Confessions of A Mentally Ill Blogger

Going off subject for this post.  I decided to bring more of my online confessions.  Yes, there is a real live middle age man behind the scribblings and musings of A Life of Mental Illness.  So here goes:

  1.  I’ve had the same best friend since high school.  And my best friend is a woman my age.  I didn’t understand the whole ‘males and females’ can’t be friends trope back then.  I still don’t.  Just because I am a man and she is a woman doesn’t mean we have been or ever will be romantically involved.
  2. I never understood why just because I am a man that I’m supposed to want sex all the time.  I never have, not even as a teenager.  And I used to get such a hard time from my school mates because of it.  I got it worse from my female classmates than I did even from my teammates on the football team.
  3. I never enjoyed dating.  And it wasn’t just because I was most of the time turned down even for something as simple as a cup of coffee at the college student center.  The few times I did date, I always felt like I was under investigation for the pettiest offenses and slip ups.  It was nerve wracking and not worth it.  Angered me that I couldn’t just be honest with women I found attractive.
  4. I don’t understand adults who forget what it was like being kids.  Even though I’m almost 40 years old and starting to get a few gray hairs in my beard, I still remember vividly what is was like growing up.  I don’t romanticize those days nor do I completely condemn them.  I had some good times and I went through some serious trials I never want to go through again.
  5. I don’t understand adults who hurt children.  I think it’s cowardly that some adult would do anything to a kid they wouldn’t dare dream of doing to an adult.  I have less respect for adults who abuse children than I do just about anything else.
  6. I don’t understand the mindset of bullies, especially adult bullies.  I can’t understand how messed up a person’s moral compass has to be in order to feel like they are powerful for messing with people who can’t fight back.  It doesn’t show power in my mind to yell at, berate, manipulate, and abuse people.  It shows a complete lack of character and courage as far as I’m concerned.
  7. I don’t understand people who think that yelling, insulting, threatening, and throwing temper tantrums are the signs of a good leader.  They aren’t.  The only reason people, myself included, put up with this kind of nonsense is that we have no choice.  At least not temporarily.  All the while I am agreeable to someone who is a verbally abusive boss or leader, I am silently bidding my time until I have an opportunity to where I no longer have to deal with them.  I have quit several jobs just because I got tired of dealing with abusive bosses.  And I refuse to go back to any job if I get the sense that a work place tolerates abusive bosses.  Thanks to my disability and my pension, I can say ‘screw you’ to bad bosses.  I am convinced if enough people could get several months worth of living expenses saved up and just start walking out on abusive and toxic workplaces in large numbers, we’d see these employers attitudes improve pretty fast.
  8. I never accepted why workplace politics are what they are.  Never have and I never will.
  9. Sometimes I am convinced that the adults act worse than the kids.  But it didn’t seem this way when I was growing up.  Maybe it’s something that goes in generational cycles.
  10. I don’t understand how weekly news and sports magazines are still a thing even after almost thirty years of the world wide web.
  11. I don’t understand why people still write checks.  I still have to write checks for my rent.  Irritates me to no end.  What century is this anyway?
  12. I don’t understand people who go on and on about the ‘good old days.’  When exactly were these good old days?  And if I make it to age seventy I’m sure I’ll hear some fools talking about the 2010s as ‘good old days.’  The good old days never existed.  They were just when you still had good health and weren’t held back by constant aches and pains.
  13. I’m glad I was never popular or cool.  I don’t want to be popular.  I just want to make people think.
  14. I don’t begrudge twenty somethings who still live with their parents.  Multi generational housing was more normal in previous eras than now.  Sometimes I would love to live with my elderly parents or my brother or my aunts.  At least we could look after each other easily.  And I wouldn’t have to deal with some of the screw balls and loose nuts who come with living in an apartment complex.
  15. At this point in my life, I’m tired of living in an apartment complex.  I would so buy my own house and not deal with land lords and close by neighbors if I could afford it.  I just want some privacy and not have people looking over my shoulders all the time anymore.  Dormitory living was more fun at age 19 than at age 39.
  16. I often fear that I don’t get through to people.
  17. I often fear my friends and family secretly don’t like me.  I hope it’s the illness talking.
  18. I sometimes go days at a time without leaving my apartment.  I’m just burned out on the stress of dealing with irritable, angry, and rude people all the time.  Socializing with most people is toxic for me anymore.  At this point I’d rather deal with a machine than most people.  At least machines won’t give me a hard time or tell me how bad of a person I am.  People sometimes suck.
  19. I love to sleep.  I’d sleep even more if I didn’t wake up with aches and pains every morning.
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Routine Changes and Intellectual Pursuits With Mental Illness

Been staying home most of the time lately.  The weather is turning colder, like typical Nebraska Novembers.  We had our first snow a couple days before Halloween.  Even though I have essentially been cabin bound for several days, I don’t usually feel that lonely or irritable.

I have made a few changes to my routines.  I decided to give up on coffee, again.  Even the morning cup that was my standard for over fifteen years too often makes me irritable and twitchy.  I am sleeping longer too.  I usually go to bed around 9pm, wake up at 2am, work online or read until about 6am and then go back to sleep for another three hours.  I also usually nap for an hour in the afternoons.  It seems like I am sleeping some at least three times a day.  It may make it tough to get a lot done, but it does alleviate anxiety and allows me to declutter my mind.  I still sometimes get vivid dreams, but fortunately most are not scary or violent like they were in my early twenties.  Most just don’t make sense or they are the ones where I’m naked in public and no one seems to notice.  And I often have those dreams where I am back in school and I can’t find my classes or even open my locker.  Needless to say when I wake up and realize I’m in my late thirties again, I feel relieved.

Since I fazed out coffee and sleep more, I have found it takes more to make me irritable and distressed.  It also seems like I recover from aches and pains faster.  And I catch my breath quicker when I get winded now.  I don’t feel much for aches and pains when I stand for long periods of time, but I do find it annoying sometimes.  One of the reasons I started doing my shopping online was mainly because I got annoyed with standing in line for more than a couple minutes at a time.  The worst was when I was at the gas station and needing to pay for a tank of gas and I’d have several people ahead of me buying lottery tickets.  It was especially bad on the days of Powerball drawings.  I am convinced that lotteries are a tax on people who can’t do math.

I’ve also cut out as much sugar as possible.  I didn’t even buy candy for Halloween this year, not even for myself.  Then again, I enjoy watching people in costumes more now than I did even as a ten year old when I got to dress up.  Sugar was another thing that made me sluggish and occasionally irritable once the sugar rush burned off.

I am making friends with some of my neighbors.  I usually hear from them at least once a day.  For a small monthly fee, they’ll help me out with my laundry once a week as long as I provide the soap and laundry money.  They were also good enough to make dinner for me a few days ago.  While I do cook for myself, it’s usually simple things that don’t require a lot of ingredients.

Gotten back into listening to audiobooks on youtube.  I also listen to science and tech themed podcasts.  I occasionally listen to Joe Rogan if he’s interviewing a scientist or tech person.  I still avoid politics.  I have enough beliefs across the entire spectrum that is doesn’t qualify me for any traditional camp, party, or tribe.  So I catch flack from all sides just because I try to think for myself and am not dogmatic about my politics.  I swear politics has become like religion for far too many people.

I don’t post much on facebook anymore.  Then again, about the only people I hear from at all anymore are my best friend, a couple cousins, and a couple college instructors.  Even the tech groups, with only a few exceptions, have become fear mongers and hopeless these days.  Even tech enthusiasts are too often guilty getting their science news more from Hollywood and less from actual scientists.  I don’t read most science fiction and I don’t watch any science fiction shows just because they are so dystopic and such doom porn anymore.  No wonder most people are filled with fear and dread.

I try to tell people what’s actually going right (and far more is going well than not), but I’m just waisting my breath on everyone it seems.  About the only person who doesn’t think I’m a delusional liar is my own mother (and my best friend when she’s been doing well).  And even with her, I don’t know if she actually believes what I’m telling her or if she’s just humoring me.  And people wonder why I dropped out of society and don’t socialize much outside of close friends and family.  What’s the point of socializing if most people just suck the life and positivity out of you?  It seems that optimism and empathy are the modern rebellions.  It isn’t cool to be an optimist, but that may be just because we are years ahead of the curve.

People think I’m lucky because I’m on disability and don’t have to work a regular job.  While having freedom (at least to the extent the pension money doesn’t run out) is amazing, it is also a lonely life.  I spend most of my days reading, watching science lectures, lifting weights, listing to podcasts, but not much socializing.  It’s like this scholar I sometimes watch on youtube said, “If you seek the truth, the truth will set you free.  But it will also make you lonely.”  But I’d rather seek wisdom and knowledge than popularity and prestige.  I’ve felt this way my entire life.

I believe I now know what my purpose in life should be.  It is to be an independent scholar/philosopher.  Sure such work will mean I will never live a wealthy life.  Then again, some of the smartest and wisest people in history will never be known because they spent their lives in monasteries or libraries or lecture halls and laboratories.  And that is only if they were lucky.  Many more spent their lives never fitting in, seeing absurdities every where they went, and died frustrated and bankrupt.  Fortunately, the internet gives an outlet for people like me, who in previous eras would have had no options other than monasteries or academic life.  The true geniuses who drive progress may not be the billionaire entrepreneurs, but the engineers and scientists and instructors making the entrepreneurs visions possible.  I suppose people like that do the intellectual grunt work that make modern society possible.  Yet most people will never hear of them, much like no one hears of individual master carpenters or plumbers.

Rant About Jobs and Finding Meaning

I would welcome a cure to my schizophrenia but I have had bad enough experiences with work place environments that I never want to hold another job again.  I used to vomit from anxiety probably 50 percent of the time when I went into work customer service jobs.  The only job I didn’t do this was my janitor job.  But then, I didn’t work around crowds and I had to see my boss only once a day.  Yet, good luck finding a job that doesn’t involve working with crowds or office politics nonsense even with a college degree.

I would be completely content to be where I had to be around the same group of people day after day and only rarely interact with others outside my work team.  Almost no jobs like that exist anymore.  A significant number of jobs will likely be taken over by machines within the next ten to fifteen years. I have tried to tell people this for several years now.  But almost no one listens or if they do they tell me I am a liar.  The future is coming my friends.  These jobs, at least the ones we fight over now, will be going away.  And there isn’t anything even populist politicians or professional Luddites can do to stop it.  Sure, they can delay the inevitable.  But it will only put their individual businesses and nations at a competitive disadvantage and make the transition to a largely automated economy a lot tougher than it has to be.

Some people think I’m crazy or hopeless dreamer or a liar when I tell them this.  I am not stupid.  I am just ahead of the curve.  And being forced out of the workforce because of my schizophrenia meant that I was forced to find a different way to define myself than what I did for money.  But, in many ways, I am thankful I was forced to redefine myself at age 25 as opposed to age 45 with a family and a mortgage.  I went through my identity crisis when I was still young, flexible, and physically healthy.  It would be much tougher now that I’m 39 years old if I got laid off from a job because a machine can do it faster and more precise than I ever could.  The future is happening.  It just isn’t evenly distributed.  Changes are coming hard and fast in the next ten to twenty years, even more so than they are now.  It is time to stop denying it and adapt.

Aches, Winter, Losing Friends, and Stress

Been having bad knee pains the last few days.  My mobility is more limited than usual.  So I’ve been putting ice on my knee and taking it easy since this weekend.  Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have to work a regular job and not just because of my mental illness.

Getting ready for winter, at least I was until my knee started acting up.  Stocking up on canned food and peanut butter.  So glad I don’t have food allergies as peanut butter is good and cheap emergency food that can keep for quite awhile.  Bought a fleece blanket in addition to the blankets I already have.  Been spending most of my evenings under a blanket and reading.  I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  Been doing this since the spring.  I’m pretty sure I’ve lost weight but I don’t know how much.  I know I’m down one size in clothing all around since the spring and I recover from aches and pains faster.  The worst time for aches is right after I wake up in the mornings.  Fortunately hot baths usually cure those.

My sleep patterns have changed, again.  I usually go to bed around 11pm, wake up at 3 am and rattle around for a couple hours.  Then I go back to sleep around 5 am and sleep until about 8 am.  I don’t nap as much in the afternoons, usually only a couple times a week.  My sleep patterns change with how my illness affects me.  I usually sleep more when I’m distressed and having more frequent flare ups.

Fortunately haven’t had much for serious long lasting flare ups since this summer.  I still get some a few times a week.  Lots of caffeine can make these worse.  So can socializing with rude and irritable people.  Been avoiding people in person as much as possible lately.  It just seems like people are more irritable and on edge than usual lately.  I even avoid talking with some friends because it seems like they just want to do nothing but complain anymore.  I’m sorry, but I have enough problems of my own and I’m not always stable.  I avoid friends sometimes because I’m fearful of having flare ups and melt downs on them.  I fear jeopardizing the friendship because I can’t process stress and negative vibes very well anymore.  I’ve already lost a few friendships over the last few years because I can’t process negativity well.  I don’t want to lose anymore.

Taking Care of Anxiety and Taking Care of Self

Been feeling quite anxious the last several days.  I didn’t realize how anxiety stricken I was until I took an emergency anti anxiety medication.  I slept for several hours.  Even though I missed a couple ball games I wanted to watch on Saturday night, I slept very well.  It was the best I slept in weeks.  It was one of those sleeps that was so deep you had no clue how long you were down for.  As it was, I was down for over five hours.  When I woke, I felt a calmness and peace I hadn’t felt in weeks.  I felt quite weird in the fact it was also 1:30 am and I felt all this peace and confidence I hadn’t felt in a while.  So I’m now waiting on a load of laundry to finish and it’s 3 am my time on Sunday morning.

I now fear that much of my avoidance of people and feelings that people were more irritable than usual were due to me being anxious and more sensitive than most people lately.  I have always had an uncanny ability to pick up on other people’s feelings and vibes even as a child.  I could sometimes sense their feelings almost as soon as they could.  Naturally this caused me to over read many of my family and friends.  Anxiety is part of the mental illness.  And I had been more sensitive to it than usual for much of this summer.  While the anti anxiety medication and long sleep helped, I now want to take active steps to warding off hurtful anxiety.  I now realize how paralyzed by my own fear I am.  That’s probably why I avoid socializing in person as much as possible.  Other than chit chat with neighbors when I check my mail or meet the delivery man to sign for my deliveries, most of my in person interaction came when my cleaning lady came to my house once a week.

She usually comes on Thursdays, so those were getting to be my favorite days of the week, at least until fall started and college football got going.  It is an exciting year of football for me.  My Huskers, while not in the championship picture, are now at 3 wins and 1 loss, and that loss was an overtime one.  I feel a sense of hope and pride in my home state team I hadn’t felt in several years.  I think it made a lot of people happy that Scott Frost, our coach, has a winning track record at his previous jobs and is a Nebraska alum and grew up in a small farming town in state.  I hope we continue to improve.  I don’t know if the glory days of my youth will ever return, but it is encouraging that the alumni and fans still support the team even though it’s been twenty years since we won a championship.  I don’t know anywhere else that has that kind of unwavering support.

Overall, I’m starting to feel more confident and energetic.  That anxiety will mess with a person real bad if left unchecked.  I hate to think most of my problems are due to anxiety problems I was not addressing.  But that is how strong our minds are.  Our minds are powerful enough it can make anxiety as real as the air we breathe and the food we eat.  And anxiety does effect physical health.  I had felt aches and pains, especially in my lower back.  I still feel those some but I can now push through them.  Sometimes getting outside help can make all the difference.  It can be tough to seek medical help or assistance from even a trusted doctor.  I don’t know how much of that is my illness talking or me being a man or what.  It can be tough to ask for help, especially when I am often able to solve my own problems and have a knack for helping others solve their issues.  But I definitely read too much into other people, especially those I’m close to.  But the mind, even an ill one, is very powerful in that it can sometimes make or break our realities.

Avoiding Negative People While Mentally Ill

Haven’t been in the mood for socializing much lately.  It’s not because I’m feeling lousy and irritable.  Far from it.  I avoid socializing for the most part lately because almost everyone else I associate with is in lousy moods.  I have run out of patience with people coming to me with their problems and not caring about mine.  What makes things even worse is that no one I talk to complains about things they can immediately remedy.  I’m tired of listening to my friends and family complain about this, that, and the third.  You have problems, well good.  That means that you are still alive.  Everyone has problems, even I do.  Surprised?

I haven’t even left my apartment for several days because I am tired of seeing and hearing so many people be in foul moods.  I have been told that socializing is important to good mental health.  Is it really when most other people are being negative and toxic?  I finally had enough and shut off my phone this afternoon.  Don’t come to me and expect me to listen to your gripes and not even have the courtesy to care about mine.  I live below poverty levels.  I am overweight.  I have chronic back problems.  My mental illness sometimes flares up but I don’t dare take it out on anyone.

I am lonely.  I have almost no one to talk about things I want to talk about, outside of my own parents.  It seems like most of my friends are in foul moods all the time anymore.  And my neighbors are just as bad.  I have to admit dealing with so many angry people is taking a toll on my psyche.  About the only things I enjoy anymore are watching youtube videos and playing computer games.  Most people will tell me this is a horrible way to live my life.  It probably is, but dealing with angry and irritable people for most of my social interactions sounds even worse.  And my friends and family wonder why I dropped out of society.  I just don’t want to deal with other people’s toxic attitudes and behavior.  I sometimes sleep just to feel better and not deal with other peoples’ madness.  I probably sleep ten to twelve hours a day anymore.  I have reached my breaking point.

Socializing is no longer enjoyable.  Being by myself is far more enjoyable anymore.  I have given up on telling people good news and sharing my enthusiasm for tech and science advances.  Most my friends and family either think I am “fake news” or I am met with complete indifference.  I would actually rather be told I am a liar than be met with indifference.  I’m burned out on negative friends and family.  I talk to only two or three people on facebook on a regular basis these days because of all the anger and hopelessness.  I don’t know if it’s me or if all my friends and family went bad all at once.

Naturally no one sees these things the way I do.  And if they do, they won’t bother to do anything to improve their situations.  As it is, for now, I’m just staying out of sight and out of mind.  I refuse to socialize with negative people.  I lost much of my youth because I was raised to be a negative pessimist who was never pleased.  I’ll be damned to spend my adulthood that way.

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.