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.

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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.