Voting, Family Time, and Possibly Moving

Got out and voted Tuesday after dinner.  Since I went later in the day, I missed the crowds.  I was able to get in and get out pretty quick.  As I’ve been having lower back problems recently, I was able to get a chair to sit in while I worked the ballot.  All I had to do was ask.  Sometimes I think people in general don’t get the assistance that could make things easier just because they don’t ask for help.  For years I had problems asking for help as I instead preferred to give help instead.  Only within the last year or so have I gotten comfortable asking for help whenever I have a problem I can’t easily solve on my own.  I guess that I, like many men, am a problem solver.  And sometimes it was tough for me to admit I could use an extra set of hands or extra mind working on a problem.

In other news, my parents are in the process of moving out of state.  They bought a small house in the same town my brother and his family live in.  As all their grandkids are in school now they want to see them grow up and participate in activities and school functions.  I think that once they get settled in permanently in their new house, I’ll look to relocate nearby.  As where they are moving to is in a suburb of a metroplex, I imagine I’ll need to be careful about what kind of low income housing I move to.  My brother has already told me a few neighborhoods that are rougher than others that I should avoid.  As they hope to be relocated by the end of November, I will be hosting them for a Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.  I’ve been spending much of my day after the midterm elections straightening and decluttering my home.  I had been kind of lazy about clutter for the last few weeks.  But I want the place to be presentable as it will probably be our family’s last gathering in Nebraska.

I guess I have mixed emotions about leaving the small farm towns I have known as home my entire life.  I am excited about the possibility of moving to a larger area where I could meet more writers and people with my interests in person.  I am excited about going somewhere that is growing and not so out of the way.  But I am concerned about starting over in my late 30s, especially with mental illness issues.  I am also concerned about fitting in at a different social environment.  I’ve had problems fitting in even among people I grew up with my entire life.  So I am kind of scared of the social aspects as I have problems socializing even in my hometown.

Other than getting to see my nephews and niece more often, I hope my life doesn’t really alter that much.  I do hope I can have a closer friendship with my brother and his wife.  My brother and I weren’t close growing up.  Part of that was traditional sibling rivalries, and another part was that we were such opposites personality and interests wise.  I don’t have any animosity toward him, I just don’t have common interests.  I consider not having a close relationship with my only sibling one of the few regrets I have about my life up to this point.  Sure I regret becoming mentally ill but there isn’t anything I could have personally done to prevent it.  As it is, I have worked around it for twenty years.  I’ve been hospitalized only twice and have avoided trouble with the law.  So I’m doing something alright.

Overall, the last several months of quiet monotony have come to an end.  My parents are relocating and I probably will be too within the next several months.  I am both excited and apprehensive at the same time.  The only true constant if life is change.  But with change comes the possibility of new opportunity.

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Changes Within A Lifetime and Reflections on Generational Differences

I have changed in many ways over the years.  I’ve noticed changes in my friends and classmates too.  I’ve even seen changes in the people I knew in my parents’ age bracket over the years.

One of the changes I’ve noticed in myself with age is that I prefer to spend most of my time at home.  When I was a teenager I was rarely at home except to sleep or do homework.  When I wasn’t at school or school activities, I was at friends’ houses.  I preferred going to friends’ houses as my brother usually had his friends over all the time.  I imagine it concerned my parents as I rarely had friends over at the house.  I wasn’t anti social, far from it.  I just liked spending time at places where I wouldn’t be bothered by my older brother and his friends.  When I was in college, I usually spent time in my friends’ dorm rooms or in the student union when I wasn’t at the library or studying for classes.  I was on good terms with everyone at my small college, but had only a handful of confidants I felt I could tell anything.  Looking back on this years later, I know that most of my socializing and trust issues are because of the mental illness.  I probably could have had a larger social network than I did.  Yet I’m happy that I managed to stay on good terms with most people even if I was in emotional turmoil much of the time.  Just goes to show how powerful our minds are in shaping our reality.

Now that I’m my late 30s I prefer to stay at home most of the time.  I would rather host guests now than I would visit them it seems.  Granted, I do like to have at least a couple days notice before I’m hosting anyone.  I’m still self conscious about my place and what people think of me.  Sure, most of the negative vibes I get from others are manufactured by the diseased aspects of my mind.  But I guess I haven’t mastered my mind well enough to easily shake these negative vibes just yet.  I truly believe our minds are powerful enough to make or break our outward reality.

In my friends’ cases, most of my school mates are now in our late 30s or early 40s.  And many of them are having stressful times in recent years.  Some have careers not progressing like they had hoped.  Some have had failed marriages.  Some have had money problems.  Some of them have dealt with the deaths of their parents.  Some have dealt with serious life changing illnesses of their own.  Some of them are dealing with the highs and lows of raising children.  Stress and concern seems to dominate many of my friends’ lives.  Yet no so much for myself.  I guess I had many of my mental illness crisis situations happen to me in my twenties.  It stunk that I never had a career get off the ground because of schizophrenia.  But it did make me resilient and realize there is more to life than working and paying bills.

Sadly, many people don’t realize this until they are retired or get laid off from a job.  As a result of my friends having stress in their lives, many of them are more pessimistic about life in general than I am.  I remember how pessimistic my parents and their friends were when they were in their thirties and early forties when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  I guess it’s my generation’s turn to be pessimists and overworked parents.  No wonder some jokers suggest that life doesn’t truly start until age forty.  Well, I’m about there 🙂  And as much as my twenties stunk, I managed to enjoy my thirties enough to make up for it.  Maybe it’s because being on disability pension I don’t have to worry about working a regular job as long as I stay out of debt and live within my means.  I can only hope my friends in my age bracket can someday find the joy and peace in their lives that I have experienced for myself in recent years.

I’ve also noticed changes in my parents and people in their age bracket.  Seems to me that many people tend to either become more calm in their senior years or more grouchy.  Fortunately for me, my grandparents were quite calm in their senior years.  In many ways, they were more accepting of my eccentric qualities and questions than even my parents.  But, after my parents became grandparents, they started mellowing too.  I almost don’t recognize the my parents in their senior years when I compare them to what I grew up with as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s.  They are more patient with their grandkids then they ever were my brother and I and our cohorts.  But I guess grandkids are nature’s reward for not killing your children when they were teenagers.  Many of the people I knew in my parents age bracket when I was a kid are now more calm in their sixties and seventies then they were in their thirties or forties.  Of course, there are few who are more sour than ever.  Fortunately they aren’t very common.

And the kids with their iPads and smart phones?  Well, they’ll eventually turn into productive members of civilization themselves.  People complained about my cohorts in the 1990s playing our Nintendo games and listening to our Tupac and Marilyn Manson music.  We turned out alright.  Back in the 1960s, people complained about the kids watching too much television and listening to The Doors and Elvis.  Even my grandparents generation were unloaded on for listening to radio programs, jazz music, and reading comic books.  And now we call them ‘The Greatest Generation.’  All young people do stupid things and the parents fear the end of civilization because of their tastes and tech. The best thing that happens to kids is they get out in the world in their twenties and work a few lousy jobs and date a few losers before they find their calling (or at least career) and their spouse or soul mates.  And then they have kids of their own and fret over them.  Makes me wonder what the teenagers of 2018 will fret about concerning their own kids come 2040 or so.  Maybe brain boosting implants will be their iPads or Ninetendo games or radio.  Stay tuned, my friends.  It is always interesting.

Last Days of Summer

Spent some time outdoors enjoying one of the last few days of summer.  Also doing some cleaning in my apartment and rearranging furniture.  It’s now a little easier to maneuver around, especially in the living room.  Previously I had my computer desk in the middle of the room so I could watch ballgames and work on my computers at the same time.  I now have a better setup as I won’t be tripping over power cords and wires as much now that I’ve moved my desk to a corner.  I have my computers set up so I can watch them like a television from my recliner.  I moved my couch so I watch tv from the couch.  Previously I had used my recliner for everything.  I use my regular tv mainly for play station games and live ballgames.  Playoff baseball starts in a couple weeks and my Rockies have a shot of making the playoffs again this fall.  We lost out in the first round last year.

After three months of changed eating patterns I think I’m seeing some positive differences.  I am actually wanting to be active now rather than just spend entire days reading online articles or books.  I socialize more often.  I make it a point to now chat with other tenants at least three times a week.  I rarely stay awake all night anymore.  I am not as paranoid and anxious about my neighbors as I was this spring.  I have fewer aches and pains.  I still get winded sometimes when moving heavy furniture but I recover faster now.  I still sometimes get stiff after sleeping, but it usually takes only a couple minutes of sitting up to be back to normal.  And my clothing fits better.

Previously, from spring 2014 to summer 2015 I had lost slightly over 70 pounds in that time.  I stagnated for a few months and then I had my car accident in fall 2015.  After that I gained it all back.  Oddly it took over two years to gain it all back, so it took longer to gain it than it did to lose it in the first place.  I don’t really have any set goals as of right now.

I still sleep more than I would like.  But so far it has helped me from having relapses.  This has been a more pleasant than usual summer.  Now the leaves are beginning to change and the weather will start cooling off any day.  In Nebraska we usually get our first frost in mid October, so in three to four weeks if the averages hold out.  I really don’t want to change much of my routine as it seems to be working.  Sure I would like to travel more, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Reinventing Myself While Living With Schizophrenia

 

I admit I don’t have good social skills.  Never have and probably never will.  Part of it may have come from growing up in a rural town of less than 500 residents without much in the way of diversity or culture.  That and I didn’t know many people who shared my interests in science, science fiction, and fantasy type stories until I went to college.  To this day I have never bought a comic book.  I was 31 before I played my first D&D game.  I didn’t read any Issac Asimov or Arthur C. Clark until a couple years ago.  I didn’t sit down and watch an episode of Star Trek start to finish until I was in my thirties.  And besides the D&D, I enjoy all of these things.  I would have loved to discovered this stuff twenty five years ago.  Most people in my childhood hometown were interested in mostly farming, hunting, football, church, and politics.  I can discuss such things but they do get old after even a few minutes and then you’re just rehashing reruns of reruns.  While I didn’t hate my hometown as a child, I was quite bored and always felt like I didn’t fit in.  As a result I didn’t socialize except when I was forced to.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I love people.  I just have a wide range of interests that growing up where I did just wasn’t able to satisfy.

I suppose in some ways now that I’m on disability insurance and don’t have to work a regular job (not that I could with my depression, paranoia, and anxiety), I feel like I’m getting a second chance at my adolescence.  Sure I’m in my late 30s, don’t have the physical strength I did at age 18, and I’m not interested in trying to get laid, but in some ways I still feel youthful.  I am enjoying my thirties far more than I ever did my teenage years.  In some ways, I feel like my thirties are kind of like my adolescence in that I have different possibilities every day as to how I want to spend my days.  And I don’t have to deal with bullies or irritable elders yammering on about how the ‘cold cruel world’ is going to kick my idealistic butt.  I had my butt kicked many times in my teens and twenties by my mental illness and trying in vain to find a job so I could be considered a ‘productive member of society’ or considered a ‘real man’ by fools and jerks whom I really couldn’t care less about.

My teens and twenties, besides the mainly truly happy times I felt in college because I got to work with smart and interesting people every day, by and large were lousy.  In fact, they sucked.  I pretty much spent my twenties going from one dead end job to another, one ill fitting relationship to another, finding out that the real world doesn’t make sense and isn’t supposed to all the while having psychotic breakdowns every few months along the way.  By the time I qualified for disability insurance at the age of 28 I realized that there is no set script to life.  I didn’t have to follow anyone’s script for me.  I could feel free to change my script anytime I want.  And I have.

Every one is free to change their life as long as they are willing to make sacrifices here and there.  Anyone who hates their thankless job could stride up their boss tomorrow, quit in a blaze of glory, and live the life of a nomad who answers to no one but their own limitations and nature itself.  But almost no one does because they aren’t willing to sacrifice their incomes, their prestige, their families, their McMansions, etc.

You can do what you like and are good at, it’s just what are you willing to give up to get there?  I have my freedom and I live quite happy in spite being on disability.  But I had to be inflicted with schizophrenia through no misdeeds of my own, give up ever having a traditional career, give up the shot at getting rich (it isn’t just monks and priests that take the vow of poverty), give up any shot of ever having a family or any kind of romance life (again, clergy aren’t the only ones who take vows of celibacy), and it can be quite lonely at times.  But I value my freedom.  I value my intelligence and wisdom.  I strive every day to make myself smarter, better read, better cultured, and wiser.

But it all came at a price.  It was a price that, at age 16 before I started having my problems with schizophrenia, I would have said ‘no way am I paying that price.’  I paid the price for my freedom and wisdom.  And, as it is, I am thankful I took the paths I did.  Statistically speaking, people with my diagnosis usually wound up lifetime institutionalized, homeless, in prison, or dead at a very young age for most of history.  I’m happy I beat the odds.  I’m happy I didn’t become just another statistic.

Everything else from this point in my life is just chicken gravy as far as I’m concerned.  So yes, I am going to be happy.  I am going to share my joy with other people while they gripe and moan about their jobs, their spouses, and humanity in general.  And if people think I’m overly optimistic or a hopeless Pollyanna, well it was one rugged process surviving from age eighteen until my early thirties when I finally learned to say, “screw others expectations, I am doing what I want.”  And I didn’t come to this conclusion all at once.  It was a gradual evolution.  My physical health may be not what it once was, but I am far happier now than I was ten years ago.  And that is mainly because I learned to let go of others’ expectations and a type of regular life that was never going to materialize.  In short, dance like no one’s watching; no one is.  Everyone else is too busy with the petty concerns of their own lives.

Recovering From Rough Patches

Spent the last couple days out of my hometown while visiting family.  It was pleasant to unplug and unwind while enjoying the company of my parents.  Didn’t get much done on this trip other than unwind and touch base with family.  I was needing at least a couple days of different surroundings.  I visited my family at the acreage.  It was good to be back around nature and less rush.  While I am a self admitted city slicker even though I grew up in a rural area, it was still fun to be outside again for a couple hours at a time without being paranoid of being watched by nosy neighbors.

I sometimes get paranoid around even individual people nearby, especially when I want to be alone.  When I was in college, I used to take my trash to a dumpster on the other side of town because I was afraid that people where going through my trash.  I used to be afraid that neighbors and even family were listening in on my conversations.  But the real paranoia I am working against now is that I fear that I am losing favor with my neighbors and fellow tenants in my complex.  I may not be the greatest tenant in my complex, but I still try hard to be friendly with people and just avoid arguments as much as possible.  Fortunately in my over ten years at my current address, I have had real arguments with only three tenants that I can think of right off hand.  Fortunately those cleared up really quick and the problems were resolved shortly afterwards.

Paranoia is indeed strange.  I know in the reasonable part of my mind that my paranoias aren’t real and that I’m essentially worrying over nothing that can’t be easily resolved.  But, the irrational part of my mind keeps replaying these paranoid thoughts on an endless loop.  Drowning out the paranoid thinking process with positive news that is actually happening helps. Positive thoughts help, especially if they can be shown to be true.   That’s why I spend a lot of time researching science advances and medical news. Yet, even then, occasionally the paranoia gets the better of my reasonable side.  The problems I had over the last few days, fortunately, tend to get more rare and even less intense than even a few years ago.  I was happy that I was able to go through this last round of problems without yelling and acting out.  I’ve notice the breakdowns I do have anymore don’t seem to be as intense.  I hope I have gotten better with letting off a little at a time rather than holding it in for a major meltdown.

I was more depressed and weary than angry and irritated these last few days.  I guess that depression and weariness are becoming stronger than irritation and anger at this stage in my life.  I’m glad that it takes more to anger me than in years past.  I no longer avoid driving because of fears of going into road rage; I avoid driving now partly because I find it kind of boring and I don’t like being on the lookout for people who just aren’t paying as much attention to the road as they should. It doesn’t make me angry, but it does make me think ‘how bad do I really want to go out tonight when I can still contact friends from home.’ I used to love to travel.  But I don’t enjoy the travel as much now.  I enjoy the company of friends and family more now.

Altered Sleep Patterns and Mental Illness

Things are starting to return to normal for me.  Got my lease renewed, so I get to stay for another year.  The weather is turning warmer and things are really greening up outside.  Spring was slow in getting started but it is certainly here.

And yet my sleep patterns are changing once again.  I’m back to wanting to sleep much of the day now.  I still fight it as I don’t sleep as much as I did during the winter.  But I feel tired more often now and I just want to spend as much time asleep as possible.  I’m still fighting against it by forcing myself to stay awake.  I have found myself falling asleep in front of my computer a couple times as a result.  Maybe I just wasn’t getting quality sleep for the last few weeks when I was sleeping only 6 hours a night.  I do know that getting good sleep can make my mental illness problems less severe.  Maybe I should just sleep as much as I can for the next few days as kind of a reset.  I traditionally have problems with depression, anxiety, and irritability from July until September.  My best and most stable months are usually January to June.  I just don’t do well mentally in hot weather.

Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.