October 15 2021

Today might be just another Friday to most people. For me, today is the day I get to return to my apartment. I’m anxiously looking forward to eating my own cooking and sleeping in my own bed once more. I’ve been sleeping a lot these last three weeks. Of course I haven’t had much for caffeine since I went to the hospital. As it is, I’m on a few blood pressure meds and will be for life. But blood pressure issues run in my family.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my old routine. I’m currently at a small facility for physical rehab a couple hours drive from my hometown. Right now I’m just waiting on my ride to arrive. My parents are coming from out of state to help me get back home and get reestablished. They probably won’t be here until early afternoon. But, it’s good to be back. Three weeks ago I wasn’t sure I could even live on my own again. After three weeks of intense treatments and rehab, I’m ready to live alone again. I’ll still have my cleaning lady arrive every week. My neighbors will still help with laundry. And I still have at least a few places in my town that will do same day grocery delivery. It’s going alright.

Update On My Serious Health Scare

It is Sunday October 10 2021 as I write this. My blood pressure is back under control thanks to a few blood pressure medications. I’ve been doing physical rehab for over a week. It’s looking like I will be able to go back home within a few days. I can get around in my hospital room without a walker. As part of my physical rehab, I’ve been outside several times in the last week. The weather is turning cooler the deeper into fall we go. Looks like my town might get it’s first frost by the end of this week.

I was retaining a lot of fluid. In the almost three weeks I’ve been in the hospital, I’ve lost 40 pounds in fluids. That was in addition to the 40 pounds I had already lost during the pandemic. Overall, I’m down over 80 pounds in less than two years. I still have a long way to go, but I’m off to a good start. I eventually want to be at my old college weight. It’ll take at least another three years.

The biggest thing I missed over the last three weeks was my own cooking. I’m probably going to cook some grilled pork and cheese soup for my first meal out in the world again. I’ll be ready for this ordeal to end. Haven’t slept in my own bed in almost three weeks.

Beginning of Fall 2021

I’ve been having problems with insomnia lately. I fall asleep but usually stay asleep for only 30 minutes at a time. I usually get my best sleep between 7am and 11am these days. I still go to bed around 9pm most nights. But I usually lie awake for a couple hours before I drift off for the first time.

As far as I know, our complex is still on lock downs. I usually make a point of not talking to people much, at least in person. Most people I know are really on edge. I am too. Just saw in the news that the official death toll from covid in the US is now higher than the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. Naturally, some people will say that Spanish Flu was a totally different virus and that the US has over three times as many people as we did in 1918. To me, this is a heartless and ugly attitude to have. I’m through with arguing about mask mandates and vaccines and social distancing. I’m convinced some people will never get the idea even if they themselves wind up dead. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because of toxic and heartless attitudes like this. I’m glad my grandparents aren’t alive to see this mass insanity.

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

September 11, 2021

Today, September 11, 2021, is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. I was a 21 year old college student. I remember almost everything from that day. I didn’t find out about the attacks until 10 AM Central time. I was up really late the night before working on a project for a class at the end of that week. Since I had no morning classes that Tuesday, I slept in. At 10 AM, my friend Matt knocked on my door. From the look on his face, I could tell something really bad happened. I went to his room (he had cable and I didn’t) and saw the replays of the World Trade Center attacks. Once I got over my shock, I told him, “We just went to war.” I skipped my afternoon speech class. There was a run on gas in our town. I had my weekly counseling session at the campus mental health center. I started going to those a year earlier when I was diagnosed with schizophernia.

In the days and weeks that followed, some of my classmates and instructors were talking that the draft might be brought back. One our college’s theology instructors was in his early twenties when Pearl Harbor happened. He said the mood in 2001 was very similar to the mood in 1941. We were expecting more attacks in the days and weeks afterward. I remember that one of my neighbors was afraid that the resulting wars would be very long and actually wind up hurting the US in the long term. Turns out he was right. I’m sorry I didn’t take him seriously until a few years later.

I had a cousin who served in Iraq in 2007. At least one of the members of his unit died over there. One of my college classmates who graduated two years ahead of me died over there too. Several of my high school friends served in those wars. My brother and his wife worked for a defense contractor whom did a lot of work for the Air Force. They still do. One of my cousins in California worked for another defense contractor.

An incredible amount has changed in twenty years. I was one of those angsty teenagers back in the 1990s. We were so naive in those days.

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.

Signs That I Am No Longer Young

My complex went back on lockdown until further notice starting a couple days ago. So, no more mass gatherings unless they are outside. I won’t be able to spend time in the complex library or commons area for awhile. We had a few people in here who tested positive within the last couple weeks, one of whom a close friend of mine. So glad I held onto my extra facemasks and sanitizer sprays.

Yet, in spite of the pile up of bad news, I’m going off subject for this post. I’m going to try to make a light hearted list of signs that I am no young. This isn’t by any means a complete list. So here goes.

Signs I Am No Longer Young

I get junk mail from AARP weekly

The highlights of my week often involve my cleaning lady showing up and appointments with my psych doctor

I get more joy now from a bowl of cheese soup and chatting with my best friends than I ever did going to bars and chasing women

I have zero time for drama but factor in time for aches and pains

I used to drink an average of six cups of coffee per day in my mid twenties. Now I drink maybe six cups per month

I’m not embarassed to talk about mental health issues

I have no problem asking for help

I have no problem with taking people up on their offers to help. You want to help? Fine with me. I’m putting your butt to work and I won’t feel a shred of guilt for it.

I remember when social media was fun

I remember when teenagers were called angsty slackers and not triggered snowflakes.

I remember when the Pepperidge Farm guy was a real guy and not a cartoon meme.

I learned about sex from my buddies’ stolen Playboys and Victoria’s Secret catalogs

I was scared to talk about my mental illness with even my best friends for the first five years of my diagnosis.

I got interested in economics and geopolitics by Ross Perot in 1992

Most of the musicians I admired in my teens and twenties are dead, many of whom died quite young.

I remember when people were freaking about AIDS like they are now over covid

I watched the trials of O.J. Simpson and Oliver North

I was in high school before DNA evidence was considered reliable

I used a firearm before I learned to drive or shave

I was angry at my dad because he wouldn’t let me use the lawnmower until I was eight years old

The only person I know personally below the age of 55 who has worked for the same company for over twenty years is my brother.

I remember when college graduates having over 25k in student loans was a big deal

When people with law degrees or MBAs were not waiting tables or Uber drivers

When gig work was seen as a supplement and not a necessity

When you didn’t have to be independently wealthy to afford a house outside of the ghetto or rural America.

When corporations weren’t considered legal people. I mean, does Amazon have a favorite ethnic restaurant? Is Coors Brewing a big baseball fan and, if so, why do the Rockies stink every year? Are J.P. Morgan and Coco Chanel having an extramarrital affair? If so, does Apple have the selfies and is threating to share them with Twitter and Tik Tok?

Too many parents of today are overprotective of their kids. Same parents (and myself) were not supervised or protected at all while growing up in the 80s and 90s. Balance, people, balance.

I get good memories from hearing the theme songs to “X-Files”, “Daria”, “Cops”, “Resident Evil”, and “Jackass”

I’m old enough to remember when “The Simpsons” was just as good as “South Park”

I remember when crime dramas were as popular as superhero movies are today

A few of my friends thought they could commit the perfect crime because they watched every episode of CSI, The Sopranos, and Cops

I remember when the Bulls and Knicks had great teams

These are just a few. I’ve gone on too long already. I’ll be sure to post more in the future

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.

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.

May 9 2021

Other than a few really hot days, it’s been a chilly spring. We’ve also had several good rains. Hopefully enough to ease drought conditions. I usually leave my windows open during the day and close them right before sunset. Still gets chilly at night.

Had my covid vaccine. I took the one shot Johnson & Johnson. Didn’t have any side effects. The nurse was so smooth with the needle I barely felt it go in. My mom is a retired nurse and always prided herself and causing as little pain as possible for her patients.

Today was Mothers’ Day. I called my mom. My brother had some flowers delivered to her house. She and my dad went out for Chinese after church services. My mother is one of the big reasons I’m still on social media on a regular basis. Even though I call her three to four times per week, she still likes checking in on her boys. It doesn’t matter that I’m in my forties and have a few gray hairs, I’m still her kid.

I think I actually lost weight during my self quarantine. Most of my clothes I bought are now quite baggy. I have to buy extra tall clothing because I am taller than most people. My torso is actually longer than my legs. I had a doctor tell me if my legs were any proper proportion to my torso, I’d be almost 6 feet 10 inches. As it is, I’m 6 feet 2 inches. So I ordered a couple shirts through Amazon.com that are a size smaller than I normally order. They should be here in a few days. As I live in a rural area several hours away from major metro areas, I don’t get next day delivery. But I told one of my cousins who has grade school age kids, her kids will someday be nostalgic for the UPS or Amazon man the same way she and I were for the Sears Christmas catalog.

Overall I’m doing alright. Had a couple minor breakdowns since Christmas. But they were quick to pass. I’m not as paranoid as I used to be. I don’t hear footsteps out in the hallway or knocks on my door from people who aren’t there nearly as often. Footsteps and knocks at my door are two of my common auditory hallucinations. Another one is my phone ringing, especially if I’m in another room from my phone. I usually leave my phone sitting on my desk unless I leave my apartment.

Spring has gone fast. I’m feeling less stress overall. I’m to the point where I’m the one encouraging my friends and family more than the other way around. It will be interesting to hear people’s stories about what they did during the Covid pandemic of 2019 to 2021. I imagine many people took this time to retrain for higher paying jobs. Some probably got in better physical shape. Some probably learned to play a musical instrument or learned a foreign language. Some may have made lots of money investing their stimulus money. And I am grateful for the grocery store workers, delivery people, truck drivers, nurses, doctors, research scientists, etc. that made this pandemic more bearable. It’s one of the first times I ever saw when doctors, nurses, scientists, etc. were as publicly respected as tv stars, politicians, business tycoons, etc.