Odd Sleep Patterns and Changes in Diet

Been having weird sleep patterns the last couple weeks.  Most nights I’m up really late, sometimes until sunrise.  Then I’ll often sleep until noon and then again nap a couple hours in the late afternoons.  Even though this odd sleep pattern is hurting my social life, I still feel mentally stable.  It could be these sleep pattern changes are helping me cope with a traditionally tough time of year for myself.  As it is I now usually do my grocery shopping and errands after sunset but no longer in the overnight hours like I used to.  I prefer to stay home most nights and weekends anymore.  I do most of my socializing by phone or Facebook.  But I still feel like some things are missing by not meeting people in person.

Watched some baseball and opening weekend college football this weekend.  Found out that my old high school live streams it’s football games on it’s Twitter account.  So I got to see my old team play and I didn’t even have to leave my house.  I wonder how many other high schools do that.  So this was my first decent sports fix after weeks of living mainly off baseball.

I sleep well, but it’s when I sleep well that’s a problem.  Anymore I tend to be my most awake when the rest of my apartment complex is asleep.  I stay quiet, so much so that sometimes my neighbors never know when I’m home.  But mentally I’m still stable.  Physically I think I’ve lost a few pounds.  This is a pleasant surprise because I haven’t been as physically active as previous summers.  So I just cut back on what I eat.  I usually eat two large meals a day that are rich in proteins and green vegetables like peas or green beans.  I drink lots of water too.  Sometimes if I’m feeling hungry I’ll have a large glass of water and wait.  If I’m still hungry after about thirty minutes I’ll find a snack.  But I don’t eat much sugar or bread.  I do eat rice occasionally as it’s cheap, goes good with almost anything, and easy to make.

It’s been a long summer for me, but at least not a bad one.  Fall is only a few weeks away and school is starting again.  I’ve been feeling well this summer even if I have been real careful about what I do and who I interact with.  Only a few more weeks and the nights will be longer and the weather will be cooling.  I can hardly wait.

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Insomnia

Been having troubles sleeping at night lately.  And not much I do seems to help.  I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, I take my medications right before I traditionally go to bed, and I try avoid being on social media right before I go to sleep.  Yet for the last several days I have been up for most of the night and sleep in the mornings.

I’m still getting eight hours of sleep every day.  It’s when I’m getting that sleep that is a problem.  Since I sleep so much in the mornings and sometimes take an afternoon nap, my social life has dwindled to near non existent.  I still get out a little bit in the afternoons and evenings to check my mail and take out my trash.  But I worry that my neighbors might be getting concerned with how little they see me.  Mentally I still feel stable, it’s just that I’m awake when most people are asleep.  Physically I think I’m doing better.  Having fewer unexplainable aches and pains.

Another thing I have noticed this summer is that I don’t have the appetite I used to.  I don’t eat as much as I used to.  Since I have been having back and knee issues for much of this summer, I have been forced into days with less activity and moving around.  It is bothersome being kind of housebound for a good part of the day.  Maybe this what I get to look forward to in my old age.  But the big advantage of not eating as much is that I think I’ve lost some weight.  I notice that my clothes are fitting better.  A few large shirts I bought several months ago are almost too big now.

I still keep in contact with friends and family quite often.  I have a few friends I chat with a little every day via Facebook.  I’m still active in my science and tech enthusiasts groups.  I still call my parents two to three times a week.  I have the old college friend I talk to at least two to three times per month.  I’m still doing fantasy baseball league.  Hard to believe that summer is almost over.  Even though this has been a long summer, it’s hard to believe that autumn and harvest will be here in four to six weeks.  The corn harvest is always in full force by October 1st.  I’ll have to visit the local farmers’ market this fall.  I missed out on that last year.

Even though I’m up at odd hours and I don’t get out as much as I would like, I still keep my social contacts up.  Like many people of my generation and younger, I’d feel naked without my smart phone and social media accounts.  But I haven’t gotten to taking lots of selfies or pictures of my dinners, at least not yet.  I sleep at odd hours but that hasn’t effected my mental health.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t have a traditional job anymore.  My schedules are more unpredictable now than even five years ago even though I am more mentally stable most of the time.  It’s that one to two percent of bad days that give me the most problems still.

Improvements

It’s been a few days since I saw my psych doctor.  We decided to add a third medication.  I think it’s starting to work.  I’m getting a little more active with each passing day, I’m starting to wake up earlier, I’m feeling less depressed, I’m feeling less paranoid, and I’m getting out of my apartment more often.  So I think the psych appointment was a good idea.  I see him again in a week.

I’m surprised at how fast I’m improving.  I haven’t felt this decent in a while.  I hope things keep improving.

Starting New Routines

A few days ago my family came to visit me.  We spent the day cleaning my apartment.  Once that was done I went to see my psych doctor.  We decided to add a third medication and I’m supposed to see him again in two weeks.

Other routines that have changed is I’m waking up earlier and not staying awake all night like I used to.  Since I’ve been having pains in my lower back again I’ve been sleeping in my recliner more.  I still spend the bulk of my days in my apartment and alone.  I still don’t want to leave my place very often.  Even though I’m sleeping less I find myself wanting to sleep at the oddest times.  I want to sleep but fortunately I can’t fall asleep whenever I want.

I’m still keeping in contact with old friends and family.  At least that hasn’t fallen apart.  But other than that I still don’t socialize much.  I guess I’m only now starting to realize how far I have declined in the last year and a half.

Loneliness and Depression

Haven’t been out that much the last few days besides getting a little sunshine everyday, at least on days the sun is shining.  We’ve been getting rain everyday it seems for almost two weeks.  So I’ve been living off my food reserves and rarely leaving the apartment the last few days.

Not that I really mind.  Sometimes it’s therapeutic just being alone with my thoughts for hours on end.  It takes me a long time to fall asleep anymore, but I spend most of the time trying to fall asleep allowing my mind to wander.  I am sometimes my own best company.

In the past I’ve tried day programs designed for mentally ill people.  But much of what went on seemed quite remedial to me, almost like a rehash of grade school.  I found such programs quite boring and didn’t make any friends there.

I’m finding it harder to make friends the older I get.  Most people my age have careers and families.  I really can’t relate to either one.  And some people don’t want to friend me because I don’t have a family or a career.  And it’s really tough making friends in my apartment complex anymore.  Half of the people in my complex are senior citizens, and some of them seem resentful that I live in low income housing with them.  The other half are people with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities.  It can get lonely in here at times.  I know that spending most of my life alone isn’t healthy.  But many people I just can’t relate to because I’m terrible at small talk.  Too bad there aren’t communes for eccentric people like me with a variety of interests.  Kind of like dormitory living for adults.  I know, not going to happen.

The depression occasionally crops up.  Fortunately the delusions and paranoia hasn’t followed.  I have lost interest in many things I once found enjoyable.  I no longer like travel.  I no longer like fishing.  I don’t even read as much as I used to.  Maybe I’m entering a new phase of my illness.  In a lot of ways, the illness itself is much easier to cope with than ten to fifteen years ago.  But I still do get kind of sad when I look at my friends and people I went to school with and I get to see what they’ve accomplished and their families.  I definitely feel like I’m missing out.  At least I can still write about these issues.  It’s the closest thing to a career I’ll ever have.

Letter to My High School Self

High school graduations are this weekend in my home state.  Many of these kids will be going to college, some to the military, others to work or travel or do missionary work.  It was eighteen years ago, in 1999, that I and my cohorts graduated from high school.  That was half of a lifetime ago.  I’ve been legally an adult now as long as I was a juvenile.  An incredible amount has changed in my life, and the world at large, since that Saturday May afternoon in the farming village of my youth.

What follows is a hypothetical letter to my eighteen year old self, mainly about things I wish I knew in my younger years that would have made my transition to the world of 2017 easier.  Too bad I couldn’t do this for real, I’d tell my younger self to buy stock in Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla when they first came out 🙂

Dear Zach,

You have just graduated from high school and now the world awaits.  I know you are looking forward to college much more than you did high school graduation.  That’s understandable.  For many people, high school is some of the roughest years of their lives.  You definitely had your problems in school, but those are now past.  Some of the people you went to high school with you’ll never have to be around again.  College will be better in many aspects.  You’ll get to pick what you want to study.  You’ll have more say in who your friends are.  The bullies and idiots will be in the minority.  Besides, most people will be too busy with their own lives to harass you like you got it in high school.  You may not think so now, but someday you will be thankful that you’re smart and nerdy.  Within the next fifteen years, you will see so much science and tech advances that you will realize that, yes, nerds really do rule the world.  No one is going to care that you weren’t a star jock or class president in college.

Speaking of sports, I know there were some aspects of high school football and band you hated.  I know you didn’t like the summer practices at six a.m. or the macho atmosphere of the locker room.  But be happy you got to play.  Playing football on Friday nights is the closest you’ll ever get to being like a gladiator or warrior.  Be happy you got to be in the school pep band.  It’s the only chance you’ll ever get to feel like a rock star.  Most thirty year olds don’t get to stand out or preform at anything.  Even though you didn’t have a great social life in high school, be happy you went to a smaller school and had opportunities to be involved in many different activities.  Most of your college friends and coworkers who went to much larger schools won’t be as well rounded as you will become.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t work your dream job out of college.  Most people won’t.  In fact because of the technology advances I talked about earlier, many jobs will be taken over by computers and machines.  So many people will be in that place where they’re working jobs they didn’t train for.  It’s not a failure on your part, it’s just that the world is changing much faster than people even in 1999 could anticipate.

Also, don’t feel guilty if you struggle at dating.  In the future, almost everyone will struggle at dating.  Besides, you will see many of your classmates go through divorces and marriage issues as the years pass.  Almost half of marriages will end in divorce.  And in the future, many adults will forego marriage entirely.  Surprise, so will you.  But being single isn’t bad.  It’s actually quite peaceful at times.  Some really big achievers in world history never married or had children.  You’ll be grateful you never got married.  Trust me.  You always had a hard independent streak in you.  That’s only going to get stronger with age.

Don’t take the opinions of others too seriously.  People in general can be quite dumb at times, so their opinions are almost never right.  The only person you have to answer to at all times is yourself.  Guard your integrity.  Be a man of sound character even if most people around you are liars and cheats.  Yes, cheaters do prosper.  But people will not honor their prosperity as much as they condemn their lack of character.  This was true in the past and will continue to be true.

You will have victories.  You will have struggles and losses.  People will come and go out of your life.  But hold onto your close friends and family.  Be happy you got to know your grandparents.  They won’t be around forever.  Be content and calm no matter what happens or doesn’t happen.  You will change your mind and thinking about almost everything several times over during the next eighteen years.  The only people who have their life philosophy set in stone at age eighteen are fools who are setting themselves up to be obsolete and out of touch with reality.  Like I told you, major changes are coming.  You wouldn’t believe me if I told you some of the things you will see before 2017.  You’ll just have to see them for yourself.

Be happy that you traveled and were open to new experiences in your youth.  The older you get, the tougher it will get to just travel or try new things.  Continue to be open to new experiences.  It will put you far ahead of most adults in your life.  Speaking of adults, don’t just think that because someone has gray hair or more money that they are smarter or wiser than you.  Many times they won’t be.  Some of them were just lucky.  And chance does play more of a part in your life than you would like.  You like the thought that you have a lot of say in your own destiny.  But in reality, you really have less control than you would like.  Sometimes things just happen that aren’t your fault or because of your hard work.

Remember to relax and know that life is a competition only against yourself.  Never compare yourself to anyone else.  You can’t live their life and they can’t live yours.

Sincerely,

Your 36 year old self, May 2017.

Thoughts on Upcoming Graduations and Future Possibilities

College graduations are this weekend in my home state.  Some days it’s hard to believe that it’s been thirteen years since I finished college.  Other days it seems like it was somebody else’s life.  I am definitely not the same person I was then.  Back then I believed I could still work in spite my mental illness if I found the right situation.  Over the next several years I worked a variety of jobs; retail clerk, sales man, teacher’s aide, factory worker, loading dock worker, cook, dish washer, janitor, and now blogger.  Besides the teacher’s aide job, none of these jobs had anything to do with what I studied in college.

In my younger years, I was kind of resentful that I didn’t find a good paying job in the field I studied.  For awhile I believed that college was a waste because of this.  I really don’t feel that way anymore.  After studying science and tech advances for the last few years, I know now that it’s impossible to spend four to five years in college and expect to have a career in that field for the next forty years.  The science and technology is advancing too fast anymore.  Entire new industries are being creating and being destroyed every year anymore.  It’s foolish to tell an eighteen year old kid fresh out of high school that what they major in has to last them until age sixty five.  Most eighteen year olds don’t know what’s even available, let alone where their true strengths lie.  When I started college I never saw myself becoming a writer and blogger.  There were very few blogs in 1999 when I started college.  There weren’t even social media sites, good search engines, youtube, netflix, etc back then.  And that was just eighteen years ago, not that long ago.  Who knows what will change in the next eighteen years.  I might not even need to use a keyboard to write a blog by 2035.

As far as telling an eighteen year old kid that they have to stay in one career field for their lives, that’s asinine.  These kids graduating high school this spring won’t hit even our current retirement age until the mid 2060s.  We can’t realistically train these kids for lifelong careers when we don’t know what will be available by then.  Maybe some of the kids graduating this year will be working in vertical farming, yet in 2017 this tech is still in development phases.  Maybe some of these kids will be robotics mechanics.  Perhaps some will become technological nomads and just go wherever the work takes them.  Have lap top, will travel much like the hired guns of the Old West.  Maybe some of the kids graduating this spring will work on building moon and Martian colonies.  Maybe some of these kids will be among the first to have their children genetically modified.  I don’t know.  But I doubt few of them, if any, will be able to make careers as truck drivers, fast food workers, retail clerks, telemarketing, book keeping or most manufacturing.  These jobs will be among the first to be automated.

And ironically, no one else knows exactly what the future of work holds for these kids leaving high school either.  Tech gurus like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Ray Kurzweil, etc. can have good ideas but we realistically can’t foresee what will and what won’t happen in the next twenty, thirty, or forty years. And politicians can say they want to revive blue collar manufacturing jobs, but that’s not going to happen in spite their best efforts.  We can’t go back to the past and trying to do so will only make the transitions to a higher tech world civilization even harder and delay the inevitable.  For all I know, by 2065 the basics of life could be cheap enough that working may optional for some people.  Maybe the only real jobs humans can do will be in science research and space exploration.  Of course I could be completely wrong and World War III knocks humanity back to the Stone Age.  What I do know is that as much change as I have seen since graduating high school in 1999, even that change is going to be dwarfed by what’s coming in the next couple generations.