Random Thoughts On A Saturday Night

Been snowing on and off the last few days.  So I have just stayed home and admired the snow while watching football or listening to music.  Haven’t read much the last few days, not even articles.  I have found that I actually remember what I hear in audiobooks more than what I read in regular books.  I don’t read very fast anymore.  And when I do, I find myself stopping every half hour or so just to think over what I’ve read.  It’s a terrible way to try to read novels, but it’s perfect for heavy reading like philosophy and science books.

I guess winter is here.  Not that it bothers me any.  Spring is usually my favorite time of year, followed by winter.  I love the chilly weather, long nights, and not feeling pressured to go out all the time.  I enjoy the holidays more as I don’t venture out into the stores and fight the crowds anymore.  What Christmas shopping I do is all online now.  I got too much sensory overload from going to stores.  Too many bright lights, too many people, and too much noise.

I haven’t had much for flare ups for a few weeks now.  I think it helps that I am spending more time with my neighbors.  I usually see them once a day, sometimes twice.  Last weekend they spent an entire afternoon at my place.  I think it’s helping ease some of my stress and anxiety about people.  I have become quite fearful of crowds the last several months.  And the fact that most of the time when people wanted to talk to me, they were angry or I was in trouble.  For awhile, this made me very paranoid.  Sometimes I would have panic attacks when I heard people talking in the hallway.  Sometimes I wouldn’t answer my phone even if it was a friend or family member.  I have gotten over that recently.  I still answer even if it’s an obvious telemarketer.  But rather than get upset, I just hang up after a few seconds.  It’s not the most polite thing to do, but it’s not as bad as yelling at the person or machine on the other end.  About the only time I don’t answer my phone is when I’m taking a bath or a nap.

I’m also having fewer aches and pains.  The worst are always when I first wake up in the morning.  And when I sit down for more than a couple hours, I can be kind of sore for the first minute I’m standing up.  Anymore I almost always make a point to stand up at least once every hour, even while I’m on serious projects.  I still lift weights three times a week.  I think I’ve lost weight.  I don’t know if I really have, but my clothes fit better, I recover from being out of breath faster, I recover from anxiety and irritability quicker, I sleep better, and my back doesn’t hurt as often.  I still stay seated most of time when I have guests or my cleaning lady is doing her work, but it’s just so I don’t get in the way now.  Even the shirts I bought a few months ago are now kind of baggy.  I still wear a lot of sweat pants and cargo shorts, but it’s mainly because they are so comfortable and I do most of my work and shopping from home.

I sold my car a few weeks ago.  I sold it to a friend of my parents who was needing more reliable transport.  And I wasn’t driving much as I have found I can do almost everything from home now.  I was also getting kind of unnerved about driving too.  It’s just too much going on all at once.  I admit to getting distracted and sensory overload easily.  It’s just best that I don’t be out on the road anymore.  And if I desperately really need to go anywhere, my town does have a few taxi cabs and a few Uber drivers now.  My brother and his wife live in Oklahoma City and they usually hire Uber drivers when they need to go to and from the airport to avoid paying for a parking space.  I have an account, but haven’t actually used it yet.  I don’t miss driving that much.  It was just becoming more of a hassle than it was worth.  I enjoyed going on road trips all the time when I was in my twenties and early thirties.  But as I have gotten a few years older, I pretty much enjoy spending most of my time at home in the company of family or friends.  I’m glad I travelled when I was young and in more stable health.

I don’t regret any of the travels I did.  Actually, there really isn’t much I regret about my life so far.  Sure I regret getting schizophrenia, but it’s not like I had any say in that.  But I’ve made my peace and adapted accordingly.  I know it’s popular right now to be nostalgic about the past and be convinced that the world is going to hell.  Yet, for me, there isn’t any time in history I would want to be at other than the here and now.  If I had been born in my grandparents’ generation, I wouldn’t have had decent medications and would have been lifelong institutionalized if I was lucky.  As it is, I can live more or less independent and on poverty level wages because of medications, social safety nets like disability insurance and Medicaid.  Thanks to computers and internet, I have easy access to almost any kind of information I want within reason.  That alone would make the scholars of any previous era jealous.  And I get access to this treasure trove of information for the cost of one dollar per day.  I find myself looking up things all the time, even useless information like when I’m talking football statistics with my friends or family.  I couldn’t have done this twenty five years ago.  And now that slightly over 50 percent of the world’s population now has internet access, it is starting to no longer be considered a luxury.  For me, it’s an absolute necessity for my current lifestyle.  I’ll take easy internet access over flying cars and meals in pill form any time.

November 26 2019

Today is the first major snow storm of the season in my town.  I’m enjoying staying at home, listening to the wind howl, and watching the snow fall.  I’m glad I’m not traveling in this mess.  It’s a good night to just stay home and stay bunkered down.

Even though I still spend most of my time at home, I get more visitors.  My neighbors visit usually once a day.  They were over here all afternoon on Sunday.  After a few weeks of having more regular company, I’m less paranoid about people in general.  I still spend most of my time at home, but it’s not as a defense mechanism. I usually stay home because I want to.  And I have plenty of books to read and things to keep me occupied in my apartment.  I am enjoying the longer nights.  I usually go to bed about 9 or 10 pm and wake about 4 am anymore.  I sometimes nap in the afternoons too.

I don’t have much planned for Thanksgiving.  I’m spending it with my neighbors.  My parents are coming to my place a few days later.  I haven’t decided what I’m doing for Christmas. I guess I really don’t want to go anywhere, but I’m up for hosting a few family members.  I just don’t like to travel much anymore.  I imagine much of this is due to the illness.  I am glad I got to travel in my younger years.

My illness has changed over the last few years.  Some things really upset me now that didn’t used to.  I am more prone to want to be left alone.  I am less tolerant of being treated poorly by others.  I have zero patience for gossip and drama.  But I am more likely to seek help before things become crisis.  I’m more honest with myself and others.  I’m more accepting of my quirks and hangups.  And I no longer feel I have to hide my mental illness.  And I feel more hopeful overall.  While I’m not delusional enough to believe I will get cured, I have learned how to adapt to the illness and plan accordingly.  I guess I don’t know how I would adapt to life without a mental illness.

I don’t know what I would do if I ever was cured.  It would probably mean I’d have to get off social security disability and find work again. Because of the illness, my work skills have deteriorated to almost nothing.  Few jobs are available anymore that don’t require college degrees or moving to an urban area.  I don’t want to go into debt to get a degree that will probably be obsolete before I pay it off.  I certainly don’t want to get married at this point.  I’m almost 40 years old.  I don’t want kids at this point.  I didn’t have kids or get married because I feared I would be a lousy father and husband.  I just knew myself too well.  I don’t really care about become rich.  I certainly don’t want to become famous. I’ve seen too many high achievers get built up only to get torn down later.  I always thought that it was stupid how we praise high achievers only to condemn them later for making mistakes and being human.  I don’t want to be famous, at least not in my lifetime.  Right now I’m content to be an independent scholar, write my blogs, write my journals, and have a few close friends and some family.  I really don’t want much more than that.

Sometimes I don’t even really mind living in a large apartment complex, especially as long as I can stay out of sight and out of the way of drama.  I don’t want to hear gossip anymore.  I don’t care about who did or said what to whom anymore.  The easiest way to make me happy is to not harass me and even just leave me alone unless you have good news.  I’m happy to see my neighbors because they are almost always in good moods.  I’m happy to see my cleaning lady every week because she doesn’t mind the conversation while she works.  And I’m usually happy to chat with my friends and family, at least as long as they aren’t knit picking me.

Pain and Depression

Haven’t been writing much the last few days.  Starting to sleep more again. Been fighting a cold for several days too.  Been waking up with unexplainable aches and pains the last several mornings.  This morning, my ankle hurt so much I could barely walk.  Pretty much spent the day sitting down or in bed just from the pain.  I couldn’t even answer the door or get to the phone because my ankle hurts so bad.  Oddly, pain pills and even ice don’t seem to do much for it.  It’s been a frustrating last few days.

Haven’t been having much anxiety lately.  But I have been having problems with depression and irritability.  I sometimes get irritated when I’m physically sick.  I’m not usually very good company when I’m sick or hurting.  I’m sorry for that.

Been discouraged and depressed more lately.  I make efforts to find what is going right out there.  Sometimes that can tough to find.  I haven’t had much for conversation the last few days.  Just haven’t been in the mood.  I feel lonely yet I don’t enjoy socializing, at least I haven’t lately.

Getting Ready For Winter With Mental Illness

It’s the weekend again. Bought groceries yesterday.  Got my winter supplies restocked.  One thing I remember from my youth and preparing for winter was to buy non perishable foods that can be easily prepared without electric ovens or microwaves if needed.  That’s why I usually get lots of canned soup, peanut butter, and canned vegetables if I think the weather could get bad and I may have to be home bound for a few days.  While the forecast does look more usual November than the last several days, it does help to just get into the habit of buying extras.

I also have reserve supplies of my medications, not because I skip doses.  But I usually refill my meds when I have a few days worth left and just let the supply build up over time.  Sometimes, especially when I’m starting a different medication or changing doses, I will ask my doctor for samples.  Usually he will give me a few days worth of samples, especially after I explained my emergency preparedness mindset.  Granted with medication samples, it is best to recycle them if they get too old.  Most pharmacies and doctors’ offices have drop-offs for meds to be properly disposed.  Dumping medications down the sink eventually end up in someone’s drinking water, especially if enough people do it over long times.

I’ve also been fighting a bit of a cold for a few days.  Pretty much drinking the fluids and taking vitamin c pills and playing the waiting game.  Colds eventually clear out.  First time in a few years I’ve had a cold.  But it’s better than having flu or migraines.

So I’m spending my weekend at home, fighting off my cold, watching a few football games, etc.  I bought some groceries for my neighbors for the next time they want to cook out.  They were kind enough to make me supper a couple times this last week.  I appreciate what they do yet I don’t wish to abuse the friendship at the same time.

November 13 2019

Pretty good day today.  My neighbors came over to visit a little.  They also helped me with my laundry.  They were kind enough to make supper for me too.  I don’t have any immediate way to repay them other then buy them a few supplies and maybe some groceries the next time I’m shopping.

I’ve seen my neighbors almost every day for the last two weeks.  I’m starting to adjust to having visitors more often.  And I quite enjoy it.  It’s a pleasant feeling to know that someone out of blood relations and old friends care about me.  I’m slowly getting less and less anxiety prone by the day.  I even don’t nap as often.  I used to nap twice a day.  That has dropped to only once a day, usually in late afternoon, within the last week.  I’m even experiencing less severe aches and pains.  The mornings are still the worst, but even those are getting more bearable by the day.  Usually after a stretch, a hot bath, and a couple cups of water with my breakfast, I’m ready to go.

I don’t even play computer games as much anymore.  I spend more time reading online articles, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and writing in my journals.  I usually write a couple times a day.  I my journals are the domain for my thoughts that would be too off subject and inappropriate for this blog.  It’s too early to tell, but hopefully I can eventually get back into writing poetry and drafts for stories.  I haven’t written poetry on a regular basis in probably six years.  Same goes for stories and novel drafts.

Been getting back into writing emails again.  They are much better for writing in depth and detailed correspondence.  Social media is good for short snippets, photos, and links to articles.  No such thing as an all purpose tool, at least not for socializing online.

Been staying up later too.  Went to bed around 11pm last night.  Got up at 5am.  I still haven’t pulled an all nighter in months.  I may try to do that before too long.

 

November 12 2019

It’s been another good day.  I spent the afternoon hosting my neighbors as visitors.  They were here for a couple hours.  I forgot how good it was to have visitors that weren’t family.  I had been isolating more or less for months.  I hope this is because of paranoia on my part.  But I just don’t feel safe in public anymore.  Haven’t for a long time.  I guess spending most of my time at home, reading books, writing, and working on computer games has become the new normal for me.  I no longer want to deal with outside drama. Some people can be so mean anymore.

I’m having fewer aches and pains overall.  The worst is when I wake up in the mornings. After a soak in a hot bath, and my morning routines I feel better.  I make it a point to stand up for a couple minutes every hour or so.  Used to be I would sit for hours on end when reading, writing, etc.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  It wasn’t healthy.

Been writing a few emails.  Got a couple responses from an old friend from high school. I find it easier to communicate via email than social media.  Social media is alright to drop in for a couple minutes.  But it simply wasn’t designed for long, drawn out conversations.  Those are the exact conversations I crave.  My best conversations have never been over facebook.  But I and my friends are rediscovering emails.  I now treat them like traditional letters.

November 11 2019

I’m now beginning day two of adjusting to no social media.  I notice I’m not as easily stressed even after two days.  It helps that I’m not wasting time waiting for friends to respond to my posts.  It’s also good that I no longer see every little post in my former groups that don’t pertain to me or the subjects I care about.  I just got tired of stressing over people I will never meet in person.  Even the college friends I have, I haven’t talked to many of them in person since graduation.  Sure what they are up to is interesting, but I don’t need a moment to moment play by play of their daily lives.  I can easily catch up with them via email maybe a few times a year.  Just because I may not talk to you on a daily basis doesn’t mean I am upset with you.

And in the make believe reality that is fostered by the abuse of social media, that realization can be easily lost.  Most people aren’t going to respond to me within a few minutes simply because they are at work or taking care of their children, etc.  I lost sight of that for awhile when I was spending a few hours a day checking social media.

Since I cut my social media accounts I found I am doing far more writing and watching movies.  I also don’t play as many computer games.  I must have spent four hours just writing down my random thoughts yesterday.  It is far easier to express myself in emails, blogs, journal entries, etc. than I can on facebook and twitter posts.  Besides, it isn’t like my facebook accounts were generating that much more traffic.

At this point in my life I don’t care if I make money off the blog, at least as long as I have my disability pension and can make rent every month.  In almost fifteen years as a renter I haven’t missed a rent payment yet.  I’m not going hungry, even if some days I’m living off hot dogs, ramen noodles, and canned vegetables.  I don’t write for fame and fortune.  I write for a record to be out there somewhere in cyber space.  I suppose it’s like putting a message in a bottle, tossing it into the ocean, and hoping someone finds it someday.  Or maybe like the Voyager probes that will drift through space for ages, silently waiting to be discovered.  It is kind of like my way of saying to the cosmos “I existed for a short while in an average small town with a mental illness.”  That probably is going to be my legacy, if I am going to have one.  I don’t have children and probably never will.  I will probably be forgotten by my own family in a few generations, by my friends and classmates families far sooner.  Yet this blog, this proverbial message in a bottle that is digital driftwood floating through cyber space, who knows how long it will go on.  Maybe in a few generations there will be a cure for mental illness.  Sheesh, in a few generations life today may be completely unrecognizable to the citizens of that time and age.  They may look upon mental illness with as much shock and horror as people today look upon Bubonic Plague, smallpox, and cholera.  Some people live on through their offspring.  Others live on through their work.  A select few are such movers and shakers their deeds and names live on throughout history.  Me, well, if I am to live on after I die, it will be in the words I write in a small blog.

November 10 2019

Today is November 10, 2019.  This is the first day in my experiment of living without social media.  I shut down my twitter account and I went inactive on my facebook.  I had plenty of acquaintances but only a handful of people I interacted with on a regular basis.  I am getting back into writing emails again.  I wrote to my best friend and she wrote back a few hours later.  So far I’m not going through withdrawal, at least not yet.  Now that I starting to adjust to not needing to check on my friends several times a day, I found I actually got some more things done today.  I started journaling again.  I had bought a few notebooks several months ago with the idea that I would write in those.  But I found that it’s actually easier now to type things out rather than write them out long handed.  I don’t write long hand much anymore.  But I can write decently on a computer keyboard.  I’m going to do more writing on my computer now.

Renewed my Netflix subscription a few days ago.  Saw a couple science fiction movies I had been meaning to see but never got around to.  Saw Cloud Atlas this morning.  Saw Thor Ragnaork a couple days ago.  Thinking about binge watching a few of my favorite series again.  I’m thinking of starting with either The Borgias or Hell on Wheels.  I may also pick back up on Star Trek Next Generation.

Finished an audiobook on YouTube a couple days ago.  It was another book about automation and the future of working within the next twenty years.  If what many of these authors and scientists write is true, millions of people could be out of work within the next ten to twenty years.  This could be quite devastating to many people, especially people in mid career who suddenly find their skills obsolete.

And the kicker is that while scientists and tech bosses are talking about this, as is the press, almost no politician is even discussing this. I swear our political system isn’t designed to keep up with the current speed of tech and social change.  Neither are our financial, legal, educational, or religious systems.  As unrecognizable as the world of 2019 would be to someone visiting in 1999, I am convinced the changes between now and the next twenty years will be even more disruptive.  We can deny it or legislate it away as much as want, but it won’t do any good.  It will make the transitions only tougher.  And I fear our current crop of leaders in government, education, commerce, religion, etc. are woefully under preparing for what is staring us in the face.  I’ve feared this for years.

Science and tech seem to be among the few things that are actually adapting to the new ways of living and doing things.  I mean, we have tech magnates making plans to go to Mars, build colonies on the Moon, provide broadband internet to every person on Earth, and even people audacious enough to try to figure out how to reverse aging.  Yet we have politicians who try to revive dead industries, try to divide peoples, and seek to start wars.  I try not to pay attention to politicians anymore.  They are, as far as I’m concerned, merely a distraction and a circus side show.  The real drivers of progress are science, technology, medicine, and art.  And it may be that increased international trade is what will prevent a major world war, if it is to be prevented.  I mean, what’s the point of going to war against trade and business partners?  The citizens, by and large, want peace.  It’s our short sighted and arrogant leaders who want war and division and hate.  Keep them divided and fighting among themselves I guess.

Removing Myself From Social Media and Thoughts on Change

I decided I’m giving up social media.  I cancelled my twitter account and have put my facebook on inactive status.  I spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually writing and researching.  I have only a couple close friends and a few cousins I really hear from anymore via facebook.  I would have given it up over a year ago if I wasn’t fearful I’d permanently lose contact with my friends and family.  I tired writing more emails several months ago, but got only one response from the dozen I sent out.  I suppose it feeds into my paranoia that my friends and family really don’t like me that much.  Every time I call my parents, the bulk of the conversation focuses on what I can do to improve myself and how to make my apartment more presentable.  I find this irritating.  I really do.  I can’t even just live anymore.  At this point in my life, I don’t care if I impress people or am popular.  I have never been popular, not even in college or high school.  But I had a good time in college because I got to spend time with people even more eccentric and academically oriented than myself on a daily basis.  I know many people condemn academic knowledge, scholarly pursuits, and intelligence.  I have endured this my entire life.  And I have given up on people ever changing their attitudes towards intelligence and wisdom.  I just want to live and be allowed to pursue my goals, which include learning as much as I possibly can about as many subjects as I can.  I don’t give a damn if I ever make a cent off my pursuits of knowledge and wisdom.  As long as I have enough money to make rent and keep my pantry stocked and myself clothed and my psych medications current, everything else is just add ons.  I don’t need a large house, a prestigious career, a trophy wife, lots of kids, a fancy car, designer clothes, or the respect of people I have nothing in common with.  I never have.  I was, like many ambitious teenagers, brainwashed into thinking I needed such nonsense to have a fulfilled life.  It took a serious mental illness and struggling for most of my twenties to realize that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  And it took a few more years to where I got to the point when I no longer felt shame for not wanting a life I had no say in designing.

I don’t feel shame for not wanting to be rich or famous.  I don’t write blogs every few days with the idea I will get noticed and make a train load of money.  I write for a record of what it like to be a mentally ill man in early 21st century America.  I don’t write just for my current audience.  I write for future generations so there is at least one record as to what mental illness meant in the early stages of the Information Revolution.  And make no mistake, our species and our civilizations are going through a period of transition at very least as profound as the Agricultural Revolution thousands of years ago and the Industrial Revolution hundreds of years ago.  It should be no wonder so many people are afraid and angry.  Afraid of what’s happening and what is going to happen.  Angry that we found that much of what we learned in our youths and what worked well in previous generations is starting to no longer apply.

We are at a point in history when our science and tech is advancing faster than our institutions of government, religion, education, finance, industry, and social norms.  At this point in time (November 2019), the world is far different than the one I went to high school in during the 1990s.  I’ve recently rewatched some of the tv shows that were popular when I was a teenager, and it’s almost quaint looking at some of the tech that was considered cutting edge twenty five years ago.  Even in the Matrix series, there were no smart phones, social media, video sharing platforms, laptop computers, etc.  There were still phone booths in that series and that was made only twenty years ago.  I didn’t notice the subtle changes that were happening over the course of a year or two when things were happening.  But looking at it over the span of twenty years, I am as a 39 year old man living in a world that is foreign to the one I occupied at age 16.  I’m not even sure my niece and nephews have seen a VCR tape anywhere outside of a history show or museum.  I sometimes chuckle when I see older people who don’t research online as much as my cohorts do.  But my teenage nephews would chuckle that I have never run a 3D printer or used a VR headset.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset from money he raised working odd jobs for his parents and neighbors.  He set up a VR flying simulator for my father.  As for me, I’m waiting a couple of years for the prices to drop and the tech to get more user friendly.  As crazy as the changes I have seen in the last twenty years have been, I guarantee the next twenty will be even more so.  At this point I’m just content to buckle up and enjoy the ride from my apartment in small town Nebraska.

Asking For Assistance

From my earliest memories I always wanted to be of assistance to others.  My dad sometimes tells stories of when they were building their house in my childhood hometown I was often fetching tools for my dad even as a two year old.  I often went with my mom to feed some of the stray cats in our town and try to find homes for them even before I started school.  When I was in high school I always made a point of being one of the cool upperclassmen who didn’t harass the freshmen or junior high kids.  In college, I had stash of over the counter medical supplies that I sometimes gave to my dorm mates.  I was the guy on our wing who always had toe nail clippers and anti itch cream.  I also proofread a lot of research papers for classmates as I had a good eye for wording things better even as a teenager.  When I moved out on my own I used to help people move as I owned an SUV for several years.  I also took people to the grocery store whenever I needed supplies more often than not.  I eventually had to start charging people as a few people were overusing the service.

Now that I am more home bound and have more aches and pains, I’m now the one asking for assistance more often.  I now have a cleaning lady come in to scrub my place down once a week.  One of my neighbors now helps me wash my laundry a few times a month as long as I pay her a small fee and provide the soap and laundry money.  Her husband sometimes makes supper for me on the weekends.  Last weekend it was meat loaf and made from scratch gravy and mashed potatoes.  Perfect cold food weather that I, as a bachelor, don’t make for myself very often.  I probably would have made more complex dishes than my grilled steaks, bratwursts, and barbecued chicken strips if I was cooking for a family or a girlfriend.

For the first several months of hitting the middle aged wall, I had a tough time accepting that I would be wise to ask for more assistance.  I had always been the one giving my assistance to others, often with no expectation of any return.  I don’t how much of this is my illness, being a man, or having the independent streak that I do.  But it took some pride swallowing and soul searching in order to come to the realization that 1) I’m not as spry and healthy as I once was, 2) twenty years of schizophrenia took more of a toll on me than I wanted to admit, and 3) there is no shame in seeking outside aide.

For years I was the one aiding others.  I guess now that my health isn’t as stable as it once was, asking for help more often will become normal.  But then again, I will be 40 next June.  And many of my friends the same age as I am are starting to experience the early stages of declining health.  A friend of mine has arthritis in her hips.  Another friend of mine now wears glasses and his hands aren’t as stable as they were even five years ago.  A third friend of mine is fighting cancer.  A cousin of mine died from cancer in her forties.  My brother had to have eye surgery because his eyes were getting so bad.  A cousin of mine had a surgery a while back that required him to do rehab for awhile.  The wife of one of my cousins has had several surgeries already and she is my age.  A friend of mine from high school has a wife who has some kind of blood disease, I think.  All of these people are my age or only a few years older.  None of us smoked or did drugs in our younger days.  But things tend to fall apart in middle age.

While I feel guilty that I couldn’t manage both my schizophrenia and physical health perfectly ( I opted to focus more on mental health than physical health in my younger years), I am grateful I have family and friends who are willing to help me out now that I am no longer as physically strong as I once was.  In short, being decent and helpful to people eventually pays off.  It may get you taken advantage of once in awhile, especially in your younger and healthier years, but the world does seem to have a round about way of rewarding people for making efforts to be decent to others.  It may take decades to get a return, but what comes around sometimes does come back to you.  In short, it doesn’t pay to be a jerk to people during the early years.  Some people do seem to get away with being jerks and hypocrites but eventually things can backfire on them.  If nothing else, history is not kind to people like that.  Whether it’s God, Karma, Justice, the Universe, etc., just because life starts unfair and unjust people get rewarded short term, they often get their due even if it’s only being remembered for being a jerk by future generations.