Diet and Exercise Routines Rebooted and The Art of Online Socializing

Spring is here finally.  Mentally feeling good for the most part.  I sometimes have flare ups of paranoia and irritability, but fortunately those quickly pass.  I have noticed that as I have made changes to my diet and sleep patterns, the bouts of paranoia and irritability get less severe and easier to deal with.

Been lifting weights and eating healthier for three weeks.  I’m starting to notice some positive changes.  I find myself eating less overall.  I lost most of my cravings for sugar and carbs.  Some days, like today, I don’t eat meat (big change for me).  On days like this I get my protein from things like peanuts and beans.  I haven’t eaten fast food in months even though I live within walking distance of at least six restaurants.  And I used to eat fast food three times per week.  It just doesn’t do it for me anymore.  It just leaves me feeling weighed down and lethargic.  I feel the same way about soda pop.  I have cut back on my caffeine to where I usually have only one or two cups of coffee in the morning and that is it.

Anymore I try not to spend much time on social media except to chat with people.  I almost never look at other people’s profiles, preferring to chat via groups or personal messaging.  It has helped lower my anxiety and irritability.  Besides, I have no need to know everything even my best friends and family do on a minute to minute basis.  It seems like many people I know aren’t as active on social media as previously.  But, I have always preferred quality to quantity in terms of conversations.  Just because I can know something about even friends doesn’t mean I want to.  Some things I am just not interested in.  I just don’t have enough time or energy to respond to things I like, let alone everything else.  I don’t get mad over every piece of advertisements I get in my mail box (and most of what I get in the mail anymore is junk mail), so I feel the same way anymore about when my friends or family post things that I am not interested in.  I rarely post comments on youtube or twitter anymore, let alone read comment sections.  I just don’t have time to.  I’m too busy finding things I enjoy and doing things I like to engage with people I’ll probably never meet.  When I do engage with people I’ll never meet, it’s over shared interests and I try to act as if I’m talking to these people over a cup of coffee in person rather than just behind a computer screen and keyboard.  My online interactions have become more enjoyable and civil once I tricked myself into believing I have having these conversations with someone sitting in the same room with me.  It doesn’t always work, but my online interactions are less contentious and stressful than even three years ago.

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Improvements and Accepting New Realities

Been sleeping more the last several days than usual.  I had been gone weeks where I slept no more than 3 hours at a time.  Now I’ve been sleeping longer but I don’t wake up as stiff and sore.  Maybe the weight lifting and healthier diet are beginning to pay off.

Overall, I feel decent physically.  I have fewer unexplainable aches and pains and I get better quality sleep than was my normal the last several weeks.  I changed my diet too.  I no longer drink soda pop, not even diet.  I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  I occasionally go meatless for a day or two to give my guts a rest.  I lift weights three times a week.  I don’t sleep in my recliner as much these days.  Overall, as the weather has warmed up I have started feeling better physically.

Mentally I’m doing better.  I still occasionally have issues with irritability and depression.  Fortunately they usually pass after a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I still don’t socialize much, as I am still a little paranoid about dealing with rude and angry people.  During the winter, there were days it was bad enough I didn’t even want to socialize with anyone even online or over the phone.  I don’t call my family as often anymore.  But when I do, the conversations usually last longer and go more in depth.  I still call my parents at least once a week.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer days.  I have my windows open most of the time now, except when it rains or we have bad winds.  I leave my drapes open except for when I sleep.  I don’t watch much for tv anymore, haven’t since New Year’s.  I spend much of my free time reading, watching educational videos, listening to audiobooks, messing with my computer, and participating in my tech enthusiasts’ groups on social media.  I don’t socialize with even close friends as much as I normally do.  I still drop in on them every few days.  But it seems like most of my friends have just been having problems lately, whether with work or relationships.  Since most of my friends are in the age range of mid 30s to early 40s, I imagine many are going through mid life problems now.  I have so far managed to avoid the mid life crisis.  I had my crises in my mid to late twenties.  It was in the 2004 to 2008 years that I painfully had to realize my schizophrenia and anxiety would never allow me to hold a long term job, get married, have children, have any kind of prestige, or any kind of money.

At one time, namely 2006, I had the goal of finding my niche and being off disability before 2015.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Here it is in 2019 and I am still on disability.  But I have come to acceptance in that regard.  I had to change a lot of priorities and completely reexamine everything I was taught and believed over the years.  I came to realize that people are defined by their careers only because they allow themselves to be.  We were brainwashed since childhood to believe a human’s worth was in what they did to earn money.  I had to find out the painful way that there is far more to living and life than earning money and working.  It was only then I came to realize the obvious: the most important and influential work in the world is not paid or even respected by many people.  That work is, of course, being a parent.  The second most important job in the world is being a friend and support to other people.  I will never get to be a father, but I can be a friend and support person with the best of them.  And this is alright with me.

Even though I will probably never have much for money or any kind of prestige or be in any kind of romantic relationship, I am alright with all of this.  I made my peace with this several years ago.  Having a mental illness made me face my limitations and accept that I had to adapt.  I will never become the scientist I wanted to be as a child, but I am alright with that.  I have found my niche as a blogger, friend, support person, and confidant.

Starting Over and Trying to Achieve A Balanced Life With Mental Illness

Been feeling pretty decent over all the last few days.  It’s amazing what a few nights of consistent sleep and a change to a healthier diet can do.  I’ve also been doing arm weights every other day for the last two weeks.  Starting to notice a difference already.  I haven’t increased the weight I’m lifting but I can do more reps now with less aches and pains afterward.  The first couple sessions were tough as I hadn’t regularly lifted for over a year.  But as my back still sometimes flares up at the worst possible times, I have to start somewhere.  And building back some muscles seems to be the best thing I can do with my more limited mobility.  I am beginning to understand why the older residents and those with physical disabilities prefer to live on ground floor.  I’ve lived on top floor of my complex for almost thirteen years now.  I still like that I’m not always in the center of traffic but it does get tough when the back is acting up.  And of course, losing weight would only help my back.

After my last rough go, I decided to get more serious about health again.  I had let that slide for a few years.  I think it started when I had my car accident and had to have rehab for a few months.  Yet the back would still occasionally flare up to where, at the worst, it felt like I was getting electric shocks in my lower back.  As a result I gained back all the weight I lost in 2014 and 2015.  I had lost eighty pounds in a year and a half overall.  Sadly I gained some extra too.  But I am getting serious about eating healthier and adopting a more balanced lifestyle.

For the few years I was having back problems and not working to improve my health, I spent much of my days reading and watching educational videos.  I watched mainly science and tech videos.  But I also watched some how to videos, such as basic in home repairs and emergency preparation with household items.  Since I grew up in a farming community that was a one hour drive from the nearest Wal Mart, every one in our town stocked up on supplies before winter started or had plans in case of bad storms or floods.  This has helped me several times since I moved out on my own.  When I was in college, I was the dude on our wing who had all the over the counter medical supplies and miscellaneous items like toe nail clippers, flash lights, and Swiss Army knife.

Yet while I was building up my mind, my physical body was declining.  I was well on my way to essentially becoming a strong mind with a weak body, almost like a head in a jar in the science fiction shows.  Finally, I came to realize that having a strong mind would do me little good if my body completely failed.  Even though Stephen Hawking was sick for most of his adult life, I imagine he lasted as long as he did because he and his assistants adhered to strict protocols on what he could eat, on how much sleep he needed, etc.  Not that I am Hawking by any means 🙂

So to jump start my healthier routines, I have had to make some changes.  Namely cutting out sugared drinks, reducing my caffeine use, increasing how much water I drink, getting more consistent sleep, taking multi vitamins and fish oil, lifting weights, avoiding negative and toxic people, conversations and entertainment, etc.  I guess the deciding to avoid my neighbors when they were being irritable and rude was the first step to changing my health.

Another step that helped was hiring a personal assistant.  She comes in once every week to help me keep the place clean.  In addition to cleaning, she helps with my dishes and garbage.  Having a cleaner and more orderly house just these last few months has only helped.  It has motivated me to make even better changes.  I admit, I had let much in my life fall apart since my accident.  I stopped exercising.  I quit being careful about what I ate.  I stopped most socializing.  I sometimes skipped my medications.  I didn’t go off them completely, but I would sometimes go a day without taking them.  Lucky I didn’t have more problems with that.  And I went between being quite optimistic to being quite pessimistic but nothing in between for awhile. In short, I had no balance in my life.

Hopefully with the adopting of healthier habits, hiring a personal assistant, and the return of warmer weather I can return to some balance.

End of Winter and Renewed Hope

I think I’m finally breaking out the depression and anxiety fuel irritability that I have been fighting for almost two weeks.  Got some good sleep the last few days, granted at odd times.  I still sleep eight hours a day, but I usually sleep from 8pm to midnight, rattle around for a few hours in the middle of the night, then sleep from 4 am to 8am.  Even though I have an odd sleep pattern anymore, everything isn’t going completely bad.  I started lifting arm weights in my home about two weeks ago.  The first couple sessions were tough as I hadn’t lifted regularly for over a year.  But I think it’s beginning to come back.  Picked up some multi vitamins, fish oil pills, etc. the last time I bought groceries.  I have to think some of my lethargy, aches and pains, etc. were made worse by an unbalanced diet.  For most of the winter I ate lots of lean meats, some soups, yogurts, canned vegetables, rice, and occasional baked potatoes.  I wasn’t getting much for fresh fruits or vegetables this winter.  So I been eating more fresh fruits and vegetables lately.  I’m beginning to notice a positive difference.  I don’t have as many unexplainable aches and pains and I feel mentally sharper and less scattered overall.  My favorite fruit is probably red grapes.  My favorite vegetable has to be tie between green peas and carrots.

I still don’t travel outside of my hometown due to the flood problems.  Many places are still cleaning up and still in danger of even more flooding.  I won’t be surprised if food prices start going up later this year.  It’s been pretty rough for a lot of people but I have been spared much of it so far.

Asking ‘Why’ and Not Caring About Popular Opinions

I readily admit that I am anything but normal.  I wasn’t normal even before I became mentally ill.  One thing that definitely makes me abnormal is that I have to always ask questions.  I just have to know why things work or don’t work the way that they do.  I imagine in some aspects I’m the six year kid who asks ‘why’ to everything as a thirty eight year old adult.  I found people were annoyed at me as a six year old when I kept asking questions and they are even more annoyed that as a man entering my middle aged years I still ask ‘why’ to everything.

I never understood why people got angry when I asked questions.  When I don’t ask questions is when I don’t learn.  When I don’t learn I make mistakes in my school work, my job, my relationships, my dating life, etc.  And then people get angry because I didn’t ask questions.  I think this is strange at best and mind numbingly stupid at worst.  Do you want people to learn or not?  If yes, then how are they supposed to learn if they aren’t free to ask questions?  I guess that asking questions means you have ‘attitude problems’ or ‘don’t respect authority’ to some people.  I don’t understand this.

I don’t even understand people who don’t question much of anything.  Are they that compliant?  Do they not have any sense of wonder or curiosity?  And furthermore, why do such people feel a visceral need to condemn those of us who are asking questions and looking for ways to improve any and all things.  I have never taken authority as unquestionable truth.  And I never will at this point.  I was always told ‘get with the program’ or ‘wait until you’re an adult’ or ‘wait until you hit the cold cruel world’ when I was asking “too many” questions or trying to ignore things that made no sense.  Well, I am an adult who still isn’t with the program and I still ask questions and have a burning desire to learn.  The cold and cruel world has hit me more than it has some people, and the only time I am not an optimist is when I’m in the deep grips of the illness.  In short, I proved my critics and elders dead wrong.  I didn’t make their mistakes.  And I am a more interesting man and better conversation than they themselves could ever be.  It’s because I didn’t quit asking.  I didn’t quit seeking.  I didn’t quit experimenting.  I didn’t let my curiosity and sense of wonder be murdered by the short sighted demands and duties of adulthood.  My soul didn’t die in a job I hated that I did just to pay rent and buy food.  I didn’t become a bitter and angry old man because I had a few failed relationships and never got married.  I didn’t start condemning the “damn kids” when I became a man.  I remembered what it was like to be condemned as one of the “damn kids” as a teenager even though I was more ethical and had better morals than most of my elders and elected rulers.  It sucked.  I haven’t forgotten that even after all these years.  I never will forget.  I vowed when I was eighteen that I would never pull that on anyone.

I will continue to evolve and ask questions no matter how old I get.  I refuse, flat out refuse, to be one of these bitter old codgers screaming at the kids on his lawn and pining for good old days that were quite lousy in many ways for many people.  I don’t even see owning a lawn as an old man even if I do get rich.  Jack Kerouac once said if you need to own a welcome mat, then you own too much.  I don’t know if I’d go that extreme but I did like Brad Pitt in ‘Fight Club’ saying “The things you own eventually own you” and “once you’ve lost everything, you’re free to do anything.”  I don’t know about that extreme either, but for my own personal experiences I have lost most of what modern society deems the hallmarks of decent living.  I lost my career because of schizophrenia.  I lost the chance to ever become rich because of mental illness.  I lost most of my physical health because of schizophrenia.  I lost the chance for marriage, relationships, sexual intimacy, children because mental illness made me impossible to live with.  I even lost my ability to drive a car in high traffic areas because of mental illness.  Most of my countrymen would think I am a complete loser just because of these measures and stats on paper.  But, with mental illness and entering old age, I have learned that I don’t have to care what others think any more.  As a result, I don’t care what others think.  I don’t want to impress people.  I don’t really care if I am liked.  I don’t even care if people believe me anymore.  I have found that usually when people think I’m lying the most is exactly when I’m telling the most truth.  That, and I’m just ahead of the curve.  I don’t care to stop asking why.  Not now, not ever.  I also no longer feel a visceral need to impress anyone.  I will continue to ask why until I die.  And I don’t care who likes or dislikes me in the process.

End of Winter, Maybe

Getting out of the apartment more than once a day now.  For awhile during the fall and winter, there would be times I’d go entire days without leaving my apartment.  But I guess that spending my days chatting with online friends, reading articles, and messing with computer games and programs gets stale after awhile.  A change was due.  Right now much of my region of the country is getting bad blizzards.  I personally have only a couple inches of snow, some ice, but terrible winds.  Fortunately it isn’t as cold as it could be, otherwise it would be Ice Age revisited.  And this happened right as most of the snow we’ve had since before Christmas was melted.  But, this being a late winter blizzard, should be melted soon.  Then we’ll worry about flooding.  So it goes.

Now that I actually want to leave my apartment and venture out, I can’t because of weather.  I’ve been bound to my town all winter just because it was too risky to travel.  My car doesn’t do well in snow.  So I pretty much stay inside most of the time.  I do force myself outside every few days just to get what little sunshine and fresh air I can.

Been having a few minor flare ups of irritability and depression lately.  Fortunately I’ve been able to constructively deal with these.  I do have to sleep more and severely limit my caffeine.  I haven’t had coffee in over a week.  While I do feel less irritable, I do sleep more and feel more scattered.  Fortunately I don’t get much for back pain anymore.  Maybe I have lost more weight.  I exercise some every day.  And I make it a point to stand up or lay down every couple hours so as to break up the boredom and long days.  Been a tougher than usual winter.  Physically it’s been tough because of the snow, cold, wind, and lack of physical activity.  It hasn’t been too terrible mentally.  The last several days have been the toughest.  But I’ve been socializing more too.  And I admit I get more irritated with rude people than I should.  I almost never respond to rude people except to avoid them at all costs.  I have enough going on already without dealing with unnecessary rudeness.

The unexplainable aches and pains are becoming less common.  I guess I’m taking more preventative measures now.  I no longer sit for more than two hours at a time. I sleep in my recliner half of the night to rest my lower back.  I sleep lying down so not to get leg cramps from sitting too long.  I take hot showers at least twice a day now, mainly to keep my joints warm and loose.  Sometimes a few minutes of hot running water on my knees, lower back, and hands will work more wonders than even a couple Advil.  And making a point to get up every couple hours to do even simple things like walk to the kitchen to get a cup of water or walking to check my mail every evening can keep my joints loose.  I think one of the problems I was having with my back and unexplainable aches was that I didn’t move around enough.  I went through a state of excessive paranoia and anxiety for much of 2017 and all of 2018.  I was scared to drive my car, I was scared to talk to my neighbors, I was scared to leave my apartment after dark, I was scared to walk my neighborhood, and I was even scared to check my mail.  Most of my mail is junk mail now that I do everything online almost.  The 1 percent that wasn’t junk mail was usually from social security or my landlady.  I always felt a tinge of anxiety with those letters, and any time I was called before anyone in authority.  I’ve had too many bad experiences with short sighted, heartless, and irritable people in authority over me.  I just don’t trust authority to not abuse their power and influence anymore.  And, yes, it is unnerving and scary.

Winter is almost over, at least according to the calendar.  And it isn’t happening too soon.  I’m beginning to get cabin fever real bad.  I guess even strong people have their breaking points.  I am convinced I would feel much better when the weather warms up and there are options to how to spend my days.

Successful Anger Management and Dealing With the End of Winter

Had a little bit of a flare up of irritability and anxiety this afternoon.  Sometimes these can be started if I have too much caffeine in a real short time.  And since I’ve been drinking more coffee and vanilla flavored cola the last several days and not sleeping as much as I usually do, it was only a matter of time before it caught up to me.  Fortunately I navigated out of my flare up without taking it out on anyone.  After a few minutes of fuming and fitting and ranting (though not yelling) and taking my irritability out by punching a few pillows and doing some arm weights, I think I’m back to my usual self.

The weather is quite decent today in spite being windy and partly cloudy all day.  It’s been above freezing the last few days, so the snow and ice melts during the day.  But it still gets below freezing after sunset, so it does make travel at night kind of unnerving for me.  I never could have made it as a truck driver with as much as I don’t like driving in bad weather or heavy traffic.

As it is, it’s days like this that remind me that winter is just about over.  And the start of Lent season for my Catholic friends is another reminder too.  A college friend of mine teaches school in Netherlands and went to Italy for a few days this last week.  He visited the Vatican and got to hear the Pope speak on Ash Wednesday.  Definitely something on “the bucket list” for anyone with an interest in history and culture.  The closest culture thing of that kind of magnitude I ever did was visit ancient Aztec pyramids and ruins when I visited Mexico City as a teenager.  So glad I got to travel some and see a few cool things before the mental illness got to where it put a cramp on my physical health and ability to travel for days at a time.

Spring is about here.  Baseball starts in a couple weeks, two of my closest friends have birthdays next week, my brother’s birthday is later in March, and the last season of Game of Thrones gets going, ironically on April 14, the day before tax deadline here in USA.  April, May, and June have always been happy times of year for me.  It’s isn’t icy or cold like winter, not too hot and humid like summer, and not the rush of activities that fall is with the start of school, harvest, preparing for winter, and fall sports seasons.

I didn’t get as much hard reading done as I would have liked this winter.  Sure I made it a point to read every day, but I read mostly online articles for science and tech sites.  Too bad more of this isn’t reported on the large media outlets, though they are getting better about it recently.  I look forward to warmer weather and more sunshine.  We went almost a month in my town without getting above freezing point.  One of the longest bitter cold streaks I can remember.  But the beginning of the end of winter is here.