Getting Back Into Better Physical Health After A Few Years Of Setbacks

Happy Monday to everyone out there.  It’s the first Monday of December, or Cyber Monday for those of us who prefer to shop online.  I didn’t brave the crowds on Black Friday this year.  I did that with my dad one year when I was in college.  It was a headache.  I’m glad I did it once just to say I did, but I don’t want to make it a regular thing.  I just stayed home and watched football this last weekend.  My cleaning lady was kind enough to bring me some traditional Thanksgiving cuisine.

I have my annual physical checkup tomorrow morning.  I hadn’t been looking forward to it until just yesterday.  My last physical was July 2018.  I think I’ve lost some weight but I’m not exactly sure.  I know my clothes fit so much better and I can easily move around my apartment, certainly much easier than I could a year ago.  I started lifting arm weights back at the beginning of spring.  I do those three to four times a week.  I usually do only 10 and 15 pound weights but I try to lots of reps.  I doubt with my body build (barrel chested, short limbs for as tall as I am) I’ll ever look like Mr. Universe.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to improve at least a little with each passing day.

I have made changes to my diet over the last couple years.  I haven’t even eaten at McDonalds or Taco Bell this year.  When I do dine out, it’s almost always a sit down place like a pizzeria or Chinese place.  I’ve eaten fried food only once since the end of summer, and that was because my neighbors made fried chicken and offered me a couple pieces.  I don’t regularly drink soda pop anymore, only when I order delivery pizza and Chinese anymore.  Sugared soda makes me feel bloated and sluggish anymore. When I was on my high school’s football team the coach didn’t want us drinking soda pop or anything with carbonation during the season, believing it made it tougher to breathe and could cause muscle cramps.  Maybe there was some truth to that.  I know I feel better on days when I don’t eat much for sugar or carbs as opposed to days I do.  Most of the meat I eat anymore is grilled pork or chicken.  I also try to eat mixed vegetables at least once a day.  I found it’s so much easier for me to eat veggies if I have them in soup or stew.  I know it’s probably high in salt but it’s vegetables I probably wouldn’t get otherwise.  As far as fluids go, it’s always water, coffee, or black tea if I’m not dining out or getting delivery.  Fortunately my town has pretty good drinking water, so I don’t have to buy bottled water.

Overall I’m slowly regaining my stamina and losing my paranoia about other people.  While I still don’t venture out into public very much, I do leave my apartment door unlocked except for when I’m asleep or taking a bath.  I answer my phone all the time unless I’m in bed or in the bath tub.  I refuse to talk on the phone when taking a bath or using the toilet, even with family.   I also sleep better too.  I usually sleep for about six hours straight at night, wake up for a couple hours in the middle of the night, and go back to sleep and wake up for good at sunrise.  Most nights anymore I’m in bed around 8pm only to wake at 2am.  This is a major change for me as in my younger years I used to stay up all night at least once a week.  A couple years ago I did most of my sleeping in the day and ran all my errands at night.  I guess people do change over the years.  Sometimes it’s so gradual it isn’t really noticed until after the fact.

About the only negative effect of going to bed early is that most of my friends are night owls.  When I am awake and fully going, they are usually at work.  So I have to catch them on weekends or holidays.  And even listening to their gripes about work doesn’t bother me very much anymore, certainly not like it did even six months ago.  I don’t know what prompted this change, but I’ll take it.

Just this morning I found a couple sweaters in my closet I hadn’t worn for a couple years because they didn’t fit.  I held onto them because I wanted to lose weight and winters in Nebraska can be quite cold.  Found out they both fit okay.  One fits well even though it’s still an inch or two short on my torso.  Another was an extra tall that was too tight to wear for the last couple years.  It now fits.  But I have always preferred not wearing tight clothes and for years I have preferred wearing short sleeves, even on dress shirts.  I also have a dress shirt that now fits well that I hadn’t worn in two years until I tried it on this morning.  I’m now beginning to wonder how well my winter coats now fit.  I have a heavy duty winter coat and a nice dress coat that both were tight at the end of last winter.  I have to try them on today.  I have a really nice black leather jacket I haven’t worn in several years that I just hung onto because it was the nicest coat I ever worn, was a Christmas gift years ago, and offered more incentive to get back into shape.  I am sure I still can’t fit into it, hopefully by Christmas 2020.

I think I’ve lost weight, but I know I feel better overall than I did this time last year.  We hired my cleaning lady right before Christmas last year.  And it has made a difference in just one year of even once a week cleaning, and not in just the appearance of my home.  I am regaining my confidence around other people, I don’t get as easily irritated or annoyed, I leave my door unlocked except for when I go to bed.  Used to be I kept the door locked at all times.  I’m not paranoid about my landlord anymore even though I still don’t talk to her very often.  I am regaining my stamina, granted slowly.  And I don’t tolerate rude behavior from people as much.  Rather than make a scene about it, I usually just make a point of avoiding those people, whether online or in person.  I still have aches and pains at times, usually when I wake up in the mornings.  But even those clear up more quickly than even six months ago.  I make a point to stand up every hour or two for a few minutes.  Used to be I sat for hours on end, especially if I was working on research for the blog or engrossed in a computer game.  I don’t even play computer games as much anymore.  I still do almost every day, but it’s no longer playing for hours on end.  Sheesh, I even find myself more restless and wanting to fidget quite often.  I have always craved mental exercise.  But now I’m beginning to crave physical activity more with each passing week.

Several years ago I set a goal of being at my old college weight by the end of the decade.  And I was well on my way to goal until my car accident four years ago.  That set me back.    I went into a deep depression and was often experiencing back pain.  I got depressed, stopped being active, went though about two or three years where I ate very unhealthy, and gained a lot of weight.  It was also a set back when three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  It was also a time when most people I knew were depressed, anxious, and short tempered too.  It was one of those things that just built on itself.  I still have the goal of being back at my old college weight, it’s just that the timeline changed.  Sure I had a few down years, 2016 and 2017 were the toughest.  Even though I’m still a long way from were I ultimately want to be, I am definitely back in the right track again.

Starting Over and Trying to Achieve A Balanced Life With Mental Illness

Been feeling pretty decent over all the last few days.  It’s amazing what a few nights of consistent sleep and a change to a healthier diet can do.  I’ve also been doing arm weights every other day for the last two weeks.  Starting to notice a difference already.  I haven’t increased the weight I’m lifting but I can do more reps now with less aches and pains afterward.  The first couple sessions were tough as I hadn’t regularly lifted for over a year.  But as my back still sometimes flares up at the worst possible times, I have to start somewhere.  And building back some muscles seems to be the best thing I can do with my more limited mobility.  I am beginning to understand why the older residents and those with physical disabilities prefer to live on ground floor.  I’ve lived on top floor of my complex for almost thirteen years now.  I still like that I’m not always in the center of traffic but it does get tough when the back is acting up.  And of course, losing weight would only help my back.

After my last rough go, I decided to get more serious about health again.  I had let that slide for a few years.  I think it started when I had my car accident and had to have rehab for a few months.  Yet the back would still occasionally flare up to where, at the worst, it felt like I was getting electric shocks in my lower back.  As a result I gained back all the weight I lost in 2014 and 2015.  I had lost eighty pounds in a year and a half overall.  Sadly I gained some extra too.  But I am getting serious about eating healthier and adopting a more balanced lifestyle.

For the few years I was having back problems and not working to improve my health, I spent much of my days reading and watching educational videos.  I watched mainly science and tech videos.  But I also watched some how to videos, such as basic in home repairs and emergency preparation with household items.  Since I grew up in a farming community that was a one hour drive from the nearest Wal Mart, every one in our town stocked up on supplies before winter started or had plans in case of bad storms or floods.  This has helped me several times since I moved out on my own.  When I was in college, I was the dude on our wing who had all the over the counter medical supplies and miscellaneous items like toe nail clippers, flash lights, and Swiss Army knife.

Yet while I was building up my mind, my physical body was declining.  I was well on my way to essentially becoming a strong mind with a weak body, almost like a head in a jar in the science fiction shows.  Finally, I came to realize that having a strong mind would do me little good if my body completely failed.  Even though Stephen Hawking was sick for most of his adult life, I imagine he lasted as long as he did because he and his assistants adhered to strict protocols on what he could eat, on how much sleep he needed, etc.  Not that I am Hawking by any means 🙂

So to jump start my healthier routines, I have had to make some changes.  Namely cutting out sugared drinks, reducing my caffeine use, increasing how much water I drink, getting more consistent sleep, taking multi vitamins and fish oil, lifting weights, avoiding negative and toxic people, conversations and entertainment, etc.  I guess the deciding to avoid my neighbors when they were being irritable and rude was the first step to changing my health.

Another step that helped was hiring a personal assistant.  She comes in once every week to help me keep the place clean.  In addition to cleaning, she helps with my dishes and garbage.  Having a cleaner and more orderly house just these last few months has only helped.  It has motivated me to make even better changes.  I admit, I had let much in my life fall apart since my accident.  I stopped exercising.  I quit being careful about what I ate.  I stopped most socializing.  I sometimes skipped my medications.  I didn’t go off them completely, but I would sometimes go a day without taking them.  Lucky I didn’t have more problems with that.  And I went between being quite optimistic to being quite pessimistic but nothing in between for awhile. In short, I had no balance in my life.

Hopefully with the adopting of healthier habits, hiring a personal assistant, and the return of warmer weather I can return to some balance.

Winter Stability With Mental Illness

Been rather uneventful the last several days.  I’ve been stable overall and staying sane.  I keep in contact with friends and family on a daily basis, even on the days I don’t leave my apartment complex.  I think I’m continuing to lose weight as my stamina is slowly increasing, my aches and pains are taking less time to overcome, and I don’t sleep twelve hours a day anymore.  I now usually sleep eight.  Most nights I go to bed around nine or ten p.m and wake up around four or five a.m.  I usually wake up once in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom.  I also sometimes nap for an hour or two in the afternoons.

I recently hired a cleaning person.  She arrives once a week to help me keep the place up and cleaned.  I get along with her fine.  I hope I can keep her for a long time.  I lost my last cleaner after she had heart problems and had to retire.

Winter is treating me alright.  Fortunately January hasn’t been as bitterly cold as December, at least not yet.  We had a big snow right after Christmas but most of that has melted by now.  I can get out and about in my car, but some days I’m just content to stay at home.  I stay in contact with family and friends, often online.  Reminds me of the comic where the mother is telling her son to get outside and spend time with friends.  And the boy says “But mom, I am spending time with my friends.  We are all online.”

I find myself eating less this winter than previously.  I still eat two protein rich meals per day, but the portions are getting smaller and I feel less hungry between meals.  I also cut out most sugar and grains.  Now I love foods like fried rice, spaghetti, etc.  But they do make me feel sluggish and slow if I eat too many.  I just feel better on days I don’t eat many carbs as opposed to days I do.  It does mean spending more on groceries because I do better with proteins and fresh vegetables, but feeling better with fewer aches and pains is worth the cutbacks I have made in other parts of my life.

Bought myself a few new computer games with the Christmas money my parents gave me.  Been experimenting with those.  Also, got my PS3 straightened out so it rarely runs slow now.  It was a pain to be playing Skyrim or college football only to have the game run slow or even completely freeze up in the middle of the action.  One of the games I bought for my computer is called ‘Stellarius’.  It’s kind of a futuristic Civilization type game where you can go colonize other star systems, mine astroids and gas giants, and contact other intelligent species.  I’m still trying to figure it out.  It’s one of the most complex and nuanced games I ever saw.  It’ll take awhile for me to figure it out.

I’m doing well on my new psych medications.  Things have seemed to settle down.  I’m glad for it.  I’m looking forward to the rest of winter.

Starting New Routines

A few days ago my family came to visit me.  We spent the day cleaning my apartment.  Once that was done I went to see my psych doctor.  We decided to add a third medication and I’m supposed to see him again in two weeks.

Other routines that have changed is I’m waking up earlier and not staying awake all night like I used to.  Since I’ve been having pains in my lower back again I’ve been sleeping in my recliner more.  I still spend the bulk of my days in my apartment and alone.  I still don’t want to leave my place very often.  Even though I’m sleeping less I find myself wanting to sleep at the oddest times.  I want to sleep but fortunately I can’t fall asleep whenever I want.

I’m still keeping in contact with old friends and family.  At least that hasn’t fallen apart.  But other than that I still don’t socialize much.  I guess I’m only now starting to realize how far I have declined in the last year and a half.

Being Delusional About Not Being Delusional

I am now throughly convinced I have been delusional about how not delusional I have been for the last several months.  I admit to isolating most of the time and rarely leaving my apartment.  I admit to rarely socializing with other people and tenants in my complex.  I admit to occasionally going days without showering.  But I don’t think I realized how delusional I was being about my problems.

I talked to my landlord this afternoon.  She told me that there were several tenants worried about little I was socializing and how unkempt I have been for a long time.  I have pretty much isolated and kept to myself since last summer.  I just got to where I saw no point in socializing.  In my delusion diseased mind, I was thinking most people are violent idiots who would rather curse you out and physically harm you than say hello to you.  Fortunately most of these thoughts are symptoms of my mental illness flaring up and not being treated effectively.  My fellow tenants and landlord aren’t angry at me nor do they want to see me thrown out on the street.  They are actually very worried about me.  I just didn’t realize how far I had fallen in the last year because of the delusion blinders I had due to my illness.

I have gotten to where I was scared to leave my apartment.  I have gotten to where I was scared to go to the laundry room and wash clothes.  So I have been doing most of my laundry in my bathtub for the last few months.  Let’s face it, it just doesn’t do the job like a regular wash machine.  I have gotten to where I am scared to socialize in person with anyone.  I don’t go outside to talk with  people because in my delusion wracked mind, most people were just bitter and angry all the time.  I have gotten to where I’m just scared and depressed all the time.  And I hate it.  I see my psych doctor tomorrow afternoon and I am demanding he put me on something else.  My current routine isn’t working at all.

Spring Cleaning and Changes

Spent the last couple days cleaning my apartment and car.  I didn’t drive much this winter except to buy groceries and pick up fast food, so it was just a matter of throwing out some trash in my car.  I’ve gotten rid of a lot of clutter in my apartment.  I still have a couple more days of decluttering.  But since the weather is supposed to warm up by the end of the week, I think I can get a great deal done.

My nephews and niece are visiting my parents for a few days over spring break.  I saw them yesterday and took them to a Mexican restaurant.  Had a good chat with the kids and my parents.  I hadn’t seen any family in person since Christmas.  It was a good change to my routine.

While I still sleep kind of late most mornings, I have found myself sleeping less the last several days.  Now that spring is on the way and the weather is starting to warm, I am getting more sunlight.  I feel better because of the better weather.  I definitely no longer feel the need to just stay inside for entire days.

Mentally I have been quite stable for weeks.  I think it helps that I am getting plenty of sleep, eating more healthy, and avoiding stressful people and situations.  I hope I can keep this kind of stability up.

Been experimenting with my diet for the last few days.  I haven’t eaten meat for several days and I’m also avoiding wheat and gluten.  My stomach is more settled and I feel like I have a little more energy than a week ago.  I have fewer aches and pains too.

I still have some cleaning to do in my apartment.  I had gotten a little lazy about keeping the place up over the winter.  Even though I usually feel mentally stable in the winter, I am also quite a bit lazier too.

I have an appointment with my psych doctor next week.  The medications I have been on for the last year seem to be working well.  I don’t see any changes in those coming.  I guess that I have weathered another winter and will be looking forward to warmer weather within the next couple weeks.