Had a little bit of a flare up of irritability and anxiety this afternoon. Sometimes these can be started if I have too much caffeine in a real short time. And since I’ve been drinking more coffee and vanilla flavored cola the last several days and not sleeping as much as I usually do, it was only a matter of time before it caught up to me. Fortunately I navigated out of my flare up without taking it out on anyone. After a few minutes of fuming and fitting and ranting (though not yelling) and taking my irritability out by punching a few pillows and doing some arm weights, I think I’m back to my usual self.
The weather is quite decent today in spite being windy and partly cloudy all day. It’s been above freezing the last few days, so the snow and ice melts during the day. But it still gets below freezing after sunset, so it does make travel at night kind of unnerving for me. I never could have made it as a truck driver with as much as I don’t like driving in bad weather or heavy traffic.
As it is, it’s days like this that remind me that winter is just about over. And the start of Lent season for my Catholic friends is another reminder too. A college friend of mine teaches school in Netherlands and went to Italy for a few days this last week. He visited the Vatican and got to hear the Pope speak on Ash Wednesday. Definitely something on “the bucket list” for anyone with an interest in history and culture. The closest culture thing of that kind of magnitude I ever did was visit ancient Aztec pyramids and ruins when I visited Mexico City as a teenager. So glad I got to travel some and see a few cool things before the mental illness got to where it put a cramp on my physical health and ability to travel for days at a time.
Spring is about here. Baseball starts in a couple weeks, two of my closest friends have birthdays next week, my brother’s birthday is later in March, and the last season of Game of Thrones gets going, ironically on April 14, the day before tax deadline here in USA. April, May, and June have always been happy times of year for me. It’s isn’t icy or cold like winter, not too hot and humid like summer, and not the rush of activities that fall is with the start of school, harvest, preparing for winter, and fall sports seasons.
I didn’t get as much hard reading done as I would have liked this winter. Sure I made it a point to read every day, but I read mostly online articles for science and tech sites. Too bad more of this isn’t reported on the large media outlets, though they are getting better about it recently. I look forward to warmer weather and more sunshine. We went almost a month in my town without getting above freezing point. One of the longest bitter cold streaks I can remember. But the beginning of the end of winter is here.
Currently going through a prolonged period of stability. My levels of depression and anxiety have been quite low lately. When I do have such issues, they don’t last long and aren’t very bad. I haven’t had a breakdown of any kind in months. Haven’t been hospitalized for almost five years now. I was having feelings of depression and paranoia earlier this year but I wasn’t overly concerned about it as I wasn’t having the anger or aggression issues that traditionally went with it. Sure I would go days without leaving my apartment, but I wasn’t excessively angry or looking for arguments. So I wasn’t as worried as I should have been. Not wanting to socialize for long stretches of time isn’t normal for me. Sure I have had stretches when I wanted to be left alone for several hours or a day at most. But I was going sometimes entire weeks when I’d leave my apartment only two or three times the entire week.
Naturally some of my neighbors became concerned. I may have never been Mr. Popular but I made it a point to be polite and thoughtful to everyone I met. Yet as I wasn’t even socializing, nor did I want to, that wasn’t normal for me. I have never been one to just bunker down for days. I had gotten to that point, particularly during the winter. It wasn’t my traditional problem with mental illness, but it was a different one.
People do tend to change some with age. I imagine mental illness issues are probably not much different. Aspects of my personality and habits have altered over the years. I’m not as hot tempered as I was even five years ago. I laugh more often now than I did in my twenties. I enjoy the little things of life more. Overall, I’m happier now in my late 30s than I was in my late 20s. And this is despite my physical health not being as good as it was ten years ago or my being more social than I am now. I think I have gotten happier and more calm with age. And I quite enjoy it.
I’m currently at my parents’ house for the next couple days. There was some maintenance work that needed to be done at my apartment. But as long as I have my computer and even average internet service, I can get everything I need done.
Been sleeping more than I would like again. Not sure what to make of that. I’ve also been more frustrated and short tempered and depressed than usual for the last couple weeks. Normally spring is my favorite time of year. So I’m not sure what’s going on. Still getting more active and being more careful about what I eat. Since I am at my parents’ house, I’ve been doing more socializing in person than my usual.
Being back in a small town for the first time in months, I had forgotten how quiet things could be. I had gotten used to hearing people in my hallways and knocking on doors for most of the day. I was also hearing ambulance and fire sirens a few times a day too as I lived on a busy street. And I forgot how dark it gets at night in rural areas. It’s almost eerily dark. Yet it was something I had taken for granted while growing up.
I plan on spending another couple days here. I really hadn’t had much peace and quiet in my life for the last few weeks. I’m ready for things to settle down again. Dare I say, I actually miss winter now. I don’t miss the cold and snow, but I do miss the quiet days and down time. I usually do pretty good writing in the winter months.
My back still flares up from time to time. The worst part is that I can’t stand for more than ten minutes without real bad back pain. I’m afraid I may have to go back to a chiropractor. I’ve already had a couple rounds of treatments since my car accident. But I’m getting more and more afraid that this back pain might be chronic even as I lose weight. It’s really sad as I used to walk thirty minutes a day, five days per week before my car accident. I know now that wreck messed me up more than I cared to admit. Hopefully as I lose more weight, the back pain can subside.
As it is, I’m taking it easy for the next couple days as things are getting straightened out back home. And I am enjoying the first true downtime in the last few weeks.
After six weeks of being on a different medication I am now adapting to the changes brought about. I usually don’t need as much sleep so I now usually wake up earlier. I have found myself slightly more sensitive to caffeine. So I usually shut off the coffee and black tea after four p.m. unless I want to be up most of the night. I have been spending more time outdoors and restarted the exercise routine a few days ago. I am still kind of rusty but I hadn’t been doing much exercise for three weeks because of the weather and medication changes.
I am also regaining some of my lost emotions. I have felt a little loneliness over the last few weeks. For months I have been content to spend the vast bulk of my days in isolation with as little interaction as possible. I never did well at socializing, especially growing up in a small farming village where most people didn’t share my type of interests. But I am now wanting to socialize again. I find myself leaving my apartment at least a few times a day. Previously I used to leave my apartment only once or twice a day if at all. I have had days I didn’t leave my apartment, especially in the winter. I also feel a little more happiness. Used to be the only real feelings I had for a couple years were anger and quiet contentment. I didn’t relax and feel happiness because I didn’t know how. But the ability to feel happiness is beginning to come back. I am now able to feel a little anger and irritation without fear of going psychotic. I haven’t had a psychotic break since I changed my medication. I switched back to an old medication I had been on for several years. The DNA tests I took shown that this medication worked really well for me. So it confirmed something I already suspected. I’ll see my psych doctor again at the end of the month and we’ll look into changing a second medication then. I knew this would be a long process when we started. But it’s certainly better than having psychotic breakdowns every six weeks.
I admit my physical health and exercise has taken a lower priority since I started this medication change. I have gained a few pounds in the last few weeks. My endurance has really dropped off. It’ll probably take several more exercise sessions before it really starts coming back. But I’m getting back into exercise again, especially since the weather is warming up.
Things have been more or less consistent the last several days. I’m still getting out and exercising as I’m breaking in a new pair of heavy duty hiking boots most days. Started lifting weights at least 3 times per week again. Still working through educational programs and khanacademy.org . Been watching shameless amounts of old tv shows through Netflix. I’ve plowed through half of season 1 of Star Trek: Enterprise just in the last week. In short things have been going pretty good and steady for 90 percent of the time.
Sadly, I still have that 10 percent of the time that still causes me problems. Many of these problems are partly due to a new neighbor in my complex. This man has been irritable to almost everyone in our complex. I refuse to go into details but this individual is the angriest and most closed minded man I have ever met. He doesn’t believe in mental illness at all. I will say no more.
I haven’t filed any complaints against this tenant because I’ve previously filed complaints against tenants that we’re being uncivil with no results. Usually problems like these have wound up being solved when these tenants would move or get evicted over violating terms of the lease. I’ve been at my current apartment for several years and I have had problem neighbors come and I’ve seen problem neighbors go. Nothing new.
It bothers me at times and sometimes provokes emotions ranging from mild irritability to a nagging sense of anger. I don’t enjoy having these nagging senses of anger. I’m not a confrontational or violent man by nature. And confronting others will only make things worse. I refuse to get evicted or committed over annoying and irritable people who will, in time, get a massive dose of karma courtesy of their own actions. As uncomfortable as that nagging sense of anger is, I just allow it to pass in a controlled and limited burn. I no longer try to force myself to be happy nor do I fear this anger anymore. What I do instead is allow myself to feel angry without acting on it. I don’t fear getting angry because I have the good sense to let it go gradually and constructively rather than allow it build up for days. Just because I feel anger doesn’t mean I’m going to act on it. I enjoy having the escape valve of free will and self control.
Learning to manage anger with schizophrenia is not a skill that can be learned in one day. It is a trial and error process that is ongoing and never ending. I am much better at it now than I was 15 years ago. And I plan on being much better than I am now with the passing of another 15 years. Feeling anger is not bad or evil. It is how anger is channeled or acted on that determines whether anger is constructive or destructive. It is also important to note that what we do send out will come back on us over a long enough time line. Or as one of my college friends crassly put it “Karma’s got a large boot and kicks asses harder than we can.”