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.

Middle Summer

Been spending my Independence Day getting in touch with friends and family. I was lazier than usual in keeping tabs on friends for the last couple weeks. I usually don’t have much going on during the summers. Still reading a lot, even if it is mostly online articles these days. Watched some of the UEFA tournament over the last couple weeks. Most of those games started late morning here in the US. I don’t watch much for traditional tv anymore besides live sports events. I’m looking forward to the Olympics later this month. I have no doubt that Japan will be good hosts. My favorite events to watch are the sprints and long jump.

Found out my complex has a new permanent manager. I haven’t met her yet. I usually don’t interact with management much outside of my annual recertification, and that is usually in March or April. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I got my flooring replaced and my walls repainted. The only complaint I have about having vinyl floors is they are very slippery when wet. When my cleaning lady mops, I make a point to not walk on the floor for at least two hours. I slipped and fell in my living room several weeks ago. Since I landed on my hands and knees, I didn’t hurt anything. Just had to catch my breath and stand back up.

July and August are usually rough times for me. I have a seasonal aspect to my mental illness. Haven’t had much for flare ups so far this year. I hope I can keep this up.

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.

Getting The Covid Vaccine

Got my covid vaccine on May 5th. Didn’t have any reactions. I signed up for a home health service and two nurses came to my place and gave me the vaccine in my home. I was told it would be probably two weeks before the vaccine was in full effect. Glad I got it done. It’s been a long strange trip since last March when I more or less went on volunteer self quarantine. Since I’m overweight and mentally ill, the covid could have been worse for me. But after staying close to home, wearing masks in public, avoiding crowded places like restaurants, and having my groceries and household supplies delivered, I’m starting to get ready to return to some type of normal.

Has Spring Sprung?

It is the first day of April as I write this. The trees outside my window are starting to bud and I see pigeons every day. Baseball season starts today and I joined a fantasy league with a few old college friends like I do every spring.

Spent the morning in my complex’s library a couple days ago. Caught up with a few neighbors I hadn’t seen during the winter. I’m still a little paranoid about venturing out even though millions of people are already vaccinated. I read a lot to pass the time. Still do audiobooks a couple hours a day in addition to traditional paper books. Bought groceries this morning. So I’m set for several days.

Still sleeping a lot. I usually go to bed around 10pm, wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, and then usually get up for good shortly after 6am. I sometimes nap in the early afternoons. The best time for me to host visitors is usually late mornings or the noon hour.

I don’t have plans for Easter, at least not yet. Probably going to call family and friends after church services. I might be more into it if I were near my nephews and niece or my cousins’ kids. My aunt usually hosts Easter dinner and all my cousins’ bring their families. It was cancelled last year due to covid and I don’t know the plans for this year. I’ll probably do zoom calls to my parents and brother’s kids.

Saw my parents a couple weeks ago. First time I got to see them since Christmas. My parents said they are proud of how I have handled the pandemic, being essentially on my own for a year while handling a mental illness. Other than a couple breakdowns, I think I’ve done alright. Sure I don’t socialize much, at least not in person. But I’ve always been an introvert who appreciated alone time and people in small doses. A few people in my complex had the covid already. Two friends of mine have had it. Three of my cousins had it. A lady who had sold some acreage land to my parents years ago died from it. I’ve heard that Germany and France are back on lockdowns again. Vaccines are still going out hard and heavy here in the US. Cases are starting to increase again here in the US after weeks of decline. I was afraid cases would increase once the weather started warming and people went out in large crowds more.

Looks like winter has ended. I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get another snow storm or two. But they won’t last long now. I think spring has sprung.

Quarantine Journal: March 25 2021

Doing well overall. Started lifting weights again. I’m taking vitamin D supplements and I think it helps with the depression and anxiety. Met my new landlady a couple days ago while I was waiting for a delivery man. I think she will make a good manager.

I’m thinking about signing up for a home health service to see if I can a covid vaccine at home. Without a car I’m essentially home bound unless I want to hire an Uber driver. I’ve heard that many places are starting to have spikes in case numbers again. For as many problems as my country had in the first several months, we have gotten vaccines out faster than I thought we would. I’m thinking where was this level of focused action one year ago? Many people died that didn’t have to.

While I don’t socialize much in person, I leave my door unlocked during daylight hours in case anyone wants to drop by. My neighbors and I check in on each other a couple times a week. I’m having fewer aches and pains the last few days. Maybe I’m doing something right.

Still stable mentally. Had one flare up in early January but it was short lived. Haven’t had any since. It does get lonely sometimes spending most of my time at home and by myself. But I am still prime target for covid and there are still lots of vaccinations to go. This thing isn’t over by any means just yet.

End of Winter and Thoughts After One Year of Pandemic

Winter is almost over in my part of the world. I usually leave my windows open during the day only to get under blankets after dark. The days are usually warm but the nights are still chilly. The days are also a lot longer than just a couple months ago.

The vaccinations are rolling out pretty quickly in my country. Both my parents are fully vaccinated and getting out more often. Probably be a few more months before I qualify. Yet I have avoided getting sick for over a year. I still have some emergency supplies just in case. The last year has been lonely. But it wasn’t overly stressful. I’m glad I live in a town with home delivery groceries and Amazon delivery. I’ve avoided doctors’ offices and public places since last February because of pandemic. I did this as I am higher risk being overweight and mentally ill. But, as I had a set up where I could get groceries and prescription medications delivered, I didn’t have to leave my apartment unless absolutely necessary. My neighbor, who is quite mobile, picks up my mail once a week. In return I give him quarters for laundry and the downstairs vending machines. Amazon, grocery delivery, wireless internet with access to Youtube and Netflix, mail service, my cleaning lady arriving once a week, cell phone calls to family and friends, Facebook Messenger with friends, etc. has been a godsend for me and people like me. I sold my car almost two years ago as I no longer trust myself driving. My reflex and attention to detail just aren’t what they once were. If I do get real desperate, there are a few Uber drivers in my small college town. Most of the delivery drivers I have dealt with are younger people in their 20s. I think this pandemic would have been a lot worse had it hit back in the 1980s when we didn’t have easy access to internet, delivery services, fast vaccine developments, etc. I guess I am seeing the beginning of the end of the pandemic. I just hope when another one hits, could be a few years or even not for another several generations, we are better prepared. As bad as covid is, it could have been so much worse.

Push For Spring

Weather has finally warmed up after a couple weeks of the most frigid cold I have experienced since childhood. I never lost power or water. A friend of mine in Omaha said they had rolling black outs but she was without power for only a couple hours.

I weathered the worst of winter pretty well. Even though I don’t leave my apartment every day, I still keep in contact with friends and family. My neighbor and I drop in on each other a few times a week to check in on each other. I did sleep a lot this winter but haven’t had any truly serious problems. Still get groceries delivered a few times a month.

Mentally I’m stable. At least as stable as I can be during a pandemic. I’ve had a few breakdowns over the last year. But they were short lived and didn’t require meds changes or going the the hospital. It sometimes gets lonely, to be sure. I’m glad I love to read and can keep myself occupied that way. While I’m not currently on any major reading projects, I usually spend a couple hours a day reading online articles. Most of them are science, tech, and business related. I try to avoid most things about politics. Too divisive and stressful for my tastes.

As far as computer games go, I’ve dusted a few of my older games off and been messing with those lately. I’ve gotten into Medieval Total War and the Railroad Tycoon series the last couple weeks. Sometimes I’ll do PlayStation Madden NFL or FIFA Soccer for a change up. I can’t really get into first person shooter games much. They just don’t hold my interest quite like Civilization or the Total War series.

Still doing lots of cooking. My cleaning lady told me she can tell a good cook by how messy the kitchen is after a meal. I still don’t eat fast food very often. Actually haven’t had any fast food since before Christmas. Most fast food upsets my stomach and makes me feel sluggish any more. But I do make lots of soups and pasta dishes. I do grilling on the Foreman grill too. Don’t do any baking or desserts though. I haven’t tried my hand at baking sourdough bread yet.

Been watching small college football on the weekends. It seems weird to be watching football in February. But then the last year has been anything but typical. I renewed my ESPN Plus subscription so I can catch some of these games. And baseball spring training has been going for almost a couple weeks now. I don’t usually feel like winter is ending until I’ve seen a preseason baseball game or two.

My parents have now had both rounds of the covid vaccine. They’re getting out and about more often. They pick up the grandkids from school usually a couple times per week and do in person shopping and church. And I heard that a third vaccine has been approved here in the US just a couple days ago. Maybe we are starting to see the end of the line for this pandemic. I probably will get my vaccine sometime this summer. Not being a senior citizen or essential worker means I’m pretty low priority. But I’ve avoided getting sick for a year now. A few more months is manageable.

February 16 2021

Been having a prolonged cold spell lately. Probably the worst I can remember in over 30 years. I think we have at least 18 inches of snow in my hometown. Hard to tell as my windows have been frosted over for several days. We haven’t lost power in my town. Heard that several million people in Texas have been without power since yesterday. During this cold spell, I usually go to bed shortly after sunset, wake up for a couple hours in the middle of the night, and go back to sleep until 7am.

As I had some back up food, I haven’t had to get out in this mess. Been eating lots of soup and pasta lately. I haven’t even been off my floor in over a week. My neighbor is kind enough to pick up my mail a couple times a week. I give him laundry money in return.

Mentally I’m still stable. I do have a couple minor flare ups every day, but they usually pass after several minutes. The mornings are usually the worst for these. I haven’t been really depressed about having to limit my in person interactions, at least not lately. It helps I can still keep in contact with friends and family via Zoom calls, phone calls, social media, etc.

My friends aren’t doing as well as I am. My friend in Omaha is having epileptic seizures again and has to work from home My friend in Denver is pulling lots of double shifts as her company can’t keep much for new hires. My only real problem is chronic back pain. But it doesn’t effect me much as I can have most things delivered to my house.

Feb 4 2021

Woke up to at two more inches of snow this morning. Supposed to get real cold starting in a day or two. Thankful I have some extra food and blankets in case I can’t get out. Sounds like it’s supposed to be the worst cold spell of the winter so far.

Still keep in contact with my family several times a week. My dad had a birthday a few days ago. Didn’t get out to celebrate as his back is really hurting now. He has an appointment with the VA soon to see what his options are. Mom is doing alright. She picks up their grandkids from school a couple times per week. My brother and his wife have been working longer than usual hours lately at their jobs. My parents had their first round of vaccines two weeks ago. They’ll try to get the second round within a week or two. As I’m neither senior citizen or front line worker it could be summer before I’m eligible for mine. I’m still amazed at how fast several vaccines were developed. And not just by only one or two nations. A lady my parents bought some land from several years ago died from the pandemic. I’ve had three friends who’ve gotten sick. All three made recoveries. After a year of pandemic, hopefully we are getting close to this thing burning out. My former neighbors said they are going to host a major cook out once this thing gets under control and most people get vaccinated. I’m starting to save my money for some really good stuff. He said he’d do all the cooking if a few of his friends supplied the meat, vegetables, and desserts. I won’t argue with that.

Been doing more cooking regularly. My personal favorite is cheese and potato soup. I kind of cheat and use a mix that requires only boiling water. But I can make turn out well, especially when I add a bag of vegetables or even some Ramen noodles. It can be kind of messy but it tastes real good. My cleaning lady joked she can tell a good cook from how messy their kitchen is. When I was in college and working as a cook for a pizza restaurant, I was told you could always trust a fat cook.

Keep in contact with some old friends regularly. My friend in Denver is saving up to buy a few acres near a small town. She said she wants to eventually have several streams of income besides her regular full time job. She and her sisters were astute business people even as kids.

Back to lifting weights again. Had some bad pain in my elbow for several days to where I couldn’t lift much without pain. Took over a week to clear up. But it’s back to normal now.

I still drop in on my neighbors a few times a week. We check in on each other. My closest neighbor and my cleaning lady are the only guests I have on a regular basis anymore. I haven’t even had a chance to meet my new landlady. I’ve talked to her over the phone a couple times but haven’t met her in person. I’ll have to see her to get my lease renewed sometime this spring. But that’s usually only fifteen minutes of paper work. It’s almost routine now. Barring anything major, I will have been in my current place fifteen years this summer.

It’s been almost a year since I had my floors replaced. I have the vinyl floor instead of carpet now. It’s much easier to keep clean. The only drawback is that it is slippery when wet. But if I stay off the floor for an hour after the mopping is done it is safe to walk on. Almost slipped in the bathroom a couple times after sloshing water out during my showers. Solved that problem by covering the entire bathroom floor with towels before I shower.

Don’t know if I’m losing weight, but I am more flexible now than even three months ago. My stamina is slowly coming back. My muscles are as strong as ever but I don’t have the steam I did even three years ago. Thankful my mind is still sharp and the ups and downs of schizophrenia are easier to manage.

I still sleep quite a bit. But if I stretch for a minute or two before getting out of bed every morning I am better off. Usually take over the counter pain reliever once a day, usually with breakfast. I now limit myself to only one cup of coffee per day. Too much coffee makes me irritable. I don’t eat much sugar anymore. The only times I have soda pop is when I order delivery pizza. I don’t even keep bread in my house.

Overall I’m weathering the winter and pandemic well. Have been watching where I go and avoiding large crowds for a year now. This has to be brutal on most people, especially kids and front line workers. I can imagine people that are kids and teenagers today talking about these days like their great grandparents talked about the Depression and World War 2 to their own kids and grandkids long after I am gone. Sure it does get lonely sometimes. Thankful this didn’t hit before the age of internet and free long distance calls. My dad was telling me that when he was in the Air Force in the 1970s, a long distance call from Japan to the USA was four dollars per minute. That’s mind boggling to even me and I didn’t regularly use internet until I was a junior in high school in 1997. Makes me wonder what else is going to happen within the next couple decades. I can’t even begin to imagine the world my nine year old nephew will inhabit when he’s forty in 2051.