Day After Christmas 2019

It is December 26, 2019 as I write this posting.  I had a rough go a few days right before Christmas.  I had to postpone my holiday plans as I was having some flare ups with the illness.  Even though I spent Christmas Day at home by myself, I made a point of calling my family and getting in touch with friends via phone and social media.  Got to chat with my brother and his kids and find out what they got for Christmas.  I rescheduled my family Christmas for this weekend.  But we’re supposed to have winter storms this weekend, so it may be getting postponed a second time, perhaps until New Year’s Day.  Fortunately there are lots of college football games this weekend.  So even if we do get the several inches of snow and ice and bad winds, I can stay home and watch football.  I just hope the power doesn’t go out.

I don’t have much planned for the next few days other than get ready for the storm and watch some ball games.  In addition to watching a few games already, I have been thinking over the last twelve months.  2019 hasn’t been as eventful as some years, at least not for me.  I did sell my car, I have employed a cleaning lady who has dropped in once a week, and now one of my neighbors is helping with my laundry.  My neighbors drop in a couple times per week and we just check in on each other.  I had my annual physical checkup in early December.  I didn’t lose weight (like I had hoped), yet I didn’t gain weight either.  I don’t know if I stayed steady because of the change of diet and regular weight lifting or what.  I did start on a blood pressure medication.  After a few weeks on it, I notice I feel less tense and am starting to become more active again.

Mentally I kept largely to myself even though I have felt less paranoid and anxious than previous years.  I have had a few flare ups over the last twelve months, but they seem less intense than in previous years.  I still sometimes call my parents and just blow off steam.  I feel guilty for it even though my parents seem to be understanding.  I admit, I have an amazing family for support.  Even the extended family of cousins and aunts are very understanding.  I’ve been doing this blog on a regular basis for six years now.  I’m more comfortable talking about my issues now than I was even when I started this blog.  I certainly didn’t feel comfortable about talking about my problems twenty years ago, not even really to family.  I started having problems when I was seventeen and a junior in high school.  At first I was hoping it was merely teenage angst and anxiety.  Turns out I was wrong.  After using regular medical treatment and therapy for almost twenty years, it is easier to talk about my problems.  I have moved past the acceptance part and now advocating for others besides myself.  I don’t know how long I will get to live, but I plan on talking about these issues for a long as I can.  For awhile I was thinking about starting a youtube channel where I do voice overs just talking about mental illness.  I am still a little leery about broadcasting myself, but not so much my voice.  I hope that mostly paranoia talking.  A friend of mine has a youtube channel featuring her art work and she’s tried to convince me to put some of my thoughts to video instead of just print.  I didn’t get around to it in the 2010s, but who knows what opportunities the 2020s will present.

December 11 2019

Only two weeks until Christmas.  2019 is going to be passing into 2020 soon after.  2019 has been a long year for me.  I think spending much of my time at home made this year go slower than usual.  It was a year of changes for me.  I sold my car so I’m no longer driving.  I lift arm weights regularly.  I gave up most fast food.  I gave up most sugary food.  I broke down and hired outside help to keep my home livable.  I now have help with cleaning and laundry.  I gave up on a few friendships once it became painfully obvious some of my friends and I no longer had the same interests or values.  I guess people do change over the years.  It’s usually so gradual that we don’t notice it until afterwards.  I am beginning to overcome some of my anxiety about people.  Guests don’t bother me much anymore.  I still get slightly paranoid when I hear people talking out in my hallway.

I didn’t watch much tv or news this year.  I can’t relate to many tv shows.  I even cancelled my Netflix subscription.  Most of what I watch anymore is youtube or live sports.  The news is depressing, but I get that’s what catches the attention.  We have plenty of good news stories that will never get mentioned simply because good news doesn’t catch the attention.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked either, outside of online science and tech articles.  I guess it’s been kind of a less eventful year, at least for me.

November 13 2019

Pretty good day today.  My neighbors came over to visit a little.  They also helped me with my laundry.  They were kind enough to make supper for me too.  I don’t have any immediate way to repay them other then buy them a few supplies and maybe some groceries the next time I’m shopping.

I’ve seen my neighbors almost every day for the last two weeks.  I’m starting to adjust to having visitors more often.  And I quite enjoy it.  It’s a pleasant feeling to know that someone out of blood relations and old friends care about me.  I’m slowly getting less and less anxiety prone by the day.  I even don’t nap as often.  I used to nap twice a day.  That has dropped to only once a day, usually in late afternoon, within the last week.  I’m even experiencing less severe aches and pains.  The mornings are still the worst, but even those are getting more bearable by the day.  Usually after a stretch, a hot bath, and a couple cups of water with my breakfast, I’m ready to go.

I don’t even play computer games as much anymore.  I spend more time reading online articles, listening to audiobooks and podcasts, and writing in my journals.  I usually write a couple times a day.  I my journals are the domain for my thoughts that would be too off subject and inappropriate for this blog.  It’s too early to tell, but hopefully I can eventually get back into writing poetry and drafts for stories.  I haven’t written poetry on a regular basis in probably six years.  Same goes for stories and novel drafts.

Been getting back into writing emails again.  They are much better for writing in depth and detailed correspondence.  Social media is good for short snippets, photos, and links to articles.  No such thing as an all purpose tool, at least not for socializing online.

Been staying up later too.  Went to bed around 11pm last night.  Got up at 5am.  I still haven’t pulled an all nighter in months.  I may try to do that before too long.

 

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.

Asking For Assistance While Mentally Ill or Thank You Facebook

Unfortunately my cell phone malfunctioned and quit working a couple days ago.  But thanks to email and social media, I was able to get in touch with my family and tell them what happened and see if I can get a replacement.  After several messages back and forth, I am able to get a replacement sent to my house within a few days.  I still have a bit of a fear of large crowds and driving, so that is why I am unable to get this done in person.  But, I had back ups via email and social media to get in touch with people who can help me out in this problem.  And the kicker is my family wasn’t at their house at the time.  They were able to arrange all of this via their own phones while at a family reunion in a small Colorado town hundreds of miles from their home.  Quite amazing what be accomplished, not only just by asking trusted family and friends, but when you tie support in with modern communication tech.  Thanks dad, mom, and everyone else who made this possible.  There is no why I can pay you back.  So I have to “pay it forward” and help others out when they are in distress.  In short, it pays to have a good support system, whether they are understanding family, close friends, counselors, social workers, home health aides, etc.  We as humans were never meant to be everything to ourselves.  That was true in the Stone Age and it’s even more true now in the early 21st century.  I guess this could be marked up to a positive story about how good social media and communication tech can be when used properly.  Thank you Mr. Zuckerberg 🙂

Feeling Decent and Keeping Occupied

Been feeling decent overall the last few days.  Still sleeping a lot but too much sleep is better than having breakdowns.  Even though I don’t leave my apartment for long periods of time, I still make it a point to stay active.  I have an exercise bike I ride a little bit every day.  And I have done arm weights three times a week for two months.  I’m starting to notice improvements even if they aren’t coming as fast as I would like.  But my health didn’t fall apart right away so it’s foolish to think I can gain it back immediately.  It’s going to be a long process and it’s one I’m glad I began.

Been listening to more music lately.  I renewed my subscription to Spotify a few months ago and I use it a little every day.  My PC got fixed a couple weeks ago.  I now have my primary gaming computer/backup to my Mac again.  As much as I enjoy my computers, I was feeling like I was naked in public while running my blogs and online interactions with no backups.  My PC took only a few days to fix.  But my depression and anxiety has been strong enough I couldn’t bring myself to go across town to get it fixed.  I finally had to sweet talk my dad into taking the computer to the shop when he was in town a few weeks ago.  And to get it picked up, I sweet talked my cleaning lady/personal assistant into picking it up.  It is tough for me to ask for help and admit weaknesses.

For most of my life I was the one who helped others out and voluntarily ran errands for family and friends.  I was kind of a taxi service for friends and family in high school and college.  I don’t remember how many times I ran friends across town or took them to restaurants when they wanted a break from the campus mess hall.  Many of my friends didn’t have cars when we were in high school and college.  And now I’m the one who asks for rides and delivery service because of the changing nature of my mental illness as I age.

I am convince people’s psychology does change with age.  Mine certainly has.  I look to avoid arguments and conflicts more now in my late 30s than I did even five years ago. I really no longer feel shame for wanting to be alone for long periods of time.  And I know sometimes I can step away from friends and family for several days and pick up where I left off.  A compliant of my romantic interests was that I was often too clingy and always wanted to be around my romance interests.  I understand why. I wasn’t being attentive, I was being smothering. No one was meant to be all things to anyone.  There are things I can talk with around family I won’t discuss with even close friends and vice versa.  It took me awhile to learn that I don’t have to ask any one person to be everything for me.  Mental illness stunted my social development in some ways.

In other ways it forced me to grow faster than most people.  And it certainly made me question my core beliefs and who I really was and what I really liked doing.  I am convinced had I never become mentally ill I would have never developed my ability as a writer and story teller.  I am probably better at communication with a mental illness than I would be without one.  I probably would be at a job I can’t stand because I would be too stubborn to quit and find something else.

I doubt I would have as wide a variety of interests had I remained mentally well.  I know I wouldn’t have spent so many years learning different subjects at the university of Youtube videos.  I have spent a shameful amount of time watching educational videos, science lectures, TED talks, and audiobooks on youtube over the last six years.  And the thing is, I could spend the rest of my life learning things and I wouldn’t feel like I learned enough and don’t need to learn anymore.  The more I learn, the more I realize there is even more out there.  Einstein once said to the effect that the universe is far more strange than we can imagine.  I’m learning that truth more and more with each passing day.

Overall I’m doing quite well.  Starting to settle into summer routines even though it feels like early spring outside.  I still have my bad moments, but at least they aren’t bad days now.  Even my flare ups aren’t as intense as they were in recent years.  My flare ups now involve more depression and less anger now.  But things are looking better with each passing day.

Making a Bachelor Pad a True Home with Mental Illness

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I admit to having been quite lax about taking care of my living quarters during the previous year or so.  Mentally I was stable, but that was mainly because I didn’t leave my apartment much.  I would stay home, read books, read online articles, watch science lectures and videos on youtube and curiosity stream, and ride my exercise bike a few times a week.  Yet I wasn’t taking care of my place like I should have been.  I used the excuse that I didn’t have guests very often and didn’t even really want guests.  But, there are going to be times when people have to visit us even unannounced.

But now that I’m gaining an even stronger sense of stability with my schizophrenia, I’m taking steps to remedy these problems.  I recently hired a cleaning person.  She’s been to my place a few times.  I think it’s going to work out well.  I had gotten lazy about keeping on top of the place, especially after my back went bad several months ago.  But I have lost some weight since the autumn and got some maintenance issues cleared up.  I was lazy about clutter and while I could find anything I needed in my place, no one else could.  In my occasionally paranoid state, I thought that by rarely leaving my apartment for any true length of time, I could make the problems manage themselves.  Well, that wasn’t happening.  Problems never take care of themselves.

I’m better able to stay on top of things because I asked for help.  Breaking down and admitting when I need outside assistance is one of the toughest things for me to do.  I imagine part of this is my natural paranoia (I was kind of paranoid even before I developed full schizophrenia), my illness itself, being still relatively young, and being a bachelor man.  Some men are notorious about not asking for outside help until a crisis develops and I am definitely no exception.

My place is feeling more like a true home rather than a mad monk’s chamber in a medieval monastery.  I received frames for the art work I had bought from an old friend for Christmas.  Got those hanged on my walls.  Now the place looks more cheerful and less dreary.  I had forgotten how good wall decorations could make a place look.  For the first several years out of college, I hung posters and pennants of my favorite rock stars, sports teams, and snarky but comical quotes on my walls.  It looked like a frat house except no girly pics or deer antlers wearing hats and Mardi Gras beads. My first bachelor pads out of school had the antlers but my girlfriends probably wouldn’t have liked the girly pictures.

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As far as decorations go, I have some nature artwork done by one of my old high school friends, a painting of an alien landscape inspired by science fiction literature done by an artist acquaintance (sadly lost contact with him when I withdrew from the local arts scene), and a world map with push pins in the countries where I had visitors to this blog from.  The list of my countries I have not had visitors from is now quite short after almost six years of regular blogging.  Even though the place is more decorated now than even this time a year ago, I’m still thinking about adding to my wall art collection.  And yes, I am far beyond the age where things like stolen road signs, snarky posters, and alcohol advertisements are appealing.

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