All Nighters and End of Winter Plans

I’m back to keeping odd hours again.  I usually sleep in the late mornings and early afternoons while being awake often until sunrise.  I still get enough sleep and I make it a point to get out of my apartment some everyday.  But I have found that at this point in my life I feel less paranoid and irritated in the middle of the night than I do in the mornings.  I never have been a morning person.  Even as a kid I would often stay awake late and read books even on school nights.  I’d be up all night sometimes during the summers and Christmas breaks just reading.  While I don’t do as much serious book reading as I once did, I still do audiobooks and listen to science and history lectures.  That is my form of entertainment.  I have also gotten into learning do it yourself fixes around the house via youtube videos.  I’ve recovered crashed computers, sped up my play station, and done various around the house hacks just by watching a few videos.  I have to find something quiet to do when I’m awake in the overnight hours.  I just as well be exercising my mind.

Winter is practically over in my hometown.  Most of the snow is melted.  Baseball preseason is in full swing and the regular season will be starting in a couple weeks.  During the spring and summer I’ll often have a baseball game on the tv in the background while I’m reading a book or working on a computer.  Live sports is about the extent of my traditional tv viewing anymore and even this I don’t watch as much as I did even five years ago.  If cable didn’t come with my apartment I wouldn’t even have it.

I’m looking forward to spring.  This winter has been harsher than usual.  Other than a few days at my parents’ place in February, I haven’t been outside of my hometown this winter.  But my town, while not a city by any stretch of the imagination, has almost everything I need within driving distance.  What I can’t get in my hometown I can always get delivered via internet orders.  In short I really have no real reason to travel much anymore besides seeing friends and family.  And travel is more stressful for me than it was even a few years ago.  I really no longer enjoy the long road trips like I did in my twenties and early thirties.  I have no real plans to travel this summer.  I guess I really have no immediate plans other than continuing to do the blog and stay stable.  But sometimes staying stable with mental illness is a full time job by itself.


Thoughts on Isolation

Been isolating a lot lately.  I sometimes have entire days when I don’t even leave my apartment anymore.  I’m just burned out on people in general.  Even though I sleep at night I find myself wanting to sleep almost all the time anymore.  Seems like the only time I don’t feel anxious or depressed is when I’m asleep.  I have gotten to where I am anxious every time I even hear people talking out in my hallway or even when I hear footsteps in my hall.  My neighbors had an argument this morning I could hear through my wall.  Made me definitely not want to leave my apartment today.

I know that eventually I’ll just have to gather my courage and force myself to leave my apartment just to do laundry and check my mail.  But I really have gotten to where I no longer trust anyone it seems.  I’m afraid of people more or less.  Seems that everyone I meet is in a foul mood all the time.  Of course going online to look my friends up doesn’t help any as foul moods and arguments are the rule online anymore.  A friend of mine once suggested I start a youtube channel and just do voice over videos.  Not a chance.  YouTube comment sections are even nastier than twitter or facebook.  We have near god like capabilities with our current state of tech yet we act completely uncivilized online.  If I acted a fraction that rude in public, I’d expect to get a beating or a jail cell.  Though knowing my countrymen’s attitudes about guns, I’d probably get shot rather quickly.

At this point I don’t feel sorry for isolating or having all my groceries delivered to my apartment.  I don’t regret that it’s been two months since I had guests in my apartment. I don’t regret rarely leaving my apartment.  I don’t regret being lonely.  I’d much rather be lonely than made miserable by other miserable people.  In some ways I am glad I am an outcast and an outsider on mainstream civilization. I’m burned out on all the fighting and negativity I see every hour of every day.  I’m tired of people being ugly and evil to each other all the time.  I’ll interact with some people via phone or online chat.  The rest of humanity is welcome to keep it’s distance until they come back to their senses and act like civilized people again.

Letting Go

It has been said, I think it was in the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, that “in order to move forward, you have to leave the past behind” or something along the same idea.  I admit to having problems with letting go of what happened in my younger years, especially during times when my mental illness flares up especially bad.  During such times I have a very hard time coming to accept that my life did not turn out how I remotely imagined it would when I was sixteen and looking ahead to the vast expanse of years that was ahead.  At that age, I pictured that I would be doing something in medical research and married with at least a couple of children and living in some large metroplex by the time I turned 35.  Like many intelligent kids that could be classified as somewhat ‘nerdy’, I dreamed of the day I would move out of my hometown of less than 500 people and onto bigger and better things.  Like most of the few close friends I had, I so desperately wanted out of Nebraska.  I figured there was nothing here for me in the science and medicine fields and I would be wasting my life if I stayed behind.  Well, time has a way of making fools of even the smartest of us.

I never left Nebraska while all the friends from high school I stayed in contact with did.  In fact, none of the friends I made in college stayed in state either.  I didn’t end up working in any scientific or medical field for even one day of my life.  I certainly never got married or had kids.  I never even worked in a job that would require me to graduate high school for any real length of time, and I essentially failed at those jobs.  In spite of my illness, I retained almost all of my natural intelligence even though now my ability to work under stress and read anyone ‘between the lines’ was completely gone.  Any of these instances, let alone all of these put together, were serious blows to my pride and ego.

For the first several years of my mental illness, I agonized over where I went wrong.  I retained my natural intelligence yet I couldn’t do well in even minimum wage work.  It was baffling to my caseworkers at Vocational Rehab that I was so smart yet couldn’t handle any real stress.  For a long time, I thought I just wasn’t working hard enough and that work was supposed to suck.  I had spent my entire life hearing adults complain about their jobs as if their misery was something they took pride in.  So I just tried harder and attempted to abandon any idea that I was supposed to enjoy work or even life for that matter.  In time I came to believe I was doomed to be a failure at working a regular job.

For the next couple of years, I threw myself into my writing.  I was working part time at the courthouse as a janitor by this time.  I came to believe that the only way I could ‘make something of myself’ was to write a decent selling book.  I knew that the odds were against me as less than one percent of even published writers would make above poverty level if they relied solely on their writing work.  Well, that didn’t work either.  I self published a couple books of poetry, a book about my experiences as a mentally ill person in a ‘chronically sane world’, and even wrote rough drafts for two novels.  Found out the hard way that I have almost no talent for writing fiction.  I don’t even like reading fiction, especially modern fiction.  Even though I sold a few dozen copies of my mental illness book, the others didn’t sell at all.  So for a few years after that, I felt like a failure as a writer.

Now that the traditional writer door had been rudely slammed in my face, I became very depressed and angry.  I couldn’t understand what was the point of retaining my intelligence and not being able to use my abilities to even support myself, let alone help others.  I couldn’t figure any of this out.  I just couldn’t let go of what this illness cost me.  Occasionally I still find myself angry over what I lost.  I had the example of what I could have, and should have, been in the person of my older brother.  He is currently working as an electrical engineer for a defense contractor, making more money per year in his mid 30s than my parents ever made at any point in their careers, living in a excellent neighborhood in a metroplex outside of our home state, married to an intelligent woman (who also is an engineer), and has four children that he’s absolutely devoted to.

I suppose it’s wrong to be envious of him, though a part of me sometimes is.  I know as kids, I actually got better grades in school and read more books than he did.  When I’m in the grips of my mental illness, I often find myself thinking our lives could have been similar.  When I’m seriously in the grips of the illness and feeling nothing but anger and hostility, I find myself thinking our lives could have been easily reversed with me doing the work of my dreams and him being mentally ill.  Fortunately that doesn’t happen often.

When I’m not caught in the grasp of the illness, I find it very easy to let go of my past and move forward.  I have found an outlet of sorts though blogging.  Sure I don’t have thousands of visitors every day like some blogs here on wordpress.  No I’m not known outside of my family, my current hometown, my handful of friends, and people who follow and/or happen to stumble on these writings.  No, I haven’t made even one cent off these writings on this blog.  Sure, I’m dependent on the government for my medications and even my living.  Yet, when I am doing well, I have completely accepted all the aspects of my mental illness and have moved forward.  It is now only the small minority of times when I’m in the grips of the illness that I have to worry about stumbling and dwelling on everything that has happened over the last twenty years.

Working With Mental Illness

Being on Social Security Disability Insurance at the age of 37 was not the path in life I hoped for.  Like most people I was raised to respect and honor the value of paid employment.  During the summers I mowed lawns, worked on my uncle’s farm, and occasionally delivered newspapers even in grade school.  I accepted my first “real job” working as a cook at McDonalds the summer before my junior year of high school.  My brother had worked there for a few years so they hired me.  I was fired a few weeks later because I couldn’t work fast enough to satisfy their needs.  I was even yelled at by the owner my first day on the job because I wasn’t working fast enough.  That was my introduction to the work world.

Over the course of the next several years I worked in retail stores and went to school.  By this time my mental illness was taking effect.  Some days I’d get panic attacks so bad I’d vomit before I went into work.  I was on edge at work except for when I was working alone or in a small group.  I just couldn’t work with the public without feeling terrible anxiety.  Because of this anxiety I would frequently make mistakes at my jobs and get yelled at by coworkers and customers.  This only made the anxiety worse as the months and years went by.  Not being able to deal with the public essentially killed any chance I had at a career as most jobs are now service related.  I really had no aptitude for working with my hands so I never considered trade school.

When I was twenty five, after I washed out of the masters’ program in college, I got a job working in a factory.  It was simple enough work that I didn’t really have to think about it.  But it was an overnight shift job and over the course of several weeks I couldn’t adapt to sleeping in the day.  Within a few weeks my work was suffering because I couldn’t sleep.  Once again problems with coworkers rose up.  One night when I made a mistake one of my coworkers threatened to kill me.  I made up an excuse that I was sick and walked off the job that night.  I never reported the incident because I feared management wouldn’t take me seriously.  It has been my experience over the course of most of my life that no one took my problems seriously.  To this day I still don’t talk about my problems until they become major issues.

I actually liked what I was doing at the factory.  I even liked when I was doing janitorial work for the county government.  In my county job I worked alone for the first two and a half years I was there.  And I loved it.  I could do my work, not deal with coworker drama, and I had my weekends off.  It was the perfect job for me.  But I was too good at that job.  I got promoted, moved to the courthouse, and was on a staff of a handful of janitors.  It went well for awhile until we hired some people who didn’t want to do good work and wanted to start drama.  I never understood why people always wanted to start drama at a job.  We were there to accomplish a job and make money, nothing more and nothing less.  But some people just aren’t content unless they are causing problems for others.  My coworkers at the factory got on me because my work was suffering because I couldn’t sleep well during the day.  My request to go to day shift was denied so I quit.  I could already feel mental health problems building and I knew it was only a matter of time before I had a full breakdown.  As it was a few months later I went to the mental hospital.

My only real complaints about work was dealing with the drama of coworkers and dealing with customers who thought they could treat me like dirt because I was making minimum wage.  It must make some people feel important treating small people poorly.  I wouldn’t know.  I could do just fine when I was working alone and only had to see my boss once or twice a day.  As long as the work was done I had no complaints or issues.  For me working alone is the best kind of job.  I think it runs in my family.  My father was self employed, one grandfather was a farmer and another was self employed.  I just hate dealing with office politics and needless drama.  And of course those are the staples of most modern workplaces.  I couldn’t figure it out.  But then I never could figure out why normal people act the way they do.  I can’t figure out why it’s too tough for some of you to just attempt to put differences aside and compromise.  I certainly can’t figure out why my culture praises ignorance and belligerence.  I am not ignorant and I have never respected ignorant people.  And I never will.

If I were to ever get back into the workplace it would be where I worked alone and didn’t deal with other people’s drama.  I could see doing a work from home job over telecommuting.  I have a friend and a cousin who do such work already.  Many office jobs can already be done this way even today.  But I know that some people don’t want to give up the office environment or give that much freedom to their workers.  Personally I’d love to telecommute.  I never understood the appeal of fighting traffic everyday to deal with people whose motives I can only guess just to do a job and get paid.  I know in the past I have said I never want to work again.  I should say that I don’t want to do any type of the work I have done in the past.  I don’t want to work retail and deal with unruly coworkers and customers.  I don’t want to work in an office and fight office politics.  I don’t want to work in manufacturing that is set up to wash out people who don’t toe the line exactly.  But that’s what my experience is in, even though I was never good at it.  I probably couldn’t make a career out of any of these jobs because many of those jobs are going to get automated within the next ten to twenty years.  My only real possibility of returning to work is doing alone work that allows me to use creativity, kind of like what I do with this blog.  Maybe I should become a professional ghost writer.

Dealing With Paranoia and Shame

Even though I have been feeling quite stable overall, I have very little desire to leave my apartment complex except when necessary.  I am still a little paranoid about people I meet in public.  And I am somewhat that way about people within my own complex.  It’s sad to say, but I think I have developed a phobia of people in general.  I really don’t interact with anyone in person unless necessary.  Anymore I prefer to communicate by phone or social media rather than in person.  I didn’t used to be like this.  But anymore I am paranoid and scared to venture out in public, sometimes leading me to neglecting to run errands unless absolutely vital.  Anymore when I do leave my apartment complex, it’s usually at night so I don’t have to deal with crowds or strangers.  I’m even starting to become afraid of the people in my complex.  I am scared that many people in my complex don’t like me.  I suspect some of the elderly residents don’t like younger people on disability living in here.  But I hope that’s my paranoia being in high gear and nothing more.

My illness has changed over the course of the years.  I can more easily deal with the delusional thoughts, hallucinations, and anger.  But dealing with the paranoia and problems socializing have gotten slightly worse.  Anymore I desire to be alone most of the time.  Most people I don’t want to socialize with.  And it’s often because I am afraid of them. My fear stems from not being able to read unspoken cues and body language.  I also have no concept of how to deal with office politics and the nonsense social games that many normals seem to fair well under.  I don’t understand office politics. And it has cost me several jobs over the years.  I have no desire to “man up” and go back to a regular job mainly because of office politics.  Personally, I hope that automation takes a lot of these jobs and people will have to find other ways to define themselves besides job titles and money.  I had to once it became painfully obvious that my hopes of a career were killed by my mental illness.  Adaptation is the best strategy in living rather than holding on to a past that isn’t coming back.  I’m not going to regain my ability to work a forty hour a week job and I have accepted that.  And I no longer feel shame when anyone tells me I’m making my problems up or that I’m not worthy of living because I don’t have some remedial and repetitive job that will probably be taken over by machines in not too many years.  I know what I have been thorough and have dealt with.  No one else has.  So these people can condemn all they want, but their condemnations mean nothing to me.

Lack of Activity in Winter with A Mental Illness

With the really cold weather I have had for the last several days, I rarely left my apartment between Christmas and New Year’s.  I started my car a few times and shoveled out the snow so I can now get out if necessary.  I’m going to have to get out within the next few days as I am running low on supplies and groceries.  Being shut up inside has made me a little restless and bored.  But it’s supposed to start warming up within a day or two.  Maybe I can get out more often now.  But it has been a lonely and tedious several days just staying home, watching football, and playing computer games.  I hope to have a new routine started soon.

Haven’t gotten to talk to anyone besides my parents and a couple close friends since Christmas.  I haven’t been on facebook much the last few months.  Seems to me even my friends are starting to avoid social media.  So much for reconnecting people.  It has been kind of a lonely go the last several days.  I did host Christmas but haven’t had guests since.

Even though mentally I have been stable for months, I don’t have much for enthusiasm in anything anymore.  I used to be able to spend hours on end reading online articles or wikipedia in addition to educational programs on youtube and curiosity stream.  I haven’t found much joy in these activities for a few weeks now.  Not sure what the issues are.  For all I know the reduction in doses of some of my psych meds could be the culprit.  I may not have the ups and downs, but I am also losing many of my interests.  I have also become quite lazy now, I’m embarrassed to admit.  I imagine it’s just a matter of readjusting and adapting in order to get my old interests back.  At least I haven’t lost my interests in writing.  I may not post as often as I used to but that is because I have less to report.  Most of this is from lack of flare ups and a lack of socializing.

Fortunately socializing doesn’t make me annoyed anymore.  Now I have the problem of being scared to socialize. I guess the hostility is being edged out by the old paranoia issues.  I am scared to socialize in most instances anymore besides with close friends and family members.  I am not as afraid to drive my car anymore.  I just don’t want to anymore.  Driving just seems kind of pointless anymore.  I haven’t really had much reason to laugh much lately.  I just don’t make a point to watch comedy shows as much as I should.  I just don’t make a point to watch much of anything anymore.  Been a few weeks since I watched anything on netflix and I haven’t done an audiobook for almost a month.  If it wasn’t for football for the last two weeks I wouldn’t have watched much of anything this winter.  And since I need less sleep than I used to, the days and nights seem to stretch out forever.  I hope the rest of winter isn’t this long or bleak.  I hope it warms up a little soon.  I’ve about hit my breaking point with having to stay inside all day because of the snow and cold.

End of 2017

Well, our civilization survived another trip around the mother star.  It was an interesting year to say the least, at least news wise.  For me, it was kind of a quiet year.  Other than one breakdown in the early fall, I have been very stable.  After twenty years of working with schizophrenia, some of the things I have to do to keep stable have become routine.  I have to be more careful than most people about who I associate with and what conversations I take part in.  I have been fortunate to have not had psychotic breakdowns in public.  I’m scared that if I ever did, I’d at very least end up in jail.  So I find myself isolating for much of the time.  It has to be a special occasion before I have guests in my apartment and even then it has to be a small and informal gathering.  Otherwise I couldn’t handle it.

It’s been very cold for the last week and a half.  I haven’t gone out much during this span.  So I have been content to stay home, watch some football, play some computer games, etc.  I have no plans for New Year’s Eve as it’s going to be too cold to go anywhere.  I am starting to get a little tired of always staying home because of the weather.  But it’s supposed to warm up some by the end of this week.

One problem I have faced the last several days is a lack of enthusiasm for much of anything.  It’s not that I am bored, it’s that I really don’t want to do much of anything.  I also now have the problem of not needing much sleep.  I’ve needed only five to six hours of sleep a day for the last two weeks.  I usually sleep from one a.m. to seven a.m. anymore.  But I have been stable enough for the last several months I’ve had some of my medications’ doses reduced.  Maybe that is why I don’t need as much sleep.  But I still can’t explain my lack of enthusiasm or lack of engagement.  I’m feeling unenthusiastic enough that I’m not doing a science and tech year in review post this year.  Besides, it isn’t like I got much of a response from those posts anyway.

I’m ending 2017 alone in my apartment simply because of the weather.  I just don’t want to go anywhere when it’s this cold.  It’s a good day to stay home and stay under the blankets with a cup of hot coffee.