Thoughts on Friendships, Working, and the Past

Been more stable than usual for the last couple weeks.  Besides the fact I usually stay up all night, go to bed at sunrise, sleep until early afternoon, and then wake up for good, I don’t have much unusual going on right now.  Perhaps one of the reasons I have stabilized lately is that I have a routine that works for me.  I usually don’t alter it unless necessary.  I had to be up early a few days ago so maintenance could do some work in my place.  Spent a few hours out of my place and socializing with fellow tenants like old times.  Even though I haven’t socialized much over the last several months, I picked up like I never left off.  I was lucky in that I ran into a few of the more interesting tenants and we were able to do more than talk about the weather or complain about other people.  Mundane chit chat really drains me real fast.  That’s why I don’t do well at large social gatherings or Christmas parties.

Been reestablishing a couple of the friendships I had lost contact with over the last few years.  There are more I’d like to get back going.  One of my best friends from childhood I’d love to get back in contact with but I haven’t seen him in almost twelve years.  It’s a sad deal because we were almost like family to each other in junior high and high school.  Very interesting man.  But we just lost contact over the years.  I lost contact with most of my old high school friends besides one or two of them.  In 2019, my twenty year reunion is coming.  I’m probably not going as most of the friends I had as a teenager aren’t the type that go to reunions.  And part of me is afraid to go back after fighting mental illness for my entire adult life and falling apart the way that I have.  One of the reasons I’m not very nostalgic about my youth, or the past in general, is that high school, at least for me, was the toughest four years of my life.  I can’t imagine how tough they would have been had I not had the interesting and stimulating friends that I did.

I had some great times in college.  It was far more fun and stimulating than I experienced anywhere before or since.  It was one of those experiences that, as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t realize how rare it would be compared to the rest of my life.  I think I’m starting to understand why most people don’t like their jobs and think adulthood sucks.  I might be in the same camp had I not had a mental illness destroy any shot I ever had at a decent career.  I never could adapt to office politics or the thought that mediocrity in the workplace and life in general was acceptable.  I certainly couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that being good at a job meant that I was a threat to my coworkers and bosses. Workplaces really are like living Dilbert cartoons.  I don’t know what it’s like in other nations, but Dilbert and The Peter Principle aptly describe my experiences in the American workplace.

Even though I’m fighting a mental illness and don’t have much money, I’m pretty happy overall for the most part.  Not having a career made me realize that we really don’t need a lot of money if just having a happy existence is your main goal.  For years I have heard people say things like “you never hear a dying man say he wishes he worked more or had more possessions”.  And then these same people would work themselves into poor health, excessive stress, and destroy their personal relationships and families pursuing possessions and excessive working.  I think this is stupid.  Learn from the mistakes of the dying generations already.  Stop parroting their thoughts and then doing the exact opposite.  I guess I had to lose a career and my prestige to find my sanity and peace.

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Relapses and Lonely Friday Nights

The last several months haven’t been the most stable for my mental illness.  I had a “small” psychotic relapse yesterday afternoon.  Unfortunately this was at least my fifth breakdown since last summer and the second just in the last six weeks.  Things haven’t been stable and what I’m doing to minimize these relapses is no longer working.  I called my psych doctor and I’m now on the waiting list for an open appointment session.  I think I’m going to probably go back to my old medications.  They worked much better than what I’m on right now.  On the old medications I was on for at least six years I probably had only one or two relapses in an entire year, usually in late August or early September.  And even then the relapses weren’t as vicious as they are now.

I am afraid that changing medications could sink my attempts to lose weight.  I’ve lost over forty pounds in the last two years with these newer medications.  But these relapses are getting too frequent.  And even when I’m not relapsing I am more paranoid, more easily irritated, and more delusional than I have been in previous years.  One of my delusions now is that most people are stupid and malicious.  I’ve even gotten to where I don’t socialize in person unless it’s absolutely necessary.  But there’s only so much youtube, online articles, and computer games even a mentally ill man can do before such things become detrimental and unhealthy.

I can tell other aspects of my life are suffering.  I haven’t shaved in weeks and I don’t grow good beards.  I also haven’t showered every day like I normally do.  I haven’t been doing laundry as often as I should.  Things like my personal habits have been slowly deteriorating for the last few months.  I haven’t even gone to the park for over a week.  I normally go to the park three to four times per week.  Driving has become an irritable chore.  I drive so little now I usually go three weeks between refuels.  It’s been this way since mid October.  Besides a few snowstorms and one major blizzard, we didn’t have a bad winter.  Another delusion I have developed lately is an irrational fear that I’m going to get into another car wreck.  My social life and entertainment activities have been completely curtailed for months now because of the irrational fears that I’ll get into a wreck and that people are stupid and violent.  This is no way to live.  Changes are needed.

Good Times and Bad Times With Schizophrenia

238943_v1I have found when I talk to chronically normal people about what life with a mental illness is like, they are often surprised that it mental illness isn’t always the same all the time.  They seem to be shocked I have good days, let alone times when I laugh out of happiness.  I imagine that even informed normals just think that someone with mental illness problems has nothing but problems.  Some just think that because I deal with schizophrenia that I have delusions, paranoia, agitation, and depression all the time.  Not so.  The Hollywood images of the mentally ill being in a hospital being zombie like or loudly ranting isn’t entirely true.  Just because there are those with mental illness who sometimes zone out or act ‘stark raving mad’, that doesn’t mean that even those are like that all the time.  No it isn’t all doom and gloom anymore than it is all wine and roses.  We have our good days and bad days just like even the most chronically normal individuals.

It may be a jaw dropping shock to some, I do have good days even with a mental illness.  I do experience moments of what I understand to be happiness.  I have times where I am not depressed.  I have times when I am not delusional or paranoid.  In fact, most of the time I am not delusional or excessively paranoid.  When I do have my problems, sometimes it’s only with depression.  Sometimes it’s only with excessive agitation or annoyance.  There are some times I deal with depression and paranoia at the same time.  I am occasionally depressed and delusional when I do feel that living a life with a mental illness is hopeless and better treatments or, gasp, an actual cure for mental illness will not be coming.  Fortunately it is only rare that I deal with agitation, paranoia, and delusions all at the same time.  That usually only happens only a handful of times per year, with the worst instances coming in late summers.  It is those very rare times that cause me, and my friends and family, the most grief.

Delusions that can’t be shaken for a while, crippling depression, being easily agitated, and excessive paranoia are the worst problems I have as a man with schizophrenia.  The hallucinations are taken care of as is the impulsive behavior.  Even when I am at my worst, my bark is far worse than my bite.  But even then, I can usually be talked down out of it within a couple hours.  It can be a lively conversation for those couple hours, and that’s putting it politely.  Fortunately I haven’t hurt myself, anyone else, or gotten myself hurt by anyone else during those times.  Even with the four major symptoms of my schizophrenia, I usually experience only one or two at a time.  That is most of the flare ups I have.  The instances where I have three symptoms at once are rare.