What If Our Favorite Fictional Characters Aged and/or Kept Up With The Times

 

I’m going to take a break from my regular writings and post something just for fun this time.  I always wondered what would happen if cartoon characters aged.  So I’m just going to do some speculating and take a few wild guesses.  Here goes:

1) The ‘Peanuts’ characters would all be grandparents by now.  Snoopy would definitely be dead, but his descendants would still be acting like flying aces, except the doghouses would be probably F-14 Tomcats in Operation Desert Storm instead of Sopwith Camels in World War I.  Charlie Brown’s grandson probably wouldn’t be as wishy-washy as Charlie Brown would have no doubt married Lucy or Peppermint Patty.  About the only difference would be Charlie Brown the third would be able to kick a football.  

2) In Looney Tunes, Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam would probably be in jail for hunting endangered species like talking rabbits and Tasmanian Devils.  In the Road Runner and Coyote, the Coyote would probably be using Acme Predator Drones to try and catch the Road Runner.  Sadly, Foghorn Leghorn would probably be living on a factory farm in a small cage.

3) In ‘Superman’, Clark Kent/Superman would have recently celebrated his 100th birthday and probably have a 75th anniversary party with Lois Lane.

4) In ‘Batman’, Bruce Wayne would probably be long since retired.  The Joker and Riddler would have long since been given life sentences in prison.  And Bruce Wayne would probably be a trillionaire by now.  With inflation being what it is, a single billionaire won’t go as far as he could fifty to sixty years ago.

5) ‘Sherlock Holmes’ would no doubt be much like modern day CSI shows.  But he’d still be on Scotland Yard’s hit list even in 2014.

6) In ‘The Simpsons’, Bart and Lisa would be in their early to mid thirties.  Bart would probably be finishing up a five to ten year stint in Springfield State Prison or beginning a career in politics.  Lisa would probably have 2 or 3 PhD’s and well on to a Nobel Prize winning career. 

7) The ‘South Park’ kids would be in their mid 20s.  Stan would go on to be a star college quarterback and married to Wendy Testaburger.  Kyle would probably have become a lawyer.  Cartman would probably be in prison or running ponzi schemes.  Kenny would have either gotten out of poverty or died for the 500th time.

8) Futurama hasn’t happened yet as it takes place in the 31st century.  So it could face the most changes of any cartoon between now and the year 3000.

This list was only meant for fun.  I’m sure I’ve forgotten many other popular cartoons or fictional characters.  I hope it was enjoyed.

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Social Mistakes

We’ve all had those times when we committed ‘social mistakes.’  These are also called ‘faux paus’ and ‘social gaffes.’  It can be that moment when someone takes what we’ve said wrong.  It can also be that moment when we said something without completely thinking through the consequences.  It is also that moment when we fail to properly acknowledge our thanks and appreciation for what someone close to us means to us (think the spouse who forgets an anniversary or the boss who doesn’t always acknowledge the hard work his/her employees put in everyday).  We often do these without thinking or intending any harm.

For those of us with mental health differences from the ‘norm’, socializing can be really tough and even daunting.  This is often because we don’t always pick up on social ques such as body language, inflection and tone of voice, or are as aware of social situations as the ‘chronic normal’ or neurotypical people do with such seeming ease.  I have committed numerous social mistakes over the years without even knowing what I was doing.  I have lost friendships, alienated myself from coworkers and bosses, thought things about others that were not true, and made myself to look like a fool many times as I had no awareness of social rules and norms that I was breaking.

I never broke these norms or unspoken rules just to make life difficult for myself or others.  I was simply unaware of the boundaries I was crossing.  Maybe these boundaries are always known for most people, but I never picked up on them to a degree to make myself an extrovert.  As the years went by and I was committing more and more social mistakes, with the price of such social mistakes going higher and higher as I became an adult, I had no idea why I was offending people that I had no intention of offending.  I had no idea why I was reading people wrong.  I had no idea why I wasn’t advancing in my former work or why I wasn’t making lots of friends.  The reason was, because of my mental health issues, I simply was missing many unspoken and unconscious social signals that most people take for granted as being ingrained from birth.  I didn’t understand how the social game was played by everyone else.  I still don’t to a degree.

As I was losing ground socially, I gradually withdrew from most people and most social situations.  That was a mistake.  I thought that people simply didn’t me because I was different from everyone else.  That was not only part of my natural paranoia, but also because I hadn’t sufficiently learned to socialize on a level where most people could.  What resulted from me isolating with the exception of family and close friends was my not learning the social skills that are needed to adequately socialize as an adult.  So I was falling even more behind than I normally would have had I ignored my paranoia and kept socializing.

I have now had an official diagnosis for over thirteen years.  I have made many mistakes in my life with the diagnosis and being different than most people.  I have, and continue to, pay for the mistakes I have made socially.  Yet I am optimistic about right now and the future. I know the mistakes I have made as I have made them plenty of times.  I can now advance in my life and see what’s next to be learned.  If I, or anyone else, had everything learned and completely figured out, then there would be no point to keep going and striving.  

Goals, Past Regrets, Looking Back on 2013 and Looking Ahead to 2014

2013 has come and gone.  We have recently celebrated the beginning of a new year.  With new years come, for many people, resolutions.  I personally have never been big on setting new year resolutions as most people I know never follow through.  Yet I feel different about this year, the year 2014.

The reason I feel different about setting goals, rather than calling them resolutions, is that I have been essentially drifting with whatever way the winds of my mental illness toss me ever since I left a good job over a year and a half ago.  The job I had, while hardly high paying or even full time, gave me a sense of purpose and a reason for leaving the apartment every day.  Leaving that job was one of the dumbest decisions I ever made.  I may have not made much money from it, the job may have been simple and low prestige, but it gave me a reason for getting out and mingling with people.  In fact I was doing more creative writing while I was working than when I left.  Having all the time in the world free often leads to not doing anything with that time, or having a lack of direction or purpose.  

I trace many of my problems with depression in 2013 directly to not having much direction in my life.  While there are many people out there, mentally ill or not, who don’t need a job or volunteer work to have direction in their lives I’m not one of them.  I know now I need something outside of myself to allow for some sort of structure in my day to day life.  Otherwise I’ll just rot from the inside out, physically and mentally.

My first goal for 2014 is to find a part time job.  I would prefer something where I could work in a small group or even alone without much interaction with the public.  I never did very well at customer service jobs, fast food jobs, etc.  After a dozen plus years of working with a mental illness I have figured out what kind of work I’m not good at.  I would like to find a job by the end of February, but with my checkered work history this may be pressing it.

My second goal for 2014 is get to the gym more often.  Sure I go once or twice a week as it is now, but I want to go more often.  I always feel good after going.  I don’t know why I don’t go more often.

Finally, I want to write more in 2014 than I did in 2013.  I didn’t get much finished last year.  I want to change that this year.  I am going to change that.  The only way to make any goals stick is to go after it whole heartedly and without regret.

Inactivity, Depression, and Seasonal Components to Mental Illness

 

In this life with schizophrenia, I have had my ups and I have my downs.  Lately, actually for the last three months at least, I have been more inactive than I should be.  I haven’t been exercising every day like I should be.  Usually I go for short walks everyday and lift hand weights two to three times a week.  Haven’t been doing that as often lately.  And I can tell it’s starting to take it’s toll.  I don’t have as much energy to accomplish everyday tasks as I once did.  I also have been lacking the motivation to work on my writings,  unlike a few months ago.  In addition to these blog posts, I also write poetry, journals, and am working on a novel.  I currently have two books of poetry self published through lulu.com.  I figured if I don’t have a regular job, I need to find some way to keep myself occupied and somewhat productive.

As a result of my inactivity I can tell my physical health has suffered.  I have more aches and pains than someone in their early 30s should.  I attribute this to way too much inactivity.  I am convinced my inactivity was initially brought on by a bought of depression that was bad enough that I checked myself into a mental health hospital for four days back in September.  After I got out of the hospital I would sometimes sleep twelve to fourteen hours a day.  Some days I would sleep just out of depression, while others I would sleep out of boredom.  It became a nasty cycle.  I would sleep out of depression and I would be depressed that I was missing out on what was going on around me.  I would be too tired and or depressed to do my exercise and my socializing.  And I would be tired and depressed because I wasn’t exercising or keeping up with friends and family.

Even though I have been depressed and inactive for a long while, I feel like I’m starting to pull out of it.  Maybe it’s the change of the seasons or the hope of the upcoming new year that’s helping me out of my current depression.  Or it could be one of the phases of my individual illness.  This isn’t the first time I have gone through a period of inactivity and depression.  I went through one similar to this about six years ago, back in the fall of 2007.  

One of the positives about having had a mental illness for over half of my life is that I can recognize many of the patterns of the illness.  Not only can I recognize the triggers and know what places, types of situations, and people to avoid, I know a lot of the short term and even some of the long term patterns.  Many people with mental illness have a seasonal component that goes along, where they do worse during some periods than others.  For me, I have always done bad in late summer, usually August and early September.  For others it’s during the winter.

I always have had to remind myself during these days of depression during the last three months that I’ve been through these times before.  I’ve come through these times before.  And I will come through them again.  Better times will be ahead.

Medical Advances, Nutrition, and Mental Illness

It’s been a long while since I last posted to this blog, so an update is in order.  This post will be about medical advances and mental illness.  This is another reason for those of us with mental illness to hope that the future will be better than the present.  Many of the medications that are being used to help treat mental illnesses now didn’t even exist fifteen, twenty years ago.  

New discoveries are also being made in nutrition and how full body health effects mental health.  If you don’t get proper nutrition, the body won’t function well.  If the body doesn’t function well, the brain won’t either.  We all need to make it a point to eat healthier and more balanced, mental illness or no.  Let’s not kid ourselves, the typical American diet of highly processed foods and fast food isn’t healthy.

If you are under treatment for mental illness, always tell your doctor about all of the over the counter supplements you are taking.  Some of these, especially herbs and anything with alcohol in it, can cause serious side effects when mixed with anti-psych drugs.  Know what you are getting into.  Stay informed.  Read all of the handouts that come with your anti-psych drugs.

There are rapid advances being made in research.  These advances can and will find better treatments, perhaps sooner than we think.

Taking an Active Role in Treatment For Mental Illness

This entry is about speaking up for yourself and taking an active role in the course of treatment for mental illness. I will be discussing how to ask your doctor questions about individual treatment plans.

In working with a psych doctor, you need to be completely honest. This is not optional if you want your treatment to work. Your doctor may know the human brain very well, but he/she cannot read minds. You need to tell your doctor you your bad days and the details of the worst of what is going on with you. Especially if you are feeling good on the days you go in for your
checkups.

Early in the course of my treatment, I made the mistake of telling the doctor I was doing well simply because I was feeling good on the days that I was seeing him. At the time I didn’t realize that felt good on those days because I was seeing him. I believed rightly so that he would give me new insights into how to go about my treatment routines.

But I was making the mistake of not telling him about my really bad times. For the first two years we were stumbling in the dark as to what worked and what didn’t simply because I glossed over the bad aspects of my illness.

To make up for this I started making notes and keeping journals on how I was feeling from day to day. I was amazed, and I still am, at the amount of changes I can go through during the course of a month or so. I discuss what I learn from these notes with my psych doctor at all of my checkups. I recommend keeping notes and day-to-day journals for all mental illness patients to keep track of your mood swings and emotions. You’ll be amazed.

In addition to the notes of your day-to-day feeling and activities, I strongly recommend making a list of questions to ask your doctor about your illness. Questions can include “What can I do to make things better in addition to medications and counseling,” “What are the chances of my getting better,” or any other question you may think of for your particular situation.

This list of questions is important because it will give you better information and insight into how your illness is changing and your treatment needs to go. The doctor may know your illness, but you alone, know the true extent of your own problems. Mental illness is not a cookie cutter one size fits all deal. Mental illness varies greatly from one person to another. This is even true of individuals that have the exact same diagnosis. Body and brain chemistry play a role in how certain medications will and will not work.

Since no two people have the exact same body chemistry, finding the right combinations of meds can be somewhat of a trial and error deal. Sometimes you and your doctor will hit the bull’s eye with your meds; other times you may miss the board entirely, while others may work some but not as effectively as other types of treatments.

The important thing to remember in all of this trial and error is to never give up. I cannot stress having hope enough. New anti-psych medications are being developed all of the time. There is a great chance that there is at least one combination of medications and treatments that will work for you. Yet I can guarantee that is absolutely no one combination that will work for everyone. There just isn’t and probably never will be. But medical science is making new breakthroughs every year. Many of the best medications were not even in existence even ten years ago.

I recommend that you keep informed on your treatment and diagnosis. Read books about your illness. Read the handouts given out at the doctor’s office concerning your illness and treatments. Do read some of the Internet sites, but do be careful the sites. Some sites are very reliable. But there are many that are not reliable, some that are biased, and some that are complete frauds. Seek the advice of experts know mental illness treatments. Seek the counseling of people who work with the mentally ill every day. Keep informed about your problems. And inform your doctor about your problems.

Stressing on Stress

 

One of the problems that comes up for those of us with mental illness, myself included, is the issue of dealing with everyday stress and anxiety.  Stress about issues like work, money, taking care of family, community activities, running errands, routine housework and maintenance, etc. can be enough to tax even the most ‘normal’ of people at times.  Yet for those of us with mental illness, every day stress can be overwhelming at times, even crippling occasionally.

I have had to made adaptations to my life in order to reduce the amounts of stress in my life.  Over the years I have found the stress situations such as fast paced working environments, social environments where I’m expected to interact with many people I may not know well, and driving in fast paced heavy traffic areas have all been triggers for not only high levels of stress and anxiety, but also have triggered symptoms of my particular mental illness.  In my case, such instances have triggered paranoid thoughts, high levels of agitation and aggression, and even auditory hallucinations.  As a result, I have to be really careful about the jobs I apply for, the social activities I attend, and make it a point to find someone else to drive when I have to go to a major city and just offer to navigate.  I would not be any fun at all at a cocktail party with a hundred strangers I didn’t know.  Even though I scored really high on intelligence tests as both a kid and an adult, I probably couldn’t handle most office jobs simply due to the stress involved.

Stress is tough for even the most grounded people.  But it can be life altering and crippling for the mentally ill.  It can drag down even the most stabilized mental health consumers if left unchecked.  Sometimes even the stepping back and taking deep breaths isn’t going to be enough.  Sometimes a person just has to avoid certain circumstances altogether or even just know when to walk away.