Removing Myself From Social Media and Thoughts on Change

I decided I’m giving up social media.  I cancelled my twitter account and have put my facebook on inactive status.  I spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually writing and researching.  I have only a couple close friends and a few cousins I really hear from anymore via facebook.  I would have given it up over a year ago if I wasn’t fearful I’d permanently lose contact with my friends and family.  I tired writing more emails several months ago, but got only one response from the dozen I sent out.  I suppose it feeds into my paranoia that my friends and family really don’t like me that much.  Every time I call my parents, the bulk of the conversation focuses on what I can do to improve myself and how to make my apartment more presentable.  I find this irritating.  I really do.  I can’t even just live anymore.  At this point in my life, I don’t care if I impress people or am popular.  I have never been popular, not even in college or high school.  But I had a good time in college because I got to spend time with people even more eccentric and academically oriented than myself on a daily basis.  I know many people condemn academic knowledge, scholarly pursuits, and intelligence.  I have endured this my entire life.  And I have given up on people ever changing their attitudes towards intelligence and wisdom.  I just want to live and be allowed to pursue my goals, which include learning as much as I possibly can about as many subjects as I can.  I don’t give a damn if I ever make a cent off my pursuits of knowledge and wisdom.  As long as I have enough money to make rent and keep my pantry stocked and myself clothed and my psych medications current, everything else is just add ons.  I don’t need a large house, a prestigious career, a trophy wife, lots of kids, a fancy car, designer clothes, or the respect of people I have nothing in common with.  I never have.  I was, like many ambitious teenagers, brainwashed into thinking I needed such nonsense to have a fulfilled life.  It took a serious mental illness and struggling for most of my twenties to realize that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  And it took a few more years to where I got to the point when I no longer felt shame for not wanting a life I had no say in designing.

I don’t feel shame for not wanting to be rich or famous.  I don’t write blogs every few days with the idea I will get noticed and make a train load of money.  I write for a record of what it like to be a mentally ill man in early 21st century America.  I don’t write just for my current audience.  I write for future generations so there is at least one record as to what mental illness meant in the early stages of the Information Revolution.  And make no mistake, our species and our civilizations are going through a period of transition at very least as profound as the Agricultural Revolution thousands of years ago and the Industrial Revolution hundreds of years ago.  It should be no wonder so many people are afraid and angry.  Afraid of what’s happening and what is going to happen.  Angry that we found that much of what we learned in our youths and what worked well in previous generations is starting to no longer apply.

We are at a point in history when our science and tech is advancing faster than our institutions of government, religion, education, finance, industry, and social norms.  At this point in time (November 2019), the world is far different than the one I went to high school in during the 1990s.  I’ve recently rewatched some of the tv shows that were popular when I was a teenager, and it’s almost quaint looking at some of the tech that was considered cutting edge twenty five years ago.  Even in the Matrix series, there were no smart phones, social media, video sharing platforms, laptop computers, etc.  There were still phone booths in that series and that was made only twenty years ago.  I didn’t notice the subtle changes that were happening over the course of a year or two when things were happening.  But looking at it over the span of twenty years, I am as a 39 year old man living in a world that is foreign to the one I occupied at age 16.  I’m not even sure my niece and nephews have seen a VCR tape anywhere outside of a history show or museum.  I sometimes chuckle when I see older people who don’t research online as much as my cohorts do.  But my teenage nephews would chuckle that I have never run a 3D printer or used a VR headset.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset from money he raised working odd jobs for his parents and neighbors.  He set up a VR flying simulator for my father.  As for me, I’m waiting a couple of years for the prices to drop and the tech to get more user friendly.  As crazy as the changes I have seen in the last twenty years have been, I guarantee the next twenty will be even more so.  At this point I’m just content to buckle up and enjoy the ride from my apartment in small town Nebraska.

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Confessions of A Mentally Ill Blogger

Going off subject for this post.  I decided to bring more of my online confessions.  Yes, there is a real live middle age man behind the scribblings and musings of A Life of Mental Illness.  So here goes:

  1.  I’ve had the same best friend since high school.  And my best friend is a woman my age.  I didn’t understand the whole ‘males and females’ can’t be friends trope back then.  I still don’t.  Just because I am a man and she is a woman doesn’t mean we have been or ever will be romantically involved.
  2. I never understood why just because I am a man that I’m supposed to want sex all the time.  I never have, not even as a teenager.  And I used to get such a hard time from my school mates because of it.  I got it worse from my female classmates than I did even from my teammates on the football team.
  3. I never enjoyed dating.  And it wasn’t just because I was most of the time turned down even for something as simple as a cup of coffee at the college student center.  The few times I did date, I always felt like I was under investigation for the pettiest offenses and slip ups.  It was nerve wracking and not worth it.  Angered me that I couldn’t just be honest with women I found attractive.
  4. I don’t understand adults who forget what it was like being kids.  Even though I’m almost 40 years old and starting to get a few gray hairs in my beard, I still remember vividly what is was like growing up.  I don’t romanticize those days nor do I completely condemn them.  I had some good times and I went through some serious trials I never want to go through again.
  5. I don’t understand adults who hurt children.  I think it’s cowardly that some adult would do anything to a kid they wouldn’t dare dream of doing to an adult.  I have less respect for adults who abuse children than I do just about anything else.
  6. I don’t understand the mindset of bullies, especially adult bullies.  I can’t understand how messed up a person’s moral compass has to be in order to feel like they are powerful for messing with people who can’t fight back.  It doesn’t show power in my mind to yell at, berate, manipulate, and abuse people.  It shows a complete lack of character and courage as far as I’m concerned.
  7. I don’t understand people who think that yelling, insulting, threatening, and throwing temper tantrums are the signs of a good leader.  They aren’t.  The only reason people, myself included, put up with this kind of nonsense is that we have no choice.  At least not temporarily.  All the while I am agreeable to someone who is a verbally abusive boss or leader, I am silently bidding my time until I have an opportunity to where I no longer have to deal with them.  I have quit several jobs just because I got tired of dealing with abusive bosses.  And I refuse to go back to any job if I get the sense that a work place tolerates abusive bosses.  Thanks to my disability and my pension, I can say ‘screw you’ to bad bosses.  I am convinced if enough people could get several months worth of living expenses saved up and just start walking out on abusive and toxic workplaces in large numbers, we’d see these employers attitudes improve pretty fast.
  8. I never accepted why workplace politics are what they are.  Never have and I never will.
  9. Sometimes I am convinced that the adults act worse than the kids.  But it didn’t seem this way when I was growing up.  Maybe it’s something that goes in generational cycles.
  10. I don’t understand how weekly news and sports magazines are still a thing even after almost thirty years of the world wide web.
  11. I don’t understand why people still write checks.  I still have to write checks for my rent.  Irritates me to no end.  What century is this anyway?
  12. I don’t understand people who go on and on about the ‘good old days.’  When exactly were these good old days?  And if I make it to age seventy I’m sure I’ll hear some fools talking about the 2010s as ‘good old days.’  The good old days never existed.  They were just when you still had good health and weren’t held back by constant aches and pains.
  13. I’m glad I was never popular or cool.  I don’t want to be popular.  I just want to make people think.
  14. I don’t begrudge twenty somethings who still live with their parents.  Multi generational housing was more normal in previous eras than now.  Sometimes I would love to live with my elderly parents or my brother or my aunts.  At least we could look after each other easily.  And I wouldn’t have to deal with some of the screw balls and loose nuts who come with living in an apartment complex.
  15. At this point in my life, I’m tired of living in an apartment complex.  I would so buy my own house and not deal with land lords and close by neighbors if I could afford it.  I just want some privacy and not have people looking over my shoulders all the time anymore.  Dormitory living was more fun at age 19 than at age 39.
  16. I often fear that I don’t get through to people.
  17. I often fear my friends and family secretly don’t like me.  I hope it’s the illness talking.
  18. I sometimes go days at a time without leaving my apartment.  I’m just burned out on the stress of dealing with irritable, angry, and rude people all the time.  Socializing with most people is toxic for me anymore.  At this point I’d rather deal with a machine than most people.  At least machines won’t give me a hard time or tell me how bad of a person I am.  People sometimes suck.
  19. I love to sleep.  I’d sleep even more if I didn’t wake up with aches and pains every morning.

Losing Friends and Mental Breakdowns or I’m Sorry For Having Feelings

Haven’t been writing lately.  Been having a rough go the last several days.  Finally had a breakdown a few days ago and a second one just yesterday.  I still feel like I’m putting the pieces back together.  I hate that I have breakdowns.  Unfortunately, it seems the only way I can let go of much of the pain and depression that comes with my mental illness.

I get that it’s not socially acceptable for me to rant and rave as a way of dealing with my mental illness.  But it is also unmanly for me to cry or even show any sign of weakness.  I can’t even cry at this point in my life.  I haven’t broke down and cried in over fifteen years.  I didn’t cry at any of my grandparents funerals or even my nephew’s funeral.  I guess after years of being told to ‘man up’, ‘straighten up’, ‘snap out of it’, ‘what you whining for’, and ‘I’ll give you something to cry about’ I am literally unable to express sadness.  It’s not manly to cry so I don’t.  Yet I put off expressing any distress as long as I can because it’s not socially acceptable to rave and verbally express anger.  Of course this is a vicious cycle that has become predictable to me.  I only fear that someday when I’m having a breakdown at home, my neighbors will call the cops on me and I’ll lose my apartment.  And having a breakdown in public would be even worse, knowing my countrymen’s attitudes towards carrying concealed firearms and violence.  I fear for my own life anymore.  I can’t vent about my problems in a cathartic way for fear of repercussions and even physical violence against myself.  And if I were to get shot by anyone, my side of the story would never be heard by anyone, not even my family.  Hell, the person that shoots me will be hailed as a hero even though I am never armed.  Tell me again how we are a compassionate and civilized society.

It’s because of fears and anxieties like this I almost never leave my home.  I still sleep a lot but some days that’s all I want to do.  I want the fear and pain to go away.  I want to stop living in fear of my neighbors and people I talk to online.  I even fear my relatives anymore.  I haven’t gone to family reunions in several years for fear of having a breakdown in case the conversations turn to controversial things.  I have ended contact with a significant portion of extended family members because of their hateful attitudes about politics, science, and religion.  I haven’t even spoken to my own brother in over two years.  It seems like I do better with complete strangers I meet only online than I do with most of my old friends and family.  About the only people I hear from on a regular basis I have known for more than five years are my parents, my best friend from high school, and my best friend from college.  I ended the friendship with my second best friend from college because of his attitudes towards politics and religion.  I asked him to tone it down, at least online, he told me to stop being triggered and he didn’t care what I wanted.  So I ended the friendship.  Angers me that most people care far more about politics and religion and money than they ever did even their best friends and family.

I really don’t know why I put myself out there like this.  It only makes me look weak and needy.  But I am burned out from always having to be on guard even around those I love.  I am tired of losing friends and family members.  Even before the whole world decided to go insane all at once I had troubles making friends.  I didn’t have the same interests as most people and I find it impossible to dumb down for most people.  I have to vent, even if no one in my friends and family has any empathy.  I have to for my own sanity.

Taking Care of Anxiety and Taking Care of Self

Been feeling quite anxious the last several days.  I didn’t realize how anxiety stricken I was until I took an emergency anti anxiety medication.  I slept for several hours.  Even though I missed a couple ball games I wanted to watch on Saturday night, I slept very well.  It was the best I slept in weeks.  It was one of those sleeps that was so deep you had no clue how long you were down for.  As it was, I was down for over five hours.  When I woke, I felt a calmness and peace I hadn’t felt in weeks.  I felt quite weird in the fact it was also 1:30 am and I felt all this peace and confidence I hadn’t felt in a while.  So I’m now waiting on a load of laundry to finish and it’s 3 am my time on Sunday morning.

I now fear that much of my avoidance of people and feelings that people were more irritable than usual were due to me being anxious and more sensitive than most people lately.  I have always had an uncanny ability to pick up on other people’s feelings and vibes even as a child.  I could sometimes sense their feelings almost as soon as they could.  Naturally this caused me to over read many of my family and friends.  Anxiety is part of the mental illness.  And I had been more sensitive to it than usual for much of this summer.  While the anti anxiety medication and long sleep helped, I now want to take active steps to warding off hurtful anxiety.  I now realize how paralyzed by my own fear I am.  That’s probably why I avoid socializing in person as much as possible.  Other than chit chat with neighbors when I check my mail or meet the delivery man to sign for my deliveries, most of my in person interaction came when my cleaning lady came to my house once a week.

She usually comes on Thursdays, so those were getting to be my favorite days of the week, at least until fall started and college football got going.  It is an exciting year of football for me.  My Huskers, while not in the championship picture, are now at 3 wins and 1 loss, and that loss was an overtime one.  I feel a sense of hope and pride in my home state team I hadn’t felt in several years.  I think it made a lot of people happy that Scott Frost, our coach, has a winning track record at his previous jobs and is a Nebraska alum and grew up in a small farming town in state.  I hope we continue to improve.  I don’t know if the glory days of my youth will ever return, but it is encouraging that the alumni and fans still support the team even though it’s been twenty years since we won a championship.  I don’t know anywhere else that has that kind of unwavering support.

Overall, I’m starting to feel more confident and energetic.  That anxiety will mess with a person real bad if left unchecked.  I hate to think most of my problems are due to anxiety problems I was not addressing.  But that is how strong our minds are.  Our minds are powerful enough it can make anxiety as real as the air we breathe and the food we eat.  And anxiety does effect physical health.  I had felt aches and pains, especially in my lower back.  I still feel those some but I can now push through them.  Sometimes getting outside help can make all the difference.  It can be tough to seek medical help or assistance from even a trusted doctor.  I don’t know how much of that is my illness talking or me being a man or what.  It can be tough to ask for help, especially when I am often able to solve my own problems and have a knack for helping others solve their issues.  But I definitely read too much into other people, especially those I’m close to.  But the mind, even an ill one, is very powerful in that it can sometimes make or break our realities.

Avoiding Negative People While Mentally Ill

Haven’t been in the mood for socializing much lately.  It’s not because I’m feeling lousy and irritable.  Far from it.  I avoid socializing for the most part lately because almost everyone else I associate with is in lousy moods.  I have run out of patience with people coming to me with their problems and not caring about mine.  What makes things even worse is that no one I talk to complains about things they can immediately remedy.  I’m tired of listening to my friends and family complain about this, that, and the third.  You have problems, well good.  That means that you are still alive.  Everyone has problems, even I do.  Surprised?

I haven’t even left my apartment for several days because I am tired of seeing and hearing so many people be in foul moods.  I have been told that socializing is important to good mental health.  Is it really when most other people are being negative and toxic?  I finally had enough and shut off my phone this afternoon.  Don’t come to me and expect me to listen to your gripes and not even have the courtesy to care about mine.  I live below poverty levels.  I am overweight.  I have chronic back problems.  My mental illness sometimes flares up but I don’t dare take it out on anyone.

I am lonely.  I have almost no one to talk about things I want to talk about, outside of my own parents.  It seems like most of my friends are in foul moods all the time anymore.  And my neighbors are just as bad.  I have to admit dealing with so many angry people is taking a toll on my psyche.  About the only things I enjoy anymore are watching youtube videos and playing computer games.  Most people will tell me this is a horrible way to live my life.  It probably is, but dealing with angry and irritable people for most of my social interactions sounds even worse.  And my friends and family wonder why I dropped out of society.  I just don’t want to deal with other people’s toxic attitudes and behavior.  I sometimes sleep just to feel better and not deal with other peoples’ madness.  I probably sleep ten to twelve hours a day anymore.  I have reached my breaking point.

Socializing is no longer enjoyable.  Being by myself is far more enjoyable anymore.  I have given up on telling people good news and sharing my enthusiasm for tech and science advances.  Most my friends and family either think I am “fake news” or I am met with complete indifference.  I would actually rather be told I am a liar than be met with indifference.  I’m burned out on negative friends and family.  I talk to only two or three people on facebook on a regular basis these days because of all the anger and hopelessness.  I don’t know if it’s me or if all my friends and family went bad all at once.

Naturally no one sees these things the way I do.  And if they do, they won’t bother to do anything to improve their situations.  As it is, for now, I’m just staying out of sight and out of mind.  I refuse to socialize with negative people.  I lost much of my youth because I was raised to be a negative pessimist who was never pleased.  I’ll be damned to spend my adulthood that way.

Hope After A Mental Breakdown

Had a bad breakdown a few days ago.  I am quite sure, after twenty years with a mental illness, there is a seasonal aspect to my illness.  I regret having breakdowns and I especially regret taking my breakdowns out on people I love.  I had felt it coming on for awhile and then it finally broke a few days ago.  I hope this is the last one for a long time.  I hate the fact that I can’t just sob and cry my way out of a breakdown rather than lash out and be angry.  I don’t know how much of that is just my personal illness, or always being told a man showing emotions is a sign of weakness, etc. But it’s part of the illness and part of the price of admission into adulthood.

In spite of the illness, and the contradictions and nonsense I am fed on a daily basis by society and popular culture, I do my best to not let this crush my spirit or kill my love for my fellow humans.  I know I am often harsh and short tempered with my fellow humans, and my countrymen in particular.  But, contrary to popular belief, I do not hate humans or my countrymen.  It’s the polar opposite actually.  I love humanity and I love my country and my countrymen.  I see the cool things we have accomplished in the past and are accomplishing on a daily basis.  I see the potential for greatness every day.  And yes, it does bother me when I see people not living up to that potential greatness.  I am tough on people, not because I hate them, but because I believe everyone can excel at least one thing and I can’t stand to see a person waste their potential and time.  I am often tough on my family members because I know they are capable of excellence and have often shown it, especially in times of crisis.  I’m sorry but I don’t have much respect for mediocre work and apathy.

A significant portion of the time when I’m reading science journals online or articles on sites like Bloomberg, CNN, Wall Street Journal, etc. I have to remind myself that this isn’t the science fiction it was when I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s.  I saw the movie Fight Club the other night, and even though the movie was popular when I was in college, I was amazed how people still used land based phone lines, phone booths, primitive looking desktop computers, and even how many people smoked in a movie that came out in the late 1990s.  I personally haven’t had a land phone line since 2007 or 2008 I think.  I haven’t had a desktop computer in 10 years.  And even this year, I was able to email my bank statements and tax information and social security information to my landlady to renew my lease.  All I had to do in person was sign a few documents and pass an annual room inspection.  And since I now have a cleaning lady who drops in once a week, spruces the place up, and allows me to chat with her while she works, the whole process took about a half hour of my time.

I sometimes overlook the progress my fellow humans, myself, and civilization in general has made when I’m bogged down in the day to day struggle.  But when I take a step back and look at it over the course of a few years, it’s quite amazing and gives me hope.  I get even more hope and feel in awe when I look back at over what has happened in the life time of our current crop of world leaders and elders in my life.  I know I am often too harsh on my elders.  I know I need to cut them more slack when I look back and think about all the changes they saw since their childhoods in the 1950s and 1960s.  My father can remember his family being one of the first in his hometown to own a black and white television.  And his uncles used to come out to my grandfather’s farm just to watch the test patterns in the evenings.  Both my parents were typing their high school and even college term papers on electric typewriters.  My mother keeps and old style manual typewriter as a decoration in her house and my eight year old nephew is aghast that people used to write on those things.

I also have to remember that, for some of the elders, old Jim Crow laws and criminalization of things like homosexuality, inter racial marriages, and sex outside of marriage were the law of the land in many places until as recently as the 1970s.  Sure, it feels like some people are backsliding at times.  But the forces at work against such backsliding are far more overwhelming than they would have been even forty years ago.

I can’t even begin to imagine what I will see if I make it to age seventy, if I’m privileged enough to make it that far.  That will be in the year 2050.  I’ve seen some scientists predict everything from bases on the moon and Mars, driverless cars being almost everywhere, nuclear fusion based electricity, to where we no longer use oil and gasoline for transport, to even people augmented their physical strength and mental powers through computer based implants and prosthetic and Iron Man type suits.  I guess I don’t know if I want someone rooting around in my skull planting in chips or injecting me full of blood cell sized machines (at least not right now), but I definitely wouldn’t mind something I could wear that would make me smarter or stronger that I could turn off or take off at a moment’s notice.

Even as much as I love science and tech, I am still adjusting to what is happening and what can be.  And only the best minds in science fiction would have even imagined such things that we are working on now when my father was a kid and reading Dick Tracy comic books in the 1950s.  I know eventually I will be the old man that has trouble keeping up.  I imagine even now my nephews would think it odd I don’t know how to run a 3D printer or a VR headset machine.  My twelve year old nephew set up a flight simulator game on VR for my father (a licensed pilot and former Air Force man) recently that my father occasionally uses.

I don’t know what the future holds, certainly not in terms of working.  The only advice I give to my nephews and niece is ‘stay flexible.’  No one knows.  Maybe people like Mark Cuban will be proven right and that the humanities and arts degrees we have called ‘useless’ and ‘worthless’ degrees for a couple generations will be in as much demand in ten years as STEM and medical degrees are now.  Even though I majored in business in college, I am grateful I took some time to read a lot of philosophy and classical literature when I was young and had more energy.  And I was able to do it for free via my college’s library.  Levitt Library on the York College campus was a second home for me when I was college.  If I wasn’t at my dorm room studying, I could easily be found in the library or with a few buddies discussing philosophy, football strategies, history, or even medieval military tactics at the all night truck stop over chicken fried steaks and 99 cent unlimited cups of coffee.

In spite of my recent melt down, I am hopeful again.  Zig Ziglar was right when he said that positive attitudes and behavior is like taking baths every day, it requires daily maintenance.  No one gets mad when they are extra dirty some days, they just bathe for a little longer.  And of course, some days are dirtier and tougher than others.

Beginning of School Year and Maintaining Stability

It’s been fairly quiet in my complex the last few days.  The highlights of my week were when my cleaning person arrived for the weekly cleaning and the exterminator arrived to do his routine spraying.  Got groceries too so I’m set for the rest of the month.  I have been avoiding going out the last few days as school is starting back up again.  My town is a college town, so the streets are crowded again with several thousand college kids.  Even though I haven’t been a college student since 2005, I always enjoy when they come back.  I do regret that I don’t get out to the college as much as I used to for sporting events or activities.  I enjoyed going to the ‘taste of the world’ festival the college had every spring when the foreign students would make dishes from their home nations and some would even wear traditional clothing from their home nations too.  Even the American kids got in on this, with one group wearing get ups from the 1950s and serving hamburgers and fries.

Overall I’m doing well.  Still in a traditionally tough time of year for myself.  I sometimes have minor flare ups of anxiety and irritability a few times a week.  They don’t last very long and they aren’t as intense as they were in my younger years.  I have found if I avoid high amounts of caffeine and carb rich foods, I do better on those days.  I also avoid certain conversations and topics because some topics often make me irritable or anxious or I just feel probably too strongly about.  If I seem less social the last few weeks than normal, that is why.  It’s nothing personal but I just want to avoid potential problems as much as possible, especially during traditionally tough times.

So far I’ve been doing pretty well and I want to keep it that way.  I can be really tough on family during my bad flare ups.  I’m sorry those have happened.  I think it would be better for all involved if I could just break down sobbing rather than being angry and lashing out.  I don’t know how much of that is my illness, where and when I grew up, being a man, etc.  But it is easier talking about my problems now than even ten years ago.  And when I was first diagnosed almost twenty years ago, I was scared to tell even my college friends.  So yes, progress has been made in those regards.  Often doesn’t feel like it during the day to day grinds.