Random Thoughts on Colder Weather and Socializing

Been quiet on my end the last few days.  I’m glad the weather is starting to turn cool.  Summers have been my toughest time of year for me for many years.  I guess I just don’t like day after day of sunny and hot weather.  I’m not a lizard and I can wear sweaters, get under fleece blankets, and make hot soup and coffee.  I’m usually my happiest in winter and spring.  Winter usually puts me in a philosophical and reflective mood.  And I’m usually happiest and most active in the spring.  Even as a middle aged man looking at the second half of my life and seeing many people my age the parents of teenagers, I still feel as giddy as a child when it snows.  I like Christmas, but I enjoy the socializing with family more than I do getting gifts now.  As far as gifts go, as a middle aged man I really appreciate things like tools, clothing, and money or gift cards.  Now that I’m a grown man, I understand why my dad always liked getting tools or clothing for Christmas.

As far as getting ready for colder weather, I broke down and bought a jar of instant coffee for the first time in over a month several days ago.  It takes the chill out of my bones and helps me concentrate my thoughts.  But too much can make me jittery and easily irritated.  So it’s more of a balancing act than it was even five years ago.  Caffeine just effects me more in middle age than it did when I was in my twenties.  I also decided to regrow my beard and let my hair get longer.  I more of less shaved myself bald and got rid of my beard for the summer.  Yes, I cut my own hair.  As good as my barber is, I just can’t justify paying her increased prices.  Especially since I usually do most of my work and receiving guests at home and don’t have to be super presentable every day.

Been watching more movies lately.  Watched a few science fiction movies from the late 90s and early 2000s over the last few days.  As far as movies go, I always liked science fiction and historical drama.  I don’t usually watch a lot of westerns, but Tombstone was one of my favorite movies from my teenage years.  I do like some superhero movies, especially the Batman trilogy with Christian Bale.  Haven’t watched much for comedies lately.

Still haven’t had much for socializing lately, at least not in person.  But I’m at the age when most of my friends are busy with careers and family.  All my friends except for my college friend who’s a school teacher in Netherlands are married or divorced.  I don’t hear from my brother much as he’s quite busy with his career and family.  I try to stay in contact with my best friends from high school and college at least a few times a month in spite how busy they are.  I imagine we can eventually pick up on the long drawn out conversations once the careers slow down and their children grow up.  Thanks to social media, my dad has reestablished contact with some of his old college and Air Force friends.

As popular as facebook has become I imagine there are millions of retirees in my parents’ age bracket reestablishing contact with old school friends and military buddies.  Before facebook got really big, my parents told me they were proud of how many people in my age bracket and younger were making more effort to stay in contact with friends from high school, college, and the military.  It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it still isn’t.  But the efforts were worth while.

Some of my friends I’ve seen only a few times in the last fifteen years, but we can easily stay in contact.  It’s one of the reasons I stay on social media in spite how much negative vibes can thrive in some cases.  I have gotten to where I don’t post much, at least not around people I don’t know very well.  I usually save my best material for friends and family I know will appreciate, or at least tolerate, my eccentric humor and thoughts.

Don’t have much to rant about.  I still occasionally have flare ups.  But in most cases I can ride those out with a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I guess I don’t feel much guilt for the flare ups, at least as long as I don’t take my illness out on other people.  If a flare up occurs, I can usually deal with with after a few minutes of deep breathing, ranting to myself in a normal voice, or just stepping back and disconnecting from socializing for several minutes.

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Taking Care of Anxiety and Taking Care of Self

Been feeling quite anxious the last several days.  I didn’t realize how anxiety stricken I was until I took an emergency anti anxiety medication.  I slept for several hours.  Even though I missed a couple ball games I wanted to watch on Saturday night, I slept very well.  It was the best I slept in weeks.  It was one of those sleeps that was so deep you had no clue how long you were down for.  As it was, I was down for over five hours.  When I woke, I felt a calmness and peace I hadn’t felt in weeks.  I felt quite weird in the fact it was also 1:30 am and I felt all this peace and confidence I hadn’t felt in a while.  So I’m now waiting on a load of laundry to finish and it’s 3 am my time on Sunday morning.

I now fear that much of my avoidance of people and feelings that people were more irritable than usual were due to me being anxious and more sensitive than most people lately.  I have always had an uncanny ability to pick up on other people’s feelings and vibes even as a child.  I could sometimes sense their feelings almost as soon as they could.  Naturally this caused me to over read many of my family and friends.  Anxiety is part of the mental illness.  And I had been more sensitive to it than usual for much of this summer.  While the anti anxiety medication and long sleep helped, I now want to take active steps to warding off hurtful anxiety.  I now realize how paralyzed by my own fear I am.  That’s probably why I avoid socializing in person as much as possible.  Other than chit chat with neighbors when I check my mail or meet the delivery man to sign for my deliveries, most of my in person interaction came when my cleaning lady came to my house once a week.

She usually comes on Thursdays, so those were getting to be my favorite days of the week, at least until fall started and college football got going.  It is an exciting year of football for me.  My Huskers, while not in the championship picture, are now at 3 wins and 1 loss, and that loss was an overtime one.  I feel a sense of hope and pride in my home state team I hadn’t felt in several years.  I think it made a lot of people happy that Scott Frost, our coach, has a winning track record at his previous jobs and is a Nebraska alum and grew up in a small farming town in state.  I hope we continue to improve.  I don’t know if the glory days of my youth will ever return, but it is encouraging that the alumni and fans still support the team even though it’s been twenty years since we won a championship.  I don’t know anywhere else that has that kind of unwavering support.

Overall, I’m starting to feel more confident and energetic.  That anxiety will mess with a person real bad if left unchecked.  I hate to think most of my problems are due to anxiety problems I was not addressing.  But that is how strong our minds are.  Our minds are powerful enough it can make anxiety as real as the air we breathe and the food we eat.  And anxiety does effect physical health.  I had felt aches and pains, especially in my lower back.  I still feel those some but I can now push through them.  Sometimes getting outside help can make all the difference.  It can be tough to seek medical help or assistance from even a trusted doctor.  I don’t know how much of that is my illness talking or me being a man or what.  It can be tough to ask for help, especially when I am often able to solve my own problems and have a knack for helping others solve their issues.  But I definitely read too much into other people, especially those I’m close to.  But the mind, even an ill one, is very powerful in that it can sometimes make or break our realities.

Avoiding Negative People While Mentally Ill

Haven’t been in the mood for socializing much lately.  It’s not because I’m feeling lousy and irritable.  Far from it.  I avoid socializing for the most part lately because almost everyone else I associate with is in lousy moods.  I have run out of patience with people coming to me with their problems and not caring about mine.  What makes things even worse is that no one I talk to complains about things they can immediately remedy.  I’m tired of listening to my friends and family complain about this, that, and the third.  You have problems, well good.  That means that you are still alive.  Everyone has problems, even I do.  Surprised?

I haven’t even left my apartment for several days because I am tired of seeing and hearing so many people be in foul moods.  I have been told that socializing is important to good mental health.  Is it really when most other people are being negative and toxic?  I finally had enough and shut off my phone this afternoon.  Don’t come to me and expect me to listen to your gripes and not even have the courtesy to care about mine.  I live below poverty levels.  I am overweight.  I have chronic back problems.  My mental illness sometimes flares up but I don’t dare take it out on anyone.

I am lonely.  I have almost no one to talk about things I want to talk about, outside of my own parents.  It seems like most of my friends are in foul moods all the time anymore.  And my neighbors are just as bad.  I have to admit dealing with so many angry people is taking a toll on my psyche.  About the only things I enjoy anymore are watching youtube videos and playing computer games.  Most people will tell me this is a horrible way to live my life.  It probably is, but dealing with angry and irritable people for most of my social interactions sounds even worse.  And my friends and family wonder why I dropped out of society.  I just don’t want to deal with other people’s toxic attitudes and behavior.  I sometimes sleep just to feel better and not deal with other peoples’ madness.  I probably sleep ten to twelve hours a day anymore.  I have reached my breaking point.

Socializing is no longer enjoyable.  Being by myself is far more enjoyable anymore.  I have given up on telling people good news and sharing my enthusiasm for tech and science advances.  Most my friends and family either think I am “fake news” or I am met with complete indifference.  I would actually rather be told I am a liar than be met with indifference.  I’m burned out on negative friends and family.  I talk to only two or three people on facebook on a regular basis these days because of all the anger and hopelessness.  I don’t know if it’s me or if all my friends and family went bad all at once.

Naturally no one sees these things the way I do.  And if they do, they won’t bother to do anything to improve their situations.  As it is, for now, I’m just staying out of sight and out of mind.  I refuse to socialize with negative people.  I lost much of my youth because I was raised to be a negative pessimist who was never pleased.  I’ll be damned to spend my adulthood that way.

Finding Happiness In Being A Hermit

Been staying close to home lately.  Still sleeping more than I would like.  But I guess I need it.  I enjoy the longer nights.  Won’t be too long and the leaves will be turning and the weather will get cold.  Spend much of my weekends watching football and grilling my own home based tale gate.  Made bacon and cheddar brats last weekend.

Been feeling more stable lately.  Might be because I’m sleeping more and enduring less stress lately.  Haven’t heard from my neighbors much lately.  Sometimes drama gets started in these tight quarters and people have too much free time.  Even though I’m on disability I try to stay busy.  Some days it’s nothing more than reading science articles online or messing with my computer.  I still lift weights three days a week at least.  I’m noticing a difference after a few months of this.  I’ve been stable enough I haven’t had to adjust my meds for almost six months now.

So far this fall has gone pretty good even though I don’t socialize much in person.  It gets boring hearing my neighbors complain about things they won’t or can’t do anything about.  I have my problems, sure, but I don’t feel I have a duty to share them with everyone whether they want to listen or not.  I can only handle a few minutes of complaints, gossip, or drama before I’m ready to go back home.  I spent much of my younger years as a pessimist.  I’m not going back.  If I have to be a hermit to avoid negative and toxic people, so be it.

Changes

Haven’t written in several days.  I guess I really haven’t had much to report lately.  Had a breakdown three weeks ago but things have been going pretty decent since.  I still spend a lot of time at home.  I feel uneasy in public most of the time, usually preferring to stay home and socialize over the phone or via social media.  I’ve also been sleeping more.  I feel more refreshed when I’m awake and I get more restful sleep and stay asleep longer.  I’ve also given up coffee.  I’ve now gone three weeks without it.  I switched over to tea instead.  I think I’ve gotten more sensitive to caffeine as I age.  I certainly feel more irritable and jittery after a lot of caffeine.

I stay home most of the time anymore.  I admit I don’t socialize much in person.  But it works for me.  I don’t get much out of socializing with my neighbors as I don’t have much in common with them.  I don’t have much in common with most people anymore it seems like.  I’m not interested in politics or local gossip.  I guess I never have been.  And I certainly can’t understand why some people repeat the same mistakes over and over and expect different results.  Maybe it’s from not knowing yourself.  Some people get worried that social media and search engine algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. With as little as some people take time to examine themselves, I’m not surprised.

I do enjoy socializing but only in certain situations that rarely come up for me.  I would rather spend my days alone than deal with rude and ignorant people.  Sadly, rudeness and ignorance seems to be valued by many people.  I would rather not deal with that.  I have enough problems of my own with mental illness.  I can talk for hours about things like history, art, science, literature, philosophy, etc.  But if the conversation turns to gossip, complaints, politics, I’m ready to end the conversation after only a few minutes.

I’m fortunate that I have several friends and family members who will at least tolerate my quirks and fulfill my needs for the types of conversation I crave.  I love intellectual stimulation.  I crave it maybe as much as a drug addict craves his next fix.  I admit learning and reading are my fix.  I can spend months on end researching topics online and in books, sometimes even years.  I have spent several years now on science and tech.  Before that, I spent a few years on economics.  For awhile I dabbled in philosophy.  And I’ve always been interested in history and literature.  I enjoy learning and I enjoy talking about things I learn in my day to day studies.

Since I no longer have a “regular job” and can live decently on my disability pension, I have no reason not to scratch my itch for mental stimulation.  I make it my job to inform myself on things that my friends with families and careers may not have time to research.  Sometimes I am frustrated at most of my friends and family don’t research things like I do.  I imagine that is the illness talking.  As I don’t have traditional employment or children or a wife, and I love learning new things, I have no excuse not to inform myself on topics like tech advances and current events.

I have said previously I am not interested in politics.  What I should have said is I don’t appreciate the fighting that goes along with it.   I do find foreign policy and geopolitics fascinating.  Between modern geopolitics, the rapid advances in science and tech we are now experiencing, and the fact I can learn this with a portable computer and cheap wireless internet that is fast enough I can get videos, this is exciting times for myself.  It seems like much of what was science fiction as recently as thirty years ago is becoming reality now.  And the fact I can relatively easily access psych treatments that weren’t available when I was a child in the 1980s, I can watch this unfold in the news sites and blogs and youtube in real time.  I would say we are living one of the greatest dramas ever written right now, expect this is real life.  I find it all fascinating that things I couldn’t have imagined even twenty years ago are now occurring.  Exciting times we are living in, granted quite stressful at times too.  Stay tuned, it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

September 4 2019

Haven’t had much to report lately.  Been pretty quiet as far as the illness goes.  The rest of my life has been pretty quiet too.  Sleeping more than usual lately.  I sleep a few hours in the overnight and then usually nap in the afternoons.

Feeling pretty stable overall.  Haven’t had much for even minor flare ups.  I think it helps that I’m avoiding negative people and news.  I have also been two weeks without coffee, which is probably the longest I have gone since my college years.  I am convinced caffeine was effecting me more than even a few years ago.  Now that I’m in my late 30s I find there are some things that effect me more than previously.  I think caffeine is one of them.  I also no longer like sugar or carbs as much.  I pretty much crave meat and vegetables anymore.

I just don’t have a lot to report.  I’m happy it’s football season and cooler weather is near. I also look forward to the baseball playoffs in October. Fall is my favorite time of year for sports and spring is probably my favorite time of year overall.