Random Thoughts On A Saturday Night

Been snowing on and off the last few days.  So I have just stayed home and admired the snow while watching football or listening to music.  Haven’t read much the last few days, not even articles.  I have found that I actually remember what I hear in audiobooks more than what I read in regular books.  I don’t read very fast anymore.  And when I do, I find myself stopping every half hour or so just to think over what I’ve read.  It’s a terrible way to try to read novels, but it’s perfect for heavy reading like philosophy and science books.

I guess winter is here.  Not that it bothers me any.  Spring is usually my favorite time of year, followed by winter.  I love the chilly weather, long nights, and not feeling pressured to go out all the time.  I enjoy the holidays more as I don’t venture out into the stores and fight the crowds anymore.  What Christmas shopping I do is all online now.  I got too much sensory overload from going to stores.  Too many bright lights, too many people, and too much noise.

I haven’t had much for flare ups for a few weeks now.  I think it helps that I am spending more time with my neighbors.  I usually see them once a day, sometimes twice.  Last weekend they spent an entire afternoon at my place.  I think it’s helping ease some of my stress and anxiety about people.  I have become quite fearful of crowds the last several months.  And the fact that most of the time when people wanted to talk to me, they were angry or I was in trouble.  For awhile, this made me very paranoid.  Sometimes I would have panic attacks when I heard people talking in the hallway.  Sometimes I wouldn’t answer my phone even if it was a friend or family member.  I have gotten over that recently.  I still answer even if it’s an obvious telemarketer.  But rather than get upset, I just hang up after a few seconds.  It’s not the most polite thing to do, but it’s not as bad as yelling at the person or machine on the other end.  About the only time I don’t answer my phone is when I’m taking a bath or a nap.

I’m also having fewer aches and pains.  The worst are always when I first wake up in the morning.  And when I sit down for more than a couple hours, I can be kind of sore for the first minute I’m standing up.  Anymore I almost always make a point to stand up at least once every hour, even while I’m on serious projects.  I still lift weights three times a week.  I think I’ve lost weight.  I don’t know if I really have, but my clothes fit better, I recover from being out of breath faster, I recover from anxiety and irritability quicker, I sleep better, and my back doesn’t hurt as often.  I still stay seated most of time when I have guests or my cleaning lady is doing her work, but it’s just so I don’t get in the way now.  Even the shirts I bought a few months ago are now kind of baggy.  I still wear a lot of sweat pants and cargo shorts, but it’s mainly because they are so comfortable and I do most of my work and shopping from home.

I sold my car a few weeks ago.  I sold it to a friend of my parents who was needing more reliable transport.  And I wasn’t driving much as I have found I can do almost everything from home now.  I was also getting kind of unnerved about driving too.  It’s just too much going on all at once.  I admit to getting distracted and sensory overload easily.  It’s just best that I don’t be out on the road anymore.  And if I desperately really need to go anywhere, my town does have a few taxi cabs and a few Uber drivers now.  My brother and his wife live in Oklahoma City and they usually hire Uber drivers when they need to go to and from the airport to avoid paying for a parking space.  I have an account, but haven’t actually used it yet.  I don’t miss driving that much.  It was just becoming more of a hassle than it was worth.  I enjoyed going on road trips all the time when I was in my twenties and early thirties.  But as I have gotten a few years older, I pretty much enjoy spending most of my time at home in the company of family or friends.  I’m glad I travelled when I was young and in more stable health.

I don’t regret any of the travels I did.  Actually, there really isn’t much I regret about my life so far.  Sure I regret getting schizophrenia, but it’s not like I had any say in that.  But I’ve made my peace and adapted accordingly.  I know it’s popular right now to be nostalgic about the past and be convinced that the world is going to hell.  Yet, for me, there isn’t any time in history I would want to be at other than the here and now.  If I had been born in my grandparents’ generation, I wouldn’t have had decent medications and would have been lifelong institutionalized if I was lucky.  As it is, I can live more or less independent and on poverty level wages because of medications, social safety nets like disability insurance and Medicaid.  Thanks to computers and internet, I have easy access to almost any kind of information I want within reason.  That alone would make the scholars of any previous era jealous.  And I get access to this treasure trove of information for the cost of one dollar per day.  I find myself looking up things all the time, even useless information like when I’m talking football statistics with my friends or family.  I couldn’t have done this twenty five years ago.  And now that slightly over 50 percent of the world’s population now has internet access, it is starting to no longer be considered a luxury.  For me, it’s an absolute necessity for my current lifestyle.  I’ll take easy internet access over flying cars and meals in pill form any time.

Hosting Christmas and Weathering Blizzards

Hosted Christmas for myself and my parents again this year.  Even though they live out of state now, they had to be back in Nebraska for a couple days to close up some business issues and visit some family.  I did get to face time with my nephews and niece, granted it was on my dad’s smart phone and not my computer.  I do miss those kids.  Makes me hope that I can spend Christmas 2019 at their place.

Right now I am house bound for the next couple days at least.  We had massive amounts of rain before changing over to snow.  I don’t know how much snow we have as my windows are so iced over I can’t see out.  Our city did declare a snow emergency and told everyone besides critical workers to stay home today.  Fortunately I have enough groceries I can stay home for a long time if need be, and I even have a lot of non perishables that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated.  I haven’t gone as far and picked up any of those Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) popularized by the military and back woods campers.  But I should be alright.  I keep everything charged in case we do lose power.  With as much ice and wind and snow as we have, that is a possibility.

I got some picture frames for Christmas.  I bought several prints of art work done by a long time friend of mine.  I finally got some frames to go with them.  My apartment doesn’t look so much like a monk’s chamber now.  I guess I don’t mind the kind of starkness of white walls with few decorations.  But some paintings on the walls do make the place seem warmer and less sterile.

Been going to bed around 9pm and waking up for good around 5am lately.  I feel more stable now that I have a regular sleep pattern.  I still sometimes nap in the afternoons for an hour or two at a time.  I sleep much deeper than usual now.  But I’m getting better sleep too.  I think that only helps with my issues of paranoia and delusions.  I tend to be less distressed after a few days of good sleep.  I also get deeper sleep on days I don’t have as much caffeine.  Feel less irritable on those days too.

Been feeling pretty good the last few days.  I enjoyed Christmas with my parents.  And now I am ready to face the rest of the winter.

Changing Routines and The Holidays

I’ve been feeling quite well the last several days.  I make it a point a socialize with at least one neighbor per day.  I still call my parents twice a week on average.  Other than running errands and a couple doctors’ appointments this week, I’ve stayed pretty close to home.  It’s been colder than usual the last couple weeks, so I’ve pretty much been going to bed earlier and waking up early.  I think I finally broke the habit of staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.

Been avoiding negative news for months now.  And I think it’s given me a more positive outlook overall.  Most of what I watch anymore are science shows, comedy, and inspirational materials.  I am still largely avoiding social media except to occasionally drop in on friends and promote my blog.  I just came to the conclusion that the drama involved in most social media isn’t worth the trouble.  It does make the nights kind of  lonely as facebook used to be a lot of my socializing.  But I am adjusting.

Mentally I am stable.  I am not sleeping as much as I did during the summers.  And I’m not staying up all night either.  I think I have found some balance in the kind of schedules I keep.  I have made a point of keeping my apartment cleaner than usual.  And I have to think that has positively impacted my mental health.  I’ve decided I’m regrowing my beard for the winter.  Other projects I have this winter include rereading some of the old philosophy books I read years ago in college.  I may watch more classic movies too this winter.  I don’t really have any plans for the next couple weeks.  I’m going back to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.  I am definitely not doing the Black Friday shopping nonsense.  I do all my shopping from my computer anymore.  I don’t plan on going out shopping this Christmas but I will probably watch a few Christmas movies.  It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two all time favorites.

Hosting Christmas With A Mental Illness

I twisted my knee a few days before Christmas bad enough I could barely walk.  Fortunately after a few days of rest and ibuprofen I’m as good as new.  Since I couldn’t navigate stairs over Christmas, my parents came to my apartment on Christmas.  They brought Christmas dinner and a few gifts.  I hosted them for a few hours and they then went to Oklahoma to visit my brother’s family for a few days.  I was glad they left some left over turkey and pie.  Those were my meals the day after Christmas.

I didn’t get much for Christmas.  But I might be getting a FitBit in a few days once the crowds settle into the winter doldrums.  After my car accident I got lazy about exercising and dieting.  As a result I gained back most of the weight I lost in the previous two years.  I’m starting over.  I hope the FitBit can help in this regard.  I found out my general practice doctor retired recently.  So I’m in the market for a different doctor.  My psych doctor and therapist are also older men who are starting to think retirement too.  I’ve had my current psych doctor for over ten years and my current therapist for two years.  One of the problems of having a chronic illness like schizophrenia is that the illness outlasts even the best doctors because schizophrenia doesn’t retire.  Sure in my case the problems have gotten less severe over the years.  I don’t know if it’s because I’ve mellowed as the years have passed or I’m just getting better at managing the illness.  Either way I’m glad I have a routine that more or less works and has kept me out of the mental hospital for three years.

Another holiday season has come and passed.  I did pretty well mentally but I think that’s because I avoided crowds and shopping malls.  I’ve learned what I can and cannot handle over the years through trial and error.  It was a successful holiday season as far as I’m concerned even though I didn’t get to see my extended family.  It actually felt pretty good hosting a small gathering over Christmas this year.  I might have to do this more often if I can limit the size of the gathering.

Adapting To Winter with Mental Illness

Some people think I’m strange in that I prefer cold weather to warm weather.  Besides spring, winter is usually the best time of year for me.  While Christmas might not mean much to me personally anymore, I do enjoy seeing the excitement and joy on my nephews and niece’s faces.  I enjoy spending time with family more than I do getting gifts anymore.

The weather has certainly turned quite cold since Thanksgiving.  It doesn’t really bother me as I have plenty of books to read, food in my pantry, good internet connection, and I can call up friends and family pretty much anytime.  I probably would feel different if I lived in the Old West as a mountain man who had to cut his own firewood and go hunting all the time.  Since the weather has turned colder and the nights are getting longer, I have been sleeping more.  I’m not sleeping out of depression or sadness but I just like getting under the heavy blanket and semi hibernating.

Been reading quite a bit lately.  I’m reading mostly non fiction and science books lately.  Reading science and tech books, even ones that are a few years old, made me realize just how fast things are changing.  And most people don’t even know these changes are happening.  I currently have a several year old Play Station 3 but the next gaming consul I buy will probably have some Virtual Reality setup.  I imagine the Oculus Rift is a popular Christmas gift this year.  I’m probably going to wait a couple years and let the prices come down before I get one of my own.

Since it looks like it’s supposed to stay cold for the next several days I think I’m pretty much going to stay home.  I have a few projects around the apartment that I want to get on top of.  Been kind of lazy about some things as I was fighting bouts of depression and anxiety all fall.  I’m probably going to rearrange my apartment.  As I don’t have a lot of furniture this won’t take more than an hour or two at most.

One advantage to the colder weather is that I’m much less apt to go for fast food.  I’ve been eating healthier the last several days and I notice an improvement already in my moods and energy level.  Sometimes in the afternoons I’ll walk the hallways of my complex just to break up the routines on these cold days.

I’m back on my normal meds doses.  I had to increase all my meds during the fall because of my problems with stress, depression, and anxiety.  But as I’ve felt much more stable the last few weeks I was able to come down off the high doses I was on.

All in all I’m beginning to settle into my winter routines.  I have plenty of books I want to get read this winter and I’m already off to a good start on those.

 

Adapting To The Holidays

Aurora lights up sky over log cabin

Alaska. The Aurora Borealis lights up the northern sky with a log cabin in winter. PR

The weather is turning colder and the days are really short now.  As a result I haven’t been leaving my apartment complex much the last several days.  And I don’t feel guilty at all about it.  I never did well around the crowds of shoppers during the holidays.  I just don’t like fighting crowds and waiting in long lines just so I can buy a few items.  I think one of these days I’m going to do most of my shopping online and see if I can just get things delivered to my door.

As a result of my quasi hibernation for the last week and a half, I am spending more time reading.  I have plenty of books I bought months ago that I’m only now getting into.  I have found that I am eating much less too.  Most days anymore I eat two meals a day and that’s really about it.  I also rarely drink coffee and I used to have a solid four to six cup a day habit.  When I do drink soda pop it’s mostly diet anymore and only with meals.  I find that in spite the longer nights I’m staying up later and waking up later.  I usually experience only a few hours of sunlight a day.  It doesn’t really bother me.  I really don’t like getting out and fighting traffic and crowds during Christmas.

Christmas really doesn’t mean that much to me as I don’t have kids.  I rarely go to Christmas programs and I haven’t decorated for years.  I just usually go spend a couple days at my parents’ place and that’s about it anymore.  My brother and his kids have  their own traditions so they rarely come to Nebraska for the holiday.  But Christmas really hasn’t meant much to me other than a few days of vacation and weeks of faux cheery music, too many lights, and too many bells.  Now I do like a few Christmas movies like ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’  I can’t imagine how tough Christmas is for autistic children who have problems with sensory overload problems.  It’s tough for me as an adult with schizophrenia who can voluntarily withdraw when needed.

I really don’t send out Christmas cards as I keep in regular contact with most of my old friends via Facebook.  I won’t go to the complex Christmas party again this year.  Seems like most people have been in a more foul mood than usual this year.  And I just don’t want to experience that during the holidays.  Sure it’s tough essentially spending the holidays in self imposed exile because of sensory overload and fear of crowds.  But I just don’t see any other options.  2016 has been a more rough than usual year and I’m sure the holidays this year will be worse than normal.  I’m just ready for things to go back to some sense of normal.  I haven’t experienced normal and prolonged periods of calm for a long time.

Confessions of a Schizophrenic and Christmas

santa

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton!  In short, just have a good day overall regardless where you live or how you believe.  I spent a few days in my childhood home village in rural Nebraska.  Didn’t really go anywhere because there really isn’t that many places to go there.  My parents and I had our Christmas celebration this afternoon over ham and pumpkin pie.  I hadn’t been anywhere outside of my current hometown for any real length since my grandmother’s funeral.  I almost forgot how much I enjoy road trips and traveling.  This was the first Christmas I didn’t have any living grandparents.  But most people lose their grandparents long before they hit their thirties.

Overall, besides of a short lived but hard hitting psychotic break a few days ago, this year was a quiet and rather uneventful holiday season.  I was purposely avoiding shopping malls and box stores.  Things are beginning to get back to more normal with my life.  Had my first psychotic break of 2015 in early October that was rather nasty but thank God short lived. Unfortunately, my psychotic breaks involved a lot of anger and shouting.  I never developed the ability to just break down and sob for my break downs.  I think many men with mental illness take out their issues on others in scary and unsettling ways.  For me, it’s actually a cry for help and desire for releasing tensions instead of wanting to come across as threatening and dangerous.

I am afraid that after my family passes away I’ll lose a major source for releasing tension and anxiety.  They are also a source of interesting and intelligent conversation as they are quite intelligent too.  Tragically I don’t relate that well to most people because I am not interested in the mundane and the issues of daily living.  I just cannot stand to rehash current events for hours on end.  I see five minutes of a minor news story that gets replayed dozens of times over a few days of a news cycle and I no longer wish to discuss it.  I also have little desire to complain about anything I can’t do anything about.  That’s why I don’t vent about politics, current events, the failures of my favorite sports teams, etc.  And it’s almost painful for me to listen to conversations between average people.  Especially so when people bring up the same problems over and over they have no interest in making better.  I fear the death of my family members as much as I fear the death of my best friends.

I have never gotten violent during even the worst of my breakdowns, at least never to other people.  When I was in college I used to punch wood doors and shelves.  But I have never gotten violent towards anyone even after almost twenty years of mental health problems.  I haven’t been in a fight with anyone since I was thirteen years old, and most of those fights were with my older brother and cousins.  I am afraid of winding in prison or getting seriously hurt in the wrong circumstances during a future breakdown.  In my case while the fire burns hot and bright, it also goes out quite quickly.  I only hope symptoms and problems with schizophrenia get less severe with age, especially if an outright cure is never found. I know some people with mental health issues like autism spectrum and others don’t care to be cured.  For me I would give practically anything to be cured from schizophrenia.  I would even sign up for experimental treatments and procedures if they ever became available.

In other news, I have gotten more focused and serious about dieting and exercise.  I lost thirteen pounds in the last two and half months.  I am back into exercising almost every day as my back is no longer hurting from my car accident.  I got my car fixed as good as ever.  I’m also sitting down and planning out my goals for 2016 as the year 2015 is drawing to a close in a few days.  I accomplished several of my goals for this year, namely getting my amateur radio license back, having more blog posts and visitors this year than 2014, got to be in my best friend’s wedding party, read a few dozen books and audio books, completed a couple free courses on khan academy,  stayed out of debt, and built up my savings more.  The biggest goal I didn’t accomplish was my goal of losing sixty pounds.  I weigh the same now as I did at the end of 2014.  So while I didn’t accomplish my biggest goal, I didn’t completely give up the lifestyle change.  I just have to do better in 2016.