Rant on “Quit Whining and Man Up” and observations about socializing

Been kind of depressed and irritable for the last several days.  Haven’t been sleeping well either.  About the only thing going really well for me is my renewed diet.  I am eating less than I normally do and getting more activity.  I get my activity in the afternoons even though I’m in the habit of sleeping until noon again.

I also no longer want to socialize.  And this time I don’t feel guilty for it.  I am tired of people who are in foul and angry moods trying to drag me down into their own mindlessness and petty vendettas.  Unfortunately, anymore, if it weren’t for negativity and fighting, there would be few conversations and certainly no social media.  I hate how I just can’t have a civilized conversation with even people I partly agree with anymore.  And good luck trying to talk to anyone who doesn’t view the world the same way you do.  I’m beginning to think that many people have mental health problems just because of the way we treat each other and the stress of modern living.  Granted, a person doesn’t have to be chronic like those of us on disability to have problems.  I have had a mental illness for almost twenty years now.  And only recently are people starting to talk about the effects of stress, anxiety, and chronic mental illnesses.  For the first several years of my diagnosis I didn’t talk about my mental health to anybody.  And I think I lost several good friendships because my friends didn’t understand that my depression and anger were nothing personal, they were manifestations of the sickness.

For the first several years of my illness I just didn’t talk about it, not even to friends or employers.  Back in those days mental illness was shrouded in more mystery and ridicule than even now.  I have no idea how many times I was told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘man up’ in those early years.  ‘Man up’. Now there is a stupid phrase I can’t figure out.  What does it even mean?  Is there really only one type of manliness?  And why is it the only type of virtues in a man we appreciate are those that involve the John Wayne frontier mentality that violence is the only way to solve all problems?  I think this is stupid, very stupid.  A mentality like that will make our species extinct.  And quite honestly, I enjoy living too much to sit idle while this type of barbarian behavior is honored and encouraged.  I would rather not go back to the Stone Age.  I hated all the ‘Mad Max’ movies and I definately don’t want to experience them in real life.

Another thing, we don’t females to ‘woman up’ and we don’t tell senior citizens to ‘young down’ nor do we tell terminally ill people to ‘hurry up and die.’  It’s little things that normal people just take for granted that I don’t understand and that I often see the dumbness and hypocracy in.  But most people seem pretty cool with dumb things and hypocracy anyway, at least when it comes from sources they like.  Unfortunately I never understood this line of thinking.  It’s probably why I have problems socializing with the public at large.  And of course having a chronic mental illness that people are still ignorant about doesn’t help either.

In closing, as a thought experiment, I was wondering what would happen if someone (or a group of individuals) just went about their daily lives being as rude and condescending to physical people as we are to people in our online interactions.  I would love to see some psychiatrist conduct this experiment.  I think the results would be either very interesting or very disturbing.

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Altered Sleep Patterns and Mental Illness

Things are starting to return to normal for me.  Got my lease renewed, so I get to stay for another year.  The weather is turning warmer and things are really greening up outside.  Spring was slow in getting started but it is certainly here.

And yet my sleep patterns are changing once again.  I’m back to wanting to sleep much of the day now.  I still fight it as I don’t sleep as much as I did during the winter.  But I feel tired more often now and I just want to spend as much time asleep as possible.  I’m still fighting against it by forcing myself to stay awake.  I have found myself falling asleep in front of my computer a couple times as a result.  Maybe I just wasn’t getting quality sleep for the last few weeks when I was sleeping only 6 hours a night.  I do know that getting good sleep can make my mental illness problems less severe.  Maybe I should just sleep as much as I can for the next few days as kind of a reset.  I traditionally have problems with depression, anxiety, and irritability from July until September.  My best and most stable months are usually January to June.  I just don’t do well mentally in hot weather.

Thoughts on Aging With A Mental Illness

Stayed home this weekend and cleaned in my apartment.  I had to take more frequent breaks than I used to in years past.  I’m just not as energetic as I was even two years ago.  I guess this is what I get to look forward to as I continue to age.  I decided I’m hiring a cleaning service to give my place a complete going over as soon as possible and then have them come back regularly.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to have them do it weekly or every two weeks.  It depends on prices.

I wish I didn’t have to go this route.  But then, I wish I wasn’t schizophrenic either.  There are things that I’m not going to be able to do alone, especially as I get older.  The idea that I can’t be as independent in my late 30s as I was even in my mid 30s is the hardest part of aging that I have had to come to accept. I always had an independent streak in me that didn’t want the help of others and wanted to be my own boss.  I think it runs in my family.  My father, my grandfathers, and I think most of my great grandfathers were self employed small business owners or farmers. I am starting to understand that there are things now that I can’t do alone anymore. I now understand why almost all of my friends got married or partnered up by this point in their lives.  Even the people I know in their forties that never married are closer to their extended family then they were in their twenties and thirties.  I suppose that seeing my limitations and losing some of my old physical abilities are a part of myself having to accept my own mortality.

I have heard from older men in my social circles that when they hit their mid to late 30s, that was about when their physical strength and interest in sex started to wane and decline.  That is also about the time when their careers started to take off, they assumed leadership roles in their jobs, social organizations, churches, and communities too.  This is when their careers, family lives, and leadership skills started to show.  Some men also had their ‘mid life crisis’ and life changing events like divorce and or death of parents occur during their thirties.  I guess this is when many people start realizing they are going to lose their physical strength and eventually die.  Traditionally forty represented the middle point of life even in ancient times, barring deaths from accidents, disease, or war.  At about age forty, that is when people traditionally go from rank and file members of society and start assuming more leadership roles.

In my case, I have found myself a home as a mental illness blogger.  It certainly wasn’t my dream job nor what I thought I would be doing when I was twenty one.  Back then, I had changed my college major from pre medicine to business management.  At the time I was really interested in personal finance and investing, so I thought I wanted to be a financial advisor and help people plan for their retirements, etc.  I interviewed at a few of these types of firms my senior year of college, but was never offered any job.  I had to accept that I wouldn’t be using my business training in a traditional job.  I have accepted that and made my peace with it.  I couldn’t say that ten years ago.  As it is, the blog is reaching more people than I thought it would when I started five years ago.  It certainly took me further than traditional publishing would have taken me.  And this means of work didn’t even exist when I was in grade school.  It makes me wonder what new jobs will be springing up in the next twenty to thirty years.

I am starting to come to the acceptance that I am losing my physical strength.  I probably will never be able to do things quite like I did in my early twenties unless some miracle of modern science and medicine comes along, which as much as I love science, I won’t bet my life savings on 🙂  I’m starting to come to the acceptance that I’m not going to as spry as I once was.  I have to be more careful about what I eat and activities I involve myself.  I guess I’m moving into middle age.  Hopefully I can avoid the whole mid life crisis deal as I’ve had to come to accept many hard truths about myself and life in general years ago when the schizophrenia really started.

Spring Cleaning and Mental Illness

Currently in the middle of my spring cleaning.  It’s not going as fast as I would like it to though.  My lower back flares up after being on my feet for awhile so I have to go slower than I used to.  I am beginning to fear that lower back pain is something I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life.  One of the reasons this is turning into a bigger than usual job is that I wasn’t keeping up on the cleaning and maintenance this winter like I had in years past.  I didn’t keep up on it because of the back pain and occasional bouts of depression to where I didn’t want to do anything but read and watch youtube videos.  I went through a lot of that last fall and this past winter.  I don’t know if it was the weather that had me depressed or if the illness was flaring up in different ways than previously.  I did go through bad bouts of paranoia when I would sometimes go two to three days in a row without leaving my apartment.  I don’t get the paranoia nearly as bad anymore.  I don’t know if the weather turning warmer or just the natural cycles of my schizophrenia is causing these changes.

It’s not that I was lazy about my upkeep just because I was lazy.  I have lived on my own more or less for fourteen years and I always made a point to keep my place picked up and better looking than most bachelor pads.  I think the mental illness was effecting me more this last fall and winter than I would have cared to admit.  Looking back on some of my winter writings I was really paranoid and too often had delusional feelings of persecution that, in reality, were alive only in my stressed and diseased mind.  I have to admit as my paranoia can flare up worse than in years past and with my physical health not as robust as it once was, I have to bring in outside help.  I am convinced I’ll need to reconfigure my budget and hire a regular cleaning service.  Sometimes I’d be depressed about the apartment looking shabby and the apartment looked shabby because I was too depressed and paranoid to do anything about it.  I know I can get back on top of my current issues.  Living on my own for fourteen years I have proven to myself and others that I can even if it takes me a little longer than many average people.  It’s just a matter of doing so.

I know that sometimes in my blog I probably appear over optimistic about having schizophrenia and being an adult in general.  Sometimes that is be encouraging to the readers, sometimes I write things I need myself to hear.  I imagine I have been overly optimistic when I wasn’t in the grips of paranoia and delusion this winter.

In other news, I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I can tell my clothes are fitting looser and my back pain isn’t as intense.  As far as my diet goes, I have cut out pasta, rice, and bread.  I eat mostly grilled lean meats and vegetables anymore.  And I think I’m starting to see some results.  I want to get back on top of everything that slid during my fall and winter bouts of depression, paranoia, delusions, and anxiety.  At least I no longer feel anxious when I hear footsteps in the hallway.  So that’s a start.

Trying To Live The Drama Free Life

I just realized that I don’t post as much to this blog as much as I used to.  I just really haven’t had that much drama in my life lately.  I’m not complaining.  Drama and mental illness are vicious tag team partners that are always together.  Normally with mental illness, it has been quite rare that I don’t have at least a minor flare up every few days.  It’s just that as I have aged and matured I don’t act on these impulses nearly as much anymore.  I have learned that yes, it is alright to feel bad.  Yes, it is alright to fume and quietly rant to yourself.  This is especially true if it helps me cope with mental illness and I don’t take out my issues on other people.  Mental illness is scary enough for me.  I can’t imagine how bad it is to someone who isn’t familiar with the ups and downs.

As it is as I have aged and been under treatment for most of my adult life, I have fewer ups and downs than I did in my teens and early twenties.  It is actually quite nice to not have problems like I had in the past.  Yet it did come at the cost of almost isolating myself for much of my life.  Fortunately for myself I can keep myself in good company for days at a time if need be.  It is kind of a lonely life, but at least I have always been one who preferred my own company or small groups as opposed to being Mr. Social Hour.  I enjoy living a drama free life.  At least, my life is as drama free as someone with schizophrenia is going to be.

Sleep Changes at Spring’s Beginning

Been trying to adapt to new sleep patterns for the last several days.  Mentally I’m still stable but I am not sleeping as much as I once was.  For much of the winter I was sleeping 10 to 12 hours a day.  I’m now down around 5 to 7 hours.  Been this way for almost a week now.  I don’t know if it’s due to longer days or warmer weather or what.  As it is I am not sleeping as much as I was for most of the winter.

I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the newly found free time.  Since at least Christmas, I had been used to getting everything I need done in the short amount of time I was awake.  I have found over the course of the last several days I’m getting more done, leaving my apartment more often, diversifying my activities, contacting friends and family more, etc.  But I also find myself with times of boredom and restlessness.  I usually take my medications in the middle of the night as I like to be awake in the off hours.  I’m now finding myself wanting to be awake during daylight and not so much just wanting to be nocturnal all the time.  But as I am no longer sleeping 10 hours a day, I find myself being both a morning person and a night person.  Traditionally rapid changes in sleep patterns have been precursors to mental health problems with increased anxiety and paranoia.  But I hope to cut these off and try to get back to some more regular sleep.

Overall I’m glad that the winter is over.  We do have a spring snow coming this weekend.  But those never last long.  Currently watching opening day of baseball on tv in the background.  I’m glad winter is over.  Mentally I stayed stable all winter but at the cost of hibernating much of the winter.  I’m looking forward to doing more outside again.

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College Years and How I Became a Blogger

Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me.  I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it.  I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work.  I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego.  As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension.  It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.

I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body.  Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life.  It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures.  It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing.  That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels.  I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there.  I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu.  Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people.  I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library.  But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story.  And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.

Changing Over To Spring

Spending a quiet, calm, and uneventful weekend at my apartment.  Haven’t talked to anyone this weekend.  After several days of forcing myself out of my comfort zones trying to be more social and out going, I am needing a quiet weekend to recharge and regroup.  Deciding that I’m spending the weekend binging on computer games and youtube music videos.  Been listening to some of the music I listened to in high school and college the last few days.  I refuse to go as far as to say music was better twenty years ago because anyone will be nostalgic for what they grew up listening to in the formative years of their teens and early twenties.  I imagine in early 1800s Germany there were people complaining about Beethoven.  And I’m sure when the 2030s roll around my nephews’ generation will complain about what their kids listen to, watch and read.

As it is, it’s been a calming and relaxing weekend.  It was overcast, kind of chilly, and raining on and off all day yesterday.  We get those days quite a bit in early spring.  I enjoy those type of days.  Boil some coffee, find a good book, and just enjoy the day.  I also do some of my better writing on days like that.  Days like that are one of the reasons spring is my favorite time of year.

Looks like I made it through another winter without having any major setbacks.  I did have to readjust my life some as I got to where I didn’t like being around people and preferred to sleep as much as possible.  Maybe one of the reasons I stayed stable was I avoided people as much as possible.  But with winter ending I suppose I no longer have the excuse of it being too cold or too much snow to leave my complex.  I have to renew my lease in a few weeks.  So I have to get my paper work together for that.  Too bad I couldn’t do this online and submitting e-files.  My rent is literally the only thing I even write checks for anymore.  I imagine this dream of mine is still a few years away.

All Nighters and End of Winter Plans

I’m back to keeping odd hours again.  I usually sleep in the late mornings and early afternoons while being awake often until sunrise.  I still get enough sleep and I make it a point to get out of my apartment some everyday.  But I have found that at this point in my life I feel less paranoid and irritated in the middle of the night than I do in the mornings.  I never have been a morning person.  Even as a kid I would often stay awake late and read books even on school nights.  I’d be up all night sometimes during the summers and Christmas breaks just reading.  While I don’t do as much serious book reading as I once did, I still do audiobooks and listen to science and history lectures.  That is my form of entertainment.  I have also gotten into learning do it yourself fixes around the house via youtube videos.  I’ve recovered crashed computers, sped up my play station, and done various around the house hacks just by watching a few videos.  I have to find something quiet to do when I’m awake in the overnight hours.  I just as well be exercising my mind.

Winter is practically over in my hometown.  Most of the snow is melted.  Baseball preseason is in full swing and the regular season will be starting in a couple weeks.  During the spring and summer I’ll often have a baseball game on the tv in the background while I’m reading a book or working on a computer.  Live sports is about the extent of my traditional tv viewing anymore and even this I don’t watch as much as I did even five years ago.  If cable didn’t come with my apartment I wouldn’t even have it.

I’m looking forward to spring.  This winter has been harsher than usual.  Other than a few days at my parents’ place in February, I haven’t been outside of my hometown this winter.  But my town, while not a city by any stretch of the imagination, has almost everything I need within driving distance.  What I can’t get in my hometown I can always get delivered via internet orders.  In short I really have no real reason to travel much anymore besides seeing friends and family.  And travel is more stressful for me than it was even a few years ago.  I really no longer enjoy the long road trips like I did in my twenties and early thirties.  I have no real plans to travel this summer.  I guess I really have no immediate plans other than continuing to do the blog and stay stable.  But sometimes staying stable with mental illness is a full time job by itself.

Letting Go

It has been said, I think it was in the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, that “in order to move forward, you have to leave the past behind” or something along the same idea.  I admit to having problems with letting go of what happened in my younger years, especially during times when my mental illness flares up especially bad.  During such times I have a very hard time coming to accept that my life did not turn out how I remotely imagined it would when I was sixteen and looking ahead to the vast expanse of years that was ahead.  At that age, I pictured that I would be doing something in medical research and married with at least a couple of children and living in some large metroplex by the time I turned 35.  Like many intelligent kids that could be classified as somewhat ‘nerdy’, I dreamed of the day I would move out of my hometown of less than 500 people and onto bigger and better things.  Like most of the few close friends I had, I so desperately wanted out of Nebraska.  I figured there was nothing here for me in the science and medicine fields and I would be wasting my life if I stayed behind.  Well, time has a way of making fools of even the smartest of us.

I never left Nebraska while all the friends from high school I stayed in contact with did.  In fact, none of the friends I made in college stayed in state either.  I didn’t end up working in any scientific or medical field for even one day of my life.  I certainly never got married or had kids.  I never even worked in a job that would require me to graduate high school for any real length of time, and I essentially failed at those jobs.  In spite of my illness, I retained almost all of my natural intelligence even though now my ability to work under stress and read anyone ‘between the lines’ was completely gone.  Any of these instances, let alone all of these put together, were serious blows to my pride and ego.

For the first several years of my mental illness, I agonized over where I went wrong.  I retained my natural intelligence yet I couldn’t do well in even minimum wage work.  It was baffling to my caseworkers at Vocational Rehab that I was so smart yet couldn’t handle any real stress.  For a long time, I thought I just wasn’t working hard enough and that work was supposed to suck.  I had spent my entire life hearing adults complain about their jobs as if their misery was something they took pride in.  So I just tried harder and attempted to abandon any idea that I was supposed to enjoy work or even life for that matter.  In time I came to believe I was doomed to be a failure at working a regular job.

For the next couple of years, I threw myself into my writing.  I was working part time at the courthouse as a janitor by this time.  I came to believe that the only way I could ‘make something of myself’ was to write a decent selling book.  I knew that the odds were against me as less than one percent of even published writers would make above poverty level if they relied solely on their writing work.  Well, that didn’t work either.  I self published a couple books of poetry, a book about my experiences as a mentally ill person in a ‘chronically sane world’, and even wrote rough drafts for two novels.  Found out the hard way that I have almost no talent for writing fiction.  I don’t even like reading fiction, especially modern fiction.  Even though I sold a few dozen copies of my mental illness book, the others didn’t sell at all.  So for a few years after that, I felt like a failure as a writer.

Now that the traditional writer door had been rudely slammed in my face, I became very depressed and angry.  I couldn’t understand what was the point of retaining my intelligence and not being able to use my abilities to even support myself, let alone help others.  I couldn’t figure any of this out.  I just couldn’t let go of what this illness cost me.  Occasionally I still find myself angry over what I lost.  I had the example of what I could have, and should have, been in the person of my older brother.  He is currently working as an electrical engineer for a defense contractor, making more money per year in his mid 30s than my parents ever made at any point in their careers, living in a excellent neighborhood in a metroplex outside of our home state, married to an intelligent woman (who also is an engineer), and has four children that he’s absolutely devoted to.

I suppose it’s wrong to be envious of him, though a part of me sometimes is.  I know as kids, I actually got better grades in school and read more books than he did.  When I’m in the grips of my mental illness, I often find myself thinking our lives could have been similar.  When I’m seriously in the grips of the illness and feeling nothing but anger and hostility, I find myself thinking our lives could have been easily reversed with me doing the work of my dreams and him being mentally ill.  Fortunately that doesn’t happen often.

When I’m not caught in the grasp of the illness, I find it very easy to let go of my past and move forward.  I have found an outlet of sorts though blogging.  Sure I don’t have thousands of visitors every day like some blogs here on wordpress.  No I’m not known outside of my family, my current hometown, my handful of friends, and people who follow and/or happen to stumble on these writings.  No, I haven’t made even one cent off these writings on this blog.  Sure, I’m dependent on the government for my medications and even my living.  Yet, when I am doing well, I have completely accepted all the aspects of my mental illness and have moved forward.  It is now only the small minority of times when I’m in the grips of the illness that I have to worry about stumbling and dwelling on everything that has happened over the last twenty years.