July 25 2019

Feeling pretty decent overall the last several days.  Got some errands done I had been pointlessly putting off for a while.  Our apartment inspections were last week and as far as I know we did alright.  I think we would heard if we didn’t do well by now.  So things are starting to settle down again.  My neighbors and the complex staff seem to be less on edge this week than the last few months.  I still usually spend much of my time at home even though I make it a point to leave the apartment at least once a day, if for no other reason to check my mail or buy a snack out of the vending machine.

I think I’m losing weight.  I notice my clothes feel looser and when I do get winded, I recover quite a bit faster than even three months ago.  The big things I’m doing are I have cut out most sugar and carbs, lift weights three times a week, and do a stationary exercise bike a few times a week.  I usually eat only twice a day, usually protein rich lunches with water and fresh vegetables.  I don’t do fast food or fried food anymore.  I think I haven’t eaten at McDonald’s in almost a year.  The only caffeine I have most days is a cup of coffee when I wake up for the day.  I usually go to bed around 11pm and wake for good around 6 am.  Most days I’ll take a nap in the afternoon.

As far as restaurant food goes, if I’m going to spend the money on restaurant food, it’s usually delivery pizza and Chinese when they are on specials.  I haven’t eaten at a buffet for probably over two years now.  I just enjoy doing my own cooking and eating at home anymore.  Most of the time now, I’d rather host friends and family than go out to their places.  I’ve hosted Christmas for my family for three years now.  I have to admit I don’t drive much anymore.  I still run my car every few days just to keep it current in case of emergencies.  But, with as good as delivery services have become in the last few years, some public transit in my town, and now that my town has a few Uber drivers, I really have little need for my own car.  Which isn’t tragic for me as I sometimes get overwhelmed with sensory overload when I drive, especially in heavy traffic or bad weather.

Been reconnecting with old friends again.  For awhile I didn’t get to talk to anyone outside of family much.  Some of my friends been having problems with being overwhelmed and anxious too.  Seems like most of my friends are struggling one way or another, whether it is job security or relationship problems or money issues or all three.  Even though I get lonely occasionally, I am glad I don’t date.  Mostly because my mental illness makes me a lousy boyfriend.  But the occasional loneliness is why I keep in contact with the friends I had in college, even though I’ll probably never see some of them again.  I love social media in that aspect.  And I have noticed that people don’t seem to be as short tempered with each other now, at least not like they were 3 to 4 years ago.

Overall I’m enjoying the summer and looking forward to fall.  School starts in my town in about three weeks and the days are getting noticeably shorter.  Winter and spring have always been my favorite times of year, a close second is mid October to Thanksgiving.  I’m even beginning to enjoy Christmas more now that I can shop from home and not have to deal with so much sensory overload in the mall.  Summers can still be tough for me, especially from early July to mid September.

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Middle of Summer Stretch

Been quite hot here the last several days.  We had some flooding in my town a couple weeks ago.  It caused a few evacuations in the areas of town near the river.  Fortunately I missed the worst of it as I live on high ground. But it was kind of scary getting flood warnings on my phone every few hours.  My cleaning lady said one of her client’s entire basement flooded.  I’m glad we got it easy in my part of town.

Our complex had a major inspection last week.  We have those every few years, in part to make sure everything is up to speed.  As far as I know we did well.  We usually do.  Even though I live in low income housing, our managers have traditionally been on top of things and made points of dealing with issues before they became problems.  I had maintenance men in here doing some minor work a couple weeks ago.  I have been staying close to home for a couple weeks when we heard inspections were coming up.  Naturally, some people were a little more on edge than normal.  But since things have come and gone, it’s starting to calm down here.

Overall I think people in here, and people in general, are starting to calm down some.  Or maybe I’m able to deal with people easier than earlier.  I still don’t leave my house for long but I can when needed.  I noticed that people seem to be more civil to each other on social media than usual.  Or maybe it’s just my friends and family giving each other more slack.  I do love social media.  It is an easy way for someone who has issues with socializing to connect to old friends and make new ones.  I have a few new friends in my discussion groups, but I haven’t given out my phone number or email address.  I don’t give those out to people I don’t meet in person.

Summer is in full effect.  But it won’t be long before school starts again.  Our schools in town usually start about the third week in August.  My nephews and niece will be starting school in Oklahoma about the same time.  My eldest nephew will be starting high school this autumn.  I still remember the day he was born.  It was the summer after I graduated from college.  The days go slow but the years go fast.

Overall feeling decent most of the time.  I still occasionally have minor flare ups that don’t last very long.  Sometimes just stepping back and taking a few minutes to myself is enough to clear things.  Summers are usually a tough time for me.  But so far it’s been alright.

 

Dealing With Self Doubt

There are times when I am in the grip of a mental illness flareup that I fear that I make no difference.  I sometimes fear I make no difference in anything I do.  I fear I make no difference to my friends, family, neighbors, peers, etc.  I certainly fear that I make no difference with this blog even though I’ve poured my heart, soul, and life into it for years.

One of the things that makes me doubt myself and fear I don’t make a difference is that I constantly repeat myself.  As much as I repeat myself, especially when trying to share some positive news of what is going right, I get convinced my words and actions fall on only deaf ears and blind eyes.  I get burned out on telling people what is actually going right and that most of the doom and gloom that is the accepted spirit of our times are really temporary setbacks and not the end of the cosmos.  But no one outside of a handful of people are listening and what I say means nothing.  At least that is the impression my disease infested mind keeps giving.

Most times I can’t read a person or what they are thinking at any given moment.  I can’t easily gage the moment the moment thoughts even if I can easily trace long term trends and possibilities.  I suppose it’s similar to a military general who isn’t good at winning individual battles yet ends up winning an entire war simply because they are excellent long term planners.  Even as a child I was a much better long term thinker than I was on a short term.  And it used to irritate my friends, teachers, bosses, and parents real bad.  Anytime I tired to explain that they were sweating the small things while losing sight of the entire picture, well I was condemned for having problems with authority and being a hopeless dreamer.  Very few appreciated the fact that I was a long term thinker outside of a few cool teachers, my two best friends in high school, and my grandparents.

Of course this learned apprehension about not making any difference, at least not short term, has been made even worse by the mental illness.  I try my best to remind myself that I am making a difference and I am making people think and question why the status quo is the way it is.  And when I am not in the grips of the illness I know I am.  Sadly, when the illness wins out, I seriously doubt my own abilities and if I am making a difference.  I suppose it’s like a rapid version of the change of seasons or even high tide and low tide.  The human mind is that powerful in that it can make false or distorted perceptions into an individual’s reality.  We think, therefore we are I suppose.

I try telling people about the struggles involved in mental illness.  But during moments of weakness I fear I make no difference.  I know it’s not considered manly to express or feel fear or express and feel anything for that matter.  But I no longer care about the expectations of others.  Haven’t since I figured out at age seventeen that nothing I did would be considered good enough for some people.  Some people will never be satisfied with what I do simply because that is the way they are.  Such people are lost causes not worth even talking to or thinking about as far as I am concerned.  I deal with such people only when absolutely unavoidable.

I try telling people about the advances in science, tech, humanitarian efforts, etc.  But it makes no difference to most people.  I remember a line in The Matrix were an AI named Agent Smith stated to the effect that humans find definition and meaning in misery and suffering and are incapable of accepting happiness and peace.  I find this to be true in many of my day to day interactions with others, even with close friends and family.  I hope it’s the blinders cast by the illness that makes me think this way.  I really do.  Maybe we vastly overestimate how much can be done on the short term but vastly underestimate the changes that can be done medium to long term.

Perhaps that is why the days at a dead end job or raising small children drag on forever but the years and decades pass rapidly.  One day you’re 27 years old and get a bad annual review and a demotion from your boss or your two year old is screaming like he’s demon possessed because you won’t buy him a candy bar in the Wal Mart check out.  Those days feel like a torment right out of Dante’s Inferno.  But, wake up and you’re in your fifties and you’re the boss giving out bad annual reviews or you’re an elderly man on your death bed looking out at four generations of offspring from your marriage and feeling kind of bittersweet for not taking more time to appreciate your kids when they were asking endless questions or for foregoing summer vacations and weekends to work a thankless job that, not only didn’t miss you when you retired or got laid off, but can probably be done by a machine or algorithm better and cheaper.

Every cemetery in the world is full of people who never could imagine a world where their labor or delusional self importance wasn’t needed.  We are living in that said world.  Billions of dead people who couldn’t imagine a world as it is now and getting along just fine without them.  Our descendants will live in such a world that won’t remember us for what work we did or what stupid arguments we were part of or anything for that matter.  Because of genealogy, some people might get their names remembered for centuries.  But no one will remember or care what they believed, how they worked, how they treated their kids and spouse, how they voted, etc.

Rather than being saddened by this fact of life, I am actually encouraged by it.  I don’t have to save the world by myself.  I am not the center of the cosmos (thank God).  I am not responsible for the short sightedness and ignorance of others, only my own.  And I needlessly worry about how others live their lives, especially if it doesn’t directly harm me or those I care about.  I am not a superhero who has to save the world.  I’m essentially an independent scholar with numerous interests trying to encourage those I encounter in this adventure we call life.  Yet, because of my illness, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that I am just one man among billions of humans and that I don’t have to win all battles or save the cosmos on my own.

Mutual Respect and Conversations With Friends

Got to have a short, but decent, chat with my best friend yesterday.  First decent chat I had in awhile.  Even though we’ve been friends for years and both of us have had problems with depression and burnout lately, it was amazing how we were able to pick up like we never left off.  She, like myself, has been having problems with depression and anxiety for awhile.  We are both distressed by people who have misplaced priorities.  But we were able to chat, primarily about literature and novels made into movies.  I had been chatting with her a little every day most days.  But it felt especially enriching for some reason yesterday, even if the conversation was only for a few minutes.

I also reestablished contact with some of my tech enthusiasts’ groups on facebook.  And the conversations were actually quite civil.  I had been avoiding most of my groups for the last few weeks as some of them had become nasty and brutish.  It seems that the larger the group on facebook, usually the greater the chance for a lack of civility.  That’s why I usually don’t participate in large discussion groups.  I usually look for niche groups with fewer than a few thousand followers.  I felt fortunate to have a decent conversation for the first time in weeks.  It’s quite amazing how much can be accomplished when people stop tearing each other apart and actually attempt to show decency and compassion.

Compassion and decency aren’t as valued as they should be, at least not recently.  I never understood the idea that insulting and demeaning people would somehow motivate them to action.  It inspires the opposite in me.  It shows to me that you are a brute and not worth my attention or effort.  I don’t care if you do outrank me and are in a position of power.  I have never respected people who abuse their power.  I never will.  I temporarily tolerate jerks and blowhards only when I have no choice.  Most people I know are the same way.  We may “yes sir” or “no ma’am” a jerk in power when we have no choice.  But in private, among our friends and families, we make it clear we don’t respect people like that.  In the long run, most people won’t respect or love people who are arrogant and abuse their positions.  What a person sends out to the cosmos and their fellow humans tends to come back to them on a long enough time scale.  I understood this even as a child.  I tolerated bad and abusive people only when I had no choice.  I certainly didn’t respect them.  And once I had an opportunity to be rid of such people, I took full advantage of it.  What abusive and arrogant people condemn as being a ‘nice guy’ was considered ‘honor’ and ‘chivalry’ in previous ages.  It’s time to bring back the concept of honor.

In short, it’s quite amazing what one can accomplish just by treating other people with decency, respect, and honor.  Just a few minutes of conversations involving mutual respect rather than trying to insult, preach to, or shout down others was enough to recharge my batteries and undo a long string of abuse at the hands of brutes and fools.

Asking For Assistance While Mentally Ill or Thank You Facebook

Unfortunately my cell phone malfunctioned and quit working a couple days ago.  But thanks to email and social media, I was able to get in touch with my family and tell them what happened and see if I can get a replacement.  After several messages back and forth, I am able to get a replacement sent to my house within a few days.  I still have a bit of a fear of large crowds and driving, so that is why I am unable to get this done in person.  But, I had back ups via email and social media to get in touch with people who can help me out in this problem.  And the kicker is my family wasn’t at their house at the time.  They were able to arrange all of this via their own phones while at a family reunion in a small Colorado town hundreds of miles from their home.  Quite amazing what be accomplished, not only just by asking trusted family and friends, but when you tie support in with modern communication tech.  Thanks dad, mom, and everyone else who made this possible.  There is no why I can pay you back.  So I have to “pay it forward” and help others out when they are in distress.  In short, it pays to have a good support system, whether they are understanding family, close friends, counselors, social workers, home health aides, etc.  We as humans were never meant to be everything to ourselves.  That was true in the Stone Age and it’s even more true now in the early 21st century.  I guess this could be marked up to a positive story about how good social media and communication tech can be when used properly.  Thank you Mr. Zuckerberg 🙂

June 19 2019

Been kind of quiet the last few days.  I’m still going to bed around 10pm and waking up for good around 4 or 5 am.  It feels like I get more done throughout the day now.  I don’t know if that’s just my perception fooling me, but I do feel more productive and energetic on days I wake up early.  I’ve been a night owl most of my life but that seems to be changing the older I get.  I’ve felt less anxious and paranoid since I started going to bed earlier.  Been doing this for a few months now.

Been feeling pretty stable.  I still have minor flare ups once in awhile.  But they usually quickly pass after several minutes.  I think they are getting easier to manage all the time. I can be irritable and anxious, yet if I keep silent almost no one knows I feel any kind of anxiety or irritability.  I never thought I was good at keeping my feelings and thoughts to myself.  But maybe I’m getting better about this in adult hood.  Some days I don’t socialize much.  Yet it seems to keep me sane and well grounded.  Sometimes my friends and family are going to be in foul moods.  It seems to be best if I avoid them on days when they are.  Sometimes I’m in a foul mood.  And it’s better when I avoid people when I’m in those funks.

I decided I’m not going to my class reunion.  I’m not sore at anyone from back home or anything like that.  It’s just I don’t have much in common with most of the people I grew up with anymore.  Adult hood has a way of changing a person.  I’m not the same person at age 39 I was at age 17.  Sometimes it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s life when I think back on my teenage years.  I was back in my hometown last slightly over a year ago.  I didn’t recognize most people living there anymore.  Most of the teachers and mentors I had as a kid are either elderly or dead.  Most my friends from that era have moved far away.  Some of them aren’t the people who would enjoy reunions and probably won’t be going.  My closest friends live at least a three hour drive away from me anymore.  My parents and brother live two states away.  And while I’m on friendly terms with most people in my complex, even after thirteen years at my current apartment I still don’t feel like I fit in.  I hope that is my illness talking and not what is really going on.

One of the lousiest parts of my illness is that I am never sure where I stand with anyone. I’m not even sure where I stand with my best friends and family many times unless they specifically tell me we are on good terms.  The illness makes it easy to jump to conclusions and form fears that aren’t based in any reality.  And it doesn’t help that I tend to over think and over analyze people and situations naturally.  I know my desire for constant reassurance annoys friends and family.  I am convinced it killed my ability to enjoy dating or even get dates to begin with.  As it is I haven’t been on a date in a dozen years and I don’t want to date ever again.  It’s just more headaches for me than it’s worth.  At this point in my life I greatly prefer friendships to romances.  I never understood why it was such a bad thing to be friends with a dating interest or a spouse.  And I never will.  The fact that almost half of marriages end in divorce and a significant portion of those that do last for life are unhappy drudgeries tells me that we as a modern society are doing dating and marriage all wrong.  People are not meant to spend their lives in drudgery, anguish, misery, and desperation.

As much as the mental illness knocks me down on occasion, I am overall happy and content with my life.  Sure I could stand to lose some weight and isolate less.  I probably will live longer if I drop some weight and be more social.  As far as how my life has turned out, it could be much worse with this illness.  At least I’m not dead or in prison.  At least I don’t have addictions.  At least I don’t have debts.  At least I’m on good terms with my family and have managed to keep some really cool friends.  And even the ones I’ve lost contact with over the years we can probably pick up if we ever encounter each other.  Considering the illness I really don’t have many regrets I could have done anything different about.

Avoiding Toxic and Negative People While Mentally Ill

I haven’t been socializing much lately outside of family and close friends.  I don’t post on facebook much anymore because I have better uses of my time than debate and defend myself against negative and toxic people.  It seems to me that the negativity on social media tends to ebb and flow, almost like the tides.  And sometimes I have runs where I’m the only one I know (it seems) who even tries to stay optimistic and positive.  In cases like this, a vacation from the social media circus is in order.  I’ve been doing this for several days now.  I still go on once or twice a day just to see if my friends, family, and chat groups are up to anything new.  And in cases when everything is going negative and irritable, I limit my responses and posts to bare minimum.  I try not to philosophize and ask deep questions anymore, even on friends sites.  It’s kind of tough as I am a bit of a philosopher and researcher by nature.  Have been my entire life.  Joe Rogan put it well when he said to the effect ‘do high achievers spend their time answering critics on twitter?’  Of course not.  I doubt most high achievers and celebrities spend much time on social media.  I imagine most of their posts are really done by a public relations worker.

I used to live on social media.  It could be fun and it could also be stressful.  But like any new tech advances, there is a a learning curve to social media.  I try not to post things I know will start unneeded arguments.  And let’s be honest, most arguments on social media are not needed and aren’t productive.  I doubt scientists trying to accomplish things like making safe AI, trying to crack nuclear fusion, trying to cure cancer, or develop treatments to slow aging, etc. are getting into twitter arguments or trolling scientists working for rival companies or universities.  But I guess I don’t see as nasty and personal of insults online as I did even a couple years ago.  It still happens, but I think an unwritten code of ethics and conduct is starting to develop when it comes to social media.

But I still make a point of avoiding people when they are being negative.  I certainly avoid toxic people who run down other people, especially those trying to do something constructive with their lives.  I guess I really don’t have the patience to put up with negative people.  I don’t want to be bothered with them.  Let them stay away until they stop being so negative and irritable.  My mental illness makes it easier to sink into negativity than it would for most other people.  That’s why I force myself to read optimistic literature and search for good news stories.  I am not a natural optimist.  But I do look at data and trends.

I avoid negative and toxic people but not out of spite.  I avoid these people because I don’t want to be toxic and negative myself.  I have had many bouts of negativity and depression over the years.  I’ll probably be more prone to fall into negativity and toxic behavior for the rest of my life, barring some major breakthroughs in medical and psychological treatments.  I avoid toxic and negative people for my own health and well being.  It’s nothing personal.