Dealing With Self Doubt

There are times when I am in the grip of a mental illness flareup that I fear that I make no difference.  I sometimes fear I make no difference in anything I do.  I fear I make no difference to my friends, family, neighbors, peers, etc.  I certainly fear that I make no difference with this blog even though I’ve poured my heart, soul, and life into it for years.

One of the things that makes me doubt myself and fear I don’t make a difference is that I constantly repeat myself.  As much as I repeat myself, especially when trying to share some positive news of what is going right, I get convinced my words and actions fall on only deaf ears and blind eyes.  I get burned out on telling people what is actually going right and that most of the doom and gloom that is the accepted spirit of our times are really temporary setbacks and not the end of the cosmos.  But no one outside of a handful of people are listening and what I say means nothing.  At least that is the impression my disease infested mind keeps giving.

Most times I can’t read a person or what they are thinking at any given moment.  I can’t easily gage the moment the moment thoughts even if I can easily trace long term trends and possibilities.  I suppose it’s similar to a military general who isn’t good at winning individual battles yet ends up winning an entire war simply because they are excellent long term planners.  Even as a child I was a much better long term thinker than I was on a short term.  And it used to irritate my friends, teachers, bosses, and parents real bad.  Anytime I tired to explain that they were sweating the small things while losing sight of the entire picture, well I was condemned for having problems with authority and being a hopeless dreamer.  Very few appreciated the fact that I was a long term thinker outside of a few cool teachers, my two best friends in high school, and my grandparents.

Of course this learned apprehension about not making any difference, at least not short term, has been made even worse by the mental illness.  I try my best to remind myself that I am making a difference and I am making people think and question why the status quo is the way it is.  And when I am not in the grips of the illness I know I am.  Sadly, when the illness wins out, I seriously doubt my own abilities and if I am making a difference.  I suppose it’s like a rapid version of the change of seasons or even high tide and low tide.  The human mind is that powerful in that it can make false or distorted perceptions into an individual’s reality.  We think, therefore we are I suppose.

I try telling people about the struggles involved in mental illness.  But during moments of weakness I fear I make no difference.  I know it’s not considered manly to express or feel fear or express and feel anything for that matter.  But I no longer care about the expectations of others.  Haven’t since I figured out at age seventeen that nothing I did would be considered good enough for some people.  Some people will never be satisfied with what I do simply because that is the way they are.  Such people are lost causes not worth even talking to or thinking about as far as I am concerned.  I deal with such people only when absolutely unavoidable.

I try telling people about the advances in science, tech, humanitarian efforts, etc.  But it makes no difference to most people.  I remember a line in The Matrix were an AI named Agent Smith stated to the effect that humans find definition and meaning in misery and suffering and are incapable of accepting happiness and peace.  I find this to be true in many of my day to day interactions with others, even with close friends and family.  I hope it’s the blinders cast by the illness that makes me think this way.  I really do.  Maybe we vastly overestimate how much can be done on the short term but vastly underestimate the changes that can be done medium to long term.

Perhaps that is why the days at a dead end job or raising small children drag on forever but the years and decades pass rapidly.  One day you’re 27 years old and get a bad annual review and a demotion from your boss or your two year old is screaming like he’s demon possessed because you won’t buy him a candy bar in the Wal Mart check out.  Those days feel like a torment right out of Dante’s Inferno.  But, wake up and you’re in your fifties and you’re the boss giving out bad annual reviews or you’re an elderly man on your death bed looking out at four generations of offspring from your marriage and feeling kind of bittersweet for not taking more time to appreciate your kids when they were asking endless questions or for foregoing summer vacations and weekends to work a thankless job that, not only didn’t miss you when you retired or got laid off, but can probably be done by a machine or algorithm better and cheaper.

Every cemetery in the world is full of people who never could imagine a world where their labor or delusional self importance wasn’t needed.  We are living in that said world.  Billions of dead people who couldn’t imagine a world as it is now and getting along just fine without them.  Our descendants will live in such a world that won’t remember us for what work we did or what stupid arguments we were part of or anything for that matter.  Because of genealogy, some people might get their names remembered for centuries.  But no one will remember or care what they believed, how they worked, how they treated their kids and spouse, how they voted, etc.

Rather than being saddened by this fact of life, I am actually encouraged by it.  I don’t have to save the world by myself.  I am not the center of the cosmos (thank God).  I am not responsible for the short sightedness and ignorance of others, only my own.  And I needlessly worry about how others live their lives, especially if it doesn’t directly harm me or those I care about.  I am not a superhero who has to save the world.  I’m essentially an independent scholar with numerous interests trying to encourage those I encounter in this adventure we call life.  Yet, because of my illness, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that I am just one man among billions of humans and that I don’t have to win all battles or save the cosmos on my own.

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Fear of People and Socializing

Staying home for the most part these days.  I have developed a phobia of people and being out in public.  A few weeks ago I was going to run some errands in my car.  Unfortunately I had a panic attack in my car before I left the parking lot of my apartment.  I haven’t driven since.  I go out to run my car once a week but I am too scared to drive anymore.  I am also scared of people in general too.

I think this phobia developed over the last several months because almost everyone I was dealing with was in irritable and foul moods all the time.  And any time I tried to tell some good news or try to cheer anyone up, I am usually met with silence.  Even my friends are almost always in foul moods anymore.  I try to cheer them up, but it doesn’t work.  About the only person I talk to anymore who isn’t always depressed or angry is my mother.

I don’t associate with my neighbors anymore.  They are always angry, irritable, and petty. My landlord wants to get some activities going to get people more involved and perhaps alleviate some of the anger and boredom.  Good luck.  I won’t be participating.  I am burned out on people.

Trying to talk to friends doesn’t help.  They too are always angry and depressed.  Recently the most optimistic friend I had has turned into a bitter man.  He always complains about how stupid his students are and how things were so much better in the past.  And it irritates me.  I guess I’m still hurt and angry by how much my elders griped and moaned about my classmates and myself when we were kids back in the 1980s and 1990s.  And it angers and saddens me to see how much people in my age bracket are turning on their own kids.  We were those “damn kids” back in the 1990s and we hated being painted with a broad brush and stereotypes back then. Yet here you are, now that you have kids of your own, a few gray hairs, debts up to your eyeballs, jobs you hate, etc. and you have the gall to pull the same b.s. on the younger generations that was pulled on us?  Hypocrites!  Why do people even have kids if all they are going to do is rip on them and hate them?

It because of people always wanting to gripe and fight that I have dropped out of society. I rarely talk to even my tech enthusiast groups.  They have gotten to fighting among themselves too.  I swear we have, at least my age bracket, forgotten the basic rules of civil behavior that should have become automatic in kindergarten.  And the elders I deal with are often worse.  I hate what has happen to people.  I hope they grow out of it.

I guess it’s a good thing I had to learn how to be on my own even as a child.  I learned even before I got out of grade school that no one was going to care about my problems or me for that matter.  No one shed any tears when I got bullied at school.  No one cared I was regarded as an underachiever because I never got straight A’s in school.  It doesn’t matter that no employer or even college asked to see my high school grades.   And no one cared when I lost any shot at a career, marriage, or normal life because of schizophrenia.

Not even the doctor who diagnosed me told me how bad this could be.  When I was first diagnosed at age twenty I wasn’t even told it was a disability.  I spent six years banging my head against the wall fighting through school and numerous failed jobs before admitting defeat.  And even then it took two years to qualify for disability.  As many cuts to the system and roadblocks as there are anymore, I don’t think I could qualify now in 2019.  I lost a significant amount of social security money because, had I applied before my 22nd birthday, I could have been counted under my parents’ earnings and not my own.  And my dad was a dentist and my mom was a nurse, so I would have been making much more than I am now.  In this case, it didn’t pay to try to do the moral and honorable thing.  I should have quit college and applied for disability as soon as I was diagnosed.  It would have saved me years of heartache and struggle.  If it weren’t for the friends I made in college, it would have been a waste (at least in my case).  But since I didn’t have many friends growing up in the village that I did, maybe college kept me from becoming a complete misanthrope.

It hurts seeing so many people angry and irritable and depressed all the time.  It has taken a toll on both my mental and physical health.  I don’t want to leave my apartment anymore, not even for doctors’ appointments.  My psych doctor knows about my problems but doesn’t want to do teleconferences for my appointments.  I just don’t feel safe out of my apartment anymore.  Anytime anyone comes to me to talk about anything it’s just to complain, with the exception of delivery guys and my cleaning lady.  Kind of sad that the only enriching and encouraging conversation I get anymore is from people that I pay to do something for me.  Maybe I should PayPal all my friends money once a week to make them be optimistic and encouraging.  Because of people always being so irritable and negative, I skipped my class reunion and family reunion.  I am just too burned out to deal with anyone’s problems but my own.  I am burned out.  I no longer want to deal with negativity.  My own problems are bad enough.  And I will continue to be a hermit until I get some positive vibes off my family and friends again.  Until then, I’m dropping out of society.

Nostalgia: It Ain’t What It Used To Be

Been spending most of my time alone the last several days.  And I’m actually quite happy with this arrangement.  And why not?  Most of my friends are going through the mid life crisis deals as my friends are in the mid thirties to early forties range.  I have a college friend who was diagnosed with cancer several months ago who’s only a year or two older than I am.  Most of my friends are struggling with debts and dead end careers, so they are constantly on edge about money.  I’ve had friends suffer through divorces.  I have a cousin whose son was diagnosed on the autism scale last year.  My best friend from my teenage years lost her mother to cancer two years ago.  Even in myself I don’t have as much get up and go as I did even three years ago.  But I am in my late 30s.  I’ll be 40 next summer yet I don’t dread it.  I don’t dread aging as much as most of my friends.  Most people think I’m weird  or lying when I say I actually look forward to being a wise elder.  I’m not lying or weird.  I’m just ahead of the curve and no longer fearing the inevitable.

I admit I don’t have much nostalgia.  I don’t long for the “good ol’ days” because, well, the good old days kinda sucked in many ways.  When exactly were the good old days?  Was it back in the 1990s when President Clinton was screwing his interns, computers occupied entire desks instead of fitting in shirt pockets, and the music of Tupac and Marilyn Manson were going to be the death of Western Civilization?  Was it back in the 1950s when using the n word was okay but Lucille Ball couldn’t say pregnant on network television and the threat of nuclear war was real?  “Better dead than red” people said back in those days.  And people were worried about the corrupting influence of rock and roll music.  Or was it in the Old West when boom towns like Dodge City and Tombstone were far more violent and lawless than any modern slum, women couldn’t vote, and bounty hunters got paid for Native American scalps?  Or was it in the Stone Age when everyone ate fresh and natural food, drank clean water, breathed unpolluted air, had no laws, no villages, half of children died before adulthood, and writing didn’t exist.  Even the 2010s will be considered the good old days in twenty years by nostalgic fools.  Nostalgia is a desert mirage.  It is imagined.  It isn’t real.  I haven’t fallen victim to nostalgia even though I’m on the door step of 40.  Hopefully I never fall victim to nostalgia.

I definitely never want to be one of these bitter and angry old men who complain about the kids.  Let’s get some thing real clear: every generation of “lousy kids” was supposed to be the death of civilization.  And it never happened.  If anything, most generations built upon what previous generations did and left science and humanitarian efforts further along than when they started.  I have zero patience for people who complain about young people.  Elders were complaining about how stupid and incompetent my classmates and myself were even when were in grade school in the 1980s.  I have never forgotten how hurtful and unfair that was.  I never will.  And for that reason I will never pull that kind of crap on people younger than me.  And it burns me to see people my age complaining about the kids coming up now.  The kids are not more unruly or weaker now than in the past.  The only thing kids have ever been guilty of is making old codgers realize that they will someday become irrelevant, they will someday die, and they will someday be forgotten.  Kids make old people uncomfortable because kids make elders confront their own hypocrisy, stupidity, and that they were too scared or lazy to try to chase their dreams.

I’m now seeing many of my cohorts becoming bitter and resentful about the bad decisions they made in their teens and twenties.  You should have left that dead end job and started your own business or moved to a different city.  Yeah, you should have majored in STEM or went to trade school instead of majoring in humanities or general business.  Maybe  you should have paid off your credit cards before they become unmanageable.  You shouldn’t have spent your teens and twenties partying, drugging, and having sex like there would be no price to pay.  You shouldn’t have put up with abusive boyfriends or manipulative girlfriends.  You should have called your mom more often.  Yeah, you shouldn’t have cut ties with your siblings.  You should have road tripped and traveled to foreign countries while you still had good health.  You should have gone to seen your favorite musician the night they performed in your hometown.  You shouldn’t have ignored that geeky girl or boy in your high school history class in favor of the school bully or queen bee.  I could go on.  But there are no do overs.  Learn and move on.  Quit romanticizing a past that never existed.  Learn from your bad decisions and be glad for the good decisions you did make.

June 19 2019

Been kind of quiet the last few days.  I’m still going to bed around 10pm and waking up for good around 4 or 5 am.  It feels like I get more done throughout the day now.  I don’t know if that’s just my perception fooling me, but I do feel more productive and energetic on days I wake up early.  I’ve been a night owl most of my life but that seems to be changing the older I get.  I’ve felt less anxious and paranoid since I started going to bed earlier.  Been doing this for a few months now.

Been feeling pretty stable.  I still have minor flare ups once in awhile.  But they usually quickly pass after several minutes.  I think they are getting easier to manage all the time. I can be irritable and anxious, yet if I keep silent almost no one knows I feel any kind of anxiety or irritability.  I never thought I was good at keeping my feelings and thoughts to myself.  But maybe I’m getting better about this in adult hood.  Some days I don’t socialize much.  Yet it seems to keep me sane and well grounded.  Sometimes my friends and family are going to be in foul moods.  It seems to be best if I avoid them on days when they are.  Sometimes I’m in a foul mood.  And it’s better when I avoid people when I’m in those funks.

I decided I’m not going to my class reunion.  I’m not sore at anyone from back home or anything like that.  It’s just I don’t have much in common with most of the people I grew up with anymore.  Adult hood has a way of changing a person.  I’m not the same person at age 39 I was at age 17.  Sometimes it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s life when I think back on my teenage years.  I was back in my hometown last slightly over a year ago.  I didn’t recognize most people living there anymore.  Most of the teachers and mentors I had as a kid are either elderly or dead.  Most my friends from that era have moved far away.  Some of them aren’t the people who would enjoy reunions and probably won’t be going.  My closest friends live at least a three hour drive away from me anymore.  My parents and brother live two states away.  And while I’m on friendly terms with most people in my complex, even after thirteen years at my current apartment I still don’t feel like I fit in.  I hope that is my illness talking and not what is really going on.

One of the lousiest parts of my illness is that I am never sure where I stand with anyone. I’m not even sure where I stand with my best friends and family many times unless they specifically tell me we are on good terms.  The illness makes it easy to jump to conclusions and form fears that aren’t based in any reality.  And it doesn’t help that I tend to over think and over analyze people and situations naturally.  I know my desire for constant reassurance annoys friends and family.  I am convinced it killed my ability to enjoy dating or even get dates to begin with.  As it is I haven’t been on a date in a dozen years and I don’t want to date ever again.  It’s just more headaches for me than it’s worth.  At this point in my life I greatly prefer friendships to romances.  I never understood why it was such a bad thing to be friends with a dating interest or a spouse.  And I never will.  The fact that almost half of marriages end in divorce and a significant portion of those that do last for life are unhappy drudgeries tells me that we as a modern society are doing dating and marriage all wrong.  People are not meant to spend their lives in drudgery, anguish, misery, and desperation.

As much as the mental illness knocks me down on occasion, I am overall happy and content with my life.  Sure I could stand to lose some weight and isolate less.  I probably will live longer if I drop some weight and be more social.  As far as how my life has turned out, it could be much worse with this illness.  At least I’m not dead or in prison.  At least I don’t have addictions.  At least I don’t have debts.  At least I’m on good terms with my family and have managed to keep some really cool friends.  And even the ones I’ve lost contact with over the years we can probably pick up if we ever encounter each other.  Considering the illness I really don’t have many regrets I could have done anything different about.

Avoiding Pessimists and Overcoming Paranoia

Been feeling decent overall the last several days.  I haven’t had much for flare ups lately.  I think it helps I cut back on caffeine and sugar.  Too much of either can make me irritable and sluggish.  One of my neighbors recently moved out so it’s been quieter than usual lately in my complex.  I signed another lease last week, so that’s finally taken care of.  I guess I was delaying and worrying over nothing.  Since I emailed my bank and social security disability information to my landlady a couple weeks earlier, all I had to do was sign a bunch of papers.  It took maybe fifteen minutes overall.  I was fretting and worrying over something that turned out to be far easier than I thought.  As I had been fighting excessive paranoia and anxiety this winter and spring I was worried about the whole process.  I was even worried I might get evicted.

I guess I have experienced too much negativity in my life that I pretty much expect the worst anymore.  I have lost jobs and friends for some very petty reasons.  After going through that several times, I became convinced anyone in authority can mess me over for whatever reason they see fit and there isn’t anything I can do about it.  It didn’t help any that, in the past, when I asked for help, I was too often denied help and even condemned for asking for help.  It came to where I had zero trust of authority figures for anything.  Anymore I just try to stay low and out of sight.  I can’t stop authority from messing me over, I can only lower the chances that they do.  I never understood why it makes some people feel important when they screw over someone who can’t fight back.  And I never will.

Overall I try to stay out of sight, out of mind with almost everyone who isn’t friend or family anymore.  I am tired of putting up with irritable and angry people.  And I especially hate sarcasm and snark.  Neither are original anymore.  I think empathy and compassion is the new edgy and rebellion.  It sickens me how most people I know and hear from every day have no empathy for others.  And it spills into all aspects of life.  I’m tired of dealing with it.  I’m going hermit until people come to their senses.  If you have nothing decent to say or are just going to be a pessimist all the time, don’t waste my time.  I lost years of my life being a pessimist and believing everything sucked and was only getting worse.  I hate pessimists.  They just drain the life and joy out of everything they encounter.  And they certainly never propose solutions.  And I no longer want to hear it.  I have dealt with schizophrenia for over twenty years, yet I am more optimistic than most neurotypical people I know.

May 19 2019

Been quite a bit warmer the last several days.  After a chilly and damp spring it looks like summer is on the way.  Been sleeping more lately.  Usually I take a couple naps during the day and usually go to bed for the night around 11pm.  I’ll sometimes wake up in the middle of the night but I’m usually up for good by 7am.  Overall I’m stabilizing.  Haven’t been as irritable lately.  I am beginning to have more moments of optimism.  I don’t know if this is because I am avoiding negative people more or what.  It is sad I have to limit my interactions with other people for fear of relapses.  But it is what has to be done I guess.

I don’t socialize online as much lately, even though I’m beginning to notice less overall negativity now.  I guess I’m just content to keep to myself for now.  I don’t hear from friends much now.  But I guess everyone is busy these days.  Besides most of my friends seem quite stressed with jobs and family issues anymore.  I just can’t help them or relate to these problems.  So it is probably best not to get involved.

Even though I have little to no social life these days, it doesn’t bother me as much now as it did even a few weeks ago.  I have gotten used to it I suppose.  And I know I’m not the only one dealing with loneliness and occasional bouts of depression and anxiety.  Almost everyone I know is in this situation now.

I guess I have not much to report on because not much new drama has come up.  But I was needing a few days with no drama.  We can all use such days.

Being Ignored While Reaching Out

Saw my parents a couple times over the last few days.  It was good to have visitors for an extended time.  I hardly get any visitors anymore.  I guess I have hit the age where most of my friends are busy with their careers and families.  Other than a few friends who are divorcees, I have only one close friend right who has never been married.  Unfortunately he is quite busy with work and lives in another country.

I feel like I miss out on a great deal because I don’t have a family and can’t work.  Most of my friends conversations revolve around work, spouses, and children.  And sadly, many of my friends are also depressed and anxious.  I guess with most of my friends being in their late 30s and early 40s, I imagine many are experiencing mid life crisis type things.  That and pretty much everyone is more stressed now anyway.  There are times I am quite stressed too even though I have no job or wife or kids.  I spent most of this spring in a deep depression where I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Some days I slept twelve to fifteen hours a day because sleep was the only time I didn’t feel anxious or depressed or irritable.  I was isolating from neighbors and avoiding people because I was depressed and anxious and I was depressed and anxious because I was lonely all the time.  And on it went in a vicious cycle.

I miss my friends and family.  I miss having in depth and meandering conversations that cover many different topics.  About the only person I have those with anymore are my mother.  Everyone else seems to be hung up on work, debts, family, etc.  They have become too busy earning a living that they forgot why they stay alive.  Naturally I can’t talk to any of my friend about this.  Because they are too stressed living paycheck to paycheck to engage in anything besides work and sleep it seems.  And I have been having a great deal of paranoia lately that my friends really don’t like me that much.

This paranoia might spring from that most of my friends don’t reach out to me, at least not lately.  Anytime I try to reach out to friends, I usually get no response.  When I do get responses, they are usually short answers or complaints about how bad their lives are and how lucky I am.  It’s really discouraging and sad.  We tell people in distress to reach out for help all the time.  Yet, what is the point of reaching out when most of time we are ignored or made fun of?  And people wonder why, in spite of our prosperity and having all but conquered absolute poverty, we are unhappy and depressed.  We are unhappy and depressed precisely because we don’t make efforts to connect to people or answer those who are lonely.  We bought into the whole rugged individualism to where we believe we have to just bear it if we can’t solve our own problems.  This is really heartless and stupid.  In our age, we are far more interdependent than any of us as individuals or nations realize.  And until we acknowledge this and adapt accordingly on an individual, civilizational, and species level, we will only see our issues of anxiety, depression, and loneliness become far worse.  We are already seeing epidemic levels of stress related illnesses.  If mental health problems got even a fraction of the attention that physical illnesses like cancer got, we would be well on our way to alleviating these problems.  Yet, we as a society and individuals choose to make them worse in those around us and in ourselves.