned at the stake as a heretic to live then.  Others pined for the Old West era.  Many places in the Old West had violent crime and homicide rates higher than even modern day Chicago.  I’d probably get shot for sneezing during a poker game.

I admit that I was always one of these people who wondered what life in the future would be like.  I guess if I am nostalgic, it’s for things that haven’t happened yet or might not happen at all.  I imagine a few hundred years in the future if our civilization has built colonies on other planets, solved poverty, ended war, ended pollution, have intelligent machines, etc., that there will be people who will be envious of us living in the early 21st century when many things started coming together and poverty, sickness, war, etc. became less and less.  And yet most people walking the streets today are oblivious to the wonders going on in the here and now.  It’s for reasons like that I am glad that I am not normal.  I don’t wish normal upon myself or any of my friends and family.  I love being eccentric and looking at life a different way.  I may not be highly accomplished or influential, but at least I don’t completely blend in to the background.

Donations to Expand ‘A Life Of Mental Illness’

I've decided to do an experiment to see if I can get a little money for doing this blog. I have sold hard copy books of poetry and mental illness essays that were the inspiration for this blog in the past. Being paid for this work would be a dream come true

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Changing Routines and The Holidays

I’ve been feeling quite well the last several days.  I make it a point a socialize with at least one neighbor per day.  I still call my parents twice a week on average.  Other than running errands and a couple doctors’ appointments this week, I’ve stayed pretty close to home.  It’s been colder than usual the last couple weeks, so I’ve pretty much been going to bed earlier and waking up early.  I think I finally broke the habit of staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.

Been avoiding negative news for months now.  And I think it’s given me a more positive outlook overall.  Most of what I watch anymore are science shows, comedy, and inspirational materials.  I am still largely avoiding social media except to occasionally drop in on friends and promote my blog.  I just came to the conclusion that the drama involved in most social media isn’t worth the trouble.  It does make the nights kind of  lonely as facebook used to be a lot of my socializing.  But I am adjusting.

Mentally I am stable.  I am not sleeping as much as I did during the summers.  And I’m not staying up all night either.  I think I have found some balance in the kind of schedules I keep.  I have made a point of keeping my apartment cleaner than usual.  And I have to think that has positively impacted my mental health.  I’ve decided I’m regrowing my beard for the winter.  Other projects I have this winter include rereading some of the old philosophy books I read years ago in college.  I may watch more classic movies too this winter.  I don’t really have any plans for the next couple weeks.  I’m going back to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.  I am definitely not doing the Black Friday shopping nonsense.  I do all my shopping from my computer anymore.  I don’t plan on going out shopping this Christmas but I will probably watch a few Christmas movies.  It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two all time favorites.

Taking Care of Health and Easing Back into Social Life

Been getting out a little more the last few days in spite the cold.  Saw my psych doctor on a cancelation appointment the other day.  We made some adjustments in the psych medications.  I added a third med.  I also saw a general practice doctor yesterday.  We decided to add a blood pressure medication.  I’m not really surprised as high blood pressure runs in my family.  So it looks like I’m getting out and about more and starting to get back on top of my health.  I let a lot of that slide over the last several months when I was sleeping a lot and had no energy.

I haven’t been reading as much as I would like lately.  I’ve also been kind of lazy about writing.  Mentally I have felt quite stable. Haven’t had any real bouts of depression or anxiety for a long time.  The delusions and hallucinations are at a minimum.  I still don’t socialize much in person, but I just don’t isolate as much anymore either.  I hope I can make more progress with the holidays coming up.  It’s been too long since I last had real good socializing.

Changes and Introversion

Been going through changes the last several days.  I finally broke my habit of staying up all night and then sleeping much of the day.  Took a few months to break that habit.  Now I’m usually up around 6 am and in bed by 10pm.  And yet my routines don’t feel that different.  I’ve been getting out of the apartment more and spending time outdoors.  It helps that the weather has turned cooler.

Even though I leave my apartment several times a day, I still haven’t been outside of my hometown for several weeks.  While I still have a little phobia about driving, I do drive more than I used to.  It’s just that it’s all in town and stop and go driving.  I really don’t have much choice but to overcome my fear of driving as my hometown doesn’t have good public transit.  Fortunately I can everything I need within city limits.  That’s one of the advantages of living in a college town that the farm village I grew up in never had.  As it is, I have to buy fuel for my car only once a month anymore.  Used to be I had to buy every week when I lived with my parents when I was in high school and college.

Didn’t go out for Halloween.  I stayed home and watched a few supernatural thrillers and  listened to the old ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast on youtube.  Spent most of my nights in October watching playoff baseball.  So I guess I have to find a new way to spend my evenings.

Overall I feel pretty calm and content.  I still have auditory hallucinations a couple times a day, usually hearing footsteps that aren’t there or my phone ringing when no one is calling.  The real odd thing is that most of my hallucinations now come shortly after I wake up and before I get out of bed.  I still get enough sleep.  I think the consistent sleep helps keep me stable.  I still avoid rude, obnoxious, and irritable people as much as I can.  That definitely helps keep me stable even if it does hurt my social life.

At this point of my life, I have come to the conclusion that small talk and casual acquaintances are overrated.  Most people simply don’t have deep and connecting conversations with very many people.  I would rather bond to some family members and a few close friends as opposed to have lots of meaningless casual conversations with legions of fair weather friends.  I love being an introvert.  Most of my friends are deep thinking introverts.  Being a people person is something that does not come natural to me.  On top of that, I think it’s overrated.  It doesn’t bother me that I sometimes spend entire days alone without talking to anyone at all.  I rather enjoy my privacy and freedom to think and explore different ideas.  I really don’t enjoy socializing that much.  Most times, people won’t talk about anything beyond the weather, sports, or how much they hate their job.  To me, it gets boring and mind numbing really quick.  I wouldn’t be much fun at a cocktail party.  Even though I’m not sure I could qualify, I think it’s too bad my hometown doesn’t have a MENSA chapter or some social group similar.  I really crave intelligent conversation and mental exercise.  Learning new things actually gives me joy and makes me feel good physically.  Unfortunately I don’t get this much when socializing with most people.  I have painfully found out that many smart people have lousy social lives.  I am no exception.