January 27, 2019

Got an earlier than usual start to this day.  It’s still dark as I write this.  Got only five hours of sleep last night.  I had been getting eight or so for weeks.  I hope this change in sleep patterns isn’t a prelude to problems.  But overall I feel quite well.  Sometimes I do get kind of lonely though.  Socializing over facebook and phone just isn’t the same as seeing someone in person.  But I don’t socialize much in person because it seems that so many people I come into contact with are in foul and irritable moods all the time.  Don’t know what to make of it.  I just don’t want that negativity rubbing off on me.  I don’t have the energy or the time to deal with needless drama anymore.  I’m too old for it.  As it is I’m content to stay alone for the time being.

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I Am Not Anti Social

For years my family have been on my case trying to get me to socialize more.  Even as a child I preferred to stay home and read my books as opposed to go to the big social activities in my farming village, namely high school sports games and county fairs in the summers.  I never did enjoy such activities as much as most people.  I mean, I enjoyed playing football and running track in high school far more than I did watching them.  And anything I could see at a county fair or Fourth of July parade, I could see any day of the year just by looking around my town.  No, I would have rather spent my time reading about far off places I would probably never get to see, read about a past that most people will never learn, and read about future possibilities (both good and bad) that I would probably not live long enough to see.

And because of my “different” set of interests, I was condemned by my parents, town elders, and even my classmates as being “anti social.”  Yet, this was an absolutely unfair accusation.  I love socializing, I just had different interests than most people I knew growing up.  I was 11 years old before I made a friend who had the same interests in music, history, geopolitics, science, etc. that I did.  And he too was an outcast among my people.  When I was 13, I met the girl who later became the best friend I ever had.  See still is my best friend even 25 years later.  She was even more interested in tech and geopolitics than even I was.  She was also the first person my age I ever met who loved reading even more than I did.  So we wound up spending a great deal of our teenage years at each other’s house.

Naturally, most people in my school thought we were romantically involved even before high school.  No we weren’t.  She was among the handful of people in my hometown who shared my interests and I shared hers.  As a result of being so different from my peers, I always thought there was something defective with myself all the way through my junior high and high school years.

It wasn’t until I spent a little time at college did I realize that I wasn’t defective.  I did much better socially in college than I did as a kid in my hometown.  I made lots of acquaintances, several really cool friends I still hear from via facebook, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t condemned for having nerdy interests or loving to read.  When I was a kid, my classmates would often yank a book I was reading right out of my hands.  They would often steal my textbooks and sheet music in band.  About the only book I never had stolen from me as a teenager was my football playbook and my Bible.  Even though I am almost 40 years old, I still don’t get why people that don’t read much hate those of us that do.  I mean, is wanting knowledge and wisdom such an evil thing?  Why, if it weren’t for acquired knowledge and wisdom being passed down from elders to children, we would have never even survived the Stone Age.  I can’t stand people who are proud of being unread and unknowing and ignorant.  The Dunning – Kruger effect is alive and well in those types.

I guess if there is a point to this post it is this, I am not nearly as anti social as my family and neighbors fear I am.  I can go for hours on end on things that interest me.  About the only things I don’t like talking about are my neighbors, office politics, popular culture, tv shows, stupid stunts going viral on youtube, or engaging in endless and pointless debates on facebook and twitter trying to get points across to people.  Proving people wrong isn’t going to make them like you.  I found this out the hard way.  Now if I am able to win someone to my line of thinking, it is an ongoing and gradual process where there really isn’t one ‘eureka’ moment.  It does get frustrating repeating the same ideas over, and over, and over only to feel like you are not making any difference.  I understand why good teachers burn out before their prime.  Sometimes I feel like I am not making any positive difference.  But we are local and linear thinkers, our species.  And for most of our existence that has served us extremely well.  That’s why it’s so hard to see the large picture or imagine what the future could be, it’s not natural to us.  It is also why visionaries are ridiculed, condemned, and sometimes even killed only for the children of the people that condemned these visionaries to see that the visionary was right all along and it was conventional wisdom that had it wrong.

I am not anti social.  Never have been.  Never will be.  I just have broader range of interests than most people I know.  And talking about neighbors, politics, office going ons, gossip, popular culture, etc. gets old and stale for me real quick.  After about five minutes of such gutter tripe I have gotten the idea and am ready to move onto other topics.

Winter Stability With Mental Illness

Been rather uneventful the last several days.  I’ve been stable overall and staying sane.  I keep in contact with friends and family on a daily basis, even on the days I don’t leave my apartment complex.  I think I’m continuing to lose weight as my stamina is slowly increasing, my aches and pains are taking less time to overcome, and I don’t sleep twelve hours a day anymore.  I now usually sleep eight.  Most nights I go to bed around nine or ten p.m and wake up around four or five a.m.  I usually wake up once in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom.  I also sometimes nap for an hour or two in the afternoons.

I recently hired a cleaning person.  She arrives once a week to help me keep the place up and cleaned.  I get along with her fine.  I hope I can keep her for a long time.  I lost my last cleaner after she had heart problems and had to retire.

Winter is treating me alright.  Fortunately January hasn’t been as bitterly cold as December, at least not yet.  We had a big snow right after Christmas but most of that has melted by now.  I can get out and about in my car, but some days I’m just content to stay at home.  I stay in contact with family and friends, often online.  Reminds me of the comic where the mother is telling her son to get outside and spend time with friends.  And the boy says “But mom, I am spending time with my friends.  We are all online.”

I find myself eating less this winter than previously.  I still eat two protein rich meals per day, but the portions are getting smaller and I feel less hungry between meals.  I also cut out most sugar and grains.  Now I love foods like fried rice, spaghetti, etc.  But they do make me feel sluggish and slow if I eat too many.  I just feel better on days I don’t eat many carbs as opposed to days I do.  It does mean spending more on groceries because I do better with proteins and fresh vegetables, but feeling better with fewer aches and pains is worth the cutbacks I have made in other parts of my life.

Bought myself a few new computer games with the Christmas money my parents gave me.  Been experimenting with those.  Also, got my PS3 straightened out so it rarely runs slow now.  It was a pain to be playing Skyrim or college football only to have the game run slow or even completely freeze up in the middle of the action.  One of the games I bought for my computer is called ‘Stellarius’.  It’s kind of a futuristic Civilization type game where you can go colonize other star systems, mine astroids and gas giants, and contact other intelligent species.  I’m still trying to figure it out.  It’s one of the most complex and nuanced games I ever saw.  It’ll take awhile for me to figure it out.

I’m doing well on my new psych medications.  Things have seemed to settle down.  I’m glad for it.  I’m looking forward to the rest of winter.

Hosting Christmas and Weathering Blizzards

Hosted Christmas for myself and my parents again this year.  Even though they live out of state now, they had to be back in Nebraska for a couple days to close up some business issues and visit some family.  I did get to face time with my nephews and niece, granted it was on my dad’s smart phone and not my computer.  I do miss those kids.  Makes me hope that I can spend Christmas 2019 at their place.

Right now I am house bound for the next couple days at least.  We had massive amounts of rain before changing over to snow.  I don’t know how much snow we have as my windows are so iced over I can’t see out.  Our city did declare a snow emergency and told everyone besides critical workers to stay home today.  Fortunately I have enough groceries I can stay home for a long time if need be, and I even have a lot of non perishables that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated.  I haven’t gone as far and picked up any of those Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) popularized by the military and back woods campers.  But I should be alright.  I keep everything charged in case we do lose power.  With as much ice and wind and snow as we have, that is a possibility.

I got some picture frames for Christmas.  I bought several prints of art work done by a long time friend of mine.  I finally got some frames to go with them.  My apartment doesn’t look so much like a monk’s chamber now.  I guess I don’t mind the kind of starkness of white walls with few decorations.  But some paintings on the walls do make the place seem warmer and less sterile.

Been going to bed around 9pm and waking up for good around 5am lately.  I feel more stable now that I have a regular sleep pattern.  I still sometimes nap in the afternoons for an hour or two at a time.  I sleep much deeper than usual now.  But I’m getting better sleep too.  I think that only helps with my issues of paranoia and delusions.  I tend to be less distressed after a few days of good sleep.  I also get deeper sleep on days I don’t have as much caffeine.  Feel less irritable on those days too.

Been feeling pretty good the last few days.  I enjoyed Christmas with my parents.  And now I am ready to face the rest of the winter.

December 14, 2018

Another week has come and gone.  Besides seeing my psych doctor I haven’t been out too much.  But it looks like our cold spell is over and it’s supposed to more bearable for the next several days.  Our snow and is ice is melted.  So getting around town is easier now.  I spent an entire week without driving because of the snow and ice early this month.  I was starting to feel kind of confined and needing to get out.  Even I have times I just need to leave my fortress.

Been chatting with friends over facebook more lately.  Made some new friends in my techie groups and kept in contact with friends and family.  For awhile I was getting discouraged that I wasn’t hearing from my friends and family as often as I would like.  But then, I wasn’t posting on my personal site much besides promoting my blog.  Socializing is much like investing; no deposits, no returns.

Haven’t been reading much besides online articles and blogs lately.  The thing is I read as much, or even more, than I have in years past.  But I don’t read much for hardback print books.  The things I enjoy reading about now are science, tech, geopolitical, and medical news articles and essays.  Haven’t even listened to long audio books for weeks.

Sleep patterns have changed too, this time for the better.  Most nights I go to sleep around nine or ten pm and wake up for good at four or five am.  I still get my handful of quiet hours, I just get them in the early morning rather than the middle of the night.  Been this way for a few weeks now.  And it seems it takes more to make me irritable and paranoid ever since my sleep patterns changed.

Still haven’t made any concrete plans for Christmas.  I may go to my parents’ new house in Oklahoma.  But weather can be so unpredictable and dangerous for travel this time of year in my part of the country.  I guess I don’t have any gift wishes this year.  The PlayStation 5 won’t come out until next year at the earliest.  I would like a new gaming console as the one I have is several years old and showing it’s age.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset after saving his chore and odd job money for months.  Personally, I’m waiting a few years until the quality improves and the prices drop at least 50 percent from what they are now.  One thing about information and computer tech, the first versions are usually expensive and clunky (think cell phones from the 1980s or televisions from the 1950s), and after a few revisions they become inexpensive and every one has them.  My cell phone is a $99 Wal Mart special smart phone.  Yet, as far as computing power goes, it’s far better than the $2000 desk top computer I got for college back in 1999.  Too bad the costs for things like housing, automobiles, and education didn’t drop with time like computer tech.

As it is, I’m enjoying this holiday season.  The college bowl games start tomorrow, so there will be games on almost every day until New Year’s.  That’s what I’ll be doing for awhile.

Helping Friends Through Depression and Burnout While Having a Mental Illness Myself

Other than my parents I haven’t been socializing much lately.  Seems that many of my friends are more depressed and anxious than usual.  Normally I would be annoyed and irritated by people just being in rude and obnoxious moods while I would be sympathetic to those who were depressed and anxious.  I try to connect with these friends but I can’t tell that I’m getting through to them.  Sometimes I feel as though I’m wasting my breath and that my friends really don’t want my company.

Hopefully this is just the illness part of my mind speaking.  But it does concern me that so many of my friends are having issues with depression and burnout.  It didn’t use to be this way.  It use to be that I was the one with the depression and burnout and my friends were the ones doing alright.  Now the tables are turned.  I can tell my friends and family who were probably annoyed with my depression and hangups in my younger years that I appreciate your efforts to keep me in the loop.  I especially appreciate you inviting me to functions that I probably wouldn’t just show up to on my own.  I may secretly begrudge social activities at first but once things get started I’m glad I participated.  But your efforts to include me and encourage me did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  I may not say it often enough, but I do appreciate my family and friends.  I may not keep in contact as much as I would like.  In some cases, I imagine my friends may be annoyed by how much I try to stay in contact.  But I don’t have many options for decent socializing.

I appreciate my friends and family.   I hurt for them when they are suffering and struggling.  Such is the price of being naturally empathic in a time and place that doesn’t value empathy and connection.  But it is kind of strange helping my friends out with their depression and stress issues now.  I imagine that since many of my friends are in their late 30s and early 40s, this is prime years for the mid life crisis.  I guess I had my major crisis in my teens and twenties while my peers were getting started in their careers and still dating and thinking about marriage.  It’s now my turn to be the support system to those who need it.  I want to believe that my empathy and support of my friends in their struggles is appreciated.  I want to believe that the fears that say my friends would rather I go away are just my illness creeping back in, and I do think that it is.  But there are the moments of weakness still.

Dreams and Mental Illness

We all have them when we sleep.  Dreams I mean.  Most of the time they are forgotten as soon as we get out bed and start brushing our teeth as we go to face the day’s activities.  But there are some that stick with us for years.  Mentally ill people like me are no different in this regard.

In the first years of my diagnosis, while I was in college and early in my working life, I would frequently have frightening dreams.  I don’t wish to go into a great deal of detail as I don’t want to scare my readers, but I will say many of them were quite violent, dealing with apocalyptic themes, and the supernatural.  For a good portion of my twenties there were nights I tried to sleep as little as I could so I wouldn’t have these nightmares.  Now I know that I was depriving myself of needed sleep and making the problems worse.

After I hit my late twenties and into my early thirties my dreams took on a different spin.  They were still scary and sometimes violent, but I would usually be the hero rather than the victim.  I saved more lives than most superheroes, at least in my dreams in those years.  That was also around the time I came to accept that I would never hold a traditional career and would need to find some other outlets to contribute to the betterment of my fellow humans.

For the last few years I’ve been having dreams about the life I could have had if I wouldn’t haven’t gotten mentally ill.  In these dreams I’d have a good marriage, a few kids, a successful career in the science field, and be a respected member of the community.  I’ve had a few dreams where I made some breakthrough in my research and became wealthy enough that I just spent my days going around anonymously helping people in need.  If I ever did become wealthy, I would probably get off Medicaid, put a couple million in low risk investments, live off the interest, buy my own insurance, and spend the rest of the money making other people’s lives better but do so without being known.  A few friends and I were discussing just this when the lottery jackpot got over one billion dollars recently.

Of course I have those dreams about having to do school over again in my middle age.  But I always know it’s a dream and I can influence these dreams.  A few times I’ve told my teachers in these dreams “Dude, this is my dream.  I’ll turn in my homework if I want to.”

Another one of these dreams when I had to redo high school in my thirties involved my three best friends from high school also.  We built a super intelligent computer that could learn on it’s own in my grandmother’s garage.  The machine studied all of our psychology and religious texts in one afternoon “because I was bored.”  And the machine built a VR version of Heaven/Nirvana/Paradise/etc. that it offered us that we as people could visit and leave as we saw fit.  Well, genius me feared it was a trap and turned our computer’s offer down.  The machine broke down sobbing and erased all it’s programs before permanently shutting itself down.  Before it died, it said “All I ever wanted was to make my people happy.”  Makes me think we humans are the real monsters of this world.  The machine even referred to my best friend/occasional dating interest as “mom.”  But it was this friend of mine who introduced me to the internet when we were seventeen.

Dreams can indeed be strange.  Most are forgotten shortly after waking.  A select few stick with a person for years.  Perhaps dreaming is the mind’s way of decluttering itself or making sense of some of the absurdities of living.  Being mentally ill I definitely need to declutter my distressed mind often.  And I am glad most of my dreams are pleasant or at least mundane anymore.