June 19 2019

Been kind of quiet the last few days.  I’m still going to bed around 10pm and waking up for good around 4 or 5 am.  It feels like I get more done throughout the day now.  I don’t know if that’s just my perception fooling me, but I do feel more productive and energetic on days I wake up early.  I’ve been a night owl most of my life but that seems to be changing the older I get.  I’ve felt less anxious and paranoid since I started going to bed earlier.  Been doing this for a few months now.

Been feeling pretty stable.  I still have minor flare ups once in awhile.  But they usually quickly pass after several minutes.  I think they are getting easier to manage all the time. I can be irritable and anxious, yet if I keep silent almost no one knows I feel any kind of anxiety or irritability.  I never thought I was good at keeping my feelings and thoughts to myself.  But maybe I’m getting better about this in adult hood.  Some days I don’t socialize much.  Yet it seems to keep me sane and well grounded.  Sometimes my friends and family are going to be in foul moods.  It seems to be best if I avoid them on days when they are.  Sometimes I’m in a foul mood.  And it’s better when I avoid people when I’m in those funks.

I decided I’m not going to my class reunion.  I’m not sore at anyone from back home or anything like that.  It’s just I don’t have much in common with most of the people I grew up with anymore.  Adult hood has a way of changing a person.  I’m not the same person at age 39 I was at age 17.  Sometimes it feels like I’m looking at someone else’s life when I think back on my teenage years.  I was back in my hometown last slightly over a year ago.  I didn’t recognize most people living there anymore.  Most of the teachers and mentors I had as a kid are either elderly or dead.  Most my friends from that era have moved far away.  Some of them aren’t the people who would enjoy reunions and probably won’t be going.  My closest friends live at least a three hour drive away from me anymore.  My parents and brother live two states away.  And while I’m on friendly terms with most people in my complex, even after thirteen years at my current apartment I still don’t feel like I fit in.  I hope that is my illness talking and not what is really going on.

One of the lousiest parts of my illness is that I am never sure where I stand with anyone. I’m not even sure where I stand with my best friends and family many times unless they specifically tell me we are on good terms.  The illness makes it easy to jump to conclusions and form fears that aren’t based in any reality.  And it doesn’t help that I tend to over think and over analyze people and situations naturally.  I know my desire for constant reassurance annoys friends and family.  I am convinced it killed my ability to enjoy dating or even get dates to begin with.  As it is I haven’t been on a date in a dozen years and I don’t want to date ever again.  It’s just more headaches for me than it’s worth.  At this point in my life I greatly prefer friendships to romances.  I never understood why it was such a bad thing to be friends with a dating interest or a spouse.  And I never will.  The fact that almost half of marriages end in divorce and a significant portion of those that do last for life are unhappy drudgeries tells me that we as a modern society are doing dating and marriage all wrong.  People are not meant to spend their lives in drudgery, anguish, misery, and desperation.

As much as the mental illness knocks me down on occasion, I am overall happy and content with my life.  Sure I could stand to lose some weight and isolate less.  I probably will live longer if I drop some weight and be more social.  As far as how my life has turned out, it could be much worse with this illness.  At least I’m not dead or in prison.  At least I don’t have addictions.  At least I don’t have debts.  At least I’m on good terms with my family and have managed to keep some really cool friends.  And even the ones I’ve lost contact with over the years we can probably pick up if we ever encounter each other.  Considering the illness I really don’t have many regrets I could have done anything different about.

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Graduations, Reunions, and Life Choices

Got my lease renewed for this year.  So I don’t have that hanging anymore.  Also got a few new shirts in the mail from my dad this morning.  Thanks Dad.  I appreciate it.  Ever since I went more minimalist than most people a few years ago I have less of everything, including clothing.  This means I wear what I do have more often and have to do laundry often.  Maybe I should pick up some more clothing just so I don’t have to do washing and replacing clothing more often.  Unfortunately clothing wears out if you wash it a lot and wear it quite often.  I found this out through my own experiences.

Been going outside more often lately even with it being a damper and colder than usual spring.  I still don’t drive much except when necessary.  I fire up my car at least every few days just to make sure everything is in proper order.  Even though I no longer take road trips like I did even a few years ago, it is good to know I could if I had to.

I might be making a couple trips this summer.  I have a family reunion in Colorado at the end of June I might be going to.  And my twenty year class reunion is the first weekend in July.  I’m still undecided if I’m going.  Sadly, many of the people I spent the bulk of my time with in high school live far away and probably aren’t the types to go to reunions anyway.  Some days it’s hard to believe I’ve been out of high school for twenty years.  Other days, especially when I’m in the grips of mental illness, it feels like someone else’s life.  An incredible amount has changed since I graduated high school in 1999.

I occasionally break out my high school annuals and photographs of high school and college friends.  I remember when we graduated high school, one of the speakers said something to the effect that we wouldn’t truly appreciate the power and beauty of youth until we were older.  So true.  I guess the biggest thing I miss about high school and college is how easy it was to socialize and make friends in those environments.  I was a geeky kid I admit.  I would have been the stereotypical nerd in high school and college except that I had a lot of physical strength (but no coordination).  I was on the football and track teams in high school and did intramural softball in college.  I probably couldn’t have done any other sports as a kid.  I wasn’t fast enough for soccer or coordinated enough for baseball or basketball or quick enough for wrestling.

Another thing about school and college I miss is the academics.  Even though I never got straight A’s in any level of school, I still did pretty decent in classes.  I did well enough grade wise and test wise to qualify for some really good scholarships.  I am so, so glad I graduated college debt free.  I couldn’t manage on a disability pension while paying off loans.  It was tough giving up on the MBA program once I lost my graduate assistant job.  But I wasn’t going to continue on in school if I had no way to pay for it outright.  Debt scared me then and it still scares me even though I haven’t had debts for years.  I don’t know if I even have a credit score anymore simply because I don’t borrow money.

My eldest nephew recently graduated middle school.  He will be starting high school at a large suburban public school this autumn.  So he may be going to college in four years.  I don’t really have any advice for the youngsters except remain flexible and open to new experiences.  We have no idea what jobs will be around in even ten years.  Many jobs could be eliminated due to automation and artificial intelligence.  Of course, many new jobs could be coming too.  I can’t in good faith advise any kid on what career path to take.

I won’t even tell them to ‘follow your heart.’  I saw too many people take that advice and end up with degrees that have few job prospects, at least right now. Yet, I remember an interview Mark Cuban gave on a business news show a couple years ago and he said to the effect that if machines keep taking over jobs, then people with humanities and liberal arts degrees might be in demand more than even business and technical fields within ten years.  Wouldn’t that be ironic; for years kids were discouraged from being arts and humanities students for fear they’d be able to do nothing but make coffee and work fast food.  Soon we may say the same thing about accounting, business, and delivery drivers.

In short, we don’t know what will be available.  In fact, the youngsters coming through the ranks may have to retrain every few years for new job skills.  The tech and science isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.  It is actually getting faster.  We could be going into a really cool future but it could be a rugged journey to get there.  The next generation or two could be quite rough as we navigate the biggest change to civilization since Industrialization got going in the lat 1700s and early 1800s.  I hope we are up to the challenges.

Graduation and Optimism During Times of Great Change

It is that time of year again, graduations and the end of the school year.  As it’s been chillier and damper then usual this spring, it doesn’t feel like early May yet.  It still feels like early April to me.  This year will mark twenty years since I graduated high school and fifteen since I graduated from college.  My class is having their twenty year reunion this summer.  As I have a family reunion out of state during the same weekend, I won’t be able to do both.  Haven’t decided which one I’m going to yet.  I haven’t been to any of my class reunions besides the five year.

I guess I just don’t have much in common with some of my old classmates or people in my childhood hometown.  Sure I had cool friends and enjoyed school activities like playing football and doing speech.  Yet I never felt like I really fit in back during my younger days.  Could have had problems with paranoia even as a child.  It also didn’t help that I spent the last two years of high school with a developing mental illness and not seeking help for it.  But we didn’t know back then.  We didn’t have the information easily available to us twenty years ago, certainly not like now.  I definately loved college, in part because I was seeking help and getting regular treatments.

I am trying to get out of the habit of offering recent graduates advice other than “stay flexible.”  I don’t tell anyone what career fields to look into anymore.  For beginners, we don’t know what jobs will be in demand in ten years anymore.  Many people can’t afford even going to state university without going into heavy debt anymore.  I’m glad I had good scholarships in college and got help from home.  I graduated debt free and that has saved my hide more than once.

It’s sad that so many people have crushing debts from school before they even begin a career.  I have far too many friends struggling with student debts even in their thirties.  And it’s absolutely asinine and unforgivable that student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.  I don’t think college is viable for most kids anymore simply because of how out of control the costs have become.  An eighteen year old right out of high school would be better off doing an apprenticeship, going to trade school, or joining the military in most cases it seems.  Some kids might be better off moving overseas and looking for work in East Asia or Europe anymore.  A college friend of mine teaches high school in Netherlands and absolutely loves it as far as I can tell.  A cousin of mine lived in Japan for three years while her husband was stationed over there in the military.  It might not be such a bad idea.  National borders mean less now than they did even twenty years ago.

I try not to offer advice, not because I don’t care.  It’s because we no longer know what the future holds, at least not in terms of in demand careers.  I blog on a regular basis yet that was in it’s early days when I was in high school and college.  Youtube or social media didn’t exist when I was in high school.  Amazon was just getting started in the 1990s.  And of course smart phones didn’t exist and AI was nowhere near as good as it is now.  Renewable energy tech like wind and solar are becoming more affordable and in many cases now competitive with old style fossil fuels.  That wasn’t the case even fifteen years ago.  While many older jobs are definitely going away or getting drastically reduced, there are likely going to be others taking their place.  What if instead of economic Armageddon we were actually heading for one of the biggest industrial and economic booms in history?  What if instead of ecological collapse we solved the problems of air and water pollution?  We have people working on those problems, and many others as I write this.  I once read that in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, more self made millionaires were made in that decade than in any other before that.  Yet we often think it was a hellish time.  For many people, it was. Yet for others, it was a time of opportunity as well.

It seems to me that during times of distress and upheaval (like we are living now) there are also opportunities as well.  I may be mentally ill, but I also have an outlet to talk about it and hopefully offer help others that I didn’t have in my younger years.  I have pretty decent treatments when had I grown up in my grandmother’s generation I would have spent the rest of my life in an institution or prison.  Sure I have gained a lot of weight over the course of this illness and my physical health has declined, yet I still have a sharp mind and am stable in spite the illness.  Overall I’m pretty happy.  Maybe not all the time, but then no one is continually blissful at all times anymore than people are always physically healthy.  I doubt I would have ever become a blogger if I didn’t become mentally ill.

 

Beginning of Spring

Looks like spring has finally sprung after a couple false starts.  As long and tough as this winter has been, it feels almost surreal that it is finally over.  I had been so used to such bitter cold and snow for a long time.  It’s actually odd that I can now go somewhere without having to worry about the weather.  Haven’t been able to do this for a very long time.  I became used to spending entire days indoors and sleeping sometimes over 10 hours a day just to pass the time.  Of course such long periods without sunlight or travel or face to face human interaction took its toll on me.

I think I developed some cabin fever during the long days and weeks when I was homebound.  I had some bouts of depression, paranoia, anxiety, and even some hallucinations creeping back in.  Sometimes I’d hear footsteps in the hallway that weren’t there.  Sometimes I’d hear knocking at my door when no one was there.  I’d sometimes hear people talking in the hallway when no one was there.  And these were always at their worst when I was really tired and about to go to sleep.

Fortunately things are improving.  I can’t say exactly when things starting turning around.  Changes have always come gradually for me, too gradual for most people it seems.  For years it seems like most people got frustrated with me because I have a hard time making changes at a moment’s notice.  I also have a bad habit of wanting to know why such changes are being made.  Needless to say, that didn’t make me a model student or employee.  I just have to know the ‘why’ behind things.  I’ve always been that way.

Looks like spring is finally here.  And I plan on enjoying it.

Improvements and Accepting New Realities

Been sleeping more the last several days than usual.  I had been gone weeks where I slept no more than 3 hours at a time.  Now I’ve been sleeping longer but I don’t wake up as stiff and sore.  Maybe the weight lifting and healthier diet are beginning to pay off.

Overall, I feel decent physically.  I have fewer unexplainable aches and pains and I get better quality sleep than was my normal the last several weeks.  I changed my diet too.  I no longer drink soda pop, not even diet.  I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  I occasionally go meatless for a day or two to give my guts a rest.  I lift weights three times a week.  I don’t sleep in my recliner as much these days.  Overall, as the weather has warmed up I have started feeling better physically.

Mentally I’m doing better.  I still occasionally have issues with irritability and depression.  Fortunately they usually pass after a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I still don’t socialize much, as I am still a little paranoid about dealing with rude and angry people.  During the winter, there were days it was bad enough I didn’t even want to socialize with anyone even online or over the phone.  I don’t call my family as often anymore.  But when I do, the conversations usually last longer and go more in depth.  I still call my parents at least once a week.

I’ve been enjoying the warmer days.  I have my windows open most of the time now, except when it rains or we have bad winds.  I leave my drapes open except for when I sleep.  I don’t watch much for tv anymore, haven’t since New Year’s.  I spend much of my free time reading, watching educational videos, listening to audiobooks, messing with my computer, and participating in my tech enthusiasts’ groups on social media.  I don’t socialize with even close friends as much as I normally do.  I still drop in on them every few days.  But it seems like most of my friends have just been having problems lately, whether with work or relationships.  Since most of my friends are in the age range of mid 30s to early 40s, I imagine many are going through mid life problems now.  I have so far managed to avoid the mid life crisis.  I had my crises in my mid to late twenties.  It was in the 2004 to 2008 years that I painfully had to realize my schizophrenia and anxiety would never allow me to hold a long term job, get married, have children, have any kind of prestige, or any kind of money.

At one time, namely 2006, I had the goal of finding my niche and being off disability before 2015.  Well, that didn’t happen.  Here it is in 2019 and I am still on disability.  But I have come to acceptance in that regard.  I had to change a lot of priorities and completely reexamine everything I was taught and believed over the years.  I came to realize that people are defined by their careers only because they allow themselves to be.  We were brainwashed since childhood to believe a human’s worth was in what they did to earn money.  I had to find out the painful way that there is far more to living and life than earning money and working.  It was only then I came to realize the obvious: the most important and influential work in the world is not paid or even respected by many people.  That work is, of course, being a parent.  The second most important job in the world is being a friend and support to other people.  I will never get to be a father, but I can be a friend and support person with the best of them.  And this is alright with me.

Even though I will probably never have much for money or any kind of prestige or be in any kind of romantic relationship, I am alright with all of this.  I made my peace with this several years ago.  Having a mental illness made me face my limitations and accept that I had to adapt.  I will never become the scientist I wanted to be as a child, but I am alright with that.  I have found my niche as a blogger, friend, support person, and confidant.

Dealing with Loneliness, Landlords, Luddites, and My Love for My Fellow Humans

Feeling better overall more or less. About the only issues I have now are that I am still kind of afraid to socialize in person.  So I spend much of my time alone.  I have gotten to where I can’t stand talking to people in person for fear of them becoming angry and rude.  And it’s causing me stress.  I know I’ll have to just fight through it because I have to get my lease renewed within the next few weeks.  I always hate this process.  I have to fill out tons of paper work reporting on what I do and don’t earn money and whether or not I have a job or investment funds.  I haven’t had a regular job since 2012 and I haven’t been cured of my schizophrenia.  Until I get cured that isn’t going to change.  And of course, they need information from my bank.  And my bank is always a a pain about giving out that information.

Since the only thing that has changed about my finances or condition in the last several years is the cost of living adjustments I get from Social Security,  I honestly don’t see why I can’t do some of this nonsense online. I mean, it’s 2019 already.  Why should I have to fill out reams of forums that probably no one is going to read when we have the tech and science to do it online or at least by certified mail?  I was filling out my tax forums online over ten years ago.  I was paying for laundry at my college on a chipped card twenty years ago.  We have developed cars that can drive themselves better than any human.  The U.S. government recently demanded that NASA get American astronauts back on the moon by 2024, and they don’t care if they have to use private companies to do so.  About the only things I probably can’t buy online these days are firearms and street drugs.  And I probably could do both if I didn’t care about breaking the law.  I swear some things I have do deal with on a day to day basis is truly obsolete and out of touch with modern reality.  And it can be frustrating.

I know some people will think I’m overreacting.  Maybe I am.  But, I’ve lived in my current complex for twelve years.  Most of this information hasn’t changed any since the day I moved in.  I’m frustrated with how much of what I have to deal with is just hap hazard in organization and I have to deal with several different agencies, none of whom are in communication with each other.  It doesn’t have to be this much of a headache.  And do not give me this “well, suck it up because we’ve always done it this way.”  Well, we didn’t used to let women or minorities or anyone who didn’t own property vote either.  We used to believe kings and emperors were gods.  Things change.  Societies evolve.  Bad ideas die and end up on the ash heap of history, exactly where they belong.  It’s only a matter of time before much of social security’s paper work goes online or even automatic.  When I applied for Social Security Disability Insurance back in 2006, I did all that paper work online.  And that was thirteen years ago.  A lot has changed since then, though you wouldn’t know it looking at some institutions and people.

Of course having mental illness where I’m paranoid and irritable some times only makes things worse.  I do not enjoy interacting with my land lord.  I do not enjoy interacting with my social security man.  I fear dealing with authority figures.  I have had mostly bad experiences with authority ever since grade school.  I have rarely been helped by anyone in authority.  Most times I’ve had to rely on family or myself.  Besides, most times anyone in authority cared to talk to me was to threaten me and tell me what a screw up I was.  Happened at school.  Happened in the work place.  And it happens when I deal with Social Security and my land lord.  There has to be easier ways.  And don’t give me this “toughen up buttercup” nonsense.

If all our species ever did was toughen up and not try to improve anything, we’d either be living in caves still or would likely be extinct.  I am not a misanthrope, never have been.  I don’t hate my fellow humans.  I don’t want to hate my fellow humans.  Sure, the sometimes rude and stupid actions of my peers weighs heavy on my conscious and I fear for the future of my species.  But if I sound like I’m harsh and demanding of my fellow humans, it’s because I love humans.  I am a fan of mankind.  I hate those questions that ask ‘what is your spiritual animal’, as if it can’t be another human.  I have see the cool things we are capable of.  I have seen the kindness and compassion we extend to each other and the lower species.  I see it every day.  That’s why when I see arrogance, stupidity, rudeness, and violence towards other people and nature, it makes me sad.  Every time I see that, I think ‘those people are not living up to their potential.’  We can solve our problems.  Hell, we’ve been solving problems for many thousands of years.  You wouldn’t know it listening to some people, but those attitudes don’t matter.  And we can continue solving problems for millions of years as long as we don’t allow ourselves to become short sighted and clinging to old ways when they no longer serve their intended propose.

Civilization is not falling apart regardless of what our rulers and doom porn peddlers in the media want us to believe.  It’s going through a transition that is even greater than the Industrial Revolution or even Agrarian Revolutions of the past.  We are living through transition to a different type of civilization.  What will it be on the other side?  Don’t know.  But we didn’t know when what would happen when be built the first steam engines or planted the first seeds of wheat and rice or domesticated the first farm animals either.  We are living in a critical turning point in history, we are not living in the end of days type things.  We can make this transition.  It’s just that outdated institutions and obsolete ways of doing things will make the transition more of a headache than it needs to be.  The biggest thing we are lacking right now is not morality or decency, it’s original ways of thinking and new ideas.

Having Access to The World Without Leaving Home or Wearing Pants and Shoes

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My parents moved to Oklahoma City area a few months ago to be closer to the grandkids.  They seem to be adapting to suburb life well.  They joined a large church where they have lots of opportunities to socialize even outside of Sunday church services.  And my dad, being a bit of a handy man from his youth on a farm, is absolutely thrilled that he lives only a few minutes drive from stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s.  Mom is talking about planting a few trees and getting a garden going in the new backyard.  Meanwhile, here in Nebraska we haven’t been above freezing point for over two weeks.  But I guess as I learned from my brother who has worked in Oklahoma City area for twenty years now, that far south seems to get spring almost a month ahead of me where I’m at.  I have been quite envious of how their winters are milder than ours (and my friends from Minnesota say the same about my winters) but I will be grateful that my summers won’t be as rough as theirs.  I imagine I’ll eventually relocate to Oklahoma myself.  It’s just a matter of time and doing the Social Security transfer paperwork.

Overall I am happy for my parents in their retirement years.  I was worried about how they would adapt to retirement when my mom retired from the hospital and my dad sold his practice.  They didn’t socialize as much as many people, at least not outside of family and church.  My mom was on the town’s library board of directors and my dad was on the local school board back in the 90s and early 2000s.  He got to sign my brother and I’s high school diploma.  I did hear of a few examples of 18 year old high school seniors got elected to their local school boards and got to sign their own diplomas.

I guess I have gotten past the fact that I can’t just get in the car and go visit them on a whim like I could when they lived only a couple hours away.  But then, I just don’t travel as much as I used to mainly because I no longer need to.  I even recently signed up for grubhub.com, so participating fast food places in my hometown can deliver food to my house now.  I now special order my clothing through a big and tall men’s webpage and they mail my orders to my door.  Sure it is more expensive than Wal Mart or the old K-Mart, but the selection is much better and the clothes fit much better too.  As I always had odd sizes.  Before I hit puberty I was quite tall but really skinny.  Never been anything between being overweight and really skinny it seems.

If I don’t feel like venturing out of my house, there are a couple places in my hometown that can deliver groceries, sometimes even same day delivery if I order in the early morning.  I get most of my prescription medications sent through the mail now. One of my college friends joked with me that if he used my setups, the only times he would need to leave his house would be to go to work, get maintenance and gas for his car, and to buy his occasional beer.  He may have been joking but that is about the reality for myself.

And now many jobs can be done from home now via telecommuting.  I imagine it’s only a matter of time before this truly takes off.  I have a cousin and his wife that can do most of their work from home if they so chose.  The only time I need to go to my bank is to buy quarters for laundry and visit the ATM machine.  I do all my blogging from my leather recliner (which was delivered from a local furniture store) in my living room.  I have friends who take free online courses (not for college credits though) through MIT.  I use Khan Academy and youtube videos a great deal when I need and want to learn something.

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Maybe it will be telecommuting that saves some of these small Midwest and Southern towns that started drying up once farming and manufacturing got more automated and needed fewer human workers.  With as bad as rents and housing costs are in the big cities I couldn’t afford to live in a place like San Francisco or New York, let alone Omaha or Kansas City.  Maybe telecommuting is what will indirectly solve the affordable housing crisis here in USA. Might even solve the problems of higher education costs getting out of control. It also will cut down down on commuting time, so less air pollution from automobiles even if electric cars weren’t becoming more affordable and easy to find.  As strange as it may sound to some people, future generations might look back and write history books about topics like how technology, science, and the open market solved problems like environmental pollution, resource depletion, poverty, and perhaps even end war.  I think in some ways (at least much of the stats and data I have personally seen) all of these are beginning to happen.

Even though I don’t socialize in person as much as I used to, I don’t feel any less connected than I did in the past.  Sure I do miss physical touch and intimacy, but I have adapted to socialize more online and on phone. I’m currently trying to get face time set up on my computer. But I have adapted to my reality and have found ways around not having much money or living near people with similar interests or not wanting to drive everywhere anymore.  There was an old song about having the world on a string.  I don’t have that, but I do more or less have the world with a few keystrokes on a computer with wireless internet.  I can all my shopping and socializing and I don’t even have to wear shoes if I don’t want to.  I can hardly wait until I can get a multi purpose 3D printer I can use in my house as easily as I now use my computer and phone.

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Progress does sometimes seem to be slow, at least when we are in the middle of the day to day grinds and stressors.  But given the perspective of decades and years, we as a civilizations and species have made an incredible amount of progress just in the last ten years, let alone my lifetime, and certainly let alone since my grandparents were born.  All of this I do from home wouldn’t have been possible even in 2000.  Yet, growing up in the 1980s the year 2000 was some mythic futurist time.  Sheesh, other than fast than light travel, matter replicators, “beem me up Scotty”, computers who act like humans, and contact with life from other planets, we are starting to live much of what science fiction even forty years ago.  I have hope.  Everyone else should too.