Another Christmas has come and gone. I hosted Christmas at my apartment again this year and I got to celebrate with my parents. We had a big dinner and exchanged a few gifts. I got some clothes. As a child I wouldn’t have been excited about getting clothes, but clothes were what I was needing this year. Now the gathering of family and friends means more to me than getting and giving gifts. I guess since I live alone, if I need something I’ll usually buy it myself. And since I am a minimalist by nature and necessity, I usually don’t need very much most of the time.
In other news, one of my computers crashed on me recently. It depends on what’s wrong with it whether I’ll get it fixed or buy a new one. I’ve had that computer for two years and it’s crashed on me twice already. My Mac had issues at the same time. Fortunately I was able to save it without going to the shop because it was a fairly minor problem that took only a couple hours to solve.
Winter has officially arrived in my town. It’s been quite cold for several days and we had several inches of snow the weekend before Christmas. It looks like it will stay very cold for the next several days. Probably be staying home until this cold spell is over. It’s alright as I have some reading to catch up on. I usually do a lot of reading and writing when it’s too cold and snowy to be outside for long.
I have been quite stable for the last couple weeks in spite the changes in my sleep patterns. I’m sleeping less and waking up earlier. I’m now usually awake at sunrise, sleep for a couple hours in the afternoon, and stay awake until midnight. I haven’t noticed any changes in my moods or mental states yet. I’m glad things have been quiet in that regard.
Overall, I’m ready for winter. I won’t feel guilty about wanting to stay home for the next three to four months. Winter and spring are my favorite times of year.
Been spending more time at home since the weather is turning cold. Haven’t had any real snow yet, but that probably won’t last long. Avoiding the stores and crowds of holiday shoppers. I have never done well in crowds and it seems to get worse as I age. Found out that one of my local grocery stores offers home delivery. I have used this a few times as I really don’t like driving on crowded streets anymore. Found out I do just fine on rural highways when I went to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.
Overall I’m feeling pretty stable. Haven’t done much since cleaning my apartment over the weekend. Haven’t really been in the mood to talk to many people, so I keep to myself most of the time. Besides talking to a few friends and my parents, I haven’t had much for a social life for the last week. Now that I have winter supplies stocked again, I really don’t have to leave my complex for at least a few days if I don’t want to.
Between getting out my winter coat and stocking up on cold weather food, I think I’m ready for the next three to four months of winter. Even though spring is my favorite time of year, I’ve also enjoyed winter in years past. I usually get a lot of reading and writing done on cold days. I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to go outside in the cold. I am ready for winter.
Spent a few days in my childhood home over Thanksgiving weekend. It went better than expected. I was worried that things wouldn’t go well with so many people in one house. Fortunately things went with no problems and I got to see my brother’s family for the first time in months. I had been avoiding socializing in person for months just because it seemed that most people were always in foul moods. That is all I had seen on social media for the previous two years at least. Finally I quit checking my facebook and twitter accounts. I don’t use either one except to promote my blog now. It saddens me that I had to lose contact with some of my oldest and dearest friends because some people insist on being blowhards and jerks to other people online. I always wondered what people like that were like in person. It would be an interesting experiment.
Returned home over the weekend. I have pretty much avoided going shopping or even on the roads to avoid the holiday crowds. I never did enjoy crowds, even before I became mentally ill. I pretty much do most of my shopping online anymore. I found out that there is a grocery store in my town that will allow online orders and home deliveries. I have used that a few times lately. And I’ll be using it even more now that the holidays are here.
As far as celebrating Christmas is concerned, I’m not as excited about getting gifts as I was when I was growing up. Anymore I just care about spending time with family, having good food, and watching my brother’s kids have a good time. I also enjoy going around my town and looking at the decorations, especially after dark. And since we usually have snow on Christmas were I live, it adds even more beauty to the season.
All and all I am ready for winter. Summer was hotter than usual and autumn seemed to last longer than usual. I am not as worried about being in closed quarters with my neighbors as I was in years past as several of my problem neighbors moved out this autumn. It has been quiet and peaceful ever since. I leave my apartment more often and I’m more apt to make a point of socializing with neighbors. Used to be I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment. But those problems are over. It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for rude people and stupidity. And I am noticing my friends in my age bracket are becoming the same way. Thank God I haven’t gotten to the point were I’m complaining about the “lousy kids” yet. If I get to that point, I hope somebody knocks some sense into me. I spent my entire childhood and my twenties listening to my elders gripe and moan about people in my age bracket. Going through that, I promised I would never do that to anyone.
Overall my life is rather no thrills. I spend a lot of my days playing computer games, reading online articles, talking to friends and family over the phone or online, and chatting up my neighbors. I am still slogging through the Star Trek spinoffs on Netflix. I would eventually love to have watched every episode of Star Trek. I still have a long way to go. It will probably take a few years. On the bright side, I’m no longer sleeping twelve hours a day anymore. And the hallucinations I have now are no longer frightening, they are just annoying. Maybe mental illness does get less severe as a patient ages. I think it has in my case.
It’s been colder than normal December, especially the last several days. So I’ve pretty much stayed home, caught up on my reading, watched some videos on youtube, and played some computer games. I’ve even eaten less these last several days but did rediscover my caffeine habit through coffee and diet soda pop.
Mentally I have felt surprisingly stable in spite not being able to get out of my apartment complex. We haven’t had the bad snow that many places have but it’s just been so cold. I’m pretty much content to curl up under a blanket and read most evenings. But I haven’t had problems with anxiety, depression, or hallucinations for a long time. I think it helps that I have made it a point to avoid the mall and Wal Mart this Christmas season. I just don’t like crowds, bright lights, and loud music even on a good day. I can’t imagine how tough sensory overload is for autistics during the holidays.
In spite the cold I still keep in contact with friends and family. I’m calling someone at least once a day and I drop into Facebook a few times a day to check on friends and family. I have been on Facebook more since the end of the election. I’m so glad that people have more or less settled down from that madness. It was actually quite unbearable for awhile knowing that every time I logged onto Facebook I was going to get a sermon from my friends about how the Republicans or Democrats were going to be the death of us all. I just got so sick of hearing about it that I let many of my social connections go by the wayside. I’m only now beginning to socialize again.
Christmas will be here soon. I’m looking forward to the return to normal. 2016 has been anything but normal for me. Spent the first part of the year in chiropractic treatment. Got burned out not the election even before the end of spring. Spent the entire summer out of commission with a bad back. Spent eh fall depressed and angry about how irritable and angry my friends were about the election. And now I’m dealing with the stretch run for the end of the holidays. My life has been unsettled since my car accident last October. I’m just ready for things to settle down again. I’m sick of all the needless drama and upheaval.
Besides buying groceries and running a couple miscellaneous errands around town, I haven’t been out that much this Christmas season. I have mainly stayed home, worked on some projects around my apartment, cleaned a little, and rearranged some of my furniture. As I don’t have much for furniture the rearranging took less than a couple hours. I’m also messing with a few new computer games I bought for myself as an early Christmas gift.
I still haven’t worked up the courage to brave the mall or box stores. The crowds are bad every holiday season. I get real bad sensory overload from the lights, bells, bright decorations, crying children, and stressed out adults. I don’t enjoy holiday shopping. I’d rather just buy all my gifts online and let the post office worry about delivery. That and I don’t have to put on shoes when I’m shopping online.
A few months ago I decided to monetize my blog and see if I could make something off it. I also set up a pateron account. Between the two of them over the last few months I made some money. Granted it’s only a few bucks but I had no expectations when I started doing this blog three years ago. Even though I have had the taste of making some money through my online work, I’m not delusional enough to believe I will become rich from my blogging. I doubt I’ll even be able to get off disability insurance from my writings. But I don’t care that much about the money. I have learned to live on not much, at least not much by American standards. If this blog became popular enough that I could buy a pizza every month from my blog earrings, I’d consider that a huge success.
In some aspects I already consider this blog a success. I have gotten dozens of messages from readers that have told me that what I am writing is helpful. I got one message from someone who claimed he was biased against mentally ill people until he read several of my postings. Changing minds one blog post at a time I suppose. Another success of the blog is that the audience has grown bigger with each passing year. I am happy with what this blog has been able to accomplish in only a few years of determined effort. In the back of my mind I always wanted this blog to have lots of readers and be well known within the mental health community. But I didn’t set myself up for disappointment if my blog never got noticed. I would blog even if I didn’t get paid or if my blogs weren’t read by more than a couple people. I post this material also for future audiences as something that may be able to help anyone years down the road. If something ends up on the internet, it’s practically permanent anymore. And that is still considering that over half the world’s population still doesn’t have easy access to internet. Think about it, over three and a half billion people still haven’t seen a youtube video, bought anything online, or seen a troll face meme as of December 2016. The internet is not going away. Neither are mentally ill people who will tell their stories and demand more fair treatment.
I was originally going to do only one article today. But consider this my two for the price of one sale. Christmas and the other end of year holidays will be upon us soon. I didn’t put up any decorations and skipped out on the apartment’s Christmas party. I don’t even do any shopping besides grocery shopping this time of year. All the lights, bell ringing, too loud music, and too over the top decorations really give me bad cases of sensory overload. Sometimes I can get sensory overload even driving in rush hour traffic. Just everything moving too fast, too many sites, and too many noises I suppose. So you can imagine how bad Christmas can be for me.
I’ll probably go to my parents’ house for a couple days but I doubt I’ll do anything with the extended family. Once again too much sensory overload and no means to tactfully excuse myself from such overload. I’m looking forward to the end of the holidays and the end of 2016 in general. I really haven’t watched that much football this year as it has lost much of it’s appeal for me. I just no longer enjoy watching it. I did watch playoff baseball but really haven’t watched any tv outside of netflix and youtube since the end of October.
I enjoy the colder weather. I’m happy for the longer nights and the decreased expectation that I always have to be going somewhere and spending time with someone outside of my apartment. I enjoy spending time in my apartment with my books, my internet, my music, and my computer games. When I want to talk to friends and family I can always call them over the phone or chat online and not have to be embarrassed or shamed if I want to end the conversation in a hurry. I really have no stomach for small talk or gossip. I guess I never have. Sometimes I am my own best company. I guess I adapted too well to spending most of my life alone. Anymore I prefer to be alone almost all the time. I haven’t had a roommate in over twelve years and I don’t see ever having a roommate again. Whoever invented the rules for human socializing never took mentally ill people into consideration.
Yet, I couldn’t be happier with my current living conditions, especially considering I have to fight a mental illness everyday. I guess that’s why holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas cause me some sadness in that I’m expected to socialize and engage in small talk against my will. I really don’t like going to Christmas parties, especially with people who I see in foul moods most of the year. I don’t like listening to Christmas carols, those songs don’t articulate my memories of Christmas from childhood or my feelings right now. I don’t like going to the mall and fighting crowds just so I can buy a couple items for myself. I don’t like being told to be jolly or of good cheer. I hated being told how to think as a kid and I hate being told how to think even more as an adult. I’ll feel however I like and just not talk about how I feel or think.
I’ll enjoy the holidays regardless if I do it in traditional ways. I can socialize, but I can do it for hours on end if I have some intelligent conversation. If small talk comes up I’ll be ready to leave after twenty minutes. It can be kind of tricky being mentally ill around the holidays. It can take a few years to figure out what works and what doesn’t. It certainly took me several years to figure out what to avoid and what to do to ensure a smooth holiday season.
I did go and do some shopping on Black Friday. That is, if grocery shopping counts. Bought enough food to last several days. I haven’t eaten fast food in a few days as I’m doing my own cooking again. I’ve also had some of my psych meds doses lowered as I’ve been stabilizing for a few weeks. I sleep a little less now. I’m staying up later again but I really don’t drink that much caffeine. I have all but given up coffee and I usually have only one or two soda pops a day. I notice I feel less tense and short tempered since cutting back on the caffeine.
I’m back to eating less too. For several weeks I was practically living off fast food and I have no doubt my health suffered. Now that I’m back to cooking my own meals and eating healthier I am gradually noticing small improvements. My stamina is beginning to come back, I am not as irritable, I am not as short tempered, my flare ups aren’t as bad, and I’m getting better sleep. I think I have also lost a few pounds as my clothes are fitting a little looser.
I’m looking forward to winter even though I missed the summer with back problems and had more stress than usual during the fall. I love the chilly weather, I don’t mind shoveling snow, I love spending time with family over Christmas, I enjoy watching college football games all day on New Year’s, and I like making cold weather food like potato and cheese soup and chili. My Christmas shopping is done as I just did everything online this year.
I didn’t get what I wanted accomplished health wise this year. I gained back much of the weight I had lost in 2014 and 2015. Some of this came after I hurt my back and lost a summer’s worth of exercise. Some of this came as I was more depressed and unstable this year than some of my previous years. But for the last few weeks I’ve been having more of a sense of stability than I have had for months. I’ve actually gotten some of my more healthy routines going again. I still don’t socialize much in my apartment complex as I’m trying to avoid negative and depressing people. I’m gradually getting back on Facebook. I avoided it as much as I could for most of the fall. But now that winter is almost here I’m getting to where I want to socialize to break up some of the colder, slower days.
Been feeling quite stable the last several days. I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were. I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months. I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year. I see people are already putting up their decorations. I haven’t decorated for holidays in years. I just don’t see the need to. I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online. Thank God for amazon and the postal service.
I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games. I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget. I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money. But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years. Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday. No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂
I have found myself eating less over the last week or so. I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals. Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me. It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks. I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.
As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving. My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places. It may be just myself this year again. I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids. I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on. One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown. Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought. But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two. A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.
Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends. Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing. I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down. Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents. I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties. I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties. I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school. But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.
I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older. I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago. We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright. Ease off.” If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me. I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts. And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that. It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth. It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness. But that is a topic for another place and time.
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.
The end of the year holidays are upon us once again. For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family. Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk. Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago. It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time. We were often understaffed and running out of popular items. Not very fun. I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward. To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.
The holidays have long been a stressful time for me. I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old. By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy. Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense. The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday. I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class. But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.
For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful. Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers. Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs. And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars. For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks. My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day. So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge. I’m just selective about being Scrooge.
The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me. Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family. Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather. But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.