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.

Late January and Winter Routine

I weathered yet another snow storm this winter.  Fortunately this one is starting to melt off already after only a couple days.  If I wait long enough, maybe I won’t have to shovel the snow off my car 🙂  Been staying close to home and generally getting less than I would like accomplished.  If I haven’t written as much the last month it’s only because I have less to report than usual.  We’ve had a couple new people move into our complex.  So far they seem to be working out.  I haven’t been outside of my hometown since before Christmas and I haven’t had house guests since our family’s Christmas party.

My back seems to be doing better.  I can walk further distances but not as far as I would like.  I’m still lifting arm weights to make up the difference.  I’ve been sleeping more.  I am convinced this is due to cutting out caffeine for the last few days.  I haven’t gotten jittery and irritable from withdraw, at least not yet.  I’m probably going to get out and buy some coffee within the next day or two once all the ice is melted.  We’ve had snow cover for over a month now.  And usually here in Nebraska winters are bitterly cold but dry.

One month of winter has come and gone.  And I really don’t feel like I got much accomplished from all of my indoor time.  I do go see my psych doctor early in February. I guess I really don’t have much to report to him besides being more or less stable though a little paranoid around people.  But even that paranoia has been lessening within the last few days.  I don’t foresee any medication changes coming in the near future.

It’s been a quiet and uneventful winter for me so far.  But I am beginning to look forward to spring.  Just another two months to go.

Thoughts on Changes Since Childhood

I’m currently at my parents’ house for a couple days for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My brother, his wife, and their four kids are here too.  We have seven of us sleeping in the basement but at least I get my old bedroom.  That way I can retreat and regroup if need be.  But my brothers’ kids are well behaved and old enough they shouldn’t give me many problems.

This is the first time in months I have been back to my old childhood home.  A lot has changed in this town since I moved out in 2005.  For one, all of my old high school friends have moved away.  The cousins that stayed have families of their own.  Most of my old teachers have retired or moved to bigger schools.  All my grandparents and a couple of my uncles have died.  My old grade school was torn down.  The retail store I worked in during the summers went out of business.  In many ways this isn’t the same town I grew up in during the 80s and 90s.  I haven’t been getting back to my parents’ place much the last several years as none of my old friends live around here anymore.  In many ways, this is no longer my town.  It doesn’t feel like home and it hasn’t for several years.

I bring up growing up and the changes my parents’ place have gone under because, with my mental illness, those years I grew up here seem like someone else’s life.  I started having problems with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen.  I was doing quite well in school and involved in many different activities.  It seemed like I was on the fast track to a career and life of my dreams, at least that was until the depression and anxiety started.  Twenty years later, my seventeen year old self wouldn’t even recognize the thirty seven year old man I am now.  I imagine my seventeen year old self would have seen who I am today as a failure.  Back then I knew nothing of mental illness and disability.  Like many teenagers, I also didn’t have as much empathy as many adults who have had their ups and downs, wins and losses.

If nothing else, fighting this mental illness for twenty years has taught me how to have more empathy for people different than myself.  It has taught me patience and how to accept things I can’t change.  It has taught me that, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t about keeping up with other people.  Life is mainly about competing with your self and being the best you that you are capable of being.  He who dies with the most toys is just as dead as anyone else in the cemetery.

I haven’t been giving much time to reflecting on the past for the last few years.  I have mainly been focused on the present and future possibilities.  I normally have little use for nostalgic thoughts.  But I’m sure having them now that I’m at my childhood home for the first time in months.  I guess the nostalgia has shown me how much I lost because of this mental illness.  Yet, in spite of the life that never was, I think I still have a great deal to stay alive for.  I’m interested to see what the next twenty years in this life of mental illness will show me.  I can only guess what changes will have come by the time 2037 rolls in.

Readjustments, Halloween Movies, and Random Thoughts

The weather is turning colder again indicating that winter won’t be too far away.  The leaves on the trees have completely turned.  Since I have lots of trees in view of my apartment windows, I can enjoy the autumn foliage and not even put on a coat.  I am still a little guarded about whom I socialize with, but at least I socialize a little everyday now. Somedays I’ll stay home most of the time, but I am not as afraid of traveling as I was even a few weeks ago.  I try to get outside at least once a day and I’ve been lifting weights for a week now.

I’m also attempting to readjust my sleep patterns to more regular times.  For weeks I have been sleeping in the mornings after staying awake most nights.  Naturally this messed up my social life and sleep patterns.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve been drinking more coffee and hot tea to try to warm up during these colder days.  I imagine that this could take several days as I am used to sleeping in the mornings and then being up in the afternoons and overnight hours.

I haven’t seen any family in person since the summer.  That will probably change in a few weeks as Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up.  I have usually been stressed during the holidays in years past.  Anymore I avoid going to the stores and malls from Halloween to Christmas just to avoid crowds and the sensory overload.  I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping or Christmas music.  The only truly Christmas movies I like are It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.  I like the supernatural thrillers of Halloween better.  I can’t get into those slasher killer movies.  So I’ve been watching more supernatural thrillers lately in the spirit of Halloween.  I also enjoyed the old ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast.  Youtube has a few recordings of that.  So I’ll be binge watching Halloween movies for the next couple days.

Changes in My Mental Illness

Started to restock my winter supplies and emergency food.  I am now set to the point that  I don’t have to venture out for several days if needed.  Lately I have been content to stay close to the complex besides running errands.  Mentally I have been stable even if I am staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.  Maybe that is why I am so stable.

I have gotten to where in my illness that socializing makes me paranoid and irritable.  I no longer enjoy socializing with my neighbors.  I no longer enjoy driving, not even across town.  I’m pretty much content to just keep to myself anymore.  Anymore I am my own favorite company.  I hope this is mainly paranoia and the illness, but I really can’t stand to be around most people anymore.  I would rather socialize over the phone or online than in person anymore.  With the holidays coming in a few weeks, I may be forced out of this isolation routine that has worked so well for me.  I’m not looking forward to losing my routines.  I am definitely not looking forward to the holidays.  I really don’t feel like celebrating much of anything anymore.  And I certainly no longer care to celebrate merely because the calendar and society as a whole tells me I have to.  Maybe schizophrenia really does get worse with age in some aspects.  I don’t have much for hallucinations or angry outbursts anymore.  But I do still have paranoia, delusions, and just prefer to be left alone almost all the time.  I hope it’s my illness messing with my mind, but I just can’t stand to socialize in person anymore.  I definitely can no longer hold a job.  I can barely venture out into my hometown without problems anymore.  I can only hope this illness stops getting worse as I age.  It has definitely screwed with every aspect of my life.