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.

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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.

Returning to Normal Routines

After several days of colder than average weather, it finally warmed up a little today.  At least it warmed enough for me to run some errands.  It feels good to be able to leave my apartment again without worrying about frostbite.  I had spent several days staying at home, watching college football, playing computer games, but doing little of anything else.  I need to get back into some regular routines.  To that end I started lifting weights again today.  I had been lazy about lifting this summer and fall.  I had been quite lazy about exercise ever since I hurt my back.  Sadly I gained back the weight I had lost a few years ago.  I’m starting over in this regard.  I know I can lose the weight again, it’s just a matter of doing so.

Still not sleeping as much as I used to.  Which is alright with me as I used to sleep twelve hours a day during the summer.  Now I’m getting like six hours a sleep every night.  Yet I still feel quite rested.  And I usually try to take an hour nap in the afternoon.  Even with my reduced sleep, I rarely stay up all night now.  Used to be I stayed up all night three nights per week and then sleep in the mornings.  My sleep is returning to more normal patterns.

Been spending a little more time on social media the last few days, mainly to find out about people’s holidays’ plans.  I don’t know if I’ll be back on facebook and twitter more from now on.  It seems to me that many of my friends have just gotten burnt out on all the drama and fighting that has been so prevalent for the last few years.  I wound up unfollowing many people because of the drama, including family members.  So much for making people more connected.  I think the older I get, the less use I have for drama and nonsense and the more uses I have for logic and intelligence.

Now that the weather is starting to break out of the cold spell and the holidays are over, I am at a crossroads.  I realize I now have more freedom than I used to.  During the holidays I avoid the stores because of the crowds and loud Christmas music and too bright displays.  I’m also at a loss now that I won’t have much going on until spring.  January through April has always been a slow but stable time of year for me.  Mentally I am usually my most stable during the winters.  And I usually get a lot of reading and writing done during the colder parts of year.  I admit I love to read for my own enlightenment more than I do my entertainment.  I consider learning entertainment.  I know I am weird in that regard.  But learning new things gives me joy, I don’t care if being an intellectual makes me a social outcast.

Since the holidays are now over, I can get back to some resemblance of normal routines. I plan on doing many audiobooks on youtube this winter.  I’m thinking about using my Khan Academy account to learn some subjects I wish I had taken when in school.  And I plan on doing more outside my apartment so I can have more material to write about.  Overall I plan on making 2018 an excellent year.