Late summers have traditionally been a tough time for me dealing with mental illness. I usually have to be real careful from late July to early September. So far this year has been different. It could be due to reducing my stress levels and avoiding stressful people and places. It could be due to the medication changes I made a few months ago. And it could be due to changes in my diet. I now don’t eat much wheat or anything that’ll upset my stomach. I have found that I feel better on days I don’t eat bread than on days I do. I have had stomach problems in the past. Stomach issues aren’t uncommon in people with depression and mental health issues. I pretty much limit myself to lots of protein and vegetables anymore. About the only grains I eat on a regular basis anymore are rice based foods. Rice seems to be easier on me than wheat and other grains.
When I do go to restaurants I don’t order things like french fries or most other fried foods. I do occasionally treat myself to chicken strips at KFC. I have pretty much also cut out sugar too. When I do crave caffeine, I usually opt for green tea, coffee, or diet soda. I notice I’m less irritable on days I limit sugar consumption. Easing back on the caffeine was tough the first several days as I would occasionally sleep more than I would like and sometimes experience slight headaches once a day. But I think I have gotten past the worst of the caffeine withdrawal. I used to drink four to six cups of coffee a day, certainly not healthy when dealing with mental health problems.
I have found myself eating more vegetables than usual. Even when I order delivery pizza, I make it a point to get the mostly vegetable pizzas. I don’t feel as weighed down and bloated after a few slices of vegetable pizza as compared to the all meats or cheeses pizzas. Since I’m on a limited budget I have to be careful about buying fresh vegetables that won’t spoil within a couple days. So I usually eat a can of vegetables every days, usually green peas or green beans. I have had some good sweet corn, a Midwest late summer tradition. When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have sweet corn with dinner three nights a week during the month of August. Most of our meals during late summer involved locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes from our garden, and bacon sandwiches. My parents have introduced my nephews and niece to this August tradition too, even though it will be another few years before the kids develop a taste for tomatoes.
Overall I have felt really decent this summer. I don’t have much drama to report. I’m glad that the push for the playoffs in baseball is starting. I’m also looking forward to the start of football season here in the US in a few weeks. Fall practice has already begun and school will be starting again in a few days. I saw that many countries started their soccer seasons this weekend. I have made a habit of following the US national team since the last World Cup. I hope we make it to the next one coming up in 2018. Since the World Cup will be hosted by Russia next summer, I imagine I’ll be watching soccer at a lot of odd hours to adjust for the time differences. I have kind of gotten into soccer as I have two nephews and a niece who play the game. Even as a kid I was a slow runner but didn’t mind getting hit or hitting others. So that’s why I played football in high school. So that’s why I still watch football in the falls. But we have made it through the long stretch of summer and fall will be here soon. It helps that it has been cooler than usual the last several days in my part of the US. Makes me hopeful for fall and the return of cooler weather.
I’ve been on this new medication routines for two weeks. I’m noticing improvements. I don’t feel very depressed or paranoid anymore. In addition to a new medication routine, I’m also taking multivitamins and probiotics. I’m noticing that I have less unexplainable aches and pains. I am sleeping less than I was previously. I now average 8 to 9 hours a night whereas during the winter and spring I got almost 12 hours a night. Mentally I’m feeling more stable. Physically I’m feeling more energetic and getting a little more active with each passing day. I get out and socialize a little every day, even if it’s just when I go check my mail or go to the vending machine. Overall I’m feeling better than my usual summer fare.
Summer came a little early this year as it got real hot in early June and stayed that way for two weeks. Unfortunately my air conditioner broke down on me. So I’ve been using lots of fans and a window air conditioner unit for two weeks now. The repair man said I needed a new unit as the old one was over thirty years old. That’s supposed to be getting done within the next day or two.
Have dined out only once in the last week. For awhile when I was really depressed and paranoid, I didn’t do much grocery shopping and ate fast food at least once a day. It’s no wonder I was feeling sluggish and lethargic. Since I quit eating out every day, I’ve noticed I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains and I have more energy and actually want to be active. I’m also severely cutting back on sugar. I no longer drink sugared soda pop and I haven’t had candy bars or ice cream in months. I may not be losing weight as fast I would like, but I definitely feel better overall. And it’s all because of a few minor changes in medication routine and diet.
Knee pains have finally passed. Felt good enough to go out and buy groceries this morning. So I’m set for another couple weeks. I was getting tired of having to eat out and do drive thru because of my bad knee. I can tell that when I eat fast food regularly my physical and mental health suffer some. Also started taking some multi vitamin pills a few days ago. That seems to help with some lingering pain. Makes me feel a little more energetic.
I’m back to where I’m not sleeping as much as I did over the winter and spring. Maybe it’s the longer daylight hours. Maybe losing a few pounds has helped with my sleep patterns. I still can’t walk as far as I could even two years ago. But I think if I keep doing the two high protein meals a day, avoid sugar as much as possible, and keep drinking lots of water I can get back into better health.
Since I’m not experiencing knee pains anymore, my mood has improved. I’m not as depressed as I once was. I’m getting out of my apartment more. I’m breaking up some of my in home routines. I’m trying out some new computer games I bought a few months ago I only dabbled in. I guess I finally got burned out on Civilization, Sim City, and Skyrim. I still read a lot, granted mostly online articles, blogs, and science journals. I trying to get back into more contact with old friends. And I want to bring some old friends back into the fold I lost contact with over the last few years.
Next week is my birthday. I’ll be 37 years old. Mentally I’m more sharp than ever and the mental illness doesn’t have the ups and downs it used to. Physically I don’t have the endurance I did even a few years ago. I get unexplainable aches and pains more often. I wake up more in the middle of the night. I’m even more cold sensitive then I used to be. Being a fat man, I could easily go through much of a fall or even winter with just a light jacket unless it was blizzard conditions. Finding that I can’t do that as well anymore. I have found that I am sometimes more set in my ways than I would like. I tend to shop in the same stores, eat in the same four or five restaurants, eat the same things all the time, watch similar types of shows on youtube and netflix, etc. At least I haven’t yet gotten to where I’m complaining about the kids all the time. I remember what it was like being ragged on by my elders all the time when I was growing up. I hated it then and I still hate it when people in my age bracket rag on their kids. I just hope that as I age and my physical health starts to decline even more that I don’t become one of these bitter and angry old men I see too much of. I hope I can be an encouragement to people to all ages. I just want my little corner of the world to be a better place because I was alive.
I’m glad that spring is finally back. I’ve been getting outside a little more often, I’m keeping my place a little cleaner, I’m watching baseball most nights, and I’m even eating less too. I’m still not as physically active as I would like but I think it’s starting to come back. After my car accident in October 2015 I gained back most of the weight I had lost in the previous two years. I think I’m finally back on the right track. Since I still don’t have a great deal of stamina yet, I’m cutting back on calories as much as I can. This means I’m giving up most sugar and eating meat only once a day. I am also doing my best to avoid fried foods. After several weeks of eating less than usual, I think I’m in a new routine. I can’t even eat as much as I could last summer. One of my problems was, after my accident, I got depressed and lost much of my confidence. From there I just got lazy and ate a lot. I have made efforts over the last several weeks to break out of this vicious cycle. And I think I’m starting to see results.
I’ve also noticed my habits are getting better too. During the winter I had gotten kind of lazy about shaving and cleaning up as there were entire days I didn’t leave my apartment complex. I’m back into good habits like these again. I would hate to think I let my personal appearance slide just because I was depressed by lousy weather. But mental illness can do odd things to a person.
I’m starting to socialize some again. Not so much with my neighbors as I am family and old friends. I still don’t enjoy the fact that many of my neighbors are grumpy and irritable most of the time. I have been around that kind of negativity for years and I don’t want it dragging me down. I spent enough of my life being depressed, irritable, and a pessimist. I just don’t want that anymore.
I have not had my typical summer experience this year. After hurting my back I couldn’t exercise for six weeks. I couldn’t even sleep in a regular bed for almost two months. I didn’t travel anywhere for the first month of summer because I’d get back pain even from driving. I still haven’t been outside of my hometown much this summer. I plan on spending a weekend in the middle of August at the family acreage so I can watch the late summer meteor showers. That has become kind of a tradition for me for the last several years. I really haven’t done much in terms of fun activities and socializing this summer. And it was mainly due to hurting my back at the start of the season.
I finally built up enough stamina to get a good exercise in the park done. I went on one of the hiking trails for awhile. Hopefully I can get some good exercise in so I can build back my stamina by the time the weather cools off for autumn. I am so far behind and I’m sure I gained weight during this six weeks of forced inactivity.
Had my twice monthly therapy session this morning. It doesn’t really feel like stereotypical therapy as I’m not lying on a couch and confessing my darkest fears and thoughts to a Sigmund Freud look alike. It kind of feels like I’m talking to an old friend as far as therapy goes. I know it’s his job to listen and offer feedback as necessary so I know he’s not a traditional friend. But I do consider him a rent a friend. I haven’t been feeling really depressed or agitated for over two weeks. I think it helps that I’m not drinking as much caffeine anymore and I have somewhat of a more healthy diet. Forcing myself to get out of the apartment and get even twenty minutes of sunshine and a few minutes of walking isn’t hurting either.
Talked to my landlady this afternoon. The request for my new carpet has been approved. She also wants to repaint my walls and even replace my stove. So I’ll probably have to vacate my apartment for a few days just to let them work without me being in the way. Kind of tough to believe I’ve lived in the same apartment for ten years. I lived in the same house for the first nineteen years of my life, but I changed bedrooms a couple times in that span. I have lived in this apartment longer than anywhere besides my childhood house. Barring any major holdups I’ll have new carpet, new wall paint, and a new stove by the end of the month.
I’m back to exercising again. I’m back to feeling less depressed and aggravated. I’m getting my apartment remodeled. My insurance case from last year’s auto accident is all but settled. I’m even losing my slight phobia of driving. It’s as if a bunch of unresolved issues in my life are begin resolved all at once. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
The road to the life of our dreams is seldom a straight and smooth one. I admit I don’t remind myself of that enough. But life is mainly about how many times you get up after being knocked down. I have been knocked down quite a bit in the last several months as my previous posts have shown. But I have to keep getting up and moving forward. Yes I lost a grandmother who was one of my closest confidants. Yes my back got messed up in a car accident. Yes I got lazy about losing weight and gained much of the weight I lost. Yes I had difficulties and relapses with my schizophrenia. Yes I became lazy in my social life. Yes I developed a negative attitude about many things. Yes I became depressed and lazy in my personal habits. It’s all true.
But that does not define me any longer. I won’t allow it to define me. I do have problems I’ve been dealing with. But I will solve them and keep moving forward. I have solved problems in the past and I will solve my problems again. No I may not make my goal of being at my high school weight within the time frame I set for myself two years ago. But I won’t give up on pursuing that goal. No I haven’t been able to exercise for two weeks because of my bad back. Yes I made excuses not to exercise because the weather was lousy this spring. Yes I lost a lot of my social safety net when I became paranoid and thought I could do all things on my own. But that is changing starting here and now. I am not going to go out without a fight. I am not giving up on improving my health. I lost seventy pounds in a little over a year only to gain at least forty pounds back in a year. But I am stopping the bleeding. I lost weight before and I will do it again. I had good mental health before and I can gain it back even with a mental illness. I have had good friends and lots of acquaintances before and I will have them again. It starts here and now. It starts today. I am no longer going to be my past failures. I have been through difficulties, some beyond my control and some even self inflicted. I am going to be better all around. And the road to the stars for me restarts here and now.
Saw my psych doctor a few days ago. We agreed that a change in medications is in order. Neither one of us think the meds I was on for the last two years are as effective as they once were. He had me do a DNA cheek swab to be tested to see what medications would be effective given my DNA. The results will be in probably by the time I see him again in two weeks. The tests may not be perfect but they should give us a better idea of what will and won’t work. But these tests weren’t even around when I was diagnosed fifteen years ago. For most of my illness we were merely throwing darts in the dark hoping to hit on something that would work. We were just guessing, especially in the first year. For now I am starting the process of switching back to one of my previous medications. I was on that med for several years but wanted to switch because it was known to promote weight gain. But it sure was effective. It’s too bad I let the side effects sabotage my previous attempts at weight loss. Looking back, I think I used the side effect as an excuse not to be serious about my health.
In spite my recent mental health problems I managed to lose over twelve pounds in the first month of tracking my eating and exercising. I’m seeing now that keeping track of what I eat is the difference between losing weight and gaining weight. I was simply unaware of how much I really ate when I wasn’t tracking. I am one of these people who would sometime eat just out of boredom. But that has changed. For my diet I cook almost all of my meals and I severely limit carbs. I don’t even keep bread in the apartment anymore, haven’t for almost six months. The weight loss has been the bright spot of this last month. And I haven’t been crazy about my exercising. I usually just walk twenty minutes a day probably five or six days a week. I intend to keep this up even while changing medications.