Late summers have traditionally been a tough time for me dealing with mental illness. I usually have to be real careful from late July to early September. So far this year has been different. It could be due to reducing my stress levels and avoiding stressful people and places. It could be due to the medication changes I made a few months ago. And it could be due to changes in my diet. I now don’t eat much wheat or anything that’ll upset my stomach. I have found that I feel better on days I don’t eat bread than on days I do. I have had stomach problems in the past. Stomach issues aren’t uncommon in people with depression and mental health issues. I pretty much limit myself to lots of protein and vegetables anymore. About the only grains I eat on a regular basis anymore are rice based foods. Rice seems to be easier on me than wheat and other grains.
When I do go to restaurants I don’t order things like french fries or most other fried foods. I do occasionally treat myself to chicken strips at KFC. I have pretty much also cut out sugar too. When I do crave caffeine, I usually opt for green tea, coffee, or diet soda. I notice I’m less irritable on days I limit sugar consumption. Easing back on the caffeine was tough the first several days as I would occasionally sleep more than I would like and sometimes experience slight headaches once a day. But I think I have gotten past the worst of the caffeine withdrawal. I used to drink four to six cups of coffee a day, certainly not healthy when dealing with mental health problems.
I have found myself eating more vegetables than usual. Even when I order delivery pizza, I make it a point to get the mostly vegetable pizzas. I don’t feel as weighed down and bloated after a few slices of vegetable pizza as compared to the all meats or cheeses pizzas. Since I’m on a limited budget I have to be careful about buying fresh vegetables that won’t spoil within a couple days. So I usually eat a can of vegetables every days, usually green peas or green beans. I have had some good sweet corn, a Midwest late summer tradition. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have sweet corn with dinner three nights a week during the month of August. Most of our meals during late summer involved locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes from our garden, and bacon sandwiches. My parents have introduced my nephews and niece to this August tradition too, even though it will be another few years before the kids develop a taste for tomatoes.
Overall I have felt really decent this summer. I don’t have much drama to report. I’m glad that the push for the playoffs in baseball is starting. I’m also looking forward to the start of football season here in the US in a few weeks. Fall practice has already begun and school will be starting again in a few days. I saw that many countries started their soccer seasons this weekend. I have made a habit of following the US national team since the last World Cup. I hope we make it to the next one coming up in 2018. Since the World Cup will be hosted by Russia next summer, I imagine I’ll be watching soccer at a lot of odd hours to adjust for the time differences. I have kind of gotten into soccer as I have two nephews and a niece who play the game. Even as a kid I was a slow runner but didn’t mind getting hit or hitting others. So that’s why I played football in high school. So that’s why I still watch football in the falls. But we have made it through the long stretch of summer and fall will be here soon. It helps that it has been cooler than usual the last several days in my part of the US. Makes me hopeful for fall and the return of cooler weather.
I’m going to go off subject for this post. But some major changes may be happing in my life soon. I might be moving to a larger city. Which excites me as most of my friends and family have already moved to larger areas. I’m pretty much the last person of my group of friends left in a rural area. My father has been saying since the 1980s that rural America’s greatest export isn’t crops but it’s most intelligent young people. I didn’t believe him when I was in school because even though I was around some troublemakers who didn’t want to be there, I could find smart people to hang out with whenever I wanted. It wasn’t until I got out of college and into the workforce did I realize just how right my father was. Finding intelligent people to have in depth and far flung intelligent conversations with is brutally tough. And it got tougher the older I became.
I should have known something was amiss when most of my friends left the rural area I lived in and went to major cities to find jobs requiring lots of brain power. Even most of my cousins moved to larger areas. One cousin of mine lived in a suburb of our state capital but still telecommuted from his home for several years. Even I telecommute with this blog. I wouldn’t have anywhere near the reach without the internet. Yet I think I could do even better if I was in a larger city with more in person contacts. I stayed in a rural area mainly because of my family and wanting to be close to family while I worked though life with a mental illness. Now my parents are talking about moving to Oklahoma City to be near my brother and his family. If they go, I’m going with them. It was always my plan that I would move to be near my brother after my parents died. But I might not have to wait that long. Besides, I like having my parents around.
It’s not that I am anti social or don’t like communicating with people. I love having intelligent conversations. A half hour intelligent conversation with family members or old friends is enough to recharge my batteries for a few days. Intelligent conversation and learning new things actually makes me feel physically good. It gives me a high that no drug, money, or woman can duplicate. Yet I don’t get that much in the low income housing complex or rural town I live in. I didn’t used to believe it, but I now really believe that there is a “brain drain” that is taking really smart people out of rural areas and sending those brains to urban and suburban areas where there are high paying jobs that require lots of brain power to accomplish. I have met some really sharp farm workers and factory workers over the years of living in rural areas. But I still think they could be doing much better had they gotten some high tech education and moved to a larger city.
Most of my friends in high school and college were really sharp people. As a result, all of them moved out of the rural area I grew up in. And most of them are making pretty decent money. My brother is an engineer for a large firm and so is his wife. He wouldn’t be doing nearly as well had he stayed in the rural areas. A friend of mine living in a Midwest city and her husband are considering moving to the coast because of better job opportunities. My parents are considering moving to Oklahoma City to be closer to the grandkids. If they move, then I won’t be far behind. Part of me has always wanted to see what life in a city was like. I do find it annoying that public transit doesn’t really exist in my town. If I had access to public transit, I’m not sure I’d even own a car. I don’t like driving. I never have. And I know many younger people don’t even want to own cars.
I have never lived in a city. Yet pretty much every one I know who lives in rural areas are trying to tell me how bad city living is and how unfriendly city people are. I have met plenty of unfriendly people in rural areas too. If you look hard enough, you can find whatever you want in people pretty much anywhere. I’m not scared of moving to a city. I am ready for a new chapter in my life. And I feel I have gone as far as I can go living in a rural area.
Been feeling better physically the last few days. I’m getting out of the apartment several times a day, I spend a little time outside everyday, I’m walking more again, and I’m eating less junk food too. As a result I’m feeling fewer aches and pains and sleeping better. I still sleep in my recliner as my back still acts up if I sleep in a bed more than a few hours at a time. I’ll probably spend the rest of the summer in my recliner and just let my back heal.
I’ve been feeling well mentally all summer. That’s a welcome relief as summers have traditionally been a rough time of year for me. My best times tend to be springs and winters. I do feel better in autumn than summer usually but I have had problems in autumn in the past. So far this summer has gone along rather uneventful. It has been quite hot this month so I usually won’t go outside in the middle of the day. I do my shopping usually in the evenings or early mornings. I don’t go out in the overnight like I used to but I am still an incurable night person.
Haven’t had any problems with depression for weeks. Haven’t had issues with anxiety or delusions either. The only real hallucinations I have experienced this summer are occasionally hearing footsteps in the hallway when no one is there and I’ll still have unexplainable itching on my arms like ants walking but nothing is there. Overall I’m doing alright. I think I have even managed to lose a few pounds in the last couple weeks.
Don’t really have much to report. Mentally I’ve been feeling stable. Physically I’m feeling better with each passing day and getting more and more active all the time. Sometimes no news is good news.
I’ve spent almost twenty years dealing with mental illness problems. Even though I have now spent more than half my life dealing with these problems, I am still pretty happy and content with how my life turned out. Sure I would be better off losing some weight or having more friends in my hometown, but overall I’m enjoying my life even though I have to deal with schizophrenia. At least I enjoy it the 99 percent of the time that I’m not having problems with hallucinations, delusions, and excessive anxiety. I think the older I have gotten, the more I have learned how to work around the illness. I do have to avoid stressful people and situations. I have to do most of my shopping either online or in early morning hours to avoid crowds. I won’t have the high paying and prestigious career like my brother has. I will never have a wife and kids or the big house in a good suburb. But as I have aged and seen in my own self and others with mental illness, I could be a lot worse. If I was born in 1920 instead of 1980, I probably would have been living permanently in a mental hospital or homeless. That is why I am thankful that medications and social safety nets exist that didn’t exist even fifty years ago. Some of the medications I’m on didn’t exist even ten years ago.
Even though I don’t have a lot of nearby friends and don’t make much money, I’m still pretty happy overall. I have been able to pursue what makes me happy and content despite being on disability insurance and living in low income housing. Happiness for me is talking with friends over the phone, or participating in the futurist groups I’m part of on Facebook, or just grilling cheap steaks and watching college football on chilly fall afternoons. I am fortunate that I have simple tastes. Even though both my parents were medical professionals and made good money, they didn’t spoil my brother and I. We were expected to either have after school and summer jobs or be involved in school activities year round. I wasn’t uncommon for me to play a football game on Friday nights and spend my Saturday afternoons working as a shelf stocker at a general store when I was in high school. During the summers, my brother usually reported to work at a fast food place every morning by 4 am to provide spending money so he could get his engineering degree. I didn’t understand why my parents expected so much out of us when we were growing, but now I do. And I’m glad for it. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. If I were able to raise children, I would be the same way.
If anything, I am thankful for what I have even if it isn’t what it could have been. I’m glad that I can write about my experiences. I write for those who can’t speak for themselves and to let others with mental illness know that they are not alone and things can get better. It takes a lot of work and a lot of time but things can become quite stable even with a mental illness.
We are now a couple weeks into summer. I can notice already that the days are a little shorter than they were a few weeks ago. I got a new air conditioner as my previous unit broke down. It was the original unit from when my complex was built. So I don’t have to rely on fans and cold baths anymore.
Summers are traditionally a rough time for me, especially July and August. So far I feel stable and calm. I haven’t had problems with depression or paranoia since I changed my medications. And I even sleep less than I did during the winter and spring. I still don’t socialize much outside of phone calls and internet. But I have been enjoying the summer anyway. I still play a lot of computer games. I’m also listening to a lot of audiobooks on youtube. I’m currently working on the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. I usually play Civilization or Medieval Total War on my PC while listening to audiobooks on my Mac.
I have beens staying up later the last several nights. But I am still getting eight hours of sleep a night. I still sleep in until late mornings. I just stay up later and sleep less. I like staying up late as I have been a night person as long as I can remember.
I’ve been on this new medication routines for two weeks. I’m noticing improvements. I don’t feel very depressed or paranoid anymore. In addition to a new medication routine, I’m also taking multivitamins and probiotics. I’m noticing that I have less unexplainable aches and pains. I am sleeping less than I was previously. I now average 8 to 9 hours a night whereas during the winter and spring I got almost 12 hours a night. Mentally I’m feeling more stable. Physically I’m feeling more energetic and getting a little more active with each passing day. I get out and socialize a little every day, even if it’s just when I go check my mail or go to the vending machine. Overall I’m feeling better than my usual summer fare.
Summer came a little early this year as it got real hot in early June and stayed that way for two weeks. Unfortunately my air conditioner broke down on me. So I’ve been using lots of fans and a window air conditioner unit for two weeks now. The repair man said I needed a new unit as the old one was over thirty years old. That’s supposed to be getting done within the next day or two.
Have dined out only once in the last week. For awhile when I was really depressed and paranoid, I didn’t do much grocery shopping and ate fast food at least once a day. It’s no wonder I was feeling sluggish and lethargic. Since I quit eating out every day, I’ve noticed I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains and I have more energy and actually want to be active. I’m also severely cutting back on sugar. I no longer drink sugared soda pop and I haven’t had candy bars or ice cream in months. I may not be losing weight as fast I would like, but I definitely feel better overall. And it’s all because of a few minor changes in medication routine and diet.
A few days ago my family came to visit me. We spent the day cleaning my apartment. Once that was done I went to see my psych doctor. We decided to add a third medication and I’m supposed to see him again in two weeks.
Other routines that have changed is I’m waking up earlier and not staying awake all night like I used to. Since I’ve been having pains in my lower back again I’ve been sleeping in my recliner more. I still spend the bulk of my days in my apartment and alone. I still don’t want to leave my place very often. Even though I’m sleeping less I find myself wanting to sleep at the oddest times. I want to sleep but fortunately I can’t fall asleep whenever I want.
I’m still keeping in contact with old friends and family. At least that hasn’t fallen apart. But other than that I still don’t socialize much. I guess I’m only now starting to realize how far I have declined in the last year and a half.