Social Life and Depression

Getting out of the apartment several times a day now.  Have been for the last several days.  Catching up on the news of what’s been going on around the complex and meeting some of the new residents who moved in during the summer.  Seems like we have a few really cool people move in lately, and some of them are even in my age bracket and younger.  So I might be rebuilding some of my social safety nets that had fallen apart over the last few years.

I haven’t been as social over the last three years as I had been previously.  I think some of it started when three of my friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  Then we had a few problem residents come in that gave problems to everyone.  So I started isolating to avoid the drama.  Then my grandmother died, which I think I took harder subconsciously than I realized at the time.  My car accident in late 2015 left me scared to drive and not able to trust other drivers on the road for a long time.  2016 is a lost year as far as I’m concerned.  The drama and emotions from the elections caused me so much grief and anxiety.  I also lost some good friends and lost contact with some extended family because of those emotions running hot.

After months of hot emotions and people going insane over the pettiest things, 2017 was another tough year.  I spent most of that year alone.  I rarely visited friends or family.  I went entire days without leaving my apartment.  I more or less lost my ability to see anything decent in other humans, especially people in my immediate life.  I devoted most of 2017 to my writing and self directed scholarly endeavors.  Seeing some of the advances that were rapidly being developed was one of the few things that gave me hope in those dark years.  Like a fool I tried to share this information with people, but almost no one took me seriously.  I had some jerks tell me I was “fake news” and a liar.  “Fake news” is another stupid phrase I despise.  After a few episodes of this, I became real despondent.  I lost myself in computer games and youtube videos and just became annoyed and irritated with people in general.  The less I had to deal with flesh and bone people, the better as far as I was concerned.

But after almost three years of depression imposed exile and hermitage, I am slowly becoming more social.  I actually want to socialize now.  I truly believe that the type of people one surrounds themselves with can effect your mental and even physical health.  I have believed this for years.  But since most people I knew and ran into on a daily basis were in foul and angry moods, it just seemed better to just isolate, stay out of sight, and hope to God that people eventually came back to their senses.  I’m thinking that people, at least the ones I associate with, are starting to come back to their senses.  I certainly hope so.  The last three years were lonely years.  The only years I would rather relive less is my late teens and early twenties before I was being treated for mental illness.

Thoughts on Preventing Relapse and End of Summer

After a few days of preventative maintenance and taking more note of my mental well being, I think the feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression are starting to dissipate.  Sure I had to isolate for a couple days and I did sleep more than usual, but it seems to have worked.  Overall I’m feeling more stable and I did leave my complex a couple times yesterday just to get some sunshine and make sure my car still runs properly.  I don’t drive as much as I used to.  But then I can do most of my socializing at home via phone calls, social media, and my blog.  I don’t deal with nearly as much negativity as I once did.  Two years ago, it was almost unbearable.  But I have since learned who and what to avoid and I don’t closely follow anyone besides family, close friends, and discussion groups I’m interested in.  Thank goodness for the unfollow buttons.  I lost a few friends before I discovered what useful and tactful tools they could be.  Even though the tempers have cooled some since the darkest days, I’m still kind of afraid to reestablish contact with people I’ve cut out or have cut me out.  Hopefully it’s just the paranoia talking and not hard reality.

As it is anymore I rather enjoy staying home.  I sometimes don’t even mind hosting guests.  I’ve hosted college friends several times over the years.  And I even hosted the previous two Foster family Christmas celebrations.  The only real request I have is give me at bare minimum a few days notice.  I am self conscious about my place and have come to accept that no matter how much I do with it, it isn’t going to please anyone but me.  I never did just subjective crap like that when the goal line wasn’t universal but different for everyone.  Even in high school speech and one act plays, I didn’t care about the awards and trophies.  I mainly wanted to hear the audience laugh and think because of my performances.

I’m glad that summer is all but over.  We have had some cooler and cloudy days lately mixed in the excessive heat typical of a Nebraska August.  Makes me think that fall and winter are on the way.  And I’ve always done my best writing and creative work during the cold weather.  I also like some of the not so over the top Christmas decorations, New Year’s Day college football games, and being able to buy discounted chocolate after Valentine’s Day.  I think that winter and spring are my favorite times of year.  That is one thing I like about living in Nebraska; we get to experience all the seasons.  Sure we don’t have the beautiful foliage of New England, the massive snows of Minnesota, or summer in it’s full hot and humid glory like the Southern states, but we get a little of everything here.  And yes, the conditions of my mental illness do change with the seasons.  But I usually have my worst times in late summer and my best times in late winter and spring.  I do love the changes of the seasons.

Reading, Beginning of School Year, Music, and Arguing With Myself

Still reading quite a bit.  I started a couple audiobooks in addition to the hardback I’m currently working on.  For some odd reason I prefer to be reading on at least three books at a time.  I sometimes lose interest in one after awhile and concentrate on the other two for a few days.  Then I’ll go back to the one I put on the back burner.  I spend a good deal of my time anymore either reading or working on my computer.  Haven’t watched much for tv or sports for a couple weeks.  As football will be starting again in a couple weeks, I imagine I’ll be spending some of my Saturday afternoons watching college football again.

It’s starting to feel close to fall again.  School started in my town and the college kids will be moving back in this weekend.  Even though I’m in my late 30s and haven’t been in a college classroom since 2005, I always enjoy when the college students come back.  College was some of the happiest times for me during the course of my “formal” education.  The weather has been cooler than typical August the last few days and it gets cool enough at nights that I have to pull up the blankets while I sleep.  I even wore long sleeves for the first time since early April two nights ago.

Been having occasional flare ups of irritability the last several days.  I’ve been going to bed earlier than usual to try to counteract this.  I’m also avoiding negative and rude people as much as possible too.  So I haven’t been socializing as much as I would like.  Such is the price of preventative maintenance.

Been listening to more music lately.  I don’t have any physical CDs or tapes anymore as I look all my music up online via youtube and pandora.  Why pay for tunes when you don’t need to?  My favorite genres of music are hard rock and jazz.  Strange combination I know.  I listened to a lot of country when I was in college but also mixed in heavy metal when I was reading or studying.  There really isn’t much I won’t listen to.  I do prefer the hip hop of the nineties to much of what is popular in that genre now.  I developed a taste for some of the newer techno and dance music in the last few years.  So I guess I haven’t completely shut myself off the newer music.  When I was a kid I used to get annoyed with adults who complained about the music and clothing styles of the “damn kids.”  I promised myself even before I went to high school that I would never become one of those types when I grew up.  Even today I lose my patience with people my own age complaining about younger people.  Makes me wonder why some people even have kids if they’re just going to complain and moan about them all the time.

Other than the occasional flare ups that are gone after a few minutes of inner dialog with the ‘voices’, I feel quite well overall. I’m glad I have gotten this far into summer without any true problems.  Hope things continue to go well.

Changes in Personality and Mental Illness Symptoms with Age

Currently going through a prolonged period of stability.  My levels of depression and anxiety have been quite low lately.  When I do have such issues, they don’t last long and aren’t very bad.  I haven’t had a breakdown of any kind in months.  Haven’t been hospitalized for almost five years now.  I was having feelings of depression and paranoia earlier this year but I wasn’t overly concerned about it as I wasn’t having the anger or aggression issues that traditionally went with it.  Sure I would go days without leaving my apartment, but I wasn’t excessively angry or looking for arguments.  So I wasn’t as worried as I should have been.  Not wanting to socialize for long stretches of time isn’t normal for me.  Sure I have had stretches when I wanted to be left alone for several hours or a day at most.  But I was going sometimes entire weeks when I’d leave my apartment only two or three times the entire week.

Naturally some of my neighbors became concerned.  I may have never been Mr. Popular but I made it a point to be polite and thoughtful to everyone I met.  Yet as I wasn’t even socializing, nor did I want to, that wasn’t normal for me.  I have never been one to just bunker down for days.  I had gotten to that point, particularly during the winter.  It wasn’t my traditional problem with mental illness, but it was a different one.

People do tend to change some with age.  I imagine mental illness issues are probably not much different.  Aspects of my personality and habits have altered over the years.  I’m not as hot tempered as I was even five years ago.  I laugh more often now than I did in my twenties.  I enjoy the little things of life more.  Overall, I’m happier now in my late 30s than I was in my late 20s.  And this is despite my physical health not being as good as it was ten years ago or my being more social than I am now.  I think I have gotten happier and more calm with age.  And I quite enjoy it.

Early July or Middle Summer

It’s almost Independence Day in my country.  And of course people are shooting off fireworks and making plans for cookouts already.  I don’t have any real plans besides grill some bratwurst on my electric grill and watch fireworks from my apartment window.  As it has been quite hot and humid the last several days, I have avoided going outside unless necessary.  Of course I’m not getting much sunlight by staying indoors most of the time.

I’m a week into my new medications plan.  I found out the hard way if I take them all at once like I have traditionally done, then I will want to do nothing but sleep for the next twelve hours.  After a couple nights of that, I found out I had to break my medications into at minimum twice a day.  So I usually take some of my medications when I eat breakfast and I take the ones that help me sleep at night before bed.  After a week on these new meds I have found my self eating less than usual.  And I have recently had an odd craving for cheese and milk.  Maybe I haven’t been getting enough calcium the last several months.  I’m also looking out for more non meat sources of proteins like beans.  I now actually want to eat certain fruits like strawberries and blueberries.  Too bad they are kind of pricey.  It’s also too bad that most inexpensive foods aren’t very healthy.  That could explain why so many poor people, at least the poor in the USA, are overweight.

As far as blood pressure goes, I knew for years it was only a matter of time before I ended up on blood pressure pills as that runs in my family.  My father has taken blood pressure medications for years and he’s now in his early 70s.  He also hasn’t had any heart attack or stroke problems.  Hopefully I can make it to my 70s inspite mental illness and being overweight.

I’ve noticed a few changes already in this new treatment.  It takes more to make me irritated.  I’m less paranoid.  I actually want to leave my apartment and interact with my fellow tennants.  I’m better able to stay on top of household chores.  I eat less than normal.  I feel less tense.  I have fewer unexplained aches and pains.  About the only true drawbacks I noticed so far are that I want to sleep more if I’m not careful about when I take my meds and I have to use the rest room more often.  I don’t know if that’s the meds or the fact I drink more water.  I easily drink almost a gallon a water every day.  But there are worse things than water to be consuming.  For a few years I’ve been having nerve problems in my thigh that sometimes felt like burning electrical shocks.  But those problems have all but gone away by now.

I still have to get some new furniture for my apartment.  Most of the things I had were quite old and had to be replaced.  I’m thinking of sweet talking my parents into letting me have one of their sofas.  I also think I need a heavy duty recliner that I could sleep in if my back ever started hurting again.  My living room is looking kind of bare with only a couple kitchen table chairs and my tv and a “coffee table” decorated to look like an old style travel trunk with all the stickers of places and resorts from around the world.  That was my mother’s idea.  I’m glad she talked me into putting those stickers on.

Overall things are going well.  I’m gradually being cured of wanting to sleep all the time.  And I’m also slowly being cured of my desire for sugared soda pop.  Anymore if I want caffeine, I’ll have coffee or tea.  I can hardly wait to see what the next few weeks bring.

Getting Back On Track

Been changing up my routines now the weather is staying warm.  Went outside a few times today.  First time was something as simple as taking my trash out and then spending an extra ten minutes outdoors.  Then this late afternoon I spent almost an hour outdoors.  When I do spend time outside lately, it’s usually for about a half hour at a time in the middle of the afternoon.  I have been doing that for the last week or so.

I also decided to get serious about my diet again.  Today was the first day of tracking what I eat.  By that I mean I wrote down everything I ate today.  Ate only two meals today just because I got tired of writing everything down.  I know now that the only surefire way to lose weight in my case is to write down everything I eat.  I lost seventy pounds in less than a year doing that a few years ago.  I quit tracking after my car accident, got depressed, and started eating a lot.  Gained back the weight I lost. I want to lose weight because there are still things I’d love to do in my life.  I already have a strong mind, I just as well get the body to go with it. I imagine with my build being what it is, I will never be able to run marathons.  I’m naturally barrel chested and stocky with short limbs.  But I could easily walk four to five miles a day when I was in college.  I want to lose weight largely because I think that is the only way my back is ever going to completely heal.  I’m tired of dealing with back pain.  I’ve lost weight before.  It’s a matter of doing it again.

I also hired a house cleaning service.  They are currently scheduled to come to my apartment every two weeks.  They’ll be here tomorrow afternoon.  My place is looking better than it was even a few weeks ago.  One of the things that caused me such depression, I think, was living in a cluttered house.  I was depressed because the house was cluttered and the house stayed cluttered because I was too depressed to do anything about it.  Mental illness can be such a vicious cycle that it tough to pull out of.  But I think I am pulling out of my winter depression and anxiousness.  I am so glad I haven’t had the anger and anxiety that I’ve had in years past.

Winter Routines and Down Time

 

Aurora lights up sky over log cabin

My life has been essentially quiet and uneventful since Christmas.  We had a pretty cold January and early February so I didn’t really go anywhere except to pick up groceries and house supplies for the last two months.  We had our traditional mid winter thaw the last week or so.  So I’ve been spending some time outside watching the squirrels and birds.  I see the cranes and Canadian geese are starting to migrate back.  They are usually quite thick near my town from the last week in February until middle March.  I’m going to take a few hours sometime next week and just watch the birds along the Platte River just outside my town like I do every March.

I traditionally love to travel and see new places.  But I haven’t been outside of Nebraska since my friend Matt’s wedding almost two years ago.  And I can tell that the lack of travel and new experiences are making me stale and itchy.  Believe it or not, I really don’t like the sedentary lifestyle.  When I still held traditional jobs, I usually did my best at jobs where I was moving a lot and it didn’t matter if I got sweaty or dirty.  I admit that since I had the sedentary lifestyle forced on me, first by my car accident and then spending a summer with a messed up back, I have gotten lazy.  And by getting lazy I can tell I have lost much of my stamina and enjoyment of just doing simple things like walking around the park or going to the all night deli to pick up some Chinese food.  I have recently started going back to the all night deli more often, especially if I’m going to be up late.

I am still not as active as I would like to be, but I can tell that it is beginning to come back.  I am traditionally not very active during winters, at least not physically.  I usually read a lot and have traditionally done some of my best writing work during the winter.  Most of the books I read this winter were about future technology trends and popular science.  I also listen to a lot of audiobooks and current events type lectures on youtube.  I tend to utilize youtube and my books more in winter than the spring or fall.  Traditionally during the summers I do most of my errands in the morning than spend the hottest parts of the afternoon reading and writing.  But I still do the bulk of my brain work during the winter.

I can tell that the lack of physical activity and travel is making me easily bored.  It is also tough in that I haven’t seen my close friends or family at all since Christmas.  I fear that I’m losing my social skills.  I don’t socialize much with my neighbors in my complex as I have little in common with them.  Most of my neighbors are senior citizens or people with physical disabilities that can’t do much of anything.  I don’t know many people in here with mental health issues who are still in reasonably good physical health.  It is kind of lonely in here as far as socializing goes.  I can also tell that the lack of socializing and physical activity has taken a toll on my physical health.  I just hope that once spring sets in a few weeks from now, I’ll be able to get more active again.