My birthday is this Sunday. I will be forty years old. I guess the thing I’ve noticed about getting older is that I do have more aches and pains, especially in the mornings. I have to be more careful about what I eat too. I’ve noticed that too much caffeine makes me irritable and short tempered. Too much carb rich food like bread and pastas will make me lethargic and sleepy. Too much milk will unsettle my guts. It’s also easier for me to fall asleep. I do wake up at least once a night to visit the bathroom. I don’t desire sugar as often. I have little to no interest in sex, certainly not enough to start dating again. I have come to be more accepting of my weaknesses and drawbacks. I’ve learned to compensate and work around those weaknesses and drawbacks. Instead of looking for what’s going wrong in the world, I spend much of my time trying to figure out what’s going right. Even though I’m middle aged, I have more empathy for kids and young adults. I didn’t have much empathy for kids and young adults when I was a kid and a young adult. I’ve come to accept that everyone has their own struggles and problems, so it’s best to go easier on people overall. I’ve developed more of an appreciation for customer service workers like waitresses, cashiers, delivery drivers, shelf stockers, gas station clerks, etc. I have found that a good cup of coffee and a home cooked meal will give me more joy than going to clubs and chasing women ever did. And I learned that we as humans are far more adaptable and able to change than we realize, especially in the long term.
Saw my parents over last weekend. Picked up some supplies I was needing and had a good visit with them. Also decided to sell my car. I wasn’t using enough to justify having it. Besides my town now has Uber service in addition to a shuttle bus service. And I can still get my groceries and medications delivered to my place.
I’m spending more time with my neighbors. One of them volunteered to help me out with laundry once a week for a small monthly charge. After having them over a few times I now realize how much I was missing from not socializing much. I still don’t leave my apartment very often but I do make a point of standing up and walking around at least once an hour. It seems to help keep the back and knee pain at bay. I took a few days off from lifting weights but am starting back on that today.
Decided to shave my beard and trim my hair. I buzzed my hair quite short. Any shorter I’d look bald. Haven’t had my hair this short in a few years. I also haven’t gone clean shaven for a few years too. But I figure if some people can update their look a few times a week, I can update mine every couple years.
Overall things are looking alright as we press closer to winter. We got our first snow a couple days ago. We had patches of snow still during Halloween. I didn’t do much for Halloween besides play some background music via youtube for much of the morning. I was going to watch Dracula (the Francis Ford Coppola version) as I own that on my amazon account but didn’t get to it. Chatted with a couple old friends last night on facebook. I’m still going to bed earlier and waking up for a few hours in the middle of the night. I get my sleep and I’m still able to enjoy the quiet hours. Best of both worlds for me. Haven’t had any bad flare ups for a week now. For awhile I was having them pretty bad for a couple days. But I changed my routines some, changed my diet some, and got more consistent sleep. So far it’s working.
It’s been a good weekend and I’m looking forward to the start of this new week. Got most of the issues from my last post resolved. Had to focus more than usual and just spend more time than usual resolving things. Being free to fit and fume helped too. Sometimes I just have to get a good rant off my mind and out of my system. I’ve been having as many rants as previously but, fortunately, they have turned into breakdowns only once in the last year. I don’t know if I’m getting calmer in my middle age years or if I’m just getting better at coping with the hang ups of schizophrenia. Either way it feels much better than even five years ago, certainly more than fifteen years ago when I was still figuring out what limitations the illness placed on me.
Tomorrow, February 12, is the birthday of one of my cousins and one of my best friends. My father had a birthday earlier in the month and my mother’s is in a few days. For being the shortest month of the year, I sure know lots of people with February birthdays. I guess birthdays are a good reason to celebrate during the otherwise cold and drawn out days of middle winter. Baseball spring training games start in a couple weeks, so I look forward to that. My Rockies made the playoffs the last two years, but lost out early on both times. Hopefully they can put together something special this year. I attending one of their World Series games in Denver with a college friend in 2007. Even though the Rockies lost the Series, seeing that game in person and experiencing that type of atmosphere is one of the highlights of my twenties.
In other reasons to look forward to spring, my best friend is a huge Game of Thrones fan. The new season will be starting on April 14, ironically the day before tax deadline here in USA. I don’t watch the series only because I’d rather not pay to get HBO, but I have seen enough highlights on youtube that I do know some of the characters and story lines. Sometimes I like to give her a little ribbing about GoT fans being as crazy as some of us football and baseball fans, but I mean it all in good fun. Just from watching highlights on youtube I can understand how people can follow the series like they do. I play Skyrim a great deal and joke it’s similar to an interactive version of GoT. I intentionally tried to design the character I’m currently using to look like Jon Snow. While it kind of does, my character does bare a striking resemblance to Daniel Day-Lewis in the old Last of The Mohicans movie, which is one of my all time favorite movies.
It’s been a long and cold winter it seems. Have been lucky to avoid the snow amounts most of the country has gotten so far. But I’m looking forward to warmer and sunny weather again. I forced myself outside into prolonged sunlight at least once a week no matter how cold it is just to get some Vitamin D. It seems to help alleviate the boredom of winter. But spring officially starts in only five weeks. We’re more than halfway through winter, or summer for my Southern Hemisphere readers.
Been spending more time inside lately. We’re currently in the hottest parts of the summer. So far I’m managing alright. I think it helps that I’m getting enough sleep and keeping my mind occupied through computer games and educational programs on youtube and curiosity stream. I had to get a new phone a few days ago after my old one quit working. So far it’s doing everything I need done.
In spite spending so much time indoors and not socializing much outside of internet and phone, I’m still feeling pretty decent. I’m feeling actually quite optimistic overall. Watching science programs and programs about what is actually going right in civilization while avoiding the negativity and background noise can do that to even a hardened mentally ill person like myself. I do find it tragic that the advances in science and humanitarian efforts aren’t given more publicity in the media. I get it that mass media isn’t a public service and they have to draw and audience like every other business. And nothing draws a human’s attention like fear and anxiety. There is actually far more going on right than most people will ever know.
Last Christmas I did a piece on science and tech advances that happened just in 2016. I’m going to do this again at the end of 2017. I really don’t think people pay enough attention to what’s going on in the realms of science, tech, and humanitarian efforts. I wonder how many people know that over 90 percent of people in Africa have access to cell phones. Granted the same CNN article states that only 63 percent of people in Africa have access to piped water and only 30 percent to flushing toilets. But both of those numbers are better than many people in the developed world thought they would be. And this article was written in 2016.
When my parents were first married in the early 1970s, many people were worried about overpopulation and as a result my parents decided to have only two kids. Fast forward 45 years and many countries, especially in the developed world, are actually experiencing decreasing populations. USA would have the same problem if it wasn’t for many immigrants still wanting to come here. The fears of overpopulation didn’t come to fruition because as people became more prosperous and better educated, they started having fewer kids and investing more in the one or two kids they did have. The population is still growing, yes, but that is far more because people no longer die like flies than breed like rabbits. Smallpox is eradicated and polio is all but eradicated.
There were similar fears about acid rain in the 1970s. But we as a species, especially scientists and engineers, saw that this could become a problem eventually and we adapted. As a result, the worst didn’t happen. Right now there are fears about climate issues and what could happen within the next several decades. But few people realize that air pollution has actually gone down in many countries and industrializing countries like China and India are going forward with non polluting energy sources now that the prices are more competitive with traditional fuel sources. My country may have pulled out of the Paris Agreements, but that was my federal government and not individual peoples or state governments. And in the USA, regardless of individual political beliefs, most people do not approve of the leadership our federal officials are offering. So many state and local governments are taking it on themselves to develop non polluting energy sources. I may live in a state where many people aren’t sold on the sciences being climate changes but that doesn’t stop people from putting up wind generators and solar panels. In my own family, my parents have been using solar panels since the 1980s. Many people don’t know that the largest state for wind power generation is Texas, a traditionally oil rich state. Just because a person may not be sold on the hard science doesn’t mean they can’t or aren’t doing their parts to bring about less toxic energies and use less fuel. Can you imagine how bad pollution and oil issues would be if we had the same cars from the 60s and 70s? When my father was in the military, he had a street racer car that got less than 9 miles to the gallon in gas. Pickup trucks now get much better than that, let alone family sedans or smaller cars. My dad said about his hot rod, “it would pass everything on the road besides a gas station.” Science is saving our bacon right now, more so than governments or most other established large institutions.
I’m also encouraged by the prospects of private individuals and companies taking on space exploration. We aren’t living my parents’ space race when it was just Russia and USA doing the work. There are many things I am encouraged and optimistic about. But I did not get this way getting information just from traditional sources. I had to use search engines. I had to go to science specific websites and journals. I had to specifically look for the science information because most of it wasn’t being reported in traditional mass media. But traditional mass media is in decline and will eventually break apart if they don’t adapt to the new realities. And that doesn’t hurt my feelings at all. I’m tired of hearing about what is going wrong all the time. I doubt I’m the only one who feels this way. I want to know what’s going well and what we’re improving. I have dig deeper than most people, but I am finding out some of what’s going right. Maybe more research labs and universities should hire publicity firms to better promote what’s going on. I think many people would be interested providing the information is presented in the right ways.
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.