Christmas Thoughts and Support of Family and Close Friends

Been feeling more irritable and short tempered the last few days.  Not sure what to make of it.  Hopefully it is just the stress of being so close to end of year holidays.  I won’t be going anywhere for Christmas this year.  My parents are returning to Nebraska for a couple days and will be spending Christmas with a few of my aunts.  If I’m up for guests I might have them over for a few hours myself.

But, as it’s been, I just really haven’t wanted to see anyone lately.  Kind of depressing in that I was doing so well for a long time.  Had a short but tough break down a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately it wasn’t as vicious as many as I’ve had in years past but it was still unpleasant and painful anyway.  I hate that I vent my problems on family when I have breakdowns.  I’m sure it has caused them much grief and fear over the years.

I would love to alter my personality to the point that I would just break down and sob rather than be angry and take my problems out on others.  I don’t know how much of that is the way I was raised in my culture and how much of it is being a man.  But I have never been good at suffering distress by taking it out on myself.  I don’t raise my voice as much as I used to during breakdowns.  Hopefully I’m better at coping with the distress of these flare ups.  After nearly twenty years of mental health problems, I should hope so.  I hope at this point I’ve moved far beyond even the acceptance phase and into the advocacy for those who aren’t as experienced with these problems as I.

The weather has been quite decent, by December standards, for the last ten days in my home state.  It still gets below freezing at night so we still have a few patches of ice.  But the roads are clear and it’s pretty easy to drive around town when I need to.  My family and I recently hired a cleaning person who works with a few elderly people in my complex.  I like her work.  Hopefully I can hold onto her services for a while.  I had a really good cleaner a few years ago who cleaned twice a month, at least until she had heart problems and had to take retirement.  I liked her.

I’ve seen my psych doctor a couple of times in the last few weeks.  I’m on a newer anti psych medication that’s supposed to help reduce compulsive behavior and serve as kind of a stimulant.  Most of the psych medications I’ve been on have promoted drowsiness.  I’m still getting used to the fact I don’t need as much sleep as I’ve had in past months.  I usually sleep only six to seven hours a night now, with a couple exceptions when I’m feeling really distressed.  I think sleep is one of the ways my mind works against mental health problems.  But I suppose there are worse ways of dealing with mental distress than sleeping ten to twelve hours a day.

I am looking forward to Christmas.  While I don’t have much planned, I should call friends and family and see if I can set up Skype with them.  I have the programs on my computer, I just don’t use them very often so I’m rusty with them.  I have learned over the years, the real value of the holiday seasons is spending time with family and friends. I don’t really remember much of the gifts I got as a child.  I don’t even really remember when I quit believing in Santa Claus and magic elves.  But I do remember the time I spent with friends and family, especially my grandparents and a couple of my uncles who have now passed away.  Those times aren’t coming back.

I’m glad I had a family that, even in our disagreements, we didn’t cut each other out or bring up our grievances during holidays or weddings or funerals.  I didn’t realize how rare that was until I went to a Christian college and found out from friends and classmates that, in some cases, even devoutly religious families can have serious issues.  I’m glad I dodged those bullets.  I never realized how cool my family was growing up.  Like many teenagers, I thought my family was kind of embarrassing and didn’t know what was what.  But now that I’m of the age when most of my friends have children of their own, my family knew their stuff far better than I realized all along.  My parents are now more like good friends and wise confidants than the authority figures I respected and sometimes feared as a child and teenager.

I’m glad I got to this point in my relationship with my family before they went into declining health or died.  I’m glad for all of it, even the discipline and nagging I couldn’t stand as a ten year old child.  But it served it’s purpose.  I may not have a successful career and well adjusted children like my brother and most of my cousins, but  I am managing an otherwise crippling mental illness pretty decent.  From what I have seen when I was inpatient hospitalization and from what I’ve heard from my readers, this thing could be much tougher to manage.

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Why I Blog The Way I Do and Reflections on Blogging, Part One

I recently published my 50th blog entry on this site, alifeofmentalillness.wordpress.com.  It has been a series of interesting, and eye-opening experiences over the last eighteen months.  When I started this, I had no clue it would turn into anything semi-regular.  I guess I didn’t know I’d still be posting after one and a half years.  With that said, the fifty entries I have posted seem to have had a decent reception from the readers.  I hope that the next eighteen months will allow for more posts and more insights into the lives of mentally ill people trying to make a life in ‘a chronically sane world.’

I suppose now would be as good a time as any as to why I post the blog entries I do and use the style of writing I do.  I suppose just as important is why I don’t post the things I don’t. I’ll attempt to go into some details on both.

Why do I blog the way I do?  Many of my blog entries are essentially telling about the aspects, hangups, draw backs, victories, defeats, joys, and pains that I have personally experienced in my life as a mentally ill individual.  This blog doesn’t go too deep into the psychiatric and physiological research and terms simply because I didn’t study psychiatric medicine or physiology in college.  I had a hard enough time with organic chemistry and calculus while I was working through this illness when I was a pre-med major in my second year of college that I dropped calculus and failed organic chemistry.

This alone, at least in an academic sense, would lead some to imply I have no real background in psychiatric medicine or the physiology of the human brain or know about the effects and side effects of psychiatric medications.  For one, I have been an out patient of psychiatric medicine for over fourteen years.  Though I have never been a doctor giving the treatment to psych patients, do not believe for one minute that I don’t know more about psychiatric treatments than those who, in their misguidance, believe that mental illness is not real and thus the pain and anguish associated with the afflicted is not real.  I wish to God I was making up everything I perceived during the course of my mental illness.  To think that those of us with these problems are acting out because we want attention and sympathy is not only sadly naive, it is completely cruel and absolutely inhumane.  If I wanted attention, there are far easier and more effective ways to receive it than fake a malady that most neurotypicals can’t even relate to.

I suppose some would argue because I don’t present scientific facts, figures or use many complex sounding terms that most people can’t relate to, I am making invalid statements about mental illness and my experiences.  To suggest that because someone doesn’t present statistics, that person is not accurate is not in itself true.  First, if numbers are what a person wants, there are plenty of internet sites that provide the cold, hard, faceless facts. This site doesn’t provide just faceless and coldly sterile facts and information.  Anyone with access to any internet search engine can find far more facts, figures, statistics, and descriptions about mental health issues than they could easily sift through.  I am not a scientist by nature or training.  Science wasn’t even my favorite subject in school.  I am not condemning science at all by not providing ‘just the facts.’

If anything, this blog attempts to put at least faces, names, places, and circumstances on the facts and figures that scientists have already discovered.  I suppose I am one who adds the personal element to the mental illness discussion.  Once a face and name is placed on the particular ailments and numbers of an illness, that is when things really start resonating with people.  We hear every day in the news about natural disasters hitting far away places or people losing their jobs when factories close.  Those stories tell the facts, yes, but they often fail at rousing the compassion and actions of others because rarely are names of the afflicted or their life stories shared.  Sadly, we tend to become numb to hearing about these disasters and tragedies of the human existence and come to believe that the hardships and sufferings of other humans do not matter.

Yes, it is true, I as an individual may not have power to do much about floods in Bangladesh, typhoons in Japan, chronic poverty in Haiti, war in Syria and Ukraine, ebola in Liberia, the effects of human made climate change, or the closing of factories and chronic droughts in my own nation.  But I can at very least care about others enough in my small hometown to aide those I come across on a daily basis.  And I certainly can write about the hardships of having a mental illness in such a manner to offer compassion and support to those with mental illness, their loved ones, as well as articulate what is like to have a mental illness to others for those who are unable to articulate for themselves.

Being a voice for mental ill individuals who are unable to articulate for themselves, even if I am unable to speak exactly for every one of us, is the primary purpose of this blog.  I do this to offer support, compassion, and explain to others that the anguishes and pains are extremely real.  I don’t use this blog to be spiteful to others who don’t agree with my ideas. I don’t use this blog to badger and bully others into my line of thinking.  I have no moral grounds to force anyone to believe and think as I do.  All I can do is tell my story, tell the stories of others, and offer aide and support to the hurting and overwhelmed.  Hopefully through the telling of these stories and offering support to other mentally ill persons and their loved ones, compassion for the mentally ill can be achieved.  Even if it is convincing people one at a time.

This ends Part One of this posting.