December 12 2021

Started lifting weights again a few weeks ago. I’m starting to notice a difference. I’m taking vitamin C and fish oil suppliments. Still fighting off a cold but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was last week. I can stand for longer periods of time without pains. It’s easier to do chores around my apartment than even three months ago.

Changed up my diet some. I’m eating more burritos these days. I hadn’t been getting much for fiber in my high protein diet lately. I was needing a change as I was getting tired of the same routine every day. I’m going to go easy on restaurant delivery. That stuff is getting expensive, like everything else.

Sleeping in my recliner for the time being. My cpap machine finally broke down and I’ve been having chronic stiffness in my legs most mornings. I’m currently trying to get my machine replaced. But I’ll probably have to sleep in the recliner for at least the next few days until I can get a replacement.

Haven’t had bad flare ups of my mental illness in months. I’ve had a few minor ones and sometimes get kind of irritable. I’ve been stable for the most part this year. I see my psych doctor every two months via teleconference. I still spend most of my time alone. I still contact friends and family on a daily basis. But a lot of people are on edge lately, more so than usual. I just try to avoid the drama. Kind of sad it feels like I’m hiding out. But what’s the point of socializing with people who are going to make you feel bad? I no longer have time or patience for drama and nonsense.

Listen to audiobooks at least one hour a day. I’m getting close to finishing a couple of my recent purchases. For some odd reason, it’s just easier for me to focus on audiobooks than traditional books anymore. This wasn’t the case until a couple years ago.

I still do computer games some every day. I love the Civilization and Total War series of games. I’m also spending some time on Cyberpunk 2077 and Skyrim on my PS5. I still can’t believe my brother found that console. There are still shortages from what I’ve heard.

My clothes are fitting really loose these days. I’ve even had cases where I get snagged on dresser handles and door latches because of how much more loose my clothing now is. I have simple tastes as I prefer t shirts and sweat pants. I like hoodies but don’t wear them unless I’m outside as I’m more sensitive to heat than most people. Colder weather doesn’t really bother me, at least not as long as I have central heating, fleece blankets, and hot coffee. I’m going to start saving my money so I can buy new shirts and sweat pants. The ones I have right now are getting real loose. I know I have lost at least 80 pounds between December 2019 and October 2021. If the way my clothing fits is any indication, I’ve lost some more since October.

Christmas is coming in a couple weeks. The big thing I want this year is a new microwave. The PS5 was my blockbuster gift last year. As much as I appreciate my brother being able to find it, I appreciate spending time with family and friends even more. Christmas is more about spending time with family and celebrating the birth of Jesus anymore. Even though I haven’t regularly attended church services in several years, I think there is a great value to things like spirituality, community, and just treating other people with kindness and empathy. There will probably always be aspects of the cosmos and human experience that can’t be explained by even the best science.

In spite staying close to home and keeping physical contact with people to a minimum, I’m doing alright both mentally and physically. 2021 has been better for me than 2020, even with spending three weeks in the hospital. That time in the hospital allowed me to address health issues I neglected previously.

Nearing The End of 2021

2021 will be fading into 2022 in a few weeks. It’s been a year of changes and challenges for myself. I spent three weeks in the hospital for blood pressure and heart problems. Will be on meds for these for the rest of my life. I’m continuing to lose weight. Most of my clothes fit loose enough on me now that I may have to buy a whole new wardrobe if the weight loss continues. Several of my neighbors have moved away. I don’t even recognize many of the newer faces in my complex. I haven’t driven a car in over 2 years. I just don’t trust myself on the road anymore. I get sensory overload even in my own apartment now. I more or less quit socializing with my neighbors with a few exceptions. I just don’t have much in common with my neighbors. I guess I’m content to keep to myself with my books and hobbies. I no longer have a stomach for drama and pettiness. I’m just too tired for that anymore.

Been warmer and drier than normal the last few weeks. Seems like every day I hear firetrucks going out to range fires. We’re supposed to get some snow by the end of the week. We’ll see about that. We certainly need it.

My sleep patterns are returning to more normal. I usually go to bed around 10pm and wake up for good by 6am. I’m experiencing less severe aches and stiffness in the mornings. I still have odd dreams, but they aren’t scary. Just odd.

Using audiobooks a lot lately. Probably use those 2 to 3 hours per day. Still working the Ray Dalio one that came out last week. Have some Yuval Harrari and Parag Khana going right now too. I don’t know why, I just prefer non fiction to fiction. I always have. I never did get into science fiction even though I think I would have loved Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series had I discovered it in my youth as opposed to my late thirties. The science fiction I grew up on were stories like Terminator, Matrix, and Judge Dread. Basically really lousy futures that aren’t worth living in. I had enough drama and horror in my own personal life, I didn’t need horror and drama as an escape. Hell, I needed an escape from the horror and drama of real life. I have actually never bought a comic book.

Canceled my cable service several months ago. I don’t miss it one bit. I don’t even watch ballgames much anymore. Just seems pointless and I no longer enjoy it. And I haven’t watched cable news in over ten years. How is cable news still a thing? Most of what I watch anymore is youtube and Amazon Prime. I don’t even have Netflix anymore. I used to follow the Castlevania, Borgia, and Altered Carbon series. But I guess I just have a lot of reading I want to catch up on these days. I find learning fun. That makes me weird, I know. Maybe I just went to a good school in that they didn’t beat the love of learning out of me. I think it helped that I had parents who always kept books in our house and I was walking distance to the local library. When I was a kid, I wanted to buy that library, work in their full time, and just live in the basement. That was one of my aspirations as a kid. Another was to be rich enough that me and my friends could play Monopoly with real money. But isn’t being a real estate tycoon Monopoly in real life?

Holidays and Mental Illness

Hosted a non traditional Thanksgiving dinner over last weekend. My parents came back to Nebraska for a funeral, so they won’t be coming back this week. My cleaning lady, who does lots of cooking, said she’d bring me a plate of traditional Thanksgiving fare. I guess with many of my neighbors going to family and friends for the long weekend, I’ll be having a few quiet days in my apartment complex.

Holidays are tough for most people. For us with mental illness, it can sometimes be unbearable. While I enjoy the good food and Christmas decorations as much as anyone, I do have a hard time with the disruptions of my routines. I thrive on routines more than I care to admit. I don’t usually change my routines unless I have to. Some days I don’t even leave my apartment or have guests. I guess I’m really picky about what I do and don’t do, more than is healthy probably.

Christmas movies will begin playing soon. It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two favorites of all time. I think some of those ClayMation shows are kinda creepy. I definately will not participate in Black Friday. I mean, how did this even become a thing? Not only that, there are people who actually enjoy that madness. I can understand Cyber Monday, but in the case of internet shopping, I get what I need and the post man brings it right to my house. It’s so simple that the only time I need to put on pants is when I go meet the delivery man. I think kids waiting on the Amazon delivery service will be to them what getting the Sears Christmas catalog was to me growing up in the 1980s. On Black Friday, I’m just staying home and watching football.

While Thanksgiving and Christmas get most of the attention, my favorite end of the year holiday is New Year’s. When I was growing up, my church hosted a new year’s party every year. Played a lot of board games, had lots of good food, and we usually let out immediately after midnight in order to avoid drivers who had too much to drink. I’d wake up early the next morning and watch the Rose Bowl parade and football games all afternoon. Back then, my Huskers were good enough they were almost always playing in a New Year’s Day game. Sadly, some traditions wind up dying over the years. After I moved out on my own, I used to go to New Year’s Eve concerts hosted by the local bars. Quit going out on New Year’s around ten years ago after some girl chatted me up and I think she was trying to make her boyfriend jealous. Glad I was sober so I could talk my way out of a bad situation.

I didn’t do much for Halloween besides buy some peanut butter cups. They were always my favorite candy. First time in months I had candy. I try to avoid sugar as much as possible. Same goes for carbs. One year for Halloween, I watched the original Dracula movie from the 1930s.

While I do enjoy the chilly weather and possibility for snow, I don’t enjoy some aspects of the holidays. But they too shall pass.

Having Schizophrenia During Covid

We’re having apartment inspections next week. These always make me anxious. It’s always been my experience that someone can always find something wrong. I once joked that maybe I should move everything out of my apartment (furniture, clothing, dishes, utensils, even food) just to see what they would find wrong with my place. I think it would be a good practical joke except that very few people have a sense of humor anymore. But I simply no longer have the health or the patience to pull it off.

Weather has been chilly and overcast. I’m enjoying it. I enjoy the chilly days and the long nights. I’ve come to appreciate fall more in my middle age. Spring has always been my favorite season but fall is definately working it’s way up.

I see that covid cases are starting to pick up again. My friend in Denver told me that hospitals there were resorting to deciding who to and who not to admit because they were having so many sicknesses. I’ve heard that Germany is getting slammed again. So much for covid being gone with a few weeks of lockdowns. Thank God this thing isn’t worse than it already is and that it didn’t hit back in the 1980s.

I very rarely leave my apartment anymore. Dealing with people, for the most part, is too stressful. Several tenants I knew have moved out lately. One died shortly after going to assisted living. I no longer know most of my neighbors. I still hear from a couple of my friends who used to live here. One is now at a homeless shelter. Even rural America has homeless people now.

My grocery bills are going up, like everyone else’s. I can keep the damage to a minimum because I had some stored up in case something like this happened. So glad I built up a small supply when things were cheaper. Have been needing some new shirts and pants. Those are tough to find even on Amazon.

Haven’t been sleeping well lately. I usually wake up in the middle of the night and take a couple hours to get back to sleep. My best sleep is now between 5 am and 9am. Don’t usually nap during the afternoon most days anymore. My knees still give me problems, especially in the mornings. I’m finding myself eating less most days. But I still have a lot of weight I want to lose anyway.

Mentally I’m feeling stable most of the time. I still have a couple flare ups of paranoia and anxiety every day. But they don’t last long. I usually do better when I don’t read the news or spend much time dwelling on my physical health. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed, mainly because of the knee pains. I’m finding myself more sensitive to cold now. I’ve been sensitive to heat for years.

Beginning of Fall 2021

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

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

Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Signs That I Am No Longer Young

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

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

Signs I Am No Longer Young

I get junk mail from AARP weekly

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

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

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

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

I’m not embarassed to talk about mental health issues

I have no problem asking for help

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

I remember when social media was fun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I was in high school before DNA evidence was considered reliable

I used a firearm before I learned to drive or shave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remember when the Bulls and Knicks had great teams

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

Hallucinations And Paranoia With Schizophrenia

One of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations. In my case I have auditory hallucinations. I often hear people walking and talking in the hallways who aren’t there. I often hear my phone ring when it isn’t. It’s especially bad when I’m away from my phone in the bathroom or in the bedroom trying to take a nap. I often hear my Facebook Messenger ap chime only to find it was only hallucinations. I often have voices criticizing me when I’m trying to do even mundane tasks like cooking supper, doing laundry, getting dressed, and even when playing computer games and watching Amazon Prime. And it’s always the voices of people I know and they are always very critical and nasty.

As far as paranoia goes, it’s often bad. I always feel like I’m being watched when I am in public. I always feel like when something goes wrong when I have company (things like my internet going down, my computer being slower than usual, neighbors knocking on my door, having too much clutter on my desk and bedroom floor, or even having to get up to go to the bathroom) I’m being silently condemned and criticized. I’ve called my family out on this a few times. Even though they try their best to tell me that they mean no harm, I usually think they are lying and just get even more paranoid. I’m also paranoid that my call box that opens the security door to let delivery men isn’t going to work. I’m usually ready to go to my neighbor’s and have them open the security door. This has been especially bad for over two years as I’m completely reliant on grocery and UPS delivery.

I rarely leave my apartment for I fear that I’m being watched and condemned. I often lose my breath after walking long distances. And people making comments about me breathing hard makes me not want to leave my home. Then I get people telling me I wouldn’t be so short of breath if I got out of the house more often. I catch hell either way anymore.

I’m also really self conscious about my appearance. But, I’m also paranoid enough to think that no matter how good I am dressed up and presentable, it won’t be good enough for anybody. What’s the point of doing anything beyond minimum if it’s never going to be good enough for anyone? People were really critical of my appearance even back in grade school no matter how dressed up and cleaned up I was. I had one general practice doctor who wanted to take me off all of my psych meds because he thought the psych meds were preventing me from losing weight and that I’d be doing so much better mentally if I lost weight. Never mind that I’ve had mental health issues since high school and was physically strong well into my late 30s. Until my car accident in 2015 I’d walk three miles a day, five days a week. Can’t do that anymore. Another doctor flat out told me, and I quote, “Lose the damn weight.” First, last, and only time I saw him.

The whole, get tough, man up, scream in my face, Alpha Male, Marine Corp, hell fire and brimstone, cowboy nonsense never worked with me. It also never impressed me. I guess that makes me less manly, depending on who you ask. I suppose that after twenty plus years of schizophrenia I just no longer want to be bothered with it. Some days I feel a lot older than 41. I have no clue how I made it even this far. I really no longer care if I impress anyone, even friends and family. I’ll do the minimum to keep my neighbors, my landlord, social security, etc. happy and off my case. But I’m no longer going out of my way to impress anyone. It’s not like I was impressing anyone when I was in my teens and twenties anyway. I’m glad I’m not young anymore and can more or less do my own thing as long as I’m not being a jerk to my neighbors or breaking the law. I’m enjoying my 40s far more than I did my teens. As bad as the hallucinations and paranoias are now, they were far worse in my twenties. There are far worse things in life than being on disability and living in low income housing in rural America. Even the last couple years with the pandemic, I have a legit excuse to not leave my house and not get hassled.

Nostalgia and Regrets, Or Lack Of

One of my best friends from college died from cancer a few days ago. She was only a couple years older than I and had two teenage kids. I used to play trivia games all the time and she was one of the few who could actually beat me on our campus. After a couple years, she was the only one who would even play against me. Even though I hadn’t seen her in several years, I will always miss her. Easy socializing with people of similar interests is one of the things I miss about not being young anymore.

I’ve been thinking back on my younger years more than usual lately. I’m normally not nostalgic as I think nostalgia glosses over the bad parts of our past, overlooks what is going on that is good today, and leaves no vision for the future. Maybe it’s the time of year when school is back in session and my hometown, home to a small state university of about 8,000 students, comes back to life. Maybe it’s that after over a year and a half of pandemic and the end of two decades of war in the Middle East (at least for my country), I have found myself reflecting on how we got to the point in August 2021 were we currently reside.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I understand why so many people are nostalgic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the health they had in their late teens coupled with the knowledge they have in their elder years? But, health is wasted on the young and inexperienced and wisdom and wealth are wasted on the elderly, frail, and cynical. I just hope I never find myself complaining about the younger generations and fantasizing about a past that never existed anywhere outside of my own mind.

I do have a few regrets about my younger years. Most of them are minor, but the big one I have is that I didn’t do more to care for my physical health while I was fighting my mental illness in my twenties. I don’t regret the road trips, the books read, the college degree earned, the dead end jobs abandoned, the toxic people I gave up on, the failed romances, not having gotten married, not having kids, the activities participated in, etc. I certainly don’t regret having survived to middle age with a serious mental illness. I don’t regret trying to make something good out of a bad situation. I don’t regret being involved in many activities in high school and college. I don’t regret the friends I’ve kept over the decades. I don’t regret staying on good terms with most of my family even if we don’t chat very often. I don’t regret the women I’ve asked out on dates in high school and college even if I got rejected by all but a few of them. I don’t regret going a year and a half into a worldwide pandemic without getting sick and spending most of my time isolated. I don’t even regret selling my car and giving up driving. I always thought driving was overrated anyway. The only reason I learned to drive is that my country has had garbage for public transit my entire life.

I don’t regret not socializing with toxic people. I don’t regret cutting rude people out of my life. I don’t regret giving up on my minimum wage career. I don’t regret not letting other people determine what I think of myself. I don’t regret having unpopular opinions. And I certainly don’t regret spotting trends years before most people I know. I guess I’m not as nostalgic as most people my age and older because I have fewer regrets. Sure it meant lots of heat aches, humiliation, failed jobs, being betrayed, and knowing I’ll never be prestigious, rich, or even a respected member of my community. But it was worth it to become the man I am today.