Thoughts on Changes Since Childhood

I’m currently at my parents’ house for a couple days for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My brother, his wife, and their four kids are here too.  We have seven of us sleeping in the basement but at least I get my old bedroom.  That way I can retreat and regroup if need be.  But my brothers’ kids are well behaved and old enough they shouldn’t give me many problems.

This is the first time in months I have been back to my old childhood home.  A lot has changed in this town since I moved out in 2005.  For one, all of my old high school friends have moved away.  The cousins that stayed have families of their own.  Most of my old teachers have retired or moved to bigger schools.  All my grandparents and a couple of my uncles have died.  My old grade school was torn down.  The retail store I worked in during the summers went out of business.  In many ways this isn’t the same town I grew up in during the 80s and 90s.  I haven’t been getting back to my parents’ place much the last several years as none of my old friends live around here anymore.  In many ways, this is no longer my town.  It doesn’t feel like home and it hasn’t for several years.

I bring up growing up and the changes my parents’ place have gone under because, with my mental illness, those years I grew up here seem like someone else’s life.  I started having problems with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen.  I was doing quite well in school and involved in many different activities.  It seemed like I was on the fast track to a career and life of my dreams, at least that was until the depression and anxiety started.  Twenty years later, my seventeen year old self wouldn’t even recognize the thirty seven year old man I am now.  I imagine my seventeen year old self would have seen who I am today as a failure.  Back then I knew nothing of mental illness and disability.  Like many teenagers, I also didn’t have as much empathy as many adults who have had their ups and downs, wins and losses.

If nothing else, fighting this mental illness for twenty years has taught me how to have more empathy for people different than myself.  It has taught me patience and how to accept things I can’t change.  It has taught me that, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t about keeping up with other people.  Life is mainly about competing with your self and being the best you that you are capable of being.  He who dies with the most toys is just as dead as anyone else in the cemetery.

I haven’t been giving much time to reflecting on the past for the last few years.  I have mainly been focused on the present and future possibilities.  I normally have little use for nostalgic thoughts.  But I’m sure having them now that I’m at my childhood home for the first time in months.  I guess the nostalgia has shown me how much I lost because of this mental illness.  Yet, in spite of the life that never was, I think I still have a great deal to stay alive for.  I’m interested to see what the next twenty years in this life of mental illness will show me.  I can only guess what changes will have come by the time 2037 rolls in.

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New Beginnings and New Routines

Been getting more regular sleep the last few days.  So I’m returning to some of my old routines.  Started lifting weights again.  No doubt it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the routine of lifting weights three times a week.  I’m eating healthier again.  I used to eat fast food about once a day.  Haven’t had the stuff for two weeks now.  Been getting up around eight a.m. the last several days.  Still napping for a couple hours in the afternoons.  But I am no longer staying awake most of the nights.

Been going outside a couple times a day for the last few days.  Starting to socialize again too.  Found out that some of our more problematic residents have moved out.  One of the reasons I isolated so much over the last year or so was to avoid these people.  I can freely socialize again without fear of running into negative and angry people all the time.  Too bad this didn’t happen a few months ago.  Some of these individuals were really taxing my sanity and well being.

Had some changes in my medications.  So far they seem to be working.  As it is I have a several week supply of meds built up in case of emergencies.  I think that after several months of less than optimal times, things are starting to look good again.

Since I’m starting to sleep less and more regular hours again, I’m finding myself with more free time.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this new found freedom and energy.  I have pretty much been withdrawn and homebound for awhile.  I imagine I need to start contacting friends and family again.  I haven’t been a regular on Facebook for over a month.  I want to get back in touch with people again.  I’m even starting to look forward to the holidays for the first time in a long time.  I’m glad to be back on the mend and more active again.

I want to start losing weight again.  I’ve been real lazy about diet and exercise since my car accident two years ago.  As a result I gained back all the weight I had lost previously.  I haven’t been drinking sugared sodas for a couple weeks and I’m cutting back in other places too.  I’m eating more vegetables too.  Started lifting weights again.  Been lazy about that for a long time.  So glad I kept my old hand weights during my minimalist purges.  Overall things are looking better than usual.  Even during my exiles I stayed positive for the most part.  But now I am more social and outgoing, it can get even better.

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.

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.