September 18 2021

Last weekend of summer is officially here. I turned on my furnace for the first time a few days ago. It get chilly at night now. Corn harvest is beginning. It will be in full effect in a week or two.

Been having more aches and pains these last few days. Probably the constant change in weather. I’ve noticed I’ve been eating less the last few weeks. My clothes are looser now and I am a lot more flexible than even last spring. I’ve been having issues with bad sleep. I’ll fall asleep but won’t stay asleep for long. I usually get my best sleep now after 5 am. For most of the summer I woke at sunrise. I no longer keep a clock in my home as I have my phone, computer, and game console for that.

I like fall. It’s my second favorite season behind spring. I love being able to climb out of bed on Saturdays and catch college football games all day. Baseball playoffs will be starting in a couple weeks. Basketball and Hockey will be starting soon. I’m glad baseball season was able to go with fewer problems from covid than I thought. I still remember last year when most games were played in empty arenas. It not only wasn’t the same, it was eerie. So glad I got vaccinated a few months ago. I got the Johnson and Johnson one shot and done deal.

Been having issues with congestion in my lungs and throat. The throat congestion clears with a sip or two of apple cider vinegar. I usually mix it with a cup of water as it has a very strong bad taste and can be rough on my stomach. I think apple cider vinegar helps with lots of things, but I certainly don’t recommend it without a cup of water or tea. I still have my senses of taste and smell. When I do cough, I cough up gunk and not dry coughs. So I doubt it’s covid. Besides, the congestion, aches, and insomnia are the only issues I’ve had lately.

When I do have guests, I wear a face mask. The only regular guest I have is my cleaning lady once a week. It feels good to get my place scrubbed down and she doesn’t mind my conversation. While she works, I usually read science and news journals. I’m particularly fond of the free versions of the Washington Post, Financial Times, and FutureTimeline.net

Looks like another summer has come and passed. I’m ready for some autumn again..

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.

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.

The Reality of Mental Illness

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression when I was 20 years old. I was covered under my parents’ insurance plan for psych meds. At the age of 25 I applied for social security disability insurance because I was no longer covered under my parents’ insurance and it was painfully obvious I couldn’t handle the anxiety of jobs available (i.e. retail and customer service jobs). My psych meds, without insurance, were $2,000 a month in 2006. To offset this, my parents bought a high risk health insurance policy for me that, to this day, they still refuse to tell me how much it cost them. I didn’t qualify for social security disability insurance until late 2008.

To avoid getting thrown out of the system, I couldn’t make more then $700 a month (after taxes) at any job. I had a janitorial job for a few years that I did well in because I wasn’t around people most of the time. After four years on the job, I finally did the math and figured out that for every one dollar I made in work, I lost 72 cents via increased rent (I live in low income housing), decreased benefits, and taxes. I finally gave up on the job because there was no incentive to keep working at what was effectively a 72 percent tax on a minimum wage job.

I am now 40 years old. Haven’t held a traditional job for eight years due to loss in benefits. I still need the psych meds every day or I would be homeless, in prison, or dead. We don’t even have long term mental health hospitals in large numbers anymore in the US. And if I want to save money in case of emergencies, I’d lose benefits if I ever had more than $3,000 in savings. This is all for a chronic mental illness that I didn’t bring upon myself. I was an honor student in high school who qualified for a $5,000 a year scholarship for college. I was studying to get into medical school. Lost most of my friends, most of my support group, any chance at a family, any shot at a career, etc. so I could keep the insurance for psych meds and treatments that would now, in 2021, cost $4,000 a month. And I receive zero dollars in food stamps. The support of my understanding and upper middle class family during the two plus years I was waiting for disability to get approved (which was faster than normal because we hired an attorney) is the only thing keeping from going bankrupt and homeless. So my case with severe mental illness is actually better than most people in the US. As it is I live on my own in low income housing in a small town in the Midwest and can live independently off my disability pension because I have no debt. Most people in my circumstances are far worse off.

Emerging From Self Imposed Quarantine

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Updates are in order. Got my covid vaccine two weeks ago. So I’m more comfortable hosting guests in my apartment. My neighbor drops in usually every afternoon and we chat each other up. Found out a few of our tenants might have to leave from getting behind on rent. I’m glad that’s one thing I never did no matter how financially stressed I became. Granted, living in adjustable rate low income housing is a bonus.

I’m still mentally stable. I usually go to bed at 11pm and usually wake up for good at sunrise. Been watching alot of science and tech talks on youtube the last few weeks. I have gone easy on the audiobooks for the last couple weeks. I do read alot of articles online from many different sources. The information to be well informed is out there even if I have to spend some time looking for it.

Diet wise, I usually eat only twice a day. My biggest meal is always lunch. I found if I eat a protein rich lunch at 11am, I’m usually good to go until having a smaller meal at 5pm. I almost never eat sugar or carb rich food. Sugar can make me feel lethargic and irritable. As much as I love coffee, I limit myself to only one cup per day. Too much caffeine can make me irritable and short tempered. The only time I eat fast food is when I have family as guests. Fast food no longer agrees with me. It just makes me sluggish and gives me upset stomach. But stomach problems run in my family. My grandma had Chron’s Disease and both my mom and one of my aunts have stomach problems.

I don’t spend much time on facebook these days besides socializing with close friends and a couple cousins. It’s best if I don’t just scroll all evening. I think more people are learning to balance it as opposed to a few years ago.

I leave my windows open all the time unless we’re getting heavy rain or wind. I still wake up kind of chilly in the morning. But it is good sleep weather.

I’m Lonely But I Fear People

I find myself wanting to avoid in person contact most of the time. Yet I still have a strong desire to socialize. I don’t socialize in person much partly because I know only two people in my entire apartment complex who share any of my interests. Sure my neighbor is cool and we help each other out a good deal, but we don’t have much in common interests. It is lonely not having anyone nearby to talk about things like history, philosophy, psychology, literature, tech, science, economics, etc. Social media used to be good for that before it became a toxic cesspool. Social media was fun until about ten years ago. It got real ugly in 2015 and 2016, a time when I was already having lots of personal problems. From October 2014 to October 2015, my three best friends in this complex died, my grandmother died, I had my car accident, and had falling outs with several friends and family members. In short I got tired of hearing negative crap about politics all the time. And I even agreed with some of these people, but they were still toxic about their beliefs. I confronted a few about their toxic behavior. Every one of them told me I could go away if I didn’t like it. I did go away. I have stayed away. I won’t even go to family functions and class reunions anymore. One of my college friends I haven’t talked to in almost seven years. It’s so sad and frustrating I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s sad that many people care more about politics than family, work, religion, and even life itself. I want no part of that.

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.

Mid Winter 2021

I’m still staying close to home most of the time. I still spend a good chunk of my time listening to audiobooks. Saw the first two seasons of Black Mirror over the last week. Quite chilling about how bad people can abuse some of these newer techs.

I have been more aches and pains the last couple weeks. But they are usually worse in cold weather anyway. We’re supposed to get a real bad cold spell in a couple days that could last a week. So I won’t be going anywhere unless I have to.

Mentally been having minor flare ups again. Fortunately they don’t last long. I can weather them better when I am alone. Sometimes takes several minutes to get through them. But I make a point to avoid people during these episodes. I won’t even answer the phone or the door if they are bad enough.

I still keep in contact with friends and family several times a week. They are ready for this pandemic to be over too. My friend in Denver is planning on moving out of the city as soon as she can afford some rural property. Says things have gotten real bad in the cities, especially in the last year.

Too Bad I Don’t Get Paid To Learn or My Path To Becoming An Independent Scholar

I’ve been enjoying the cooler fall weather and the changing leaves. Been having bouts of depression the last few days. They clear up after some good conversation with old friends and family. I think the loneliness of the pandemic is starting to get the best of me. I’m too paranoid to socialize in person much as most people I know won’t wear face masks. And with flu season starting in only a few weeks, this could be a really rough winter. I’m prepared to hunker down and stay home for a real long time if needed, at least in terms of supplies. I’m not so sure about the mental part of it.

I’ve been having more time to think during this pandemic. Been reflecting on my past and growing up. When I was a kid, some of my happiest memories were being alone and exploring our large back yard and letting my mind wander. I’d often make up stories and keep these story lines going for months at a time. I never did write any of them down and have forgotten most over the years. I kept a journal one summer while in junior high, at least until my brother stole it and mocked me for some of my writings. He and some of the neighborhood kids used to spy on me when I paced the backyard too. Hurt really bad to have my privacy violated like that. I didn’t realize I was good at writing and story telling until I was almost done with college.

I graduated college with a business degree. I originally started as a pre medicine major with the idea I would get a job in a research lab eventually. While I was really interested in biology, palentology, and chemistry as a kid, I was also really interested in history and literature. I didn’t consider studying history or english in college because I heard the horror stories about arts and humanities students finding only minimum wage jobs after graduation. I only studied business because I got a D in organic chemistry, which destroyed my chances for graduate school. I also didn’t know much about business or money besides how to balance a checkbook. And since money involves everything, I thought business might lead to a career once I finished college. I really enjoyed the economics, finance, and investing classes. I didn’t enjoy the accounting classes. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business and no idea what I was going to do with it.

After graduation I worked a couple retail sales jobs as that was all that I had available to me. Even while working those jobs, I used to get anxiety real bad about working. I used to vomit before work most days because of the anxiety. I later got a job as a graduate assistant while I was working on my masters’ in economics. That job, while really enjoyable, lasted only a few months because I couldn’t make grades. I also don’t think my bosses or coworkers liked me.

After I qualified for disability insurance a few years later, I finally had a safety net. I worked part time for a few years as a janitor at the county courthouse. After a few years of that, I decided to take “early retirement” and finally do what I wanted for the first time in my life. I devoted my life to studying, reading, writing, etc. And I have never been happier. I may not make much money and I probably never will. But I’m good with that. I never had the kind of ego that needed lots of money, a prestigious job, a big house, a wife and kids, etc. I guess I just wanted to be an independent scholar. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties I got to realize this dream that I was too scared to admit to anyone, even myself.

I love learning. I always have. Even being the odd kid in my school who loved learning and was too stubborn to hide it, it was never beaten out of me. I guess I was fortunate that, even though I got lots of garbage from classmates for being too smart, most of my teachers didn’t discourage my thirst for knowledge and wisdom. I even had a few who encouraged me and loved me for being eccentric. And I found even more teachers like that in college. I also met kids who loved learning even more than I did. It was amazing. It’s tragic that most kids have that God given love of learning beaten out of them at such an early age. I don’t know why I never lost that love. I’m just grateful that I never did.