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.

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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.

August 28 2019

Things have been improving with each passing day since my breakdown last week.  My sleeping habits have changed though.  I now usually sleep a few hours in the afternoon, stay awake until the early morning hours, sleep a few more hours, and am awake by 9am.  I think I’m getting back into my being a night owl routine.  I usually get like this in late summer or early fall.  For some odd reason I usually do my best sleeping in the afternoon and early a.m. hours, especially when the weather starts turning cooler.  Some years during the winter, I wouldn’t see the sun much because I usually slept in the daylight hours.

This has been a pretty long and stressful summer for me.  The spring was more stressful than usual too.  I was usually too stressed and paranoid to leave the apartment some days.  So I stayed home, rode my exercise bike, lifted weights, and caught up on sleep.  I think I have lost weight over the last five months.  I’ve also cut back on how much I eat yet I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.  I usually eat one large meal at lunch, always protein rich.  And then I have a small dinner, usually left overs from lunch.  I usually cook only once a day.  I’ve had fast food only a few times in the last year.  Now I have gone a week without coffee, I’m starting to cut down on caffeine.  Next time I shop, I’m buying tea instead of coffee.  Coffee just makes me to jittery and irritable anymore.

I’m still reading quite a bit, granted it’s still mostly online articles in science journals.  When I do read online newspapers, it’s usually something like New York Times, The Guardian, or Wall Street Journal.

As stressed as I was this summer, I wasn’t in much of a mood to watch a lot of baseball.  But with the Rockies having one of the lousiest records in the league, I wouldn’t have had much to cheer about anyway.  I spent much of my summer playing computer games, chatting with friends online and over the phone, and reading online articles.  I broke down and decided to renew my cable so I could get football games and the baseball playoffs.  The Huskers first game is this Saturday. We haven’t had much to celebrate the last few years.  But things are starting to look up.  When they hired Scott Frost to be the coach after 2017, it gave people real reason to hope for the first time in several years.  Hope things do turn around.

For the first time in months I feel really hopeful most of the time.  I spent most of this spring and summer at home, working out, eating healthier, taking vitamin supplements, and trying to get my physical health in order.  For years I had been tending to my mental and psychological health only to let my physical health slide, at least after my car accident back in 2015.  The last few years have been overly lonely and depressing.  And I felt I couldn’t really talk to anyone because of how angry and stressed most people seemed to be, especially online.  This truly bothered me as it is easier for me to socialize online than to just call someone up on the phone or go to their house.  That and most of my friends and family live out of town.  I hope after a few years of upheaval and distress, people by and large are learning how to tactfully interact online.  I lost some friends over the last few years because of everything that has gone on.  Hopefully, the madness is burning itself out.

Hope After A Mental Breakdown

Had a bad breakdown a few days ago.  I am quite sure, after twenty years with a mental illness, there is a seasonal aspect to my illness.  I regret having breakdowns and I especially regret taking my breakdowns out on people I love.  I had felt it coming on for awhile and then it finally broke a few days ago.  I hope this is the last one for a long time.  I hate the fact that I can’t just sob and cry my way out of a breakdown rather than lash out and be angry.  I don’t know how much of that is just my personal illness, or always being told a man showing emotions is a sign of weakness, etc. But it’s part of the illness and part of the price of admission into adulthood.

In spite of the illness, and the contradictions and nonsense I am fed on a daily basis by society and popular culture, I do my best to not let this crush my spirit or kill my love for my fellow humans.  I know I am often harsh and short tempered with my fellow humans, and my countrymen in particular.  But, contrary to popular belief, I do not hate humans or my countrymen.  It’s the polar opposite actually.  I love humanity and I love my country and my countrymen.  I see the cool things we have accomplished in the past and are accomplishing on a daily basis.  I see the potential for greatness every day.  And yes, it does bother me when I see people not living up to that potential greatness.  I am tough on people, not because I hate them, but because I believe everyone can excel at least one thing and I can’t stand to see a person waste their potential and time.  I am often tough on my family members because I know they are capable of excellence and have often shown it, especially in times of crisis.  I’m sorry but I don’t have much respect for mediocre work and apathy.

A significant portion of the time when I’m reading science journals online or articles on sites like Bloomberg, CNN, Wall Street Journal, etc. I have to remind myself that this isn’t the science fiction it was when I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s.  I saw the movie Fight Club the other night, and even though the movie was popular when I was in college, I was amazed how people still used land based phone lines, phone booths, primitive looking desktop computers, and even how many people smoked in a movie that came out in the late 1990s.  I personally haven’t had a land phone line since 2007 or 2008 I think.  I haven’t had a desktop computer in 10 years.  And even this year, I was able to email my bank statements and tax information and social security information to my landlady to renew my lease.  All I had to do in person was sign a few documents and pass an annual room inspection.  And since I now have a cleaning lady who drops in once a week, spruces the place up, and allows me to chat with her while she works, the whole process took about a half hour of my time.

I sometimes overlook the progress my fellow humans, myself, and civilization in general has made when I’m bogged down in the day to day struggle.  But when I take a step back and look at it over the course of a few years, it’s quite amazing and gives me hope.  I get even more hope and feel in awe when I look back at over what has happened in the life time of our current crop of world leaders and elders in my life.  I know I am often too harsh on my elders.  I know I need to cut them more slack when I look back and think about all the changes they saw since their childhoods in the 1950s and 1960s.  My father can remember his family being one of the first in his hometown to own a black and white television.  And his uncles used to come out to my grandfather’s farm just to watch the test patterns in the evenings.  Both my parents were typing their high school and even college term papers on electric typewriters.  My mother keeps and old style manual typewriter as a decoration in her house and my eight year old nephew is aghast that people used to write on those things.

I also have to remember that, for some of the elders, old Jim Crow laws and criminalization of things like homosexuality, inter racial marriages, and sex outside of marriage were the law of the land in many places until as recently as the 1970s.  Sure, it feels like some people are backsliding at times.  But the forces at work against such backsliding are far more overwhelming than they would have been even forty years ago.

I can’t even begin to imagine what I will see if I make it to age seventy, if I’m privileged enough to make it that far.  That will be in the year 2050.  I’ve seen some scientists predict everything from bases on the moon and Mars, driverless cars being almost everywhere, nuclear fusion based electricity, to where we no longer use oil and gasoline for transport, to even people augmented their physical strength and mental powers through computer based implants and prosthetic and Iron Man type suits.  I guess I don’t know if I want someone rooting around in my skull planting in chips or injecting me full of blood cell sized machines (at least not right now), but I definitely wouldn’t mind something I could wear that would make me smarter or stronger that I could turn off or take off at a moment’s notice.

Even as much as I love science and tech, I am still adjusting to what is happening and what can be.  And only the best minds in science fiction would have even imagined such things that we are working on now when my father was a kid and reading Dick Tracy comic books in the 1950s.  I know eventually I will be the old man that has trouble keeping up.  I imagine even now my nephews would think it odd I don’t know how to run a 3D printer or a VR headset machine.  My twelve year old nephew set up a flight simulator game on VR for my father (a licensed pilot and former Air Force man) recently that my father occasionally uses.

I don’t know what the future holds, certainly not in terms of working.  The only advice I give to my nephews and niece is ‘stay flexible.’  No one knows.  Maybe people like Mark Cuban will be proven right and that the humanities and arts degrees we have called ‘useless’ and ‘worthless’ degrees for a couple generations will be in as much demand in ten years as STEM and medical degrees are now.  Even though I majored in business in college, I am grateful I took some time to read a lot of philosophy and classical literature when I was young and had more energy.  And I was able to do it for free via my college’s library.  Levitt Library on the York College campus was a second home for me when I was college.  If I wasn’t at my dorm room studying, I could easily be found in the library or with a few buddies discussing philosophy, football strategies, history, or even medieval military tactics at the all night truck stop over chicken fried steaks and 99 cent unlimited cups of coffee.

In spite of my recent melt down, I am hopeful again.  Zig Ziglar was right when he said that positive attitudes and behavior is like taking baths every day, it requires daily maintenance.  No one gets mad when they are extra dirty some days, they just bathe for a little longer.  And of course, some days are dirtier and tougher than others.

August 13 2019

Haven’t had a great deal to report the last several days.  Pretty much been staying home and avoiding the weather.  When it isn’t really hot, it is raining it seems.  Been catching up on my reading physical books though.  Currently working on The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly.  It’s about science and tech trends that will probably be continuing, if not accelerating, over the next thirty years.  Still reading a lot of online tech and science articles.  Haven’t watched much for tv lately.  That will probably change in a couple weeks once football gets going again.

Still lifting arm weights three times a week and doing the exercise bike.  I don’t know if I’m losing much weight, but I do notice improvements in my stamina and ability to recover from aches and pains faster.  When I do get out of breath, I can get it back quicker than even two weeks ago.  I have changed my diet some.  I limit myself to coffee only once a day and usually with breakfast.  Caffeine usually makes me jittery in large doses.  But coffee and water is pretty much all I drink most days.  My sleep patterns have changed some.  I still sleep the same amount of time, but I usually stay up a couple hours later and wake up a couple hours later.  For months I had usually been waking up at sunrise.  Now I’m usually not up until 8am at the earliest.

I keep in contact with friends more.  I make it a point to chat with at least one friend even online once a day, if only for a couple minutes.  I usually call my parents only once a week anymore but talk for a long time when I do.  They have gotten quite busy with grandkids and new friends since they moved to the suburbs of Oklahoma City.  School starts in a few days so they will probably get to go to grandkids activities more often.  I don’t participate as much in my online groups, usually just reading the articles and not commenting much.  And when I do comment I make attempts to keep things civil and upbeat.  I just don’t feel like making other people’s online experiences worse.

I been doing some maintenance on some of my electronics over the last several days.  Recently dusted out my PS3, deleted all my unused files, and reset the system.  It had been running quite slow for awhile because I had been neglecting to clean out the files.  Even computer software can become cluttered and sluggish without proper maintenance.  Did the same for my two laptop computers.  I recently changed my music streaming service from a pay service to a free service.  I still get my music even if I have to listen to ads every couple songs.  Not much different from old style radio, granted with much more for variety.  I’m also probably going to cancel other pay services I’m not using much.  Most of what I need anymore I can get on youtube for free or with cheap Netflix.

That’s about all for now.  I’ll keep everyone posted.  Usually August is the toughest time of year for me with the mental illness.  I just do better in the cold than I do the heat.  Haven’t had any major flare ups lately, and I hope whatever ones I do happen to have will be short lived.

August 4 2019

Been a decent last few days overall.  Spent this afternoon cleaning some in my apartment.  I may have a cleaner come in once a week, but I do feel guilty if I don’t bare minimums on my own even with my limited mobility.  Haven’t needed as much sleep lately either.  Been usually going to bed around midnight, sleep three hours or four hours, stay awake until sunrise and then sleep again until ten a.m.  Haven’t been reading or writing as much as I would like this summer.  At least I have reestablished more regular contact with friends and family.  I felt guilty for not going to my family reunion last month.  But I wasn’t feeling the greatest and I didn’t want to have problems around people and scare them.  Sure my family would be more understanding than most families, but I don’t feel right taking out my issues on others.

Haven’t had any real bad meltdowns in months.  I have had a few close calls.  Fortunately, I have managed to not take them out on others.  I have had to avoid contact with people some days just so not to cause problems.  Even after twenty years with a mental illness, I am still afraid to have a meltdown in public.  I fear most people who don’t know me would not understand.  And many people are already more stressed than normal these days.

Found that listening to music helps sooth me.  So I’ve been listening to more music this summer.  I used to listen to music almost every day.  Even though heavy metal and blues were my favorite styles, I really didn’t have a style I didn’t like.  Youtube and Spotify are gold mines of good music, and my Spotify costs like 12 dollars a month for the service without advertisements.  It is not uncommon for me to have music on while I play Civilization or the Total War series.

Haven’t watched as much baseball this summer.  The Rockies are slightly below .500, so they won’t likely make the playoffs.  Haven’t watched much for sports since the U.S. women took the World Cup.  I got to see most of those games.  I have been watching old football highlights on youtube, mostly Nebraska from the 80s and 90s, to get ready for football season.  First college games are in only a few weeks.  Summer is definitely drawing down.

I guess I have been taking it easier than normal this summer.  I still lift weights three times a week and do the exercise bike a few times a week too.  I try to socialize some every day, even if it is just online or over the phone.  Social media isn’t as stressful for me as it was a few years ago now that I have figured out how to better use it.  I have lots of friends on my lists, but only a handful I actively follow on a day to day basis.  I spend a lot of time with small tech enthusiast groups.  I try to avoid the larger groups as they can sometimes become kind of irritable with each other on controversial topics.  I don’t post as much as I previously did, sometimes I’m more content to read linked articles and discussion threads.  I try not to get involved in heated or pointless discussions.  I make efforts not to feed trolls and troublemakers.

I believe that, overall, social media is a good thing. I also believe in free speech.  And when free speech and social media gets combined, it allows me to find out what people are really like quickly.  Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not.  But if privacy and deception aren’t dead, they are certainly on life support. Social media makes it easy for someone like myself who wants to have friends and be involved but doesn’t have great social skills.  I am a bit socially awkward in person, so that is probably why I didn’t make a lot of friends until I went to college and met people even more awkward and quirky than myself.  I don’t hide the fact I am eccentric and odd.  As a grown man, I don’t feel the need to try to please people I’m probably not going to please to begin with.  It’s too bad I couldn’t tell this to my teenage self.  But it comes only with experience.

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.