Dealing With Loss, Isolation, and Declining Health

Haven’t written for a few days.  I’m only now recovered from the holidays.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it’s 2020.  I am understanding why my grandmother said that time only goes faster the older you get.  I’m going to be 40 this summer.  Mentally I don’t feel any decline.  If anything, I feel mentally sharper and stronger than ever.  Physically, my body can no longer keep up with my mind.  It’s been this way for a couple years now.  I would love to be able to road trip and visit friends in person and go to concerts and ballgames at a moment’s notice like I did in my late 20s and early 30s.  But the body can no longer keep up.  I don’t know how much of it is aging, how much of it is the toll of two decades fighting a severe mental illness, how much of it is being overweight, etc.  At this point I guess it doesn’t matter either way.  I am pretty much content to stay home, chat with my old friends online, read my books, mess with my computers, and watch the events of our time and place unfold from my apartment.

Found out right before Christmas one of my college classmates died.  He was only 40.  He worked at a mental health hospital and was a compassionate man.  I hadn’t talked to him much since graduation.  I’m glad we found each other on facebook and were able to reestablish contact shortly before he died.  And then just yesterday I found out another college friend’s cancer has come back.  This time it’s terminal.  The doctors told her she has two to five years at most.  Starting to lose my own friends now.

Seeing most of my friends struggle financially has taken a toll on me.  And now that most of them are in declining physical and mental health and even starting to die is making this only worse.  It has gotten me to think about my own mortality far more than ever.  At my last doctor’s appointment, I was relieved to find I was not diabetic.  The only real problem they found was high blood pressure.  I no longer have much for stamina.  That’s one of the reasons I stay home so much.  Going out in public is now enough of an ordeal that I no longer enjoy it.  Add to this that most people I know are more stressed and short tempered than ever, I have no want to leave my apartment.  I have enough problems of my own to catch an ear full from my neighbors and landlord.  Sometimes I get in trouble even just staying at home.  Most people in my complex think I’m moving out or getting evicted because I never go out in public anymore.  Naturally, lots of rumors are going around.  No I’m not moving.  As far as I know, I’m not in danger of being evicted.  Though for the last few years I’ve lived in near constant paranoia that I was.  It’s mainly because most people are just so angry and short tempered constantly.  It didn’t used to be this way.  I actually used to enjoy socializing.  Then three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other in 2014 and 2015.  From there my social life fell apart.  Other than a few neighbors, I literally have no friends within a fifty mile radius.  I don’t think most people know or care how tough socializing is for a middle aged man with a disability and no immediate family nearby.  I just keep to myself anymore.  I would rather be alone than have to fight with neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers all the time.

Day After Christmas 2019

It is December 26, 2019 as I write this posting.  I had a rough go a few days right before Christmas.  I had to postpone my holiday plans as I was having some flare ups with the illness.  Even though I spent Christmas Day at home by myself, I made a point of calling my family and getting in touch with friends via phone and social media.  Got to chat with my brother and his kids and find out what they got for Christmas.  I rescheduled my family Christmas for this weekend.  But we’re supposed to have winter storms this weekend, so it may be getting postponed a second time, perhaps until New Year’s Day.  Fortunately there are lots of college football games this weekend.  So even if we do get the several inches of snow and ice and bad winds, I can stay home and watch football.  I just hope the power doesn’t go out.

I don’t have much planned for the next few days other than get ready for the storm and watch some ball games.  In addition to watching a few games already, I have been thinking over the last twelve months.  2019 hasn’t been as eventful as some years, at least not for me.  I did sell my car, I have employed a cleaning lady who has dropped in once a week, and now one of my neighbors is helping with my laundry.  My neighbors drop in a couple times per week and we just check in on each other.  I had my annual physical checkup in early December.  I didn’t lose weight (like I had hoped), yet I didn’t gain weight either.  I don’t know if I stayed steady because of the change of diet and regular weight lifting or what.  I did start on a blood pressure medication.  After a few weeks on it, I notice I feel less tense and am starting to become more active again.

Mentally I kept largely to myself even though I have felt less paranoid and anxious than previous years.  I have had a few flare ups over the last twelve months, but they seem less intense than in previous years.  I still sometimes call my parents and just blow off steam.  I feel guilty for it even though my parents seem to be understanding.  I admit, I have an amazing family for support.  Even the extended family of cousins and aunts are very understanding.  I’ve been doing this blog on a regular basis for six years now.  I’m more comfortable talking about my issues now than I was even when I started this blog.  I certainly didn’t feel comfortable about talking about my problems twenty years ago, not even really to family.  I started having problems when I was seventeen and a junior in high school.  At first I was hoping it was merely teenage angst and anxiety.  Turns out I was wrong.  After using regular medical treatment and therapy for almost twenty years, it is easier to talk about my problems.  I have moved past the acceptance part and now advocating for others besides myself.  I don’t know how long I will get to live, but I plan on talking about these issues for a long as I can.  For awhile I was thinking about starting a youtube channel where I do voice overs just talking about mental illness.  I am still a little leery about broadcasting myself, but not so much my voice.  I hope that mostly paranoia talking.  A friend of mine has a youtube channel featuring her art work and she’s tried to convince me to put some of my thoughts to video instead of just print.  I didn’t get around to it in the 2010s, but who knows what opportunities the 2020s will present.

Flare Ups During The Holidays

I’m not doing well today.  I just feel irritable, paranoid, and short tempered.  I cancelled all my plans for the rest of the week.  I am no longer doing well.  I think the stress of the holidays and my home health aide work has gotten to me.  My home health aide things didn’t go well.  I had people dropping in my apartment several times a day.  It got to be too much.  I have accepted that I’m not going to get better, physically or mentally.  I don’t know why no one else can accept this.  I don’t know how much longer I have in this life, I may die of a heart attack in my forties or I may just keep limping along until old age.  I don’t know.  I’m at the point I just want to enjoy whatever time I have left.  I don’t really enjoy the company of most people.  I never have and it has only gotten worse the older I get.  I know most people think I live a terrible life or “below my potential”, but I no longer care.  I have spent most of my life worrying about what other people think and their expectations.  I am sick of it.  I have come to the conclusion that nothing I do or say will ever be good enough for anyone.  It never seems to have been before.  Hell, I can’t remember anyone ever telling me they were proud of me.  I remember many of the compliments because, well, I rarely get them.  I am tired of having to plug away all the time, day after day, year after year, and not only not make progress but not even please anyone.  It burns me to no end.  If I don’t please you or anyone else, keep it to yourself.  I no longer care.  I’m tired of fighting a fight that, even if I win, the victory won’t be good enough for anyone.

Christmas 2019 and Mental Illness

It’s only a few days until Christmas.  My parents are coming up to Nebraska for a couple days, weather permitting.  Unfortunately, weather is always a factor in winter travel in my part of the country.  But I’m actually enjoying Christmas more this year than most other years.  I think many of my friends are the same way.  It helps me that I no longer have to fight the crowds whenever I need to buy something from a store.  I get most of my purchases delivered to my home anymore.  My grocery store has next day delivery and, even though I live in a remote small town, Amazon usually has two day delivery.  I have been playing Christmas music via YouTube and Spotify the last couple weeks.  I haven’t seen any real Christmas movies yet besides a documentary on the Christmas Truce of World War I between German and British soldiers in the trenches.

Overall I am doing okay.  I hired a couple home health aides after my doctor’s appointment.  I have a nurse who drops in every week and a physical rehab specialist who drops in twice weekly.  I don’t have much physical stamina anymore, but fortunately I retained most of my muscle strength.  Odd deal I suppose.  But I am slowly rebuilding my heart and lung strength.

My blood pressure is better regulated now.  And I feel less stressed and anxious overall too.  I leave my apartment to walk in the hallways with my physical therapist.  But I still stay home a lot.  I no longer stay home because of stress and anxiety.  I do it mainly because I am used to keeping myself occupied at home.  I can easily keep in contact with friends and relatives via facebook and phone.  I talk to my parents at least a couple times per week.  I have reestablished contact with my brother.  I wasn’t angry at him or anything, we just don’t have much in common.  He has a high end career, a wife, four kids, a house in the suburbs, etc.  I guess I don’t know how to relate to much of that.  I am grateful to be on good terms with his kids.  I’ll probably never have kids of my own, but I am happy with being Uncle Zach to those kids.

I’ll be watching football most days for the next two weeks with the college football bowl game season and the end of the pro season.  Unfortunately my Huskers didn’t make a bowl game this year.  But they are a young team that shows potential.  Winters are often a slow time for me.  But they are a time when I get a lot of writing and reading done.  Haven’t decided what my reading project will be for this winter.  I may do some philosophy works as it’s been a few years since I read good philosophy.  Since I no longer own a car, I won’t be going anywhere unless I can get a ride.  But it is easier to spend time at home than even five years ago.

 

Beginning of Recovery

Signed up for home health services the last time I was at the doctor’s office.  Yesterday, I saw the nurse who will be managing my case.  This morning I visited with my physical therapist.  She says my physical strength is good.  Unfortunately my endurance is not near what is once was.  As part of my baseline, I was able to walk only 3.5 minutes before I needed a break.  She says my walking pace is good but the endurance is in need of increasing.  I can stand up and sit down all right without aide as long as the chair is high enough off the ground.  I do need to use my hands when sitting in my recliner as it sits lower than my office chair and couch.  My rehab lady is a self described compassionate hard case, but that is the type I probably need.

After my car accident four years ago, I spent much time in depression and anxiety.  As a result I stayed home most of the time and got almost no physical activity.  So my endurance went down and I got more and more paranoid. The paranoia and bad health just fed on each other.  I am lacking endurance because of my paranoia and I am paranoid because of my lack of endurance.

My sleep pattern has returned to normal.  I usually go to bed around 9 or 10pm and wake up for good right at sunrise.  I guess I’ve become a morning person since the weather turned colder.  I don’t mind.  I can socialize with my parents in the afternoon or late mornings as they are retired and I can socialize with my friends in the evenings after their work days.

I think today went alright, at least as far as first day of rehab goes.  I have another aide coming in this afternoon.  I’ll see where we go from there.

December 9 2019

Been on my new meds routine for almost a week now.  I’m beginning to notice some positive differences.  I need less sleep, it takes more to become irritated, I move about more, and I even have better concentration.

My lab results came back too.  I am not diabetic (thank goodness), and all my other vitals checked out within normal ranges.  My cholesterol was in the 220s, so I will have to watch that closer.  I picked up replacement parts for my cpap machine.  I also started the paper work to try to get a home health aide to drop in on me every few days.  Overall, things are beginning to look brighter.

2019 has been both a good and a tough year for me.  I gave up most fast food and sugary foods.  I lift weights three times a week.  I’m less tolerant of people who try to mistreat me.  But I’ve also had some tough times too.  I isolate a lot more.  I no longer want to socialize with most people.  I go through bouts of hopelessness and depression more.  Somedays all I want to do is sleep.  I sold my car.  I gave up driving, just too much sensory overload and too stressful.  I guess I have gotten to a point in my life where I have almost zero tolerance for stupidity and rudeness.  And I have a lot of these the last few years, more so than usual.

2019 was a tough year in some respects.  I fear 2020 won’t be any better, at least not as far as socializing goes.

Pain and Depression

Haven’t been writing much the last few days.  Starting to sleep more again. Been fighting a cold for several days too.  Been waking up with unexplainable aches and pains the last several mornings.  This morning, my ankle hurt so much I could barely walk.  Pretty much spent the day sitting down or in bed just from the pain.  I couldn’t even answer the door or get to the phone because my ankle hurts so bad.  Oddly, pain pills and even ice don’t seem to do much for it.  It’s been a frustrating last few days.

Haven’t been having much anxiety lately.  But I have been having problems with depression and irritability.  I sometimes get irritated when I’m physically sick.  I’m not usually very good company when I’m sick or hurting.  I’m sorry for that.

Been discouraged and depressed more lately.  I make efforts to find what is going right out there.  Sometimes that can tough to find.  I haven’t had much for conversation the last few days.  Just haven’t been in the mood.  I feel lonely yet I don’t enjoy socializing, at least I haven’t lately.