About alifeofmentalillness

I write about my experiences with mental illness and life in general. I am also currently under going 'lifestyle changes' (I hate the term 'dieting' as it's sounds so temporary) and have lost 70 pounds since spring 2014. I've put my poetry and novel writing on lower priority since I started losing weight and blogging more seriously.

Getting The Covid Vaccine

Got my covid vaccine on May 5th. Didn’t have any reactions. I signed up for a home health service and two nurses came to my place and gave me the vaccine in my home. I was told it would be probably two weeks before the vaccine was in full effect. Glad I got it done. It’s been a long strange trip since last March when I more or less went on volunteer self quarantine. Since I’m overweight and mentally ill, the covid could have been worse for me. But after staying close to home, wearing masks in public, avoiding crowded places like restaurants, and having my groceries and household supplies delivered, I’m starting to get ready to return to some type of normal.

Being Alone vs Being Lonely

I’ve spent most of my life alone. I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 and haven’t been on a date since 2006. It’s not that I don’t like having conversations or in person interaction. I have very rarely met people who share the same interests I do. I grew up in a small farming village of less than 500 people in rural Nebraska. The nearest Wal Mart was over an hour drive away as was the nearest four year college and book store. Most people I knew growing up thought I was odd in preferring to read science and nature books in grade school over playing sports. I never could run fast and was never coordinated enough to do well in sports like baseball or basketball. I didn’t have quick enough reflexes to be very good at most video games. My brother was a master at those. I always lost to him and I gave up trying to compete against him when I was ten years old.

Instead, I spent most of my free time either in the local library or wandering my back yard. While in my back yard, I made up stories and fantasy worlds. It came natural to me. Granted the neighbor kids thought it was funny and used to spy on me. Got me real paranoid after awhile. I didn’t have many friends growing up. I guess no one liked the smart kid who wasn’t afraid of being well read and smart. Even the adults thought I was strange for preferring to read to going to ballgames or county fairs.

It wasn’t until I was eleven that I met a friend who had many of the same interests and was just as much as an outsider as I was. His family moved in from a mountain town in Colorado. We hit it off right away. He and I were discussing politics and economics when most of our classmates were discussing school yard gossip, the latest video games, or the results of the college football games the previous weekend. He and I would sometimes spend our recess time discussing the presidental debates with our sixth grade teacher in 1992. Naturally our classmates thought we were weirdos.

I met my current best friend when I was thirteen. She and her sisters were homeschooled. First time in my entire life I met a kid who loved reading even more than I did. We hit it off immediately. Of course I got a lot of grief from classmates because my best friend was a girl. Half of the school thought I was gay and the other half thought we were all but married by freshman year of high school. Neither was true, she and I just shared similar interests. Most people don’t realize how few options I had for socializing for most of my life. Hell, I didn’t realize how limited my options were until facebook came out. Sadly, facebook turned into a toxic waste dump shortly after being opened to the public at large and big money got involved. Sad to see something so beautiful get so distorted.

Because my best friend in high school was a girl, that killed my chances for dating. Some people have the issues of not being able to get a second date or end up dating losers and jerks. My problem has always been getting anyone to say yes even once. I never did figure out what I was doing wrong. I flat out asked people what I was doing wrong. I never got any answer beyond ‘just be yourself’ and ‘there is someone for everyone.’ Right.

Even going off to college and being the only person from my school on campus didn’t improve my dating prospects. I asked one girl out and she laughed in my face. I had another girl in one class get all angry because she thought I was starring at her when I was really just starring at the clock. I did have a steady dating relationship my second year in college. Like most young romances, it didn’t last. We didn’t have enough similar interests. My last three years of college, I spent whatever time I wasn’t studying for classes in the library reading the classics of philosophy, history, literature, poetry, etc. Those books that serious literature students consider classics but never read, I read dozens of those in my spare time in college. Sure it killed any chance at dating, but I figured out that I wasn’t what most people were looking for anyway. It was no loss.

One I got out on my own, I struggled for a few years bouncing from job to job because of my worsening mental illness. I eventually wound up on disability. Worked a few years just to say I could. In 2012, I took early retirement from traditional work to devote my life to study and writing. At age 40, I’m far happier with this arrangement than with any I’ve ever had. I don’t get spied on by my neighbors like the kids in my hometown did. No one gives me a hard time for not wanting to date anymore. No one insults me because I love to learn. Sure it gets lonely at times, but that is what happens when someone has rare interests and lives in an environment where aren’t many people. Could I have done better socially if I grew up in a suburban setting? I don’t know. I’ll never know at this point. But it does get lonely. Some days I feel like a medieval monk with a great book collection but no one to share that knowledge with.

I’m Lonely But I Fear People

I find myself wanting to avoid in person contact most of the time. Yet I still have a strong desire to socialize. I don’t socialize in person much partly because I know only two people in my entire apartment complex who share any of my interests. Sure my neighbor is cool and we help each other out a good deal, but we don’t have much in common interests. It is lonely not having anyone nearby to talk about things like history, philosophy, psychology, literature, tech, science, economics, etc. Social media used to be good for that before it became a toxic cesspool. Social media was fun until about ten years ago. It got real ugly in 2015 and 2016, a time when I was already having lots of personal problems. From October 2014 to October 2015, my three best friends in this complex died, my grandmother died, I had my car accident, and had falling outs with several friends and family members. In short I got tired of hearing negative crap about politics all the time. And I even agreed with some of these people, but they were still toxic about their beliefs. I confronted a few about their toxic behavior. Every one of them told me I could go away if I didn’t like it. I did go away. I have stayed away. I won’t even go to family functions and class reunions anymore. One of my college friends I haven’t talked to in almost seven years. It’s so sad and frustrating I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s sad that many people care more about politics than family, work, religion, and even life itself. I want no part of that.

Cold Weather, Dreams, Decline of Social Media, and Regrets

Been damp and chilly the last few days. I enjoy this kind of weather. People think I’m strange for having my windows open on days like this. But, I’m a warm blooded mammal, not a lizard. I don’t need it be sunny and dry all the time. Besides, I have blankets, can make hot coffee, and turn on the furnace if it gets too cold. I’ve always been more sensitive to heat than cold anyway. Even the seasonal aspects of my mental illness are worse in the summers than winters and springs.

Staying close to home most days. My cleaning lady had to have foot surgery several weeks ago. She said she should be able to work again as soon as next week. I’ll be glad to see her again. My neighbors have helped out some this spring but it just isn’t the same.

Started sleeping less. I’m usually asleep by 11pm most nights and up for good by 6am. I sometimes nap in the afternoons. Been having lots of dreams lately. Fortunately they aren’t scary, they’re just vivid and make no sense. One dream I had was about a world famous conspiracy theorist living next door to the church I attended as a kid. And a few friends and I would go visit him after church services. Make whatever you will of this one. Another strange dream I recently had was about my old college opening a satellite campus next door to the building where my dad had his dental office. Can’t figure that one out either.

I’m growing more disappointed with social media lately. It hasn’t been any fun for years now. But now it’s practically a ghost town. I don’t use it for anything other than keeping in contact with my best friend and a couple cousins. I don’t even get much traffic to this blog via social media anymore. Thankful I don’t own any Facebook or Twitter stock. I just don’t see much activity on there anymore, certainly not like ten years ago. I’m going to have to find some other means to promote my blog.

I’m generally content overall. Even the long periods of alone time don’t bother me. I’d rather be alone than deal with toxic and rude people every day. Socializing is no longer worth it, at least not in person. I guess the older I have gotten, the fewer social contacts I have. But the ones I do have are far more meaningful than they were when I was 21. I enjoy being 40 more than I ever did my teens and twenties. The only thing I miss from my youth is how easy mobility was in those days. Sadly my physical health got sacrificed for my mental stability. Biggest mistake I ever made. Yet, I don’t know how I could have done it much different. I understand why mentally ill people typically have shorter life spans than those who aren’t mentally ill.

Thought on Marriage, Social Relationships, and Life’s Callings

I love being 40 years old. I enjoy that I no longer feel pressure to get married or have kids. I never could stand going to family gatherings and my old high school for home football games and have people asking me when I was going to start a family. People think I’m a liar for saying this, but I decided I wasn’t getting married when I was 18 and a senior in high school. For one, I saw that most married people I knew argued and fought all the time and about the pettiest crap. I still remember when I was 16 and my parents started arguing at the dinner table and I had just had it. I had a rough day at school already and I had a few hours worth of homework ahead of me that night already. I got up to just walk away, and they both shouted at me to sit down. Then they just went back to their argument like I wasn’t there. Sometimes when they argued, I’d yell at both of them just because I had enough. And my family was mild compared to most of my friends and extended family. Two of my high school friends and three sets of my cousins parents’ went through divorces in my youth. Seeing that scared me real bad. And I always heard this crap about how “you just gotta pick the right girl” or “love is all you need” or “love is forever” or “there is someone for everyone.” But I knew even in my teens I hated drama and fighting. I’d often hear that fighting makes relationships stronger and then I’d get punished for hitting my older brother or the neighbor kids. I always got mixed messages like that. I still do, though more through social media than my immediate family and friends. I love that I am no longer pressured to get married or have kids. It’s a pity almost no one respected my desire to stay unmarried twenty years ago.

I love that I can cut toxic people out of my life and not feel guilty at all about it. I may have fewer friends at age 40 than I did at age 22, but all of the friends I have are amazing. My best friend from college and I have never had a shouting match. Sure we’ve been irritated with each other many times but have never shouted at each other or ghosted each other. I’ve cut lots of people out of my life after we changed as people and after I figured out we weren’t good for each other. I’ve had to cut people out of my life that had been friends for years because we no longer shared the same values. I’ve even cut out family members. I find few things as irritating as going to family gatherings and hearing that one older relative rant on and on about the “damn kids” or that second cousin go on about politics or how much of an idiot his boss is. I don’t put up with toxic and rude people anymore. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone and in my apartment than socialize with toxic people. Anymore, most people I know are toxic. I refuse to put up with it. I don’t have to at this point in my life. And I don’t feel a shred of guilt for not socializing with people like that.

I love that I can do pretty much what I want for money, at least as long as I’m not breaking any laws. When I was a kid I was constantly asked what I wanted to do for a living. Originally I wanted to go into science research. I wasn’t really concerned with making lots of money. I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but it isn’t the primary focus of my existence. Another truth about me that most people think is a lie is that I decided I wanted to go to college when I was eight years old. The idea of being around well read people and getting to study things I wanted to sounded like winning the lottery in my eight year old mind. I always loved learning and reading. I didn’t have to be forced to read. Hell, I had to be forced to socialize with classmates. Mom and Dad were scared I’d never develop social skills if I just read books and made up stories in my back yard all day every day. Yet I still had a good social life in college, far better than what I had in grade school and high school. I’ve been accused of being anti social my entire life, but especially when I was a kid. The thing is I can talk with others all night about things like history, philosophy, economics, literature, science, and tech. But I can’t stand to talk about things like politics, the weather, sports, gossip, and school rumors. These things don’t interest me. Never have. Yet I was condemned for being anti social for not enjoying things like ballgames, county fairs, watching cable news, discussing politics, or the weather. I’ve never been anti social, I just have different interests than most people I’ve ever known. I’m thankful that the internet allows me to connect with people who have similar interests. I have more in common with people from my tech and futurist groups that I will never meet than I do my neighbors and most of my family. The internet is a godsend for the black sheep and small town eccentrics. It’s a pity I don’t have a couple hard core scholars or retired engineers living near me. In short, I love being a free lance independent scholar. Sure I will never get rich off my knowledge. Yet as long as I can pay my rent on time, keep food in the pantry, clothes in my wardrobe, keep my daily medications current, and keep the internet paid up, I don’t need much else. While I’m not convinced on the idea of previous lives or reincarnation, maybe I would have been wise to become a monk had I lived in medieval England. Maybe I could have been cured of mental illness and gone on to write parts of the Encyopedia Galatica if I lived in Asimov’s Foundation universe thousands of years in the future. I’ll never know. Being a scholar is like crime: It doesn’t pay and can land you in prison if you’re not careful. But, damn, I don’t know any other way to live my life.

Adjusting To Spring

It is starting to look and feel like spring again. Saw my first lightning of the season on Easter Sunday. The trees outside my window starting leafing this morning. Been watching lots of baseball the last few days. And I put some of my winter clothes away.

I’m still listening to audiobooks on youtube, mostly history and economics these last few days. Listening to some old radio shows too. Listened to a few episodes of The Shadow from the late 1930s. Been sleeping a lot lately. I usually go to bed around 10pm and wake up for good around 5am. Mentally I feel pretty stable. I usually do better on days I avoid aimless social media use and news casts. Have had only one major breakdown since last fall. Late summers are usually my toughest time of year.

Still taking it all one day at a time. At this point I’ve adapted to spending most of my time alone. I no longer feel guilty for not wanting to socialize with toxic and rude people. I’m glad I can keep myself good company. Alone time doesn’t bother me anymore. Sometimes it’s when I have my happiest and most peaceful moments.

April 5 2021

Easter was yesterday. I grilled some bratwursts and made some spicy chicken even though I didn’t host friends or family. Talked to my parents and an old friend last night. Been watching some baseball over the weekend. Sent in my rent check this morning and spent part of the morning in my complex’s library. I try to get out and social in person with people other than my immediate neighbors every few days. I’m starting to get more mobile again. My back doesn’t hurt bad as often even though I still sometimes get short of breath. Probably from sitting and sleeping too much during the last year. Most of the elderly I know have already had their vaccines. My parents attended Easter service yesterday morning.

I’ve been having my windows open more often. It’s good to be getting more fresh air and hear the sounds of the neighborhood around me. My complex is next door to the Post Office, so there are mail trucks coming and going all the time. My nephews and niece thought it was so cool that Uncle Zach had that sight outside of his living room window. I also have a few trees so I get to see birds a great deal, except during the winter. I have some pigeons that like to roost in the drainage gutter above my apartment. I get to see them fly in and fly off several times a day. It’s pretty cool. My hometown likes the fact they have pigeons, especially in the old downtown. Even the bird droppings don’t bother people. The town just hires a few kids to clean up after the birds, especially in the spring and summer.

Even though football is my favorite sport to watch on tv, spring has always been a favorite time of year for me. When I was still quite mobile, I used to go to the park a couple times a week just to people watch and smell the flowers. One of the parks I visited had several cottonwood trees. When the wind blew hard, it would blow the cotton fuzz off the trees to the point it would look like snow in early summer. Even as a kid I usually got my best grades in the spring time.

We’ve had warmer than usual weather the last few days but not much for rain. Hopefully get some over the next couple days. I always did enjoy the smell of falling rain mixed in with soil. I am glad winter is over. But in Nebraska we can usually expect an early spring ice storm or two before it warms up for good. Spring is one of my favorite times of year. I live in a college town so the town goes kind of quiet from mid May until mid August.

Has Spring Sprung?

It is the first day of April as I write this. The trees outside my window are starting to bud and I see pigeons every day. Baseball season starts today and I joined a fantasy league with a few old college friends like I do every spring.

Spent the morning in my complex’s library a couple days ago. Caught up with a few neighbors I hadn’t seen during the winter. I’m still a little paranoid about venturing out even though millions of people are already vaccinated. I read a lot to pass the time. Still do audiobooks a couple hours a day in addition to traditional paper books. Bought groceries this morning. So I’m set for several days.

Still sleeping a lot. I usually go to bed around 10pm, wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, and then usually get up for good shortly after 6am. I sometimes nap in the early afternoons. The best time for me to host visitors is usually late mornings or the noon hour.

I don’t have plans for Easter, at least not yet. Probably going to call family and friends after church services. I might be more into it if I were near my nephews and niece or my cousins’ kids. My aunt usually hosts Easter dinner and all my cousins’ bring their families. It was cancelled last year due to covid and I don’t know the plans for this year. I’ll probably do zoom calls to my parents and brother’s kids.

Saw my parents a couple weeks ago. First time I got to see them since Christmas. My parents said they are proud of how I have handled the pandemic, being essentially on my own for a year while handling a mental illness. Other than a couple breakdowns, I think I’ve done alright. Sure I don’t socialize much, at least not in person. But I’ve always been an introvert who appreciated alone time and people in small doses. A few people in my complex had the covid already. Two friends of mine have had it. Three of my cousins had it. A lady who had sold some acreage land to my parents years ago died from it. I’ve heard that Germany and France are back on lockdowns again. Vaccines are still going out hard and heavy here in the US. Cases are starting to increase again here in the US after weeks of decline. I was afraid cases would increase once the weather started warming and people went out in large crowds more.

Looks like winter has ended. I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get another snow storm or two. But they won’t last long now. I think spring has sprung.

Quarantine Journal: March 25 2021

Doing well overall. Started lifting weights again. I’m taking vitamin D supplements and I think it helps with the depression and anxiety. Met my new landlady a couple days ago while I was waiting for a delivery man. I think she will make a good manager.

I’m thinking about signing up for a home health service to see if I can a covid vaccine at home. Without a car I’m essentially home bound unless I want to hire an Uber driver. I’ve heard that many places are starting to have spikes in case numbers again. For as many problems as my country had in the first several months, we have gotten vaccines out faster than I thought we would. I’m thinking where was this level of focused action one year ago? Many people died that didn’t have to.

While I don’t socialize much in person, I leave my door unlocked during daylight hours in case anyone wants to drop by. My neighbors and I check in on each other a couple times a week. I’m having fewer aches and pains the last few days. Maybe I’m doing something right.

Still stable mentally. Had one flare up in early January but it was short lived. Haven’t had any since. It does get lonely sometimes spending most of my time at home and by myself. But I am still prime target for covid and there are still lots of vaccinations to go. This thing isn’t over by any means just yet.

March 22 2021

Another winter has passed. The weather is starting to warm and the spring rains are beginning. Corn planting will be starting in my home state in a few weeks. The days are certainly longer now. Easter will be first Sunday in April. And I’m beginning to adjust to the end of winter.

My parents visited over the weekend. My brother gave me a PlayStation 5 for Christmas. It is amazing. I have a couple games for it now. I have Madden NFL 21 and a first person game similar to Skyrim. The graphics and game play on both are mind boggling. Thank you Josh (my brother). I really appreciate the gaming console. I will get lots of joy out of it. Certainly a far cry from the 8 bit Mario Brothers games I played back in the late 80s. I don’t have any VR games but my nephew has a VR headset. My dad played a flight simulator game on it and said it’s quite realistic to a real plane (he’s a licensed pilot).

Been having more aches and pains lately. I’ve been lazy about taking pain pills and lifting weights the last few weeks. I’m starting back on those today.

Mentally I’m feeling stable. Exterminator is supposed to be spraying all the apartments sometime this week and maintenance will be replacing filters on my furnace soon. It’s good to see that routine maintenance will be resuming. The pandemic really changed a lot of things for everyone. Seeing my parents over the weekend made me realize how starved I was for in person human contact. I have essentially kept my in person socializing to a minimum for a year. Last I heard over one hundred million vaccines have been given in my country since Christmas. As sad as it is that my country didn’t handle the pandemic well, maybe we can turn things around with the vaccine programs.