Random Thoughts on Colder Weather and Socializing

Been quiet on my end the last few days.  I’m glad the weather is starting to turn cool.  Summers have been my toughest time of year for me for many years.  I guess I just don’t like day after day of sunny and hot weather.  I’m not a lizard and I can wear sweaters, get under fleece blankets, and make hot soup and coffee.  I’m usually my happiest in winter and spring.  Winter usually puts me in a philosophical and reflective mood.  And I’m usually happiest and most active in the spring.  Even as a middle aged man looking at the second half of my life and seeing many people my age the parents of teenagers, I still feel as giddy as a child when it snows.  I like Christmas, but I enjoy the socializing with family more than I do getting gifts now.  As far as gifts go, as a middle aged man I really appreciate things like tools, clothing, and money or gift cards.  Now that I’m a grown man, I understand why my dad always liked getting tools or clothing for Christmas.

As far as getting ready for colder weather, I broke down and bought a jar of instant coffee for the first time in over a month several days ago.  It takes the chill out of my bones and helps me concentrate my thoughts.  But too much can make me jittery and easily irritated.  So it’s more of a balancing act than it was even five years ago.  Caffeine just effects me more in middle age than it did when I was in my twenties.  I also decided to regrow my beard and let my hair get longer.  I more of less shaved myself bald and got rid of my beard for the summer.  Yes, I cut my own hair.  As good as my barber is, I just can’t justify paying her increased prices.  Especially since I usually do most of my work and receiving guests at home and don’t have to be super presentable every day.

Been watching more movies lately.  Watched a few science fiction movies from the late 90s and early 2000s over the last few days.  As far as movies go, I always liked science fiction and historical drama.  I don’t usually watch a lot of westerns, but Tombstone was one of my favorite movies from my teenage years.  I do like some superhero movies, especially the Batman trilogy with Christian Bale.  Haven’t watched much for comedies lately.

Still haven’t had much for socializing lately, at least not in person.  But I’m at the age when most of my friends are busy with careers and family.  All my friends except for my college friend who’s a school teacher in Netherlands are married or divorced.  I don’t hear from my brother much as he’s quite busy with his career and family.  I try to stay in contact with my best friends from high school and college at least a few times a month in spite how busy they are.  I imagine we can eventually pick up on the long drawn out conversations once the careers slow down and their children grow up.  Thanks to social media, my dad has reestablished contact with some of his old college and Air Force friends.

As popular as facebook has become I imagine there are millions of retirees in my parents’ age bracket reestablishing contact with old school friends and military buddies.  Before facebook got really big, my parents told me they were proud of how many people in my age bracket and younger were making more effort to stay in contact with friends from high school, college, and the military.  It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it still isn’t.  But the efforts were worth while.

Some of my friends I’ve seen only a few times in the last fifteen years, but we can easily stay in contact.  It’s one of the reasons I stay on social media in spite how much negative vibes can thrive in some cases.  I have gotten to where I don’t post much, at least not around people I don’t know very well.  I usually save my best material for friends and family I know will appreciate, or at least tolerate, my eccentric humor and thoughts.

Don’t have much to rant about.  I still occasionally have flare ups.  But in most cases I can ride those out with a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I guess I don’t feel much guilt for the flare ups, at least as long as I don’t take my illness out on other people.  If a flare up occurs, I can usually deal with with after a few minutes of deep breathing, ranting to myself in a normal voice, or just stepping back and disconnecting from socializing for several minutes.

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Sleep and Warding off Depression

Been quite rainy and overcast the last few days.  I do enjoy this kind of weather, especially as a break from the dry heat that is typical of late August and early September.    This kind of weather seems to a good excuse to pull up a blanket while sitting in my recliner and reading a book.

Still sleeping more than usual.  But this time it’s not that I’m awake all night and then I sleep all day like I had in the past.  As it is now, I’ll usually sleep five hours in the night, wake at sunrise, fall asleep after being awake for a couple hours and sleep until noon, be awake for a few hours, nap a little in the late afternoon, and then start the cycle all over again.  It does make it tougher to accomplish errands and daytime tasks, but I still feel pretty good over all.

Not only have I been sleeping more, I’ve been sleeping deeper.  I sometimes wake up disoriented and not even aware I fell asleep.  I dream more too.  Fortunately most of my dreams are either halfway pleasant or just make no sense but aren’t scary.  I used to get real bad nightmares in my early and twenties where I’d wake up in a startled panic.  Haven’t had one of those in years.  It’s a gradual process enacting positive changes.  But I’m glad that problems can changes and that we can adapt.  I used to consider naps a punishment, but sometimes a good nap can be the highlight of my afternoon.

August 4, 2018

Even though we still have officially six weeks of summer left, it’s starting to feel like autumn is just around the corner.  I’m seeing back to school sales and getting fliers for said sales in my mail on almost a daily basis.  One of my neighbors has tomato and pepper pants in the back yard of our apartment complex and they are looking almost ready for harvest.  My parents have kept tomato plants as far back as I can remember and we always had fresh tomatoes every August.  A friend of mine from out of state and her husband grow tomatoes and peppers to make fresh salsa.  I should sweet talk them into sending me a jar one of these soon days.  School for my nephews and niece starts in two weeks.  Soon I’ll be spending my Saturday afternoons watching college football.  I guess I always preferred the college game to the pros, if for no other reason, Nebraska isn’t big enough to support pro teams.

Mentally I still feel quite stable.  And I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I usually eat two large protein rich meals per day and drink mostly only water and coffee.  I don’t even buy bread anymore as I have cut most grains out of my diet.  I don’t eat much for dairy besides Greek yogurt and occasionally cheddar cheese.  But my diet mostly consists of baked and grilled lean meats and fresh vegetables.  I saw an online article featuring a former pro football player who lost over 100 pounds in a year and all he was doing was eating grilled chicken, fresh vegetables, lots of water, and lifting weights three times a week.  While I don’t count on such excellent results, it doesn’t hurt to aim big.  I feel like I’ve made much progress since Independence Day, exactly one month ago today.

I socialize in person more now.  Most days I leave my apartment at least once daily, if to just check the mail or buy a Diet Coke from the ground floor vending machine.  I usually drive my car three times a week just to keep it loose and ready to go.  Still haven’t made any road trips this summer besides going to my parents’ house a couple times.

I am still mentally stable.  I am usually in bed by midnight and awake by nine a.m. most days.  I avoid drama and pointless arguments as much as possible now.  Overall I feel well.  I haven’t felt this well for such a prolonged time period in a few years.  And I love it.

I’m glad that summer is almost over.  I always enjoyed autumn more than summer.  I look forward to the cooler weather, the turning leaves, the farmers’ markets, fall football,  playoff baseball, and the college kids returning to town.  My town really comes to life during the falls and springs when the college is in session.  I can hardly wait.

Readjustments, Halloween Movies, and Random Thoughts

The weather is turning colder again indicating that winter won’t be too far away.  The leaves on the trees have completely turned.  Since I have lots of trees in view of my apartment windows, I can enjoy the autumn foliage and not even put on a coat.  I am still a little guarded about whom I socialize with, but at least I socialize a little everyday now. Somedays I’ll stay home most of the time, but I am not as afraid of traveling as I was even a few weeks ago.  I try to get outside at least once a day and I’ve been lifting weights for a week now.

I’m also attempting to readjust my sleep patterns to more regular times.  For weeks I have been sleeping in the mornings after staying awake most nights.  Naturally this messed up my social life and sleep patterns.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve been drinking more coffee and hot tea to try to warm up during these colder days.  I imagine that this could take several days as I am used to sleeping in the mornings and then being up in the afternoons and overnight hours.

I haven’t seen any family in person since the summer.  That will probably change in a few weeks as Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up.  I have usually been stressed during the holidays in years past.  Anymore I avoid going to the stores and malls from Halloween to Christmas just to avoid crowds and the sensory overload.  I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping or Christmas music.  The only truly Christmas movies I like are It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.  I like the supernatural thrillers of Halloween better.  I can’t get into those slasher killer movies.  So I’ve been watching more supernatural thrillers lately in the spirit of Halloween.  I also enjoyed the old ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast.  Youtube has a few recordings of that.  So I’ll be binge watching Halloween movies for the next couple days.

Late Summers, Changes in Diet, and Mental Stability

Late summers have traditionally been a tough time for me dealing with mental illness.  I usually have to be real careful from late July to early September.  So far this year has been different.  It could be due to reducing my stress levels and avoiding stressful people and places.  It could be due to the medication changes I made a few months ago.  And it could be due to changes in my diet.  I now don’t eat much wheat or anything that’ll upset my stomach.  I have found that I feel better on days I don’t eat bread than on days I do.  I have had stomach problems in the past.  Stomach issues aren’t uncommon in people with depression and mental health issues.  I pretty much limit myself to lots of protein and vegetables anymore.  About the only grains I eat on a regular basis anymore are rice based foods.  Rice seems to be easier on me than wheat and other grains.

When I do go to restaurants I don’t order things like french fries or most other fried foods.  I do occasionally treat myself to chicken strips at KFC.  I have pretty much also cut out sugar too.  When I do crave caffeine, I usually opt for green tea, coffee, or diet soda.  I notice I’m less irritable on days I limit sugar consumption.  Easing back on the caffeine was tough the first several days as I would occasionally sleep more than I would like and sometimes experience slight headaches once a day.  But I think I have gotten past the worst of the caffeine withdrawal.  I used to drink four to six cups of coffee a day, certainly not healthy when dealing with mental health problems.

I have found myself eating more vegetables than usual.  Even when I order delivery pizza, I make it a point to get the mostly vegetable pizzas.  I don’t feel as weighed down and bloated after a few slices of vegetable pizza as compared to the all meats or cheeses pizzas.  Since I’m on a limited budget I have to be careful about buying fresh vegetables that won’t spoil within a couple days.  So I usually eat a can of vegetables every days, usually green peas or green beans.  I have had some good sweet corn, a Midwest late summer tradition.  When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have sweet corn with dinner three nights  a week during the month of August.  Most of our meals during late summer involved locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes from our garden, and bacon sandwiches.  My parents have introduced my nephews and niece to this August tradition too, even though it will be another few years before the kids develop a taste for tomatoes.

Overall I have felt really decent this summer.  I don’t have much drama to report.  I’m glad that the push for the playoffs in baseball is starting.  I’m also looking forward to the start of football season here in the US in a few weeks.  Fall practice has already begun and school will be starting again in a few days.  I saw that many countries started their soccer seasons this weekend.  I have made a habit of following the US national team since the last World Cup.  I hope we make it to the next one coming up in 2018.  Since the World Cup will be hosted by Russia next summer, I imagine I’ll be watching soccer at a lot of odd hours to adjust for the time differences.  I have kind of gotten into soccer as I have two nephews and a niece who play the game.  Even as a kid I was a slow runner but  didn’t mind getting hit or hitting others.  So that’s why I played football in high school. So that’s why I still watch football in the falls.  But we have made it through the long stretch of summer and fall will be here soon.  It helps that it has been cooler than usual the last several days in my part of the US.  Makes me hopeful for fall and the return of cooler weather.

August 2nd, 2017

July has faded into August.  In a few weeks school will be starting again in many places.  Seems that school starts earlier every year.  But now that we are into August it does seem like autumn isn’t too far away.  Another four to six weeks of hot weather and we should be done for the year.

Since it has been hotter than usual and for longer stretches this summer, I have spent more time inside.  Haven’t been getting as much exercise as I would like.  So I have been eating less.  I’m back to having usually only two meals a day.  But I think I have lost a few pounds despite my lowered activity because I am eating less.  Mentally I have been quite stable, especially for my summer standards.  I think I’m doing well just by avoiding stressful situations and people.  These certainly make my life more pleasant and quiet.  I’m even getting fewer aches and pains too.  Even though I don’t exercise as much as I would like, I still get out and walk around for a few minutes every day.

I really haven’t talked to anyone lately outside of family.  But I can do alright alone for long periods of time.  Loneliness doesn’t really bother me that much.  Loneliness is easier than dealing with rude and stupid people all the time.  I just enjoy my quiet and alone times.

I have so far made it through half of summer with no issues.  Hopefully the second half can also go well.  Once things cool off for good I am usually alright.  I have usually done better in winters and springs than summers and early autumns.