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.

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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.

Moving Into Mid Life With Mental Illness

I am no longer sleeping ten to twelve hours a day.  Instead I’m now averaging about six to eight hours of sleep.  Even though I usually sleep only three hours at a stretch, I still feel pretty rested overall.  I’m getting a little more active with each passing day now the days are long and the weather is getting warmer.  I have noticed I have some aches and pains, namely in my back and thighs that make walking for more than several minutes at a time painful.  Obviously the inactivity of a hard winter took it’s toll on me.  I changed my diet a couple weeks ago.  I think I’m starting to notice some difference.  I’m not as lethargic, I don’t get irritable as easily, I need less sleep, and I’m getting to where I actually want to socialize a little every day.  I still have days I want to just stay home, read books, watch youtube, and play computer games.  But with the better weather, I actually want to get out of the house.

I’m currently in the middle of my spring cleaning.  It’s kind of slow going as I still have the unexplainable aches and pains that don’t allow me to work as long as I once could.  Even as recently as five years ago I could spend several hours on my feet without a break.  Not so anymore.  I now understand why older workers aspire to desk jobs once their careers get going strong.  At this point I’m glad I can do a blog while sitting down.  I just can’t be on my feet all day like I could even a few years ago.  I’m sure a lot of this is due to weight gain.  And I gained the weight through inactivity while depressed and anxious.  Many of the psych meds out there do have weight gain as a side effect.  But I guess I would rather have a sharp and stable mind with a weakened body as the other way around.  It’s sad that mental illness often involves trade offs like this.

I am adjusting to the warmer weather and increased activity of spring.  It is a slow and sometimes painful process as my body doesn’t recover from pain as fast as it once did.  I knew this was going to come eventually, but I was hoping I could have put it off for a few more years.  It’s kind of a pity that I start falling apart physically right at the time I am figuring out what I’m good at and where I fit in society.  But I suppose every one goes though this as they transition into middle age.  I miss the vitality I had in my early twenties but I certainly don’t miss most of the younger years drama.  I’m ready to move into mid life.

Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.

Rebirth of Spring and Readjusting Accordingly

Now that spring has started and the days are longer than the nights, I’m going to attempt to readjust my sleep schedule.  I’m in the second day of this so I think it will be kind of a bumpy ride for the next few days.  I just woke up and got out of the bath tub and it’s right at 3 am as I write this.  I went to bed around 12 am but decided to get up once I could no longer sleep.  Usually taking my medications earlier in the night helps me to fall asleep sooner.  I did fall asleep at midnight instead of the usual 6 am.  But of course I didn’t sleep the night through.  But I have always had problems sleeping an entire night even as a child.  So my mom gave me a reading light so I could read and stay quiet while everyone else in the house slept.  By the time I got to high school I didn’t have a traditional bed time, I just had to be up by 7 am every morning so I didn’t miss school.  But I am starting to adjust to sleeping at night rather than in the day.

Yesterday I spent much of the day with unexplainable aches and pains, namely in my back.  First time in weeks I had such problems.  But after a couple hot baths and a few advil pills I was back to normal.  I have also noticed I feel fewer aches and pains on days when I don’t eat sugar or lots of processed foods.  Usually if I stick to water, vegetables, and fresh cooked meat I can do quite alright.

I am so looking forward to the warm weather and long days of spring.  Baseball starts in a week so I’ll have games on in the background when I’m doing my evening activities.  My Rockies had a decent season last year and bigger things are expected this year.  I hope they don’t disappoint.

Now the weather is getting better, I usually keep my windows open during daylight hours.  Since I’m awake in the day light hours more than I was this winter, I had forgotten how much I enjoy the smell of fresh air and the feel of a light breeze.  There are a lot of trees on my property and in my hometown and they are starting to bud again.  I’m sure we will have at least one quick hitting April blizzard like we usually do.  But I am glad winter has passed.  It was a tough winter for me, at least in terms of socializing and moving around.  It was tough that I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Hopefully that nonsense is over.  I’m ready for warmer weather, flowers in the park, and the occasional sun burn.  No season is perfect but at least I won’t be seeing nothing but ice, snow, and gray sky for weeks on end anymore.

Mid Winter Recharge and Reset

I’m currently at my parents’ house.  Been here for a few days.  I’m using this time away from city and apartment life to reset and recharge.  I haven’t been anywhere outside of my current home city since Thanksgiving.  I had gotten stale and stuck in my routines.  I imagine this happens to a lot of people in their mid thirties with careers and families where it sometimes becomes month after month of nothing but job and family responsibility.  It happened to me and I don’t even have a family or a traditional job.  I spent so long doing the responsible adult routines that I forgot why I was doing them or what I was living for.  I have found that it sneaks up on all too easily.  I haven’t even been fishing for over two years and I used to go fishing almost every weekend during the summers as far back as high school.  I want to do more of that once the weather warms again.

While I haven’t been subject to nasty psych breakdowns for months, I have been having problems with anxiety, paranoia, and depression.  Because of these issues, I had been not leaving my apartment except when absolutely necessary for several weeks.  I finally had enough of this and came to the conclusion that changes were needed.  To help this change along, I left my apartment and came to my parents’ house in the small village I grew up in.  In my younger years, I used to travel some at least once a week.  Sometimes I would come to my parents’ place for a day or two or I would just go places with friends.  Once I got serious about the blog and started having issues with chronic pain, those travels became almost nonexistent.  I haven’t seriously road tripped since before my car accident in October 2015.  I think as a result of not seeing anything different and just seeing the same neighbors day after day made me stale and more closed minded than I would have liked.  I even ran into the rut of only eating in the same three or four restaurants when I did dine out, did that for two years.  Routine can be settling for mentally ill people, yet too much for too long can be mentally and physically unhealthy.  It was even starting to make me a jaded and bitter old man far before my time.  So glad I was able to break out and see something different for a few days, even if it is just my childhood home.

I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

whybenormal

My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.

Recovering From Back Pain

I’ve been limiting my physical activity for the last three days because of my ailing back.  I’m sleeping in a recliner again.  That seems to ease the pain as does taking ibuprofen and warm showers every morning.  Since the weather is turning cold and snowy again, it looks like I’ll be homebound for the next few days even with my back feeling better.  Mentally I’m still stable.  I think keeping in daily contact with friends and family helps me stay stable during these times when I’m not able to do much physically.  I think a few more days of rest and ibuprofen and I should be alright.  I think I’m going to sleep in my chair for the foreseeable future.  I think sleeping on my back isn’t helping my back.  And my back has been messed up on and off since my car accident two years ago.  If this doesn’t clear up within a few days, I’ll have to suck it up and go back to the chiropractor.  That helped the last time my back was messed up.

 

Chronic Back Pain with Schizophrenia

In my part of the country, the weather is warming up enough to get rid of the ice and snow we’ve had since before Christmas.  It is a welcome relief that I can leave my complex without too many problems.  Got out and about a few times this weekend.  I ran a few errands, so I am set for the next couple weeks.  I still don’t socialize as much as I would like because the paranoia still remains.  Sometimes it was strong enough I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Physically, I’m having back problems again.  I can’t stand for more than ten minutes at a time without lower back and upper leg pain.  I can still get around if I walk for ten minutes, take ten minutes to sit, and repeat.  But this isn’t practical when navigating out in public.  I’ll have to go back to the chiropractor or some other doctor to see what I can do about my failing back.  I’ve been fighting back problems on and off since my car accident in 2015.  I imagine I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life from now one.  It’s a pity that I start falling apart physically right at the time when I start figuring things out mentally.  At this point I wouldn’t mind just being a head in a jar attached to a machine body, like in Futurama 🙂

With my back being messed up, I am more house bound than I would like.  I miss the things I was able to do even just a few years ago that, due to my bad back, I can’t do anymore.  I miss walks in the park, I miss going swimming, I especially miss not worrying if sitting on a hard chair will mess me up.  I even have a hard time getting in and out of my car anymore because of back pains.  So I don’t drive unless it’s necessary now. I am now starting to see what I get to look forward as a senior citizen.  Golden years, yeah right.

The positive side to having such limiting back pain is mentally I am still stable.  I have remained stable for months.  In the past, physical pain and illnesses have made my mental health worse.  It doesn’t seem to anymore.  Maybe as I become an old man I have learned to cope with the hangups and stresses of mental illness better.  I do miss having a good strong back.

Returning to Normal Routines

After several days of colder than average weather, it finally warmed up a little today.  At least it warmed enough for me to run some errands.  It feels good to be able to leave my apartment again without worrying about frostbite.  I had spent several days staying at home, watching college football, playing computer games, but doing little of anything else.  I need to get back into some regular routines.  To that end I started lifting weights again today.  I had been lazy about lifting this summer and fall.  I had been quite lazy about exercise ever since I hurt my back.  Sadly I gained back the weight I had lost a few years ago.  I’m starting over in this regard.  I know I can lose the weight again, it’s just a matter of doing so.

Still not sleeping as much as I used to.  Which is alright with me as I used to sleep twelve hours a day during the summer.  Now I’m getting like six hours a sleep every night.  Yet I still feel quite rested.  And I usually try to take an hour nap in the afternoon.  Even with my reduced sleep, I rarely stay up all night now.  Used to be I stayed up all night three nights per week and then sleep in the mornings.  My sleep is returning to more normal patterns.

Been spending a little more time on social media the last few days, mainly to find out about people’s holidays’ plans.  I don’t know if I’ll be back on facebook and twitter more from now on.  It seems to me that many of my friends have just gotten burnt out on all the drama and fighting that has been so prevalent for the last few years.  I wound up unfollowing many people because of the drama, including family members.  So much for making people more connected.  I think the older I get, the less use I have for drama and nonsense and the more uses I have for logic and intelligence.

Now that the weather is starting to break out of the cold spell and the holidays are over, I am at a crossroads.  I realize I now have more freedom than I used to.  During the holidays I avoid the stores because of the crowds and loud Christmas music and too bright displays.  I’m also at a loss now that I won’t have much going on until spring.  January through April has always been a slow but stable time of year for me.  Mentally I am usually my most stable during the winters.  And I usually get a lot of reading and writing done during the colder parts of year.  I admit I love to read for my own enlightenment more than I do my entertainment.  I consider learning entertainment.  I know I am weird in that regard.  But learning new things gives me joy, I don’t care if being an intellectual makes me a social outcast.

Since the holidays are now over, I can get back to some resemblance of normal routines. I plan on doing many audiobooks on youtube this winter.  I’m thinking about using my Khan Academy account to learn some subjects I wish I had taken when in school.  And I plan on doing more outside my apartment so I can have more material to write about.  Overall I plan on making 2018 an excellent year.