Making and Losing Friends and Mental Illness

Keeping friends over the years while having schizophrenia has always been tough.  Even before I became mentally ill I had a hard time making friends.  But I am convinced that much of this was probably due to the environment I grew up in.  Most people in my hometown were farmers or cowboys.  I never did want to farm and the cowboy life never appealed to me.  So I guess by the time I went to college I was already behind my peers in terms of social skills.  Having schizophrenia hurt my social skills in that the illness could make me standoffish and not understanding normal people humor and activities.  I have always preferred reading and science pursuits over talking about sports, campus gossip, or whatever tv shows were trendy that season.  I am still this way.

As a result of my mental illness and the environment I grew up in, I never really did learn how to make friends easily.  I never did have normal interests so most of the friends I did make wouldn’t be considered normal either.  My best friend from college is a high school history teacher who is an avid sports fan.  He is also an avid reader of history, philosophy, economics, and classic literature.  Even though we haven’t been in college for over a dozen years, I still talk to him about once a week.  It’s not uncommon for our conversations to involve talking about baseball statistics, Austrian economics, medieval battle tactics, and the philosophy of Nietchze all in the same phone call.  He has never made an issue of me having a mental illness or not having traditional employment.  I don’t know if he regularly reads my blogs but he does think I’m doing a good thing with these writings.  He’s even suggested that it’s possible that if I keep writing, some big online blog service like Huffington Post or Breitbart might hire me.  A man can dream, right?  In short, friends like this don’t come along everyday and are worth holding onto.  My best friend from high school, she’s pretty much the same way.  Both of these people I may not get to see very often but I do keep in contact with.

Other people who I have friended over the years haven’t turned out so well.  I had one friend that I’ve been having a falling out with for months over aspects of my mental illness.  This former friend doesn’t seem to respect the fact that I don’t want to date.  I’ve dated before while working through a mental illness.  It sucks.  Dating is supposed to be enjoyable.  What I went through wasn’t.  As far as love goes, that’s what family is for.  As far as sex goes, well I’m not a dog in that I can’t live without sex.  Surprise, surprise; there are men who aren’t interested in having sex all the time.  And the older I get the less interest I have in sex.

This person also doesn’t respect the fact that I don’t hold a regular job.  First of all, when I did work a regular job, there were days I would have panic attacks while on the job and even before I went to work.  Many days these panic attacks were so bad I would vomit from the anxiety.  I would also get physically ill from the stress and anxiety I would feel at work with schizophrenia.  And dealing with office politics, well that was super stressful in itself.  In short, I never want to hold a regular job again considering all the problems it caused me.  I’ll go to prison before I go back to work.

So for any person to even infer that I’m wasting my life not being at some minimum wage drudgery that’s going to get automated in a few years anyway, well that’s not the kind of respect friends show for each other.  I can’t be friends with anyone who doesn’t respect me or my decisions.  And I especially can’t respect anyone who thinks I’m not “doing my part” or not “being a productive member of society” just because I don’t hold some nonsense job that a machine can do hundreds of times better.  Let the machines have all the damned jobs as far as I’m concerned.  I spent most of my life listening to people gripe and moan about how much they hated their jobs, as if it was an honor to hate your job, hate your boss, hate your coworkers, and hate your customers.  Any wonder why millions of American jobs got outsourced overseas?  After spending years fighting a mental illness and years trying to work in spite a mental illness, I don’t want to go back into the toxic work environment.  It wrecks havoc on my mental stability.  And if anyone can’t respect my decision, then screw them.  I don’t want people like that in my life.

 

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Random Thoughts on Holidays, Family, and Younger Generations

Been feeling quite stable the last several days.  I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were.  I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months.  I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year.  I see people are already putting up their decorations.  I haven’t decorated for holidays in years.  I just don’t see the need to.  I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online.  Thank God for amazon and the postal service.

I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games.  I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget.  I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money.  But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years.  Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday.  No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂

I have found myself eating less over the last week or so.  I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals.  Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me.  It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks.  I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.

As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving.  My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places.  It may be just myself this year again.  I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids.  I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on.  One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown.  Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought.  But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two.  A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.

Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends.  Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing.  I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down.  Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents.  I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties.  I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties.  I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school.  But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.

I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older.  I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago.  We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright.  Ease off.”  If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me.  I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts.  And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that.  It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth.  It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness.  But that is a topic for another place and time.

Amazing Advances In Science, Medicine, Technology, and Humanitarian Efforts in 2016

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I’m compiling a series of lists, and providing links, to show what we as humans have accomplished in this the year 2016.  If you are anything like me, you are probably tired of hearing only politics in your news feeds.  Who decided that politics were the only bits of news that were fit to print?  That must have been yet another memo I missed while growing up.  This is meant to only be for illustrating purposes and by no means meant to be a complete and definitive list.  As of this writing, we still have two and a half months left in this year.

A few items that caught my attention from an article on listverse.com, 1) SpaceX vertically landed several rockets, 2) brain implants have allowed a quadriplegic to move his fingers, 3) stem cell therapies have allowed stroke victims to walk again,  4)scientists have discovered how to turn captured carbon dioxide emissions into stone, and  5) extremely long term data storage methods have been discovered.

6) Heat resistant ceramics can now be 3 D printed, 7) an enzyme that prevents sugar being stored as fat was discovered by scientists at the University of Montreal, 8) light activated nanoparticles at are able to kill anti biotic resistant bacteria was demonstrated at the University of Colorado, 9) scientists have shown that graphene can be safely used on neurons, which could lead to better brain implants, 10), scientists have proven T-cells can be used to treat cancer.  This short list was provided courtesy of hrl.com, eurekalert.org, colorado.edu, phys.org, and sciencealert.com.

11)  Scientists in United Kingdom have been given approval by regulators to modify human embryos using techniques such as CRISPR-Cas9, 12) Scientists in Germany have made breakthroughs in fusion energy generation, 13) Stem cell therapy reverses age related osteoporosis in mice, 14) scientists in Germany have determined certain mutated genes can safeguard against heart attacks, 15) Renewable energy surges to record levels around the world.

I’m trying to cut this list short.  I plan on making several entries to this blog like this between now and the end of the year.  Unlike some of my previous blog entries, I am providing links to the articles announcing these breakthroughs. What I have wrote has been made possible by google searches and wikipedia links to original articles.

 

 

 

It Pays To Stay Silent Sometimes

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I’ve been having problems with trolls on my personal accounts the last few days.  I don’t understand why complete strangers act as if it’s their God given responsibility to harass and torment people they don’t agree with.  It got especially bad last night when I was talking with an old friend of mine and I was getting trolled by one of her friends just because we didn’t agree on some things.  Can’t even have a conversation with a friend without being harassed it seems.

Anyway last night, mainly out of frustration and depression, I wrote an anger laced blog entry but fortunately thought better of posting it.  Once I got that depression out of my system I decided I wouldn’t post the entry.  I learned about this strategy years ago from an old Dale Carnegie book.  I was angry and hurt but posting that entry probably would have made things worse.  I got my words out of my system, spoke until I had peace, and then trashed the entry so I couldn’t post it.

With a mental illness feelings of anger, sadness, and anxiety are going to be stronger than the general population.  I have to remind myself of this on a daily basis.  Some things that other people may forget about after a few minutes I’ll agonize over sometimes for hours.  I have also been known to remember slights and hold grudges for years.  I’m sorry for this.  It is one of the curses of having a good mind and a mental illness at the same time.

In short, having feelings of frustration and depression is part of having a mental illness.  Sometimes a person needs to vent.  One of those ways is to write it down long handed and then trash the notes.  Another is through counseling where you vent to the counselor.  They are trained to deal with strong and unpleasant emotions, far more so than average people.  By writing down your feelings and fears or talking about them with a professional counselor is a safety valve way of expressing your feelings with as little damage as possible.  Harsh and unkind words cannot be unspoken and anything written on the internet is practically irreversible.

 

Taking Care of Physical Health With Mental Illness

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Took some time today to take care of my physical health by going to the dentist for my annual check up.  Had no cavities or problems besides one of my older fillings needing replaced.  I’ll get that done in a couple weeks.  Everything checked out fine at the dentist.  I wasn’t expecting any problems as I don’t eat much for sugary food anymore.  Anytime I drink soda pop it’s sugarless soda anymore.  It does feel good to have that taken care of for another year.

I haven’t been eating nearly as much these last two months.  I especially haven’t eaten much this month.  I usually eat only two meals a day and it’s mainly because I’m just not that hungry.  I’ve noticed my food cravings really went down once I started taking a daily multi vitamin.

Mentally I’m feeling pretty stable.  I occasionally feel short periods of anxiety and irritability.  These usually happen shortly after I wake up.  I’ve traditionally done better at night than day.  I don’t take my anti anxiety medication anymore.  Just haven’t needed it lately.

I’m exercising and getting outside some everyday.  It helps that the weather is cooling off. Hopefully I can get a few more weeks of outdoor activity in before the cold weather hits.

 

 

I’ve Lost Interest In Politics but Gained Interest In Science

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I must be the only man in America who won’t be watching the Presidential Debates tonight.  I’ve had my fill of politics months ago.  I am so tired and frustrated how hateful and divided politics has become.  I can’t even talk about politics with close friends and family any more without feeling frustration.  But politics and sports are all many people I know want to talk about anymore.  There is a lot more going on in the real world than politics and sports.  But it’s the abnormal that gets the most attention.  Few people can throw a football 80 yards or charm thousands of people in a speech.

I readily admit I do not understand neurotypical thinking.  I have spent years trying to figure the average people out and have even point blank asked people why they think the way that they do.  Alas, I haven’t gotten any concrete answers or come to any real conclusions.  I definitely believe the Tommy Lee Jones line from ‘Men In Black’ when he said, “The individual is smart but people are dumb and panicky animals.”  I see this everyday.  I do much better dealing with only one or two people at a time rather than trying to deal with crowds.  I don’t understand why for the last year and a half about all I see on my newsfeed and friends’ Facebook comments have to do with politics.  Some pretty cool stuff has happened in other fields just in that time, namely in science and technology.  But no one likes to discuss any of that.  About the only people I can discuss science with are my parents who had extensive science backgrounds because of working in the medical fields.  Even then I am convinced they don’t like discussing science that much and do it just to humor me.

I have always been interested in science and technology.  I pursued a career in medical research until it became painfully obvious that my mental illness wouldn’t allow me to continue this path.  It helped that I had some good science teachers in school that were willing to put up with my endless questions.  But after spending over a dozen years in the adult world, I painfully realized that most people didn’t have that luxury.  Most people do not see the beauty and wonder of science and the natural world.  I think that if people like this were to take a few evenings to watch some presentations by the late Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku on youtube instead of whatever sports ball game or political news is trending this week, we’d have a much more informed and enthusiastic populace.  We’d also have more interesting people too.  And isn’t being interesting a worthy goal?

Since the fall of communism and the rise of information tech in the early 1990s, we have lived in some really interesting times.  It seems hardly a week goes by anymore that some breakthrough is happening.  Sadly, most people I associate with on a daily basis are blind to these wonders.  And it seems that the few that are paying attention are worried about some dystopian future.  Personally I am very angry with Hollywood and popular culture for selling people these horrible visions of the future.  Visions like that are intellectually lazy and probably dishonest. And it’s not like there isn’t a market for good science fiction that shows a possibly cool future.  Star Trek has been around for fifty years and is going as strong as ever.  People are worried about machines that have no empathy or compassion?  Please, most people I know lack empathy and compassion and our world still works.

I guess in my ranting frustration I have to take heart in the fact that the entire world doesn’t have to be inventors or scientists or artists or humanitarians.  The politicians, freaks, cranks, and creeps may get the lion’s share of the attention from the media.  But it’s the scientists, engineers, health care workers, artists, humanitarians, and incurable dreamers that make living better and more meaningful.  I end this article with a few thoughts from the late Buckminster Fuller about how it often doesn’t take a great multitude or following the crowd to make a positive difference. buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough

Calmness and Routines With Mental Illness

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It’s been a pretty quiet last several days for me.  I haven’t been having much for depression and anxiety.  I admit to not getting out of my complex much for the last week or so.  Need to run some errands but I have been putting them off.  While I haven’t been suffering from depression or delusions lately, I also haven’t felt much need to leave my apartment complex this week.  I did spend some time outside this morning cleaning out my car and just enjoying the early fall.  The leaves are starting to turn even though it’s been warmer than normal for a week.  Sometimes no news is good news.

I see my psych doctor next week.  Things are going alright mentally so I don’t see much need to change anything medication wise.  I haven’t been taking the anti anxiety medication regularly for a few weeks.  I might even be able to go off the anti anxiety medication entirely.  I have made it through the traditionally worst parts of the year for myself.

October is usually a good time of year for me.  The weather is cooling off, football is in full effect, playoff baseball is going on, and I have always liked Halloween.  Some years I volunteer to hand out candy to kids that come to our complex.  We don’t let the kids go from room to room, so we just give them candy at the main entrance.  I think I’ll volunteer for it again this year.

Things have been going quite well for me.  I have taken steps to lower anxiety and stress in my life during the last few weeks.  I meditate some every day.  I am taking a daily multi vitamin.  I avoid stressful and irritable people.  I keep in contact with friends and family.  I don’t watch the cable news and have edited my news settings on my internet to where I don’t get much for bad news.  I don’t think I need to know and worry about every travesty and tragedy that goes on.  I also don’t think modern times are more violent and immoral, they’re merely more televised.  If it’s not happening locally I try not to worry about it as there really isn’t much I can do about things happening halfway across the world.

All in all things have settled down and stabilized during the last few weeks.  I feel mentally stable and content.  It’s been going well and I see no reason for things to not continue to go well.