Beginning of Fall 2021

I’ve been having problems with insomnia lately. I fall asleep but usually stay asleep for only 30 minutes at a time. I usually get my best sleep between 7am and 11am these days. I still go to bed around 9pm most nights. But I usually lie awake for a couple hours before I drift off for the first time.

As far as I know, our complex is still on lock downs. I usually make a point of not talking to people much, at least in person. Most people I know are really on edge. I am too. Just saw in the news that the official death toll from covid in the US is now higher than the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. Naturally, some people will say that Spanish Flu was a totally different virus and that the US has over three times as many people as we did in 1918. To me, this is a heartless and ugly attitude to have. I’m through with arguing about mask mandates and vaccines and social distancing. I’m convinced some people will never get the idea even if they themselves wind up dead. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because of toxic and heartless attitudes like this. I’m glad my grandparents aren’t alive to see this mass insanity.

Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

July 11 2021

Been quiet the last few days. Staying close to home as it’s been really hot when it hasn’t been raining. Looking forward to fall again. Only 50 days until the first college football games. It was so strange last year watching games in empty stadiums. I see the Olympics won’t allow spectators this year. I hope we can get enough people vaccinated that we can open up all over the world again.

While covid hasn’t been as rough for me as most people, it has been quite lonely at times. Glad I can do my psych doctor appointments by teleconference. I haven’t been to a general practice doctor since the pandemic started. I managed to get vaccinated in early May. A home health service sent two nurses to my home, had me answer some questions, and gave me the Johnson & Johnson shot. I didn’t even have to leave my living room. So thankful such people and services are out there. Internet shopping has been a godsend for myself. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be had this happened back in the early 1980s. As far as loneliness goes, if my grandparents’ generation had to fight a world war, the least I can do is stay home.

Still lifting weights three times a week. Noticing some of my strength starting to come back. I force myself to stand up at least once an hour. If I sit for too long my muscles get sore and I have issues walking and doing chores.

Haven’t read much for traditional books lately. I am watching the Dune mini series that came out in the early 2000s. I’m not normally much of a science fiction fan, but this series is done alright. A friend of mine has been talking up the Dune and Foundation series for years. I read the first Foundation book last summer via audiobook. I have grown to love audiobooks. My college roommate’s dad was a truck driver who used to listen to audiobooks when he was on the road. I can understand why he liked those so much.

Don’t have much planned for the next few weeks. Cruise Night (a rally for classic cars) will be in my town later this month. And one of the main routes run right by my home. Since I’m on the top floor of my complex, I get an amazing view and I don’t even have to brave the hot late July temperature or the large crowds. It should be a huge deal this summer as the country is opening back up. I’ll just watch out my window and have the American Graffiti soundtrack playing, like I do most years. For my Independence Day, I replayed the Revolutionary War on one of my computer games.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my coffee addiction. I’ve had only five cups in the last month. For the first several days I was sleeping more and kind of irritable. I was probably going through caffeine withdraw. I am back to more normal sleep. Most days I’m up for good by 6:30. I usually go to bed around 11pm. Was up until 3 am a few nights ago. Haven’t stayed up that late in months.

I’m doing well overall even if I stay close to home. I usually have visitors in my cleaning lady and a couple neighbors a couple times a week. My neighbor is kind enough to help me with chores like laundry and mail once a week as long as I provide laundry soap and change for the machines. I guess after years of helping out others, I need the help now.

Middle Summer

Been spending my Independence Day getting in touch with friends and family. I was lazier than usual in keeping tabs on friends for the last couple weeks. I usually don’t have much going on during the summers. Still reading a lot, even if it is mostly online articles these days. Watched some of the UEFA tournament over the last couple weeks. Most of those games started late morning here in the US. I don’t watch much for traditional tv anymore besides live sports events. I’m looking forward to the Olympics later this month. I have no doubt that Japan will be good hosts. My favorite events to watch are the sprints and long jump.

Found out my complex has a new permanent manager. I haven’t met her yet. I usually don’t interact with management much outside of my annual recertification, and that is usually in March or April. Hard to believe it’s been almost a year and a half since I got my flooring replaced and my walls repainted. The only complaint I have about having vinyl floors is they are very slippery when wet. When my cleaning lady mops, I make a point to not walk on the floor for at least two hours. I slipped and fell in my living room several weeks ago. Since I landed on my hands and knees, I didn’t hurt anything. Just had to catch my breath and stand back up.

July and August are usually rough times for me. I have a seasonal aspect to my mental illness. Haven’t had much for flare ups so far this year. I hope I can keep this up.

The Reality of Mental Illness

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression when I was 20 years old. I was covered under my parents’ insurance plan for psych meds. At the age of 25 I applied for social security disability insurance because I was no longer covered under my parents’ insurance and it was painfully obvious I couldn’t handle the anxiety of jobs available (i.e. retail and customer service jobs). My psych meds, without insurance, were $2,000 a month in 2006. To offset this, my parents bought a high risk health insurance policy for me that, to this day, they still refuse to tell me how much it cost them. I didn’t qualify for social security disability insurance until late 2008.

To avoid getting thrown out of the system, I couldn’t make more then $700 a month (after taxes) at any job. I had a janitorial job for a few years that I did well in because I wasn’t around people most of the time. After four years on the job, I finally did the math and figured out that for every one dollar I made in work, I lost 72 cents via increased rent (I live in low income housing), decreased benefits, and taxes. I finally gave up on the job because there was no incentive to keep working at what was effectively a 72 percent tax on a minimum wage job.

I am now 40 years old. Haven’t held a traditional job for eight years due to loss in benefits. I still need the psych meds every day or I would be homeless, in prison, or dead. We don’t even have long term mental health hospitals in large numbers anymore in the US. And if I want to save money in case of emergencies, I’d lose benefits if I ever had more than $3,000 in savings. This is all for a chronic mental illness that I didn’t bring upon myself. I was an honor student in high school who qualified for a $5,000 a year scholarship for college. I was studying to get into medical school. Lost most of my friends, most of my support group, any chance at a family, any shot at a career, etc. so I could keep the insurance for psych meds and treatments that would now, in 2021, cost $4,000 a month. And I receive zero dollars in food stamps. The support of my understanding and upper middle class family during the two plus years I was waiting for disability to get approved (which was faster than normal because we hired an attorney) is the only thing keeping from going bankrupt and homeless. So my case with severe mental illness is actually better than most people in the US. As it is I live on my own in low income housing in a small town in the Midwest and can live independently off my disability pension because I have no debt. Most people in my circumstances are far worse off.

Mid Winter 2021

I’m still staying close to home most of the time. I still spend a good chunk of my time listening to audiobooks. Saw the first two seasons of Black Mirror over the last week. Quite chilling about how bad people can abuse some of these newer techs.

I have been more aches and pains the last couple weeks. But they are usually worse in cold weather anyway. We’re supposed to get a real bad cold spell in a couple days that could last a week. So I won’t be going anywhere unless I have to.

Mentally been having minor flare ups again. Fortunately they don’t last long. I can weather them better when I am alone. Sometimes takes several minutes to get through them. But I make a point to avoid people during these episodes. I won’t even answer the phone or the door if they are bad enough.

I still keep in contact with friends and family several times a week. They are ready for this pandemic to be over too. My friend in Denver is planning on moving out of the city as soon as she can afford some rural property. Says things have gotten real bad in the cities, especially in the last year.

January 20 2021

Been sleeping more the last several days. Just been more on edge and irritable than usual. I usually leave my apartment only to pick up mail or do laundry, at least for the last week. We haven’t gotten much snow the last few weeks. Looks bleak and dead outside of my window with the gray skies and no snow.

I still keep in contact with family on an almost daily basis. My parents are getting their covid vaccines tomorrow. Then they’ll get their second round within a couple weeks. They are looking forward to being able to get out more and socialize in person. They’ve been doing zoom calls for everything for family gatherings to church services since this whole mess started.

I have been listening to audiobooks and watching history channels on youtube. Currently working on some Isaac Asimov right now. Haven’t been watching much for sports lately. Seems kind of extravagant to be watching ballgames when thousands of people are dying everyday in a worldwide pandemic. It’s just not the same watching games with really limited crowds. Looking forward to the Olympics this summer. I have no doubt Japan will be a great host. Hopefully we can get crowds back at events like baseball games and outdoor concerts by the end of summer.

I’m still amazed that several vaccines were able to get developed in only one year. Goes to show what can be accomplished when the stakes are high, funding is abundant, and the best minds in the world are focused on one single issue. Even though covid has infected and killed millions of people, I am hopeful that we can solve even bigger problems coming in the upcoming decades. If we can develop several vaccines for covid in only one year, maybe we can build colonies on Mars and reverse climate change. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when we as a civilization are focused.

December 12 2020

We had our first snow of the Christmas season yesterday. Got several inches. Basically a good day to stay home. A mask mandate for our apartment complex is now in effect. I ordered a couple boxes of face masks. I told the manager of our complex I’m going to let her hand those out to residents. There are several shut ins and limited mobility people in here. I’m limited mobility myself these days. Thankfully I can have most things delivered to my place. And when I’m too sore to pick up my mail or packages, one of my neighbors will help me out. I gave him some masks as he is out and about a great deal.

Mentally I have some rough moments. Fortunately they don’t last very long. I usually just allow myself to rant and vent as long as no one else is around. It usually goes away after several minutes. I find that good sleep, a balanced diet, and easing off caffeine and severely limiting sugar helps with this. Usually happens a couple times a day. Mornings are usually the roughest.

November 18 2020

Looks like I will be spending Thanksgiving alone this year. With the increases in covid cases, my elderly parents think it’s a bad idea to travel several hours to visit me. I understand. I’m thinking about buying a pre cooked ham and maybe a cherry pie. My cleaning lady said she usually makes a plate for her elderly or disabled clients. Even the local Knights of Columbus aren’t hosting their huge dinner this year (though I do think they’ll deliver to people who sign up a few days in advanced).

I’m not surprised that cases are surging again with the cold weather. I am disappointed that many people I know still refuse to take covid serious. I rarely leave my home because of this. It’s really childish to think that wearing face masks in public and avoiding large indoor gatherings are infringements on rights. It’s really discouraging to see just what most people are like in times of crisis. Yet, while the quantity of my social contacts has declined, the quality of my friendships and interactions are increasing. I no longer have the patience to tolerate rude, toxic, and reckless people. Maybe that is why I’m holding together well during the pandemic and economic problems.

I see that most of Europe is back on lockdown. While I think this is what the US needs (as people refuse to practice common courtesy) I fear there will be blood in the streets if anyone even talks about this, let alone tries to enforce it. It’s really discouraging. Seeing how poorly people are taking the problems of 2020 makes me afraid for the future. It’s hard to think a year or two down the road once this pandemic burns out when people actively fight against making things better.