Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Hallucinations And Paranoia With Schizophrenia

One of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations. In my case I have auditory hallucinations. I often hear people walking and talking in the hallways who aren’t there. I often hear my phone ring when it isn’t. It’s especially bad when I’m away from my phone in the bathroom or in the bedroom trying to take a nap. I often hear my Facebook Messenger ap chime only to find it was only hallucinations. I often have voices criticizing me when I’m trying to do even mundane tasks like cooking supper, doing laundry, getting dressed, and even when playing computer games and watching Amazon Prime. And it’s always the voices of people I know and they are always very critical and nasty.

As far as paranoia goes, it’s often bad. I always feel like I’m being watched when I am in public. I always feel like when something goes wrong when I have company (things like my internet going down, my computer being slower than usual, neighbors knocking on my door, having too much clutter on my desk and bedroom floor, or even having to get up to go to the bathroom) I’m being silently condemned and criticized. I’ve called my family out on this a few times. Even though they try their best to tell me that they mean no harm, I usually think they are lying and just get even more paranoid. I’m also paranoid that my call box that opens the security door to let delivery men isn’t going to work. I’m usually ready to go to my neighbor’s and have them open the security door. This has been especially bad for over two years as I’m completely reliant on grocery and UPS delivery.

I rarely leave my apartment for I fear that I’m being watched and condemned. I often lose my breath after walking long distances. And people making comments about me breathing hard makes me not want to leave my home. Then I get people telling me I wouldn’t be so short of breath if I got out of the house more often. I catch hell either way anymore.

I’m also really self conscious about my appearance. But, I’m also paranoid enough to think that no matter how good I am dressed up and presentable, it won’t be good enough for anybody. What’s the point of doing anything beyond minimum if it’s never going to be good enough for anyone? People were really critical of my appearance even back in grade school no matter how dressed up and cleaned up I was. I had one general practice doctor who wanted to take me off all of my psych meds because he thought the psych meds were preventing me from losing weight and that I’d be doing so much better mentally if I lost weight. Never mind that I’ve had mental health issues since high school and was physically strong well into my late 30s. Until my car accident in 2015 I’d walk three miles a day, five days a week. Can’t do that anymore. Another doctor flat out told me, and I quote, “Lose the damn weight.” First, last, and only time I saw him.

The whole, get tough, man up, scream in my face, Alpha Male, Marine Corp, hell fire and brimstone, cowboy nonsense never worked with me. It also never impressed me. I guess that makes me less manly, depending on who you ask. I suppose that after twenty plus years of schizophrenia I just no longer want to be bothered with it. Some days I feel a lot older than 41. I have no clue how I made it even this far. I really no longer care if I impress anyone, even friends and family. I’ll do the minimum to keep my neighbors, my landlord, social security, etc. happy and off my case. But I’m no longer going out of my way to impress anyone. It’s not like I was impressing anyone when I was in my teens and twenties anyway. I’m glad I’m not young anymore and can more or less do my own thing as long as I’m not being a jerk to my neighbors or breaking the law. I’m enjoying my 40s far more than I did my teens. As bad as the hallucinations and paranoias are now, they were far worse in my twenties. There are far worse things in life than being on disability and living in low income housing in rural America. Even the last couple years with the pandemic, I have a legit excuse to not leave my house and not get hassled.

August 5 2021

Found out my brother and all four of his kids tested positive for covid this morning. I had a couple friends in Omaha and a couple cousins catch it last year. So glad I got vaccinated months ago. Having a chronic mental illness and being overweight are already two strikes against me. I’m getting prepared in case another round of lockdowns are enacted this fall. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Saw my psych doctor a couple days ago. We did a teleconference. Got my prescriptions renewed. It was essentially a follow up. I had been having more irritability than usual all of last week. I wasn’t paranoid but I was quite irritable. It seems to have cleared up.

Been following the Olympics some. I don’t watch much for regular tv anymore. Most of what I watch are youtube videos and Amazon Prime. Saw the first half of The Ten Commandments yesterday. Probably finish that tonight.

Been chatting with friends a little everyday. Found out a friend of mine is going to talk to a disability lawyer soon concerning chronic health problems. Another friend’s daughter had her first birthday party a week ago.

The Black Hills Motorcycle Rally is starting this weekend. That is always a sign for me that summer is all but over. My cleaning lady’s kids start back to school in a week. I just hope schools reopening and summer rallies don’t turn into super spreader events. Since we actually have vaccines, where we didn’t a year ago, I hope the outbreaks won’t be as bad this fall.

I’m pretty content to stay close to home, at least for the near term. As long as I can get my groceries delivered and have access to internet, I should be alright.

End of July

Met the new complex manager on Friday morning. They were doing routine spraying for bugs. I had problems with bed bugs a couple years ago. Had to get rid of a lot of my furniture. Had the carpet taken out and replaced with vinyl flooring. But the carpet had needed replaced for a few years anyway. A lot of places in the US have bed bug problems for at least the last several years. I heard that even five star hotels had some issues. But haven’t had problems with bugs since before the pandemic started.

It’s been a cooler than usual July, at least in my hometown. We’ve avoided the droughts and heat waves that hit most of the western states. It’s been hazy for the last couple days, probably from the forest fires.

Keeping in contact with friends. My friend in Denver is looking to buy some land. She sometimes gets discouraged when places she could afford are quickly sold. I guess I really have no desire to be a property owner. I like my apartment, my hometown, and I don’t have to shovel snow or mow grass. That and I like that I can get same day delivery for groceries. And I can get anything within reason from amazon within three days. My town is a few hour drive from any major metroplex, so we don’t have same day delivery. My best friend from college will have to report back to school in a few weeks. Hard to believe he’s been a teacher for almost twenty years now.

Found that I am eating less than I usually do. This has been going on for several months. Most days I usually eat only twice a day, with lunch always being my biggest meal. I think I am losing weight again. Most of my clothes are getting baggy. But I’ve always preferred looser fitting clothing. Tight shirts and pants just don’t look good on me.

Preseason football practice started a few days ago. I’ll be watching football games on Saturdays again in only four weeks. And the college kids will be returning before long. My town always comes back to life in mid August when the college returns for fall session. When I still owned a car, I often went to college events and festivals. Used to go to a few football and volleyball games on campus too. Ten years ago, my favorite hangout was an internet cafe near the college campus. I miss that place.

Got back into reading physical books again. Currently working on a Michio Kaku book and a geopolitics book about what the world will look like once the pandemic passes. Been watching more movies too. Saw Minority Report, Aeon Flux, Jupiter Ascending, and The Mask of Zorro within the last week. Thinking about watching some epic classics next week. I’m thinking either The Ten Commandments or Gandhi.

I can tell the days are getting shorter. Probably only another six weeks of really hot weather. Spring is usually my favorite time of year. But I do like fall for football, baseball playoffs, and now soccer. I try to watch whenever the US national teams play now that I have a niece and nephew who are good soccer players. My nephew plans on trying out for his high school soccer team when school starts up.

Summer is starting to wind down. I weathered it alright for the most part. Looking forward to cooler weather again.

July 27 2021

Spent most of yesterday morning outside my apartment. Just hung out in the complex library catching up with the other tenants. Had some good conversations.

Been having lots of rain lately. It hasn’t been nearly as hot in my hometown as in most places. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. We still have another six weeks of potentially hot weather. Corn harvest will start in six to eight weeks. Football season is a little over a month away.

Haven’t been keeping up with friends like I used to. I imagine most people are busy and stressed these days. I usually spend my days reading books or watching educational videos on youtube.

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

July 11 2021

Been quiet the last few days. Staying close to home as it’s been really hot when it hasn’t been raining. Looking forward to fall again. Only 50 days until the first college football games. It was so strange last year watching games in empty stadiums. I see the Olympics won’t allow spectators this year. I hope we can get enough people vaccinated that we can open up all over the world again.

While covid hasn’t been as rough for me as most people, it has been quite lonely at times. Glad I can do my psych doctor appointments by teleconference. I haven’t been to a general practice doctor since the pandemic started. I managed to get vaccinated in early May. A home health service sent two nurses to my home, had me answer some questions, and gave me the Johnson & Johnson shot. I didn’t even have to leave my living room. So thankful such people and services are out there. Internet shopping has been a godsend for myself. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be had this happened back in the early 1980s. As far as loneliness goes, if my grandparents’ generation had to fight a world war, the least I can do is stay home.

Still lifting weights three times a week. Noticing some of my strength starting to come back. I force myself to stand up at least once an hour. If I sit for too long my muscles get sore and I have issues walking and doing chores.

Haven’t read much for traditional books lately. I am watching the Dune mini series that came out in the early 2000s. I’m not normally much of a science fiction fan, but this series is done alright. A friend of mine has been talking up the Dune and Foundation series for years. I read the first Foundation book last summer via audiobook. I have grown to love audiobooks. My college roommate’s dad was a truck driver who used to listen to audiobooks when he was on the road. I can understand why he liked those so much.

Don’t have much planned for the next few weeks. Cruise Night (a rally for classic cars) will be in my town later this month. And one of the main routes run right by my home. Since I’m on the top floor of my complex, I get an amazing view and I don’t even have to brave the hot late July temperature or the large crowds. It should be a huge deal this summer as the country is opening back up. I’ll just watch out my window and have the American Graffiti soundtrack playing, like I do most years. For my Independence Day, I replayed the Revolutionary War on one of my computer games.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my coffee addiction. I’ve had only five cups in the last month. For the first several days I was sleeping more and kind of irritable. I was probably going through caffeine withdraw. I am back to more normal sleep. Most days I’m up for good by 6:30. I usually go to bed around 11pm. Was up until 3 am a few nights ago. Haven’t stayed up that late in months.

I’m doing well overall even if I stay close to home. I usually have visitors in my cleaning lady and a couple neighbors a couple times a week. My neighbor is kind enough to help me with chores like laundry and mail once a week as long as I provide laundry soap and change for the machines. I guess after years of helping out others, I need the help now.

June 26 2021

Been cutting back on caffeine. Had coffee only twice in the last ten days. While I am less prone to irritability, I do sleep more and have more headaches. After having near record breaking heat a week ago, things have cooled off. I usually have my windows open all the time unless it rains.

Still reading lots of online articles from science and economics journals. I don’t watch traditional cable news. Haven’t for years. Most of my family and friends quit watching regular news too. Just too depressing and, unless it happens in my hometown, there really isn’t much I can do to make things better.

Been quite stable mentally, more so than usual for early summer. I do make a point of avoiding conflict, drama, and stress. Most nights I’m in bed by 10pm and up for good by 6am. I usually nap in the afternoons for an hour or two.

June 18 2021

Been sleeping a lot more the last few days. I was feeling quite rough yesterday. Had to reschedule my cleaning lady. I didn’t want to risk having a break down around her or anyone else. I think the older I have gotten, the better I have become at isolating and staying away from people if I think there could be problems. I’ve had maybe three bad breakdowns since March 2020. My worst was shortly after the new year. But, the breakdowns don’t last as long as they did years ago. I also think they are less frequent. I don’t know if the illness is less severe in my early 40s than in my mid 20s or if I’ve just gotten better at managing the problems.

Been real hot this week. We came close to breaking records at least two days this week. I also saw on the news that the EU is opening back up to American travelers. Maybe I should buy a couple shares of airline stocks and see what happens. Most people I know are already vaccinated. I got mine in early May. Didn’t have any side effects. I’ve been watching some of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament the last couple days. They’re usually on in the mornings and early afternoon here in the US. I’m planning on seeing the England vs Scotland match this afternoon. ESPN covers those games. It’s good to see some people in the stands at sports events again.

My birthday was a few days ago. Mom and Dad came to visit. I got a few pairs of pants for gifts. As a kid, I was never excited about getting clothes unless it was something like a Nebraska Huskers football jersey. I doubt my 15 year old self would have imagined getting excited over new clothing as a birthday gift.

Fathers’ Day is this Sunday. I’m not sure what my dad has planned other than Sunday church services. He’s enjoying his retirement. Keeps himself occupied by working on model train sets, going to the grandkids’ soccer games, ham radio, etc. He’s in his early 70s and still has a pilot’s license.