Being A Man With Mental Illness

I have spent most of my life alone.  The last time I had a roommate was my senior year of college in 2004.  Lived alone ever since.  Some days it’s all right, being free to do whatever I want and whenever I want.  Some days it is almost unbearable though.  The worst days are when I make multiple attempts to reach out to people only to be ignored.  Sometimes when I want to talk to someone, I’d rather it not be family.  As much as I love my family, they can be narrow minded and judgmental about some things.  Sometimes I feel like I can’t be my true self around them.  I severely censor myself or keep my problems to myself because I’m in no mood for a lecture or being condemned.  Irritates me that, even after twenty years of mental illness, I’m still blown off and told to “quit whining”, “be a man”, or “you’re so lucky.”  I still hear all of these quite often.  And people wonder why so many men never talk about their problems or make emotional connections to anyone.  Having a mental illness makes this only worse.

People have often asked me when I’m getting married.  I don’t usually have the stomach to tell them never.  Most of the time I want to tell them to shove off.  I never want to get married.  For one, my mental illness would make me a lousy husband and father.  Second, my mental illness makes it impossible for me to hold a job.  And let’s face it, almost no one respects a stay at home dad.  Third, I fear getting divorced and losing my family, my friends, my home, my prestige, just because I made the mistake of marrying the wrong person.  Fourth, why should I?  My entire life I heard this “I don’t need a man” or “You go girl” or “girl power”, etc.  Which I really have no problem with except that too many people build others up by tearing others down.  Why is it when I say I don’t need a woman living in my house I’m seen as weird and weak?  Why do women get to expand their roles beyond the traditional nurturers and home managers but men are expected to just stay in the moldy old days?  I don’t understand that.  It makes no sense.  What does the world really lose because I choose not to marry, have kids, or get myself an early grave trying to prove my worthiness for life at a job that ultimately means nothing?  Why do I have to prove myself all the time?  Why do I have to earn my humanity and manhood?  I really want to know.  And why, oh why, can’t we just leave people that don’t fit in alone and stop bugging them?  Will civilization collapse if everyone isn’t doing the exact same thing all the time?  No.  So stop expecting everyone to fit into some subdivision.

Changes

Haven’t written in several days.  I guess I really haven’t had much to report lately.  Had a breakdown three weeks ago but things have been going pretty decent since.  I still spend a lot of time at home.  I feel uneasy in public most of the time, usually preferring to stay home and socialize over the phone or via social media.  I’ve also been sleeping more.  I feel more refreshed when I’m awake and I get more restful sleep and stay asleep longer.  I’ve also given up coffee.  I’ve now gone three weeks without it.  I switched over to tea instead.  I think I’ve gotten more sensitive to caffeine as I age.  I certainly feel more irritable and jittery after a lot of caffeine.

I stay home most of the time anymore.  I admit I don’t socialize much in person.  But it works for me.  I don’t get much out of socializing with my neighbors as I don’t have much in common with them.  I don’t have much in common with most people anymore it seems like.  I’m not interested in politics or local gossip.  I guess I never have been.  And I certainly can’t understand why some people repeat the same mistakes over and over and expect different results.  Maybe it’s from not knowing yourself.  Some people get worried that social media and search engine algorithms know us better than we know ourselves. With as little as some people take time to examine themselves, I’m not surprised.

I do enjoy socializing but only in certain situations that rarely come up for me.  I would rather spend my days alone than deal with rude and ignorant people.  Sadly, rudeness and ignorance seems to be valued by many people.  I would rather not deal with that.  I have enough problems of my own with mental illness.  I can talk for hours about things like history, art, science, literature, philosophy, etc.  But if the conversation turns to gossip, complaints, politics, I’m ready to end the conversation after only a few minutes.

I’m fortunate that I have several friends and family members who will at least tolerate my quirks and fulfill my needs for the types of conversation I crave.  I love intellectual stimulation.  I crave it maybe as much as a drug addict craves his next fix.  I admit learning and reading are my fix.  I can spend months on end researching topics online and in books, sometimes even years.  I have spent several years now on science and tech.  Before that, I spent a few years on economics.  For awhile I dabbled in philosophy.  And I’ve always been interested in history and literature.  I enjoy learning and I enjoy talking about things I learn in my day to day studies.

Since I no longer have a “regular job” and can live decently on my disability pension, I have no reason not to scratch my itch for mental stimulation.  I make it my job to inform myself on things that my friends with families and careers may not have time to research.  Sometimes I am frustrated at most of my friends and family don’t research things like I do.  I imagine that is the illness talking.  As I don’t have traditional employment or children or a wife, and I love learning new things, I have no excuse not to inform myself on topics like tech advances and current events.

I have said previously I am not interested in politics.  What I should have said is I don’t appreciate the fighting that goes along with it.   I do find foreign policy and geopolitics fascinating.  Between modern geopolitics, the rapid advances in science and tech we are now experiencing, and the fact I can learn this with a portable computer and cheap wireless internet that is fast enough I can get videos, this is exciting times for myself.  It seems like much of what was science fiction as recently as thirty years ago is becoming reality now.  And the fact I can relatively easily access psych treatments that weren’t available when I was a child in the 1980s, I can watch this unfold in the news sites and blogs and youtube in real time.  I would say we are living one of the greatest dramas ever written right now, expect this is real life.  I find it all fascinating that things I couldn’t have imagined even twenty years ago are now occurring.  Exciting times we are living in, granted quite stressful at times too.  Stay tuned, it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.