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.

Confessions of A Mentally Ill Blogger

Going off subject for this post.  I decided to bring more of my online confessions.  Yes, there is a real live middle age man behind the scribblings and musings of A Life of Mental Illness.  So here goes:

  1.  I’ve had the same best friend since high school.  And my best friend is a woman my age.  I didn’t understand the whole ‘males and females’ can’t be friends trope back then.  I still don’t.  Just because I am a man and she is a woman doesn’t mean we have been or ever will be romantically involved.
  2. I never understood why just because I am a man that I’m supposed to want sex all the time.  I never have, not even as a teenager.  And I used to get such a hard time from my school mates because of it.  I got it worse from my female classmates than I did even from my teammates on the football team.
  3. I never enjoyed dating.  And it wasn’t just because I was most of the time turned down even for something as simple as a cup of coffee at the college student center.  The few times I did date, I always felt like I was under investigation for the pettiest offenses and slip ups.  It was nerve wracking and not worth it.  Angered me that I couldn’t just be honest with women I found attractive.
  4. I don’t understand adults who forget what it was like being kids.  Even though I’m almost 40 years old and starting to get a few gray hairs in my beard, I still remember vividly what is was like growing up.  I don’t romanticize those days nor do I completely condemn them.  I had some good times and I went through some serious trials I never want to go through again.
  5. I don’t understand adults who hurt children.  I think it’s cowardly that some adult would do anything to a kid they wouldn’t dare dream of doing to an adult.  I have less respect for adults who abuse children than I do just about anything else.
  6. I don’t understand the mindset of bullies, especially adult bullies.  I can’t understand how messed up a person’s moral compass has to be in order to feel like they are powerful for messing with people who can’t fight back.  It doesn’t show power in my mind to yell at, berate, manipulate, and abuse people.  It shows a complete lack of character and courage as far as I’m concerned.
  7. I don’t understand people who think that yelling, insulting, threatening, and throwing temper tantrums are the signs of a good leader.  They aren’t.  The only reason people, myself included, put up with this kind of nonsense is that we have no choice.  At least not temporarily.  All the while I am agreeable to someone who is a verbally abusive boss or leader, I am silently bidding my time until I have an opportunity to where I no longer have to deal with them.  I have quit several jobs just because I got tired of dealing with abusive bosses.  And I refuse to go back to any job if I get the sense that a work place tolerates abusive bosses.  Thanks to my disability and my pension, I can say ‘screw you’ to bad bosses.  I am convinced if enough people could get several months worth of living expenses saved up and just start walking out on abusive and toxic workplaces in large numbers, we’d see these employers attitudes improve pretty fast.
  8. I never accepted why workplace politics are what they are.  Never have and I never will.
  9. Sometimes I am convinced that the adults act worse than the kids.  But it didn’t seem this way when I was growing up.  Maybe it’s something that goes in generational cycles.
  10. I don’t understand how weekly news and sports magazines are still a thing even after almost thirty years of the world wide web.
  11. I don’t understand why people still write checks.  I still have to write checks for my rent.  Irritates me to no end.  What century is this anyway?
  12. I don’t understand people who go on and on about the ‘good old days.’  When exactly were these good old days?  And if I make it to age seventy I’m sure I’ll hear some fools talking about the 2010s as ‘good old days.’  The good old days never existed.  They were just when you still had good health and weren’t held back by constant aches and pains.
  13. I’m glad I was never popular or cool.  I don’t want to be popular.  I just want to make people think.
  14. I don’t begrudge twenty somethings who still live with their parents.  Multi generational housing was more normal in previous eras than now.  Sometimes I would love to live with my elderly parents or my brother or my aunts.  At least we could look after each other easily.  And I wouldn’t have to deal with some of the screw balls and loose nuts who come with living in an apartment complex.
  15. At this point in my life, I’m tired of living in an apartment complex.  I would so buy my own house and not deal with land lords and close by neighbors if I could afford it.  I just want some privacy and not have people looking over my shoulders all the time anymore.  Dormitory living was more fun at age 19 than at age 39.
  16. I often fear that I don’t get through to people.
  17. I often fear my friends and family secretly don’t like me.  I hope it’s the illness talking.
  18. I sometimes go days at a time without leaving my apartment.  I’m just burned out on the stress of dealing with irritable, angry, and rude people all the time.  Socializing with most people is toxic for me anymore.  At this point I’d rather deal with a machine than most people.  At least machines won’t give me a hard time or tell me how bad of a person I am.  People sometimes suck.
  19. I love to sleep.  I’d sleep even more if I didn’t wake up with aches and pains every morning.

Worries About My Friends and Our Near Term Future

I worry sometimes.  Namely I worry about my friends and people younger than I am in general.  I worry about most of my friends struggling in life.  Most of my friends are buried in debts, mostly student loans, that they will be lucky if they ever pay off.  And most of my friends weren’t that dumb with their money or life decisions.  Most of my friends went to college because 1) we were told that was a path to a decent career and 2) we looked around and saw that there were no jobs that paid decently requiring only a high school degree.  Long gone are the days when someone could get a job as a factory hand or farm worker in their early twenties and hold onto that job for over forty years and retire with a paid off home, pension, and health insurance.

I’m seeing my friends struggle in their day to day lives.  Most are working a full time job and a part time job or a side gig.  Almost none of them own houses.  The only one of my close friends who owns a house is a high school teacher in a small town.  And he didn’t buy his house until he was in his late 30s.  They don’t own houses simply because they can’t afford a house and student debts.  I also have friends who have had medical emergencies.  One friend had to file for bankruptcy for medical bills.  One friend is fighting cancer, divorced, lost her children, and is still on the waiting list for disability.  Another friend of mine got a master’s degree only to find the best job she could get in a mid sized city doesn’t pay even 40 grand a year.  Her husband also works a low paying job and moonlights as an Uber driver.  He too has lots of student debt.

Now I know some unsympathetic people will be thinking, “well, that’s what they get for not majoring in STEM or going to the military.”  Well, one of my brother’s best friends pulled straight 4.0 all the way through high school and college and still got rejected for a state medical school at least three times before he was accepted.  As far as I know, he now has a decent career working in a medical lab.  Another of my brother’s friends didn’t finish medical school and residencies until he was in his thirties because of finances and run around from the schools.  Now he works as an emergency search and rescue doctor.  One of my cousins went to trade school for two years to become an electrician.  He worked for a couple railroads, got married, has four kids, and owns a small acreage in rural Nebraska.  But, he is now essentially self employed due to the inconsistent nature of railroad employment and his wife has had medical problems to where I think she had to give up her job as a nurse’s aide.  Another cousin works in web development.  Even though he has had to work for several different firms and sometimes take free lance work, he is doing alright because he has skills that are in demand.  At least for the time being.

Can we really expect most people to become doctors, nurses, webpage designers, computer coders, engineers, tradesmen, etc?  Yet that is all I hear out of “experts” and “business leaders.”  While I think it admirable that people like Mike Rowe want to encourage more people to consider the trades like plumbing, electrician, welding, carpentry, etc, I fear that too much emphasis on the trades will eventually lead the same problem that people who majored in business, law, humanities, liberal arts, etc. are facing now.  Twenty years ago, we were told to go to college and get a degree.  Many of us did only to find that every kid in the developed world was given that advice.  Now the degree doesn’t go nearly as far as it did even forty years ago, primarily because of so many people having degrees.  Then the kids were told “get a masters” or “do unpaid internships”.  Many did only to find that they had six figures in student loans to qualify for jobs that will never pay enough to pay off the loans, let alone pay off a house or even start a family in some cases.

Of course, it doesn’t matter if young people or my friends are angry about this setup.  Because while some jobs have been outsourced to cheaper places, many more were taken over by automation.  I have a friend who works in a call center for a bank.  I fear it’s only a matter of time before his job gets automated.  And, of course, no one in power cares about the twenty and thirty somethings struggling.  They didn’t even care about the  forty something auto or steel workers who lost their jobs to machines and outsourcing.

And it’s no longer just the US or Europe that is outsourcing and automating jobs.  Even China is automating and outsourcing.  Just a few weeks ago I bought some shirts online that were made in a small African country I had to look up on a map.  The US and Europe are just further along in this transition to a highly automated economy.

And of course, the US doesn’t have very good social safety nets or any empathy for those who lost their jobs or are struggling to make ends meet.  My elders like to brag about how well America is doing, how well we take care of our own, and how we are a great Christian nation.  If we cared about our own, than we wouldn’t be having an opioid crisis, mass shootings every day, increasing rates of mental illness, increased suicide rates (especially among middle aged men), and protests in every major city on a daily basis.  For our boasting about being such a Christian nation, we certainly don’t care about those who are misfortunate and had a rough go. Such hypocrisy.

I have no idea how many times I was told “get a job you bum”, “man up”, or “McDonalds and Wal Mart are hiring”.  I, and millions of people in my age bracket and lower did everything we were told.  We still struggle.  And we don’t have any empathy from anyone, not our rulers, not our businesses, not our parents, not our schools, not our churches, and not even from each other.

Unionizing is not an option like it was a hundred years ago because most jobs can or will be outsourced or taken over by machines.  Sure we are on the road to an automated economy where most of the grunt work is done by machines and computers.  But, what is the point if 1) we don’t ditch this idea that everyone has to be defined by what they do for money, 2) most people can’t afford anything beyond the basics because most jobs are done by machines, 3) we have few social safety nets to make up for the fact that most people aren’t able to work in fields that can’t be easily automated.

We may need some things like universal health care, universal basic income, free continuing education, complete overhauls of tax systems, and a general overall shift in public attitudes towards work and compassion for others.  But I don’t see this happening anytime soon, at least not in the US.  I don’t think it will happen in the US in my lifetime simply because most of my countrymen don’t have empathy. Our leaders certainly don’t.

I do believe if our species can survive this transition, which is probably the greatest transition since people settled down and started farming instead of hunting, fishing, and gathering thousands of years ago, our descendants can have a really cool future where creativity and science can bloom.  But, I fear the transition will be a lot tougher than it has to be simply because of many people’s attitudes towards work and their fellow man.  I fear we will lose a few generations and much of their gifts in this transition.  But I guess we as a species lost short term to ultimately be better off when the Industrial Revolution began back in the late 1700s.  I do have great hope for the long term outlook for civilization and our species, but I fear it will be brutal getting there.  And the fact that I won’t live long enough to see the fruits of the seeds being planted today fills me with great sadness.

Aches, Winter, Losing Friends, and Stress

Been having bad knee pains the last few days.  My mobility is more limited than usual.  So I’ve been putting ice on my knee and taking it easy since this weekend.  Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have to work a regular job and not just because of my mental illness.

Getting ready for winter, at least I was until my knee started acting up.  Stocking up on canned food and peanut butter.  So glad I don’t have food allergies as peanut butter is good and cheap emergency food that can keep for quite awhile.  Bought a fleece blanket in addition to the blankets I already have.  Been spending most of my evenings under a blanket and reading.  I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  Been doing this since the spring.  I’m pretty sure I’ve lost weight but I don’t know how much.  I know I’m down one size in clothing all around since the spring and I recover from aches and pains faster.  The worst time for aches is right after I wake up in the mornings.  Fortunately hot baths usually cure those.

My sleep patterns have changed, again.  I usually go to bed around 11pm, wake up at 3 am and rattle around for a couple hours.  Then I go back to sleep around 5 am and sleep until about 8 am.  I don’t nap as much in the afternoons, usually only a couple times a week.  My sleep patterns change with how my illness affects me.  I usually sleep more when I’m distressed and having more frequent flare ups.

Fortunately haven’t had much for serious long lasting flare ups since this summer.  I still get some a few times a week.  Lots of caffeine can make these worse.  So can socializing with rude and irritable people.  Been avoiding people in person as much as possible lately.  It just seems like people are more irritable and on edge than usual lately.  I even avoid talking with some friends because it seems like they just want to do nothing but complain anymore.  I’m sorry, but I have enough problems of my own and I’m not always stable.  I avoid friends sometimes because I’m fearful of having flare ups and melt downs on them.  I fear jeopardizing the friendship because I can’t process stress and negative vibes very well anymore.  I’ve already lost a few friendships over the last few years because I can’t process negativity well.  I don’t want to lose anymore.

August 28 2019

Things have been improving with each passing day since my breakdown last week.  My sleeping habits have changed though.  I now usually sleep a few hours in the afternoon, stay awake until the early morning hours, sleep a few more hours, and am awake by 9am.  I think I’m getting back into my being a night owl routine.  I usually get like this in late summer or early fall.  For some odd reason I usually do my best sleeping in the afternoon and early a.m. hours, especially when the weather starts turning cooler.  Some years during the winter, I wouldn’t see the sun much because I usually slept in the daylight hours.

This has been a pretty long and stressful summer for me.  The spring was more stressful than usual too.  I was usually too stressed and paranoid to leave the apartment some days.  So I stayed home, rode my exercise bike, lifted weights, and caught up on sleep.  I think I have lost weight over the last five months.  I’ve also cut back on how much I eat yet I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.  I usually eat one large meal at lunch, always protein rich.  And then I have a small dinner, usually left overs from lunch.  I usually cook only once a day.  I’ve had fast food only a few times in the last year.  Now I have gone a week without coffee, I’m starting to cut down on caffeine.  Next time I shop, I’m buying tea instead of coffee.  Coffee just makes me to jittery and irritable anymore.

I’m still reading quite a bit, granted it’s still mostly online articles in science journals.  When I do read online newspapers, it’s usually something like New York Times, The Guardian, or Wall Street Journal.

As stressed as I was this summer, I wasn’t in much of a mood to watch a lot of baseball.  But with the Rockies having one of the lousiest records in the league, I wouldn’t have had much to cheer about anyway.  I spent much of my summer playing computer games, chatting with friends online and over the phone, and reading online articles.  I broke down and decided to renew my cable so I could get football games and the baseball playoffs.  The Huskers first game is this Saturday. We haven’t had much to celebrate the last few years.  But things are starting to look up.  When they hired Scott Frost to be the coach after 2017, it gave people real reason to hope for the first time in several years.  Hope things do turn around.

For the first time in months I feel really hopeful most of the time.  I spent most of this spring and summer at home, working out, eating healthier, taking vitamin supplements, and trying to get my physical health in order.  For years I had been tending to my mental and psychological health only to let my physical health slide, at least after my car accident back in 2015.  The last few years have been overly lonely and depressing.  And I felt I couldn’t really talk to anyone because of how angry and stressed most people seemed to be, especially online.  This truly bothered me as it is easier for me to socialize online than to just call someone up on the phone or go to their house.  That and most of my friends and family live out of town.  I hope after a few years of upheaval and distress, people by and large are learning how to tactfully interact online.  I lost some friends over the last few years because of everything that has gone on.  Hopefully, the madness is burning itself out.

Beginning of School Year and Maintaining Stability

It’s been fairly quiet in my complex the last few days.  The highlights of my week were when my cleaning person arrived for the weekly cleaning and the exterminator arrived to do his routine spraying.  Got groceries too so I’m set for the rest of the month.  I have been avoiding going out the last few days as school is starting back up again.  My town is a college town, so the streets are crowded again with several thousand college kids.  Even though I haven’t been a college student since 2005, I always enjoy when they come back.  I do regret that I don’t get out to the college as much as I used to for sporting events or activities.  I enjoyed going to the ‘taste of the world’ festival the college had every spring when the foreign students would make dishes from their home nations and some would even wear traditional clothing from their home nations too.  Even the American kids got in on this, with one group wearing get ups from the 1950s and serving hamburgers and fries.

Overall I’m doing well.  Still in a traditionally tough time of year for myself.  I sometimes have minor flare ups of anxiety and irritability a few times a week.  They don’t last very long and they aren’t as intense as they were in my younger years.  I have found if I avoid high amounts of caffeine and carb rich foods, I do better on those days.  I also avoid certain conversations and topics because some topics often make me irritable or anxious or I just feel probably too strongly about.  If I seem less social the last few weeks than normal, that is why.  It’s nothing personal but I just want to avoid potential problems as much as possible, especially during traditionally tough times.

So far I’ve been doing pretty well and I want to keep it that way.  I can be really tough on family during my bad flare ups.  I’m sorry those have happened.  I think it would be better for all involved if I could just break down sobbing rather than being angry and lashing out.  I don’t know how much of that is my illness, where and when I grew up, being a man, etc.  But it is easier talking about my problems now than even ten years ago.  And when I was first diagnosed almost twenty years ago, I was scared to tell even my college friends.  So yes, progress has been made in those regards.  Often doesn’t feel like it during the day to day grinds.

August 4 2019

Been a decent last few days overall.  Spent this afternoon cleaning some in my apartment.  I may have a cleaner come in once a week, but I do feel guilty if I don’t bare minimums on my own even with my limited mobility.  Haven’t needed as much sleep lately either.  Been usually going to bed around midnight, sleep three hours or four hours, stay awake until sunrise and then sleep again until ten a.m.  Haven’t been reading or writing as much as I would like this summer.  At least I have reestablished more regular contact with friends and family.  I felt guilty for not going to my family reunion last month.  But I wasn’t feeling the greatest and I didn’t want to have problems around people and scare them.  Sure my family would be more understanding than most families, but I don’t feel right taking out my issues on others.

Haven’t had any real bad meltdowns in months.  I have had a few close calls.  Fortunately, I have managed to not take them out on others.  I have had to avoid contact with people some days just so not to cause problems.  Even after twenty years with a mental illness, I am still afraid to have a meltdown in public.  I fear most people who don’t know me would not understand.  And many people are already more stressed than normal these days.

Found that listening to music helps sooth me.  So I’ve been listening to more music this summer.  I used to listen to music almost every day.  Even though heavy metal and blues were my favorite styles, I really didn’t have a style I didn’t like.  Youtube and Spotify are gold mines of good music, and my Spotify costs like 12 dollars a month for the service without advertisements.  It is not uncommon for me to have music on while I play Civilization or the Total War series.

Haven’t watched as much baseball this summer.  The Rockies are slightly below .500, so they won’t likely make the playoffs.  Haven’t watched much for sports since the U.S. women took the World Cup.  I got to see most of those games.  I have been watching old football highlights on youtube, mostly Nebraska from the 80s and 90s, to get ready for football season.  First college games are in only a few weeks.  Summer is definitely drawing down.

I guess I have been taking it easier than normal this summer.  I still lift weights three times a week and do the exercise bike a few times a week too.  I try to socialize some every day, even if it is just online or over the phone.  Social media isn’t as stressful for me as it was a few years ago now that I have figured out how to better use it.  I have lots of friends on my lists, but only a handful I actively follow on a day to day basis.  I spend a lot of time with small tech enthusiast groups.  I try to avoid the larger groups as they can sometimes become kind of irritable with each other on controversial topics.  I don’t post as much as I previously did, sometimes I’m more content to read linked articles and discussion threads.  I try not to get involved in heated or pointless discussions.  I make efforts not to feed trolls and troublemakers.

I believe that, overall, social media is a good thing. I also believe in free speech.  And when free speech and social media gets combined, it allows me to find out what people are really like quickly.  Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is not.  But if privacy and deception aren’t dead, they are certainly on life support. Social media makes it easy for someone like myself who wants to have friends and be involved but doesn’t have great social skills.  I am a bit socially awkward in person, so that is probably why I didn’t make a lot of friends until I went to college and met people even more awkward and quirky than myself.  I don’t hide the fact I am eccentric and odd.  As a grown man, I don’t feel the need to try to please people I’m probably not going to please to begin with.  It’s too bad I couldn’t tell this to my teenage self.  But it comes only with experience.