Starting Over and Trying to Achieve A Balanced Life With Mental Illness

Been feeling pretty decent over all the last few days.  It’s amazing what a few nights of consistent sleep and a change to a healthier diet can do.  I’ve also been doing arm weights every other day for the last two weeks.  Starting to notice a difference already.  I haven’t increased the weight I’m lifting but I can do more reps now with less aches and pains afterward.  The first couple sessions were tough as I hadn’t regularly lifted for over a year.  But as my back still sometimes flares up at the worst possible times, I have to start somewhere.  And building back some muscles seems to be the best thing I can do with my more limited mobility.  I am beginning to understand why the older residents and those with physical disabilities prefer to live on ground floor.  I’ve lived on top floor of my complex for almost thirteen years now.  I still like that I’m not always in the center of traffic but it does get tough when the back is acting up.  And of course, losing weight would only help my back.

After my last rough go, I decided to get more serious about health again.  I had let that slide for a few years.  I think it started when I had my car accident and had to have rehab for a few months.  Yet the back would still occasionally flare up to where, at the worst, it felt like I was getting electric shocks in my lower back.  As a result I gained back all the weight I lost in 2014 and 2015.  I had lost eighty pounds in a year and a half overall.  Sadly I gained some extra too.  But I am getting serious about eating healthier and adopting a more balanced lifestyle.

For the few years I was having back problems and not working to improve my health, I spent much of my days reading and watching educational videos.  I watched mainly science and tech videos.  But I also watched some how to videos, such as basic in home repairs and emergency preparation with household items.  Since I grew up in a farming community that was a one hour drive from the nearest Wal Mart, every one in our town stocked up on supplies before winter started or had plans in case of bad storms or floods.  This has helped me several times since I moved out on my own.  When I was in college, I was the dude on our wing who had all the over the counter medical supplies and miscellaneous items like toe nail clippers, flash lights, and Swiss Army knife.

Yet while I was building up my mind, my physical body was declining.  I was well on my way to essentially becoming a strong mind with a weak body, almost like a head in a jar in the science fiction shows.  Finally, I came to realize that having a strong mind would do me little good if my body completely failed.  Even though Stephen Hawking was sick for most of his adult life, I imagine he lasted as long as he did because he and his assistants adhered to strict protocols on what he could eat, on how much sleep he needed, etc.  Not that I am Hawking by any means 🙂

So to jump start my healthier routines, I have had to make some changes.  Namely cutting out sugared drinks, reducing my caffeine use, increasing how much water I drink, getting more consistent sleep, taking multi vitamins and fish oil, lifting weights, avoiding negative and toxic people, conversations and entertainment, etc.  I guess the deciding to avoid my neighbors when they were being irritable and rude was the first step to changing my health.

Another step that helped was hiring a personal assistant.  She comes in once every week to help me keep the place clean.  In addition to cleaning, she helps with my dishes and garbage.  Having a cleaner and more orderly house just these last few months has only helped.  It has motivated me to make even better changes.  I admit, I had let much in my life fall apart since my accident.  I stopped exercising.  I quit being careful about what I ate.  I stopped most socializing.  I sometimes skipped my medications.  I didn’t go off them completely, but I would sometimes go a day without taking them.  Lucky I didn’t have more problems with that.  And I went between being quite optimistic to being quite pessimistic but nothing in between for awhile. In short, I had no balance in my life.

Hopefully with the adopting of healthier habits, hiring a personal assistant, and the return of warmer weather I can return to some balance.

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Early July or Middle Summer

It’s almost Independence Day in my country.  And of course people are shooting off fireworks and making plans for cookouts already.  I don’t have any real plans besides grill some bratwurst on my electric grill and watch fireworks from my apartment window.  As it has been quite hot and humid the last several days, I have avoided going outside unless necessary.  Of course I’m not getting much sunlight by staying indoors most of the time.

I’m a week into my new medications plan.  I found out the hard way if I take them all at once like I have traditionally done, then I will want to do nothing but sleep for the next twelve hours.  After a couple nights of that, I found out I had to break my medications into at minimum twice a day.  So I usually take some of my medications when I eat breakfast and I take the ones that help me sleep at night before bed.  After a week on these new meds I have found my self eating less than usual.  And I have recently had an odd craving for cheese and milk.  Maybe I haven’t been getting enough calcium the last several months.  I’m also looking out for more non meat sources of proteins like beans.  I now actually want to eat certain fruits like strawberries and blueberries.  Too bad they are kind of pricey.  It’s also too bad that most inexpensive foods aren’t very healthy.  That could explain why so many poor people, at least the poor in the USA, are overweight.

As far as blood pressure goes, I knew for years it was only a matter of time before I ended up on blood pressure pills as that runs in my family.  My father has taken blood pressure medications for years and he’s now in his early 70s.  He also hasn’t had any heart attack or stroke problems.  Hopefully I can make it to my 70s inspite mental illness and being overweight.

I’ve noticed a few changes already in this new treatment.  It takes more to make me irritated.  I’m less paranoid.  I actually want to leave my apartment and interact with my fellow tennants.  I’m better able to stay on top of household chores.  I eat less than normal.  I feel less tense.  I have fewer unexplained aches and pains.  About the only true drawbacks I noticed so far are that I want to sleep more if I’m not careful about when I take my meds and I have to use the rest room more often.  I don’t know if that’s the meds or the fact I drink more water.  I easily drink almost a gallon a water every day.  But there are worse things than water to be consuming.  For a few years I’ve been having nerve problems in my thigh that sometimes felt like burning electrical shocks.  But those problems have all but gone away by now.

I still have to get some new furniture for my apartment.  Most of the things I had were quite old and had to be replaced.  I’m thinking of sweet talking my parents into letting me have one of their sofas.  I also think I need a heavy duty recliner that I could sleep in if my back ever started hurting again.  My living room is looking kind of bare with only a couple kitchen table chairs and my tv and a “coffee table” decorated to look like an old style travel trunk with all the stickers of places and resorts from around the world.  That was my mother’s idea.  I’m glad she talked me into putting those stickers on.

Overall things are going well.  I’m gradually being cured of wanting to sleep all the time.  And I’m also slowly being cured of my desire for sugared soda pop.  Anymore if I want caffeine, I’ll have coffee or tea.  I can hardly wait to see what the next few weeks bring.