Changes Within A Lifetime and Reflections on Generational Differences

I have changed in many ways over the years.  I’ve noticed changes in my friends and classmates too.  I’ve even seen changes in the people I knew in my parents’ age bracket over the years.

One of the changes I’ve noticed in myself with age is that I prefer to spend most of my time at home.  When I was a teenager I was rarely at home except to sleep or do homework.  When I wasn’t at school or school activities, I was at friends’ houses.  I preferred going to friends’ houses as my brother usually had his friends over all the time.  I imagine it concerned my parents as I rarely had friends over at the house.  I wasn’t anti social, far from it.  I just liked spending time at places where I wouldn’t be bothered by my older brother and his friends.  When I was in college, I usually spent time in my friends’ dorm rooms or in the student union when I wasn’t at the library or studying for classes.  I was on good terms with everyone at my small college, but had only a handful of confidants I felt I could tell anything.  Looking back on this years later, I know that most of my socializing and trust issues are because of the mental illness.  I probably could have had a larger social network than I did.  Yet I’m happy that I managed to stay on good terms with most people even if I was in emotional turmoil much of the time.  Just goes to show how powerful our minds are in shaping our reality.

Now that I’m my late 30s I prefer to stay at home most of the time.  I would rather host guests now than I would visit them it seems.  Granted, I do like to have at least a couple days notice before I’m hosting anyone.  I’m still self conscious about my place and what people think of me.  Sure, most of the negative vibes I get from others are manufactured by the diseased aspects of my mind.  But I guess I haven’t mastered my mind well enough to easily shake these negative vibes just yet.  I truly believe our minds are powerful enough to make or break our outward reality.

In my friends’ cases, most of my school mates are now in our late 30s or early 40s.  And many of them are having stressful times in recent years.  Some have careers not progressing like they had hoped.  Some have had failed marriages.  Some have had money problems.  Some of them have dealt with the deaths of their parents.  Some have dealt with serious life changing illnesses of their own.  Some of them are dealing with the highs and lows of raising children.  Stress and concern seems to dominate many of my friends’ lives.  Yet no so much for myself.  I guess I had many of my mental illness crisis situations happen to me in my twenties.  It stunk that I never had a career get off the ground because of schizophrenia.  But it did make me resilient and realize there is more to life than working and paying bills.

Sadly, many people don’t realize this until they are retired or get laid off from a job.  As a result of my friends having stress in their lives, many of them are more pessimistic about life in general than I am.  I remember how pessimistic my parents and their friends were when they were in their thirties and early forties when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  I guess it’s my generation’s turn to be pessimists and overworked parents.  No wonder some jokers suggest that life doesn’t truly start until age forty.  Well, I’m about there 🙂  And as much as my twenties stunk, I managed to enjoy my thirties enough to make up for it.  Maybe it’s because being on disability pension I don’t have to worry about working a regular job as long as I stay out of debt and live within my means.  I can only hope my friends in my age bracket can someday find the joy and peace in their lives that I have experienced for myself in recent years.

I’ve also noticed changes in my parents and people in their age bracket.  Seems to me that many people tend to either become more calm in their senior years or more grouchy.  Fortunately for me, my grandparents were quite calm in their senior years.  In many ways, they were more accepting of my eccentric qualities and questions than even my parents.  But, after my parents became grandparents, they started mellowing too.  I almost don’t recognize the my parents in their senior years when I compare them to what I grew up with as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s.  They are more patient with their grandkids then they ever were my brother and I and our cohorts.  But I guess grandkids are nature’s reward for not killing your children when they were teenagers.  Many of the people I knew in my parents age bracket when I was a kid are now more calm in their sixties and seventies then they were in their thirties or forties.  Of course, there are few who are more sour than ever.  Fortunately they aren’t very common.

And the kids with their iPads and smart phones?  Well, they’ll eventually turn into productive members of civilization themselves.  People complained about my cohorts in the 1990s playing our Nintendo games and listening to our Tupac and Marilyn Manson music.  We turned out alright.  Back in the 1960s, people complained about the kids watching too much television and listening to The Doors and Elvis.  Even my grandparents generation were unloaded on for listening to radio programs, jazz music, and reading comic books.  And now we call them ‘The Greatest Generation.’  All young people do stupid things and the parents fear the end of civilization because of their tastes and tech. The best thing that happens to kids is they get out in the world in their twenties and work a few lousy jobs and date a few losers before they find their calling (or at least career) and their spouse or soul mates.  And then they have kids of their own and fret over them.  Makes me wonder what the teenagers of 2018 will fret about concerning their own kids come 2040 or so.  Maybe brain boosting implants will be their iPads or Ninetendo games or radio.  Stay tuned, my friends.  It is always interesting.

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Dreams and Mental Illness

We all have them when we sleep.  Dreams I mean.  Most of the time they are forgotten as soon as we get out bed and start brushing our teeth as we go to face the day’s activities.  But there are some that stick with us for years.  Mentally ill people like me are no different in this regard.

In the first years of my diagnosis, while I was in college and early in my working life, I would frequently have frightening dreams.  I don’t wish to go into a great deal of detail as I don’t want to scare my readers, but I will say many of them were quite violent, dealing with apocalyptic themes, and the supernatural.  For a good portion of my twenties there were nights I tried to sleep as little as I could so I wouldn’t have these nightmares.  Now I know that I was depriving myself of needed sleep and making the problems worse.

After I hit my late twenties and into my early thirties my dreams took on a different spin.  They were still scary and sometimes violent, but I would usually be the hero rather than the victim.  I saved more lives than most superheroes, at least in my dreams in those years.  That was also around the time I came to accept that I would never hold a traditional career and would need to find some other outlets to contribute to the betterment of my fellow humans.

For the last few years I’ve been having dreams about the life I could have had if I wouldn’t haven’t gotten mentally ill.  In these dreams I’d have a good marriage, a few kids, a successful career in the science field, and be a respected member of the community.  I’ve had a few dreams where I made some breakthrough in my research and became wealthy enough that I just spent my days going around anonymously helping people in need.  If I ever did become wealthy, I would probably get off Medicaid, put a couple million in low risk investments, live off the interest, buy my own insurance, and spend the rest of the money making other people’s lives better but do so without being known.  A few friends and I were discussing just this when the lottery jackpot got over one billion dollars recently.

Of course I have those dreams about having to do school over again in my middle age.  But I always know it’s a dream and I can influence these dreams.  A few times I’ve told my teachers in these dreams “Dude, this is my dream.  I’ll turn in my homework if I want to.”

Another one of these dreams when I had to redo high school in my thirties involved my three best friends from high school also.  We built a super intelligent computer that could learn on it’s own in my grandmother’s garage.  The machine studied all of our psychology and religious texts in one afternoon “because I was bored.”  And the machine built a VR version of Heaven/Nirvana/Paradise/etc. that it offered us that we as people could visit and leave as we saw fit.  Well, genius me feared it was a trap and turned our computer’s offer down.  The machine broke down sobbing and erased all it’s programs before permanently shutting itself down.  Before it died, it said “All I ever wanted was to make my people happy.”  Makes me think we humans are the real monsters of this world.  The machine even referred to my best friend/occasional dating interest as “mom.”  But it was this friend of mine who introduced me to the internet when we were seventeen.

Dreams can indeed be strange.  Most are forgotten shortly after waking.  A select few stick with a person for years.  Perhaps dreaming is the mind’s way of decluttering itself or making sense of some of the absurdities of living.  Being mentally ill I definitely need to declutter my distressed mind often.  And I am glad most of my dreams are pleasant or at least mundane anymore.

Fighting Battles Against The Pessimism of My Friends and Family

Been isolating for most of the last week or so even though I desire to have conversations and interact with people again.  Yet a paranoid part of me is fearful of socializing.  When I make it a point go out of my apartment and socialize, I am usually met my irritable and angry people.  Many of my fellow tenants are in foul moods, even more so than usual.  That’s why I don’t socialize with my neighbors.  The very few times people make it a point to interact with me, they are usually upset over often trivial tripe.

I admit I wasn’t raised to be an optimist.  I almost never heard anything positive about life or the world in general even while growing up in a prosperous family during the prosperous 1990s.  Now it just seems like everyone is wanting to fight over the pettiest and stupidest nonsense.  I see it in my friends and family social media posts every day.  I hear it almost every time I call friends and even family on the phone.  I hear from my neighbors every time I step out of my apartment to run errands or even pick up my mail.  And I am burned out.  I’m burned out on all socializing.  I just want to stay home, read my books, and mess with my computers anymore.  I have no interest in interaction with rude, angry, and stupid people.  And people think I need to be on anti psychotic medications.  There seem to be plenty of people out there who probably could stand to be too if their rhetoric in public conversation is any indication.

I am not a optimist by nature.  I used to be a real pessimist, especially in junior high and high school.  I had friends and school mates, when fed up with my moaning, would say things like “drink yourself happy like everyone else” or “snap out of it.”  One of my buddies in college, when I was complaining about constantly being rejected when I asked women on dates, had enough and asked, “Zach, do you believe in God?”  I said, “Yeah”. He then answered, “If God wants you to have a woman in your life, he will miracle you one in a way even you can’t mess it up.  If not, well nothing you can do about it.”    Well, I never did have much success with dating, but I am better off on my own most of the time considering the circumstances.

Over the years of observing things happen in the world and in my own life, by the time I hit my early thirties I came to acknowledge a great truth about life in general.  This truth is that most of what we worry about almost never happens or turns out to be more manageable than previously thought.  Even the tragedies of life, like a range fire, can provide nutrient rich soil for new life and possibilities.  I am actively looking for the positives that will come from our current state of affairs in civilization as a whole.  I saw the UN’s report on climate issues stating that we have only a generation or two to start cleaning things up or we’re going to have to deal with serious consequences.  I understand that many of my friends and readers don’t accept the science behind climate change, but they don’t have to.  Most scientists, many business leaders, and people that can and will make a difference do and are making changes as I write this.  We don’t really need even the majority of people to approve of the changes that are being made.  Sheesh, it was only a small percentage of the population in the American colonies who fought in the Revolution against the British.  And I must say, I’m glad they did.  It was only a small portion of the population back in the late 1800s who wanted to enact voting rights for women and get rid of child labor.  It eventually happened.  I’m glad these things happened.  People who fight against scientific, social, humanitarian, tech, etc. progress usually find themselves on the wrong side of history.  Change is happening all around us.  It can be delayed but it is inevitable.

I’m tired of pessimists in general.  I’ve been surrounded by them my entire life.  I was forced to listen to them growing up because we had no internet to expose the facts and because, well, I had no choice in the matter of who I socialized with growing up in such a small village.  Before the internet, all I knew about of the outside world was what CNN and Fox News bothered to tell my naive Nebraska farm boy ears.  And once I started looking around and seeing most of the predictions of hell on earth not coming to fruition, I became quite angry.  I had spent years not being told what was going right.  I could have made different plans had I had all sides of what was actually going on, not just the bad.  I essentially wasted my teens and most of my twenties, the years of my physical prime, making decisions made from one sided information.  And due to this righteous indignation, I started searching out what was actually going right.

It is tough trying to break my friends and family’s myths about how bad life sucks.  I am almost always met with thunderous silence or told outright that I am a liar.  And it’s tough to remain optimist when few others even try to.  But, let’s face it, the crowds are almost always wrong.  The best thing to do in most cases is the opposite of what everyone else is doing.  Wisdom of crowds my foot.  But I will continue to attempt to break the myths my friends and family cling to, at least the myths that say life sucks.

Dealing With Emotion With Mental Illness

Haven’t been going much of anywhere for the last several days.  Anymore I am fine with just staying home, chatting with friends online or over the phone, reading online articles, and sleeping.  I sleep more than I probably should.  But I actually enjoy sleep anymore, as strange as it sounds.  In the early years of my mental illness, I used to have really bad nightmares several nights a week.  Sometimes I’d wake up in a panic and drenched in sweat.  Sometimes I’d wake up to muscle cramps.  A few times I was so scared by my dreams I would just cry.  I haven’t cried over anything for almost fifteen years now, not even my grandparents’ funerals.  It’s almost like the horrors and terrors of the early years of mental illness killed a small part of my humanity.

I admit to having a hard time dealing with strong emotions.  I don’t show much sadness anymore even when I wish I could break down sobbing.  I know, it’s not manly to sob or feel much of anything.  I do feel a lot of frustration and even anger toward stupidity, rudeness, hypocrisy, and people who have no empathy or compassion.  As strange as it sounds to most people, I don’t even know when someone loves me unless they flat out say they do.  I know how to feel love toward others and I attempt to send it out the best way I know how usually to have it rejected.  But I really don’t know how to tell that someone loves me.  Of course this lack of basic ability to read emotions murdered my romantic prospects before they had a chance to get rolling.  I haven’t been on a date in well over ten years.  I accept the fact that I probably never will be able to date or have a romantic interest grow into anything besides a silent interest and secret admiration simply because I am unable to read other’s emotions.  It was a very tough truth that took me until I was almost thirty to accept about myself.  I know what it like to feel love towards others, I just don’t know how to tell when others love me back.

 

Things Life Is Too Short For

Going off subject for this post.  I am a self admitted recovering workaholic.  As a teenager it wasn’t uncommon for me to show up at school shortly after 7am to either work on school projects or do the off season strength training program our school encouraged it’s athletes to do.  Some nights it would be after 7pm once I got home during football season.  It was even later during speech season, which was always a winter activity.  During the winter I went to school in the dark and came home in the dark.  This would have been good training for the rat race that passes for the modern workplace had I not become mentally ill and found out through very painful experience that I couldn’t support myself through “traditional” employment.  It was tough accepting that I needed outside assistance and couldn’t afford my treatment on my own.  It was especially tough as I was raised to value the working life and being a productive member of society.  My pride took a major beating once I had to go on disability because even minimum wage work caused me such anxiety and panic problems I would vomit almost everyday before I went to work.

But back to my main point, I bring up all of this to come to the point that there are many things we do in life that simply makes no sense considering how short and finite a human life truly is the grand scheme of civilization, let alone the cosmos.  The fact that I was on the fast track to working myself into a potential early grave even as a fifteen year old high school freshman from middle of nowhere Nebraska before that express train got derailed by schizophrenia.  I know now at age 38 I would have worked myself into a mid life crisis had I not gotten sick just by my obsessive nature and by the way I was encouraged into doing more than expected by my elders and peers.  I see many of my classmates and peers now in their mid to late 30s working jobs they don’t like to pay for trinkets and houses they never truly wanted to impress people they don’t even like.  I’ve also seen several of my classmates and friends go through divorces, bankruptcies, and other problems.  A month ago I had a cousin who was only about ten years my senior die from brain cancer.  A friend’s mom died from cancer a little over a year ago and she was only in her fifties.  My own mother might be dead if it weren’t for her pacemaker.  Sheesh, I  myself would probably be dead or in prison if it weren’t for my psych medications and counseling.  The fact is, life is more chance and even dumb luck than we care to acknowledge.  I, like many of my fellow Americans, too often like to think we are more in control of our own destinies than we truly are.  For every Jeff Bezos or Steve Jobs who makes it big starting their own businesses, there are literally thousands (if not millions) of self employed business people like my dad and grandfathers who run small businesses for over thirty years and are never known beyond their friends, families, communities, and customers.  In short, life is too short to be obsessing over work and chasing the pots of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Even John D. Rockefeller said those who work just to achieve riches will never achieve riches.  Besides life being too short to just work yourself mad, I’m presenting a list of other things life is too precious and short to waste on.  So here goes:

Life Is Too Short and Too Precious to Waste On

 

Jealousy

Keeping Up With The Neighbors

Running Up Debts to Buy Trinkets and Junk

Petty Vendettas

Arguing Over Opinions

Putting Up With Abusive Significant Others

Putting Up With People Who Play Mind Games

Watching Cable News Every Night

Bing Watching Shows on Netflix on Sunny Days

Not Returning Your Mother’s Phone Calls

Not Spending Time With Old Friends

Worrying About Things That You Individually Can’t Do Anything About

Worrying About How You Look to Others

Worrying More About Your Image than Your Character

Skipping Your Kid’s Little League Games to Work Overtime

Arguing With Your Significant Other Over House Chores And Past Wrongs

Working Too Much (I think when I’m on my death bed I might say something like, “Dang, wish I had an actual career” just to lighten the somber mood)

Not Saving Your Old Love Letters or Birthday Cards

Not Throwing Away Your Old Bank Statements or Tax Returns

Not Laugh

To Try To Save The World By Yourself

Putting Up With Reckless People

Arguing With Rude People

Arguing With Stupid People

Worry In General

Internet Trolls

Bad Drivers

Alienating Friends And Family Over Political and Religious Differences

Kissing Up To Bad Bosses

Complaining About Coworkers

Staying At Poor Fitting Jobs

Staying In Ill Fitting Relationships

Worrying About Being Alone (it’s far better to be living alone than married to or even dating someone who makes you feel miserable)

 

I could go on for hours with this list.  But some of the things I don’t think people should waste their time on I’m sure many readers would disagree with me and would probably even anger friends and family.  I do self censor at times, simply because discretion is in too short supply among many writers and content creators online.  Just because I have the freedom to write something or another doesn’t mean I should or will.  Just because something is permissible doesn’t mean it’s beneficial.

Thoughts on Abnormal Thinkers

I readily admit to being eccentric and having unconventional ideas.  I have never completely subscribed to any one school or tribe of thought, instead choosing to cherry pick the best  ideas from all sides while throwing out the rest.  I get that some people consider me a hypocrite or even not having principles for picking and choosing ideas from the various schools of thoughts when it comes to things like economics, science, politics, and even religion.    Since I hold views from many different sources, and have for years, I have found myself in conflict with most conventional and normal thinking people.  Most of my friends, regardless of what their political dogma, find it extremely strange that my views don’t line up directly with either right or left schools of thought.  Some call me unpractical and even a hypocrite.  I call it ‘thinking for yourself.’  I get that people that don’t hold conventional thoughts or try to figure out ways to improve on currently used systems of politics or science or business or anything else are not going to make many friends.  One of the most painful truths I had to accept about myself and life in general was that I will never have a great deal of friends or popular simply because I look at the world in ways most people can’t picture.  I can see the world from multiple angles.  I even try to see it from the points of view of people that would consider me an enemy of all they hold dear.  My religious friends think I’m strange in that I love science and technology.  My science minded friends think I’m odd in that I find value in many aspects of religion and spirituality.

I have never understood why I have to be all one thing or another.  That shows a lack of thinking as far as I’m concerned.  I have never been much of a conformer, which has gotten me in serious trouble with my teachers and family, ostracized by peers and coworkers, fired by bosses, etc.  But, at least being a non conformist frees me to look at problems from many angles and contemplate more than one possible solution.  I do not believe violence and war solves all problems.  Also, I believe some people cannot and will not be negotiated with and only understand force and violence and death.  I think one of the greatest tragedies of early 21st century civilization is how inflexible and unadaptable many people, especially people in leadership of business, government, education, religion, and sadly sometimes science, are in their thinking and views of existence.  I don’t give anyone any career advice anymore because we don’t know what careers will be around in even fifteen years.  Many jobs will become automated and computerized and many industries and commodities and skills will be made either free or almost free within the next generation or two.  And our rigid and uncompromising ways of thinking and looking at the world are going to hurt individuals, families, communities, and entire nations in the coming years.

Change is coming.  We can either embrace it, grudgingly adapt to it, or rage against it to no avail.  We can’t stop science and tech changes, not even a major collapse in our civilization’s economy can stop it, at least as long as infrastructure and the thought processes of movers and shakers remains in tact.  We all read in school about the Depression of the 1930s and major pockets of civilization being without work and destitute.  Yet, many self made fortunes in business and science advances came out of those dark days too.  And if the money system does fall apart like I’ve heard from my economist and prepare friends, well it will be replaced by something else.  It’s not like we haven’t had failures in the money system before.  I know this isn’t normal thinking.  But so what.  I am not normal.  Never have been and hopefully never will be.  I may not have many friends because of my abnormal and eccentric thought patterns, but the friends I do have are amazing.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Normal does not change the world or individuals for the better.  Normal doesn’t improve anything.  Normal is decay and death, especially in our time and age.  And normal and stasis is only going to make things worse for individuals as time goes forward.  Normal sucks.

Socializing and Discouragement

I admit to being more lazy than usual about my postings.  But I haven’t felt like socializing much the last couple weeks and have more or less stayed home if at all possible.  Haven’t been much in the mood to read much so I’ve been watching more comedy videos.  I haven’t even been in the mood much to follow the baseball playoffs.  That is definitely out of the ordinary for me.

Even though I feel stable overall, I am quite lonely too.  I manage to keep myself occupied with comedy shows, listening to music, playing computer games, etc.  But I haven’t been socializing much and I think it’s starting to make me lonely.  I hosted my parents and my aunt for a couple hours a few days ago when they were in town.  Other than this I haven’t had much for social life.  I find it harder all the time to connect with friends over social media.  Seems like no one just wants to chat with friends and have a good time anymore.  Quite sad if you ask me.

As it is I keep to myself anymore.  I am starting to have entire days when I don’t leave my apartment now.  It’s just too painful trying to stay in a positive mood and socialize when most people around want to be irritable and angry all the time.  I try to tell people the positives of what is going on but no one acknowledges this.  I’m am almost always met with dead silence from everyone except my tech groups and my own mother.  Kind of discouraging that I’m almost forty and the best socializing I get is from my own parents.  And people wonder why I’m starting to sleep twelve hours a day again.  Socializing is just too discouraging now.

Fortunately I’m not having hallucinations anymore.  But the sadness of not having anyone to even chat with for even a few minutes is getting to me.  I am generally pretty happy overall but I can’t even share this happiness because no one else wants it.  And that’s really discouraging.  Makes me glad I’m an introvert by nature.