December 11 2019

Only two weeks until Christmas.  2019 is going to be passing into 2020 soon after.  2019 has been a long year for me.  I think spending much of my time at home made this year go slower than usual.  It was a year of changes for me.  I sold my car so I’m no longer driving.  I lift arm weights regularly.  I gave up most fast food.  I gave up most sugary food.  I broke down and hired outside help to keep my home livable.  I now have help with cleaning and laundry.  I gave up on a few friendships once it became painfully obvious some of my friends and I no longer had the same interests or values.  I guess people do change over the years.  It’s usually so gradual that we don’t notice it until afterwards.  I am beginning to overcome some of my anxiety about people.  Guests don’t bother me much anymore.  I still get slightly paranoid when I hear people talking out in my hallway.

I didn’t watch much tv or news this year.  I can’t relate to many tv shows.  I even cancelled my Netflix subscription.  Most of what I watch anymore is youtube or live sports.  The news is depressing, but I get that’s what catches the attention.  We have plenty of good news stories that will never get mentioned simply because good news doesn’t catch the attention.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked either, outside of online science and tech articles.  I guess it’s been kind of a less eventful year, at least for me.

Christmas Thoughts and Support of Family and Close Friends

Been feeling more irritable and short tempered the last few days.  Not sure what to make of it.  Hopefully it is just the stress of being so close to end of year holidays.  I won’t be going anywhere for Christmas this year.  My parents are returning to Nebraska for a couple days and will be spending Christmas with a few of my aunts.  If I’m up for guests I might have them over for a few hours myself.

But, as it’s been, I just really haven’t wanted to see anyone lately.  Kind of depressing in that I was doing so well for a long time.  Had a short but tough break down a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately it wasn’t as vicious as many as I’ve had in years past but it was still unpleasant and painful anyway.  I hate that I vent my problems on family when I have breakdowns.  I’m sure it has caused them much grief and fear over the years.

I would love to alter my personality to the point that I would just break down and sob rather than be angry and take my problems out on others.  I don’t know how much of that is the way I was raised in my culture and how much of it is being a man.  But I have never been good at suffering distress by taking it out on myself.  I don’t raise my voice as much as I used to during breakdowns.  Hopefully I’m better at coping with the distress of these flare ups.  After nearly twenty years of mental health problems, I should hope so.  I hope at this point I’ve moved far beyond even the acceptance phase and into the advocacy for those who aren’t as experienced with these problems as I.

The weather has been quite decent, by December standards, for the last ten days in my home state.  It still gets below freezing at night so we still have a few patches of ice.  But the roads are clear and it’s pretty easy to drive around town when I need to.  My family and I recently hired a cleaning person who works with a few elderly people in my complex.  I like her work.  Hopefully I can hold onto her services for a while.  I had a really good cleaner a few years ago who cleaned twice a month, at least until she had heart problems and had to take retirement.  I liked her.

I’ve seen my psych doctor a couple of times in the last few weeks.  I’m on a newer anti psych medication that’s supposed to help reduce compulsive behavior and serve as kind of a stimulant.  Most of the psych medications I’ve been on have promoted drowsiness.  I’m still getting used to the fact I don’t need as much sleep as I’ve had in past months.  I usually sleep only six to seven hours a night now, with a couple exceptions when I’m feeling really distressed.  I think sleep is one of the ways my mind works against mental health problems.  But I suppose there are worse ways of dealing with mental distress than sleeping ten to twelve hours a day.

I am looking forward to Christmas.  While I don’t have much planned, I should call friends and family and see if I can set up Skype with them.  I have the programs on my computer, I just don’t use them very often so I’m rusty with them.  I have learned over the years, the real value of the holiday seasons is spending time with family and friends. I don’t really remember much of the gifts I got as a child.  I don’t even really remember when I quit believing in Santa Claus and magic elves.  But I do remember the time I spent with friends and family, especially my grandparents and a couple of my uncles who have now passed away.  Those times aren’t coming back.

I’m glad I had a family that, even in our disagreements, we didn’t cut each other out or bring up our grievances during holidays or weddings or funerals.  I didn’t realize how rare that was until I went to a Christian college and found out from friends and classmates that, in some cases, even devoutly religious families can have serious issues.  I’m glad I dodged those bullets.  I never realized how cool my family was growing up.  Like many teenagers, I thought my family was kind of embarrassing and didn’t know what was what.  But now that I’m of the age when most of my friends have children of their own, my family knew their stuff far better than I realized all along.  My parents are now more like good friends and wise confidants than the authority figures I respected and sometimes feared as a child and teenager.

I’m glad I got to this point in my relationship with my family before they went into declining health or died.  I’m glad for all of it, even the discipline and nagging I couldn’t stand as a ten year old child.  But it served it’s purpose.  I may not have a successful career and well adjusted children like my brother and most of my cousins, but  I am managing an otherwise crippling mental illness pretty decent.  From what I have seen when I was inpatient hospitalization and from what I’ve heard from my readers, this thing could be much tougher to manage.

December Routines and Socializing While Mentally Ill

Been staying close to home the last several days.  Did get outside for a couple hours today just to replenish on sunshine even though it was barely above freezing.  I am staying occupied even if I don’t leave my house much.  Cleaned some in my apartment this weekend.  I also cut my hair.  I bought myself a hair trimmer for Christmas and wacked off my hair.  I had let it grow shoulder length.  With that length of hair and my full beard I was looking like an extra from Game of Thrones.  Now I look like a military recruit at the start of Basic Training.

Been exercising at home lately.  I got a stationary exercise bike from my dad before he moved out of state.  I use that several times a week.  My stamina is slowly coming back.  And, unlike walking, it doesn’t really bother my lower back.  My sleep patterns have changed too.  Anymore I usually go to bed around 9 or 10pm usually to wake up at 5 or 6 am.  Most of my awake time is spent in daylight hours now even though it is late autumn.

I still don’t know what I’m doing for Christmas.  It depends largely on the weather.  I would love to go see my parents’ new house and my brother’s family.  I saw his kids over the summer but I haven’t seen him or my sister in law since Thanksgiving 2017.  I guess if I can’t go see them in person I’ll have to dust off my Skype and talk to them that way.  I am looking forward to the college football holiday bowl season.  That has always been one of my favorite sports events over the years.  I enjoy watching football and it gives me a chance to see teams I don’t see very often.

Been chatting with old friends more often lately.  I guess now that the end of the year holidays are here, people are taking more time to reconnect to family and friends.  Even though I don’t usually talk to many people in person, it’s not because I hate people.  I usually don’t talk to people in person as much if I don’t have common interests.  I have always thought it would be cool if there were entire communities of people with similar interests and passions living together, much like college dormitories or artists’ communes.  But I guess good luck getting such set ups for science and history enthusiasts together without the considerations of money or jobs.  Maybe in future centuries there will be such places.  For now, I guess hobbies and interests groups on social media are the next best thing.

I have spent much of my life alone because I have rarely known people with my kind of interests and passions.  College was fun in that I did meet many people with my interests.  It was also a place where being eccentric and quirky wasn’t condemned but generally tolerated.  I miss that about living in the adult world, not many people with my interests and generally little tolerance for being different than the norm, especially in work places and social settings.

I was never a conformist as a kid and I certainly refuse to be one now.  Sure it has made me lonely over the years and on the receiving end of much harassment and abuse, especially in the work place.  But I can’t stand the thought of being just another soulless empty suit in an office or another cog in an industrial wheel.  Maybe disability was the best thing that could have happened to me in this regard.  As much as I didn’t fit in during my teenage years, I fit in even worse in the workplace and adult dating scene.  But I no longer regret either one.  In fact, I am thankful for this.

Christmas Memories

Today, December 4, is officially three weeks from Christmas.  So allow me to say Merry Christmas, Happy Saturnalia (to my friends who are students of ancient history), Happy Kawanza, Happy Winter Solstice, and Happy Birthday Sir Issac Newton.  Since we had several inches of snow and cold the last few days, I have more or less been house bound since the weekend.  Not that it completely bothers me.  Seeing the snow, listening to Christmas songs on youtube, and the much longer nights have put me in the holiday spirit.  I guess I really have no wishes for Christmas gifts.  At this point in my life I am happier spending time with family and friends during the holidays.  I have three nephews and a niece ranging in ages from seven to fourteen.  So all of them are at fun ages.  I enjoy watching the kids run around with their gifts and play in the snow just as much now as when I was that age and running around with gifts myself.

While I don’t really specifically remember many of the individual gifts I got for Christmas as a kid, I remember the events and activities vividly.  Every year, usually the weekend after Thanksgiving, my family would go out and get a tree.  We didn’t usually buy one.  Instead, one of the local farmers who was a patient of my father’s would allow us to go onto his acreage and cut some cedar trees.  Since these cedars had a strong scent of cedar and sometimes wild animal urine, we would have to leave the trees outdoors for a few days to knock some of the smell down.  From age twelve until I went to college, I always had my own small scrub of a cedar tree in my bedroom.  I usually hung Coca Cola cans and red, green, and silver Mardi Gras beads on the tree.  One Christmas when I was a teenager, instead of turkey for Christmas dinner, we had fried pheasant that my uncle hunted at his farm.  One year, the same uncle, instead of having a tree, decorated a tumble weed in Christmas lights.  My father is a licensed pilot, and we had a few Christmases when I was in high school and college when we would get in a small four seat Cessna and fly around looking at the lights in towns as far a hundred miles away from our little village.  I did see A Christmas Story shortly after it came out on the old VHS tapes.  My parents asked one of my brother’s teachers if he could show that movie at his class’s Christmas party.  The teacher said no because there was too much profanity to be showing to grade school kids.  When I was in sixth grade, my teacher showed an older movie called “The Hobos’ Christmas.”  It was a funny and poignant movie about drifters, hobos, and homeless people hopping freight trains and hitch hiking from all over America to a big Christmas party.  When I was in college, my parents and I spent Christmas in San Antonio on the River Walk and went to the Alamo Bowl when the Huskers made it to that game.  My brother graduated college in Oklahoma right before Christmas.  It was also when they had their biggest ice storm in years down there.  I swear, those Oklahomans don’t know how to drive on ice :).  Of course, my friends from Minnesota and Montana say the same thing about me :).

And my nephews and niece have some of their own traditions now.  They are big into the Elf on a Shelf.  When they visited my apartment a couple years ago around St. Patrick’s Day, I had a Leprechaun doll sitting in a large St. Patrick’s Day stein on my bookshelf.  I told the kids it was “Leprechaun on a Ledge, the Irish cousin to Elf on a Shelf.”

There are some Christmas things I haven’t done that are on my bucket list.  As I didn’t grow up Catholic, I have never been to a Midnight Mass.  My brother and his wife went to New York right before Christmas one year and did things like visit Macy’s, ice skate at Rockefeller Center, and attend some Christmas musicals.  I would like to at least have the chance to do likewise someday.  Every year, I try to watch some show that has Christmas or the holidays as a theme I have never seen before.  This year, I plan on finding a documentary on the Christmas Cease Fire of World War I.

I have made some Christmas memories over the course of my life.  Now I’m watching my brother’s kids make some of their own.  Hopefully I can stay around a while longer to make some more memories.

 

 

 

Day After Christmas

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.

Getting Ready For Winter

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.

Holiday Routines

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.

Stretch Run To The Holidays

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.

Christmas Projects and Monetizing My Blog

 

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.

Christmas and Mental Health

santa

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.