Easing Into Fall and Breaking Out of a Depression

Been rainy and cool the last few days.  Haven’t really gone anywhere over the Labor Day weekend.  Pretty much slept in, listened to podcasts, and talked to family a little.  I think my bouts of irritability and paranoia have passed.  Was having some problems with those for a couple weeks.  I find that sleeping more and avoiding rude people helps me.  So does eating healthier.  I don’t know how much weight I’ve lost but I am down one full shirt size since the middle of June.  And I’m not doing much besides eating more protein, severely limiting carbs and sugars, and lifting weights three times per week.

Overall I think I’m coming out of my traditional late summer depression.  It helps that the weather is cooler.  I always enjoyed cooler weather.  From this point of the year until early April I really don’t feel much pressure to socialize if I don’t want to.  Sometimes in summers past my friends and family would want to do things like go camping, go to baseball games, go fishing, or go to the park.  Sometimes I wouldn’t want to go but I’d force myself to in an attempt to break out of the depression I was in.  More often than not I did break out of it, at least for the rest of that day.  I would be glad I went out with them afterward but I would, unfortunately, be a little resentful when first asked out.  But I did make some good memories in the process even when all I wanted to do was stay home and brood.

I’m enjoying the cooler weather and the rain.  Sometimes during these rainy days, I’ll bring up some jazz music on youtube and just relax.  I like to read to jazz and blues music.  Listened to a lot of Miles Davis, Muddy Watters, and John Lee Hooker over the years while reading.  Cooler and overcast weather puts me in the mood to think, read, and write.  I do enjoy this kind of weather.

Spring Cleaning and Mental Illness

Currently in the middle of my spring cleaning.  It’s not going as fast as I would like it to though.  My lower back flares up after being on my feet for awhile so I have to go slower than I used to.  I am beginning to fear that lower back pain is something I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life.  One of the reasons this is turning into a bigger than usual job is that I wasn’t keeping up on the cleaning and maintenance this winter like I had in years past.  I didn’t keep up on it because of the back pain and occasional bouts of depression to where I didn’t want to do anything but read and watch youtube videos.  I went through a lot of that last fall and this past winter.  I don’t know if it was the weather that had me depressed or if the illness was flaring up in different ways than previously.  I did go through bad bouts of paranoia when I would sometimes go two to three days in a row without leaving my apartment.  I don’t get the paranoia nearly as bad anymore.  I don’t know if the weather turning warmer or just the natural cycles of my schizophrenia is causing these changes.

It’s not that I was lazy about my upkeep just because I was lazy.  I have lived on my own more or less for fourteen years and I always made a point to keep my place picked up and better looking than most bachelor pads.  I think the mental illness was effecting me more this last fall and winter than I would have cared to admit.  Looking back on some of my winter writings I was really paranoid and too often had delusional feelings of persecution that, in reality, were alive only in my stressed and diseased mind.  I have to admit as my paranoia can flare up worse than in years past and with my physical health not as robust as it once was, I have to bring in outside help.  I am convinced I’ll need to reconfigure my budget and hire a regular cleaning service.  Sometimes I’d be depressed about the apartment looking shabby and the apartment looked shabby because I was too depressed and paranoid to do anything about it.  I know I can get back on top of my current issues.  Living on my own for fourteen years I have proven to myself and others that I can even if it takes me a little longer than many average people.  It’s just a matter of doing so.

I know that sometimes in my blog I probably appear over optimistic about having schizophrenia and being an adult in general.  Sometimes that is be encouraging to the readers, sometimes I write things I need myself to hear.  I imagine I have been overly optimistic when I wasn’t in the grips of paranoia and delusion this winter.

In other news, I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I can tell my clothes are fitting looser and my back pain isn’t as intense.  As far as my diet goes, I have cut out pasta, rice, and bread.  I eat mostly grilled lean meats and vegetables anymore.  And I think I’m starting to see some results.  I want to get back on top of everything that slid during my fall and winter bouts of depression, paranoia, delusions, and anxiety.  At least I no longer feel anxious when I hear footsteps in the hallway.  So that’s a start.

Late Summers, Changes in Diet, and Mental Stability

Late summers have traditionally been a tough time for me dealing with mental illness.  I usually have to be real careful from late July to early September.  So far this year has been different.  It could be due to reducing my stress levels and avoiding stressful people and places.  It could be due to the medication changes I made a few months ago.  And it could be due to changes in my diet.  I now don’t eat much wheat or anything that’ll upset my stomach.  I have found that I feel better on days I don’t eat bread than on days I do.  I have had stomach problems in the past.  Stomach issues aren’t uncommon in people with depression and mental health issues.  I pretty much limit myself to lots of protein and vegetables anymore.  About the only grains I eat on a regular basis anymore are rice based foods.  Rice seems to be easier on me than wheat and other grains.

When I do go to restaurants I don’t order things like french fries or most other fried foods.  I do occasionally treat myself to chicken strips at KFC.  I have pretty much also cut out sugar too.  When I do crave caffeine, I usually opt for green tea, coffee, or diet soda.  I notice I’m less irritable on days I limit sugar consumption.  Easing back on the caffeine was tough the first several days as I would occasionally sleep more than I would like and sometimes experience slight headaches once a day.  But I think I have gotten past the worst of the caffeine withdrawal.  I used to drink four to six cups of coffee a day, certainly not healthy when dealing with mental health problems.

I have found myself eating more vegetables than usual.  Even when I order delivery pizza, I make it a point to get the mostly vegetable pizzas.  I don’t feel as weighed down and bloated after a few slices of vegetable pizza as compared to the all meats or cheeses pizzas.  Since I’m on a limited budget I have to be careful about buying fresh vegetables that won’t spoil within a couple days.  So I usually eat a can of vegetables every days, usually green peas or green beans.  I have had some good sweet corn, a Midwest late summer tradition.  When I was growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to have sweet corn with dinner three nights  a week during the month of August.  Most of our meals during late summer involved locally grown sweet corn, tomatoes from our garden, and bacon sandwiches.  My parents have introduced my nephews and niece to this August tradition too, even though it will be another few years before the kids develop a taste for tomatoes.

Overall I have felt really decent this summer.  I don’t have much drama to report.  I’m glad that the push for the playoffs in baseball is starting.  I’m also looking forward to the start of football season here in the US in a few weeks.  Fall practice has already begun and school will be starting again in a few days.  I saw that many countries started their soccer seasons this weekend.  I have made a habit of following the US national team since the last World Cup.  I hope we make it to the next one coming up in 2018.  Since the World Cup will be hosted by Russia next summer, I imagine I’ll be watching soccer at a lot of odd hours to adjust for the time differences.  I have kind of gotten into soccer as I have two nephews and a niece who play the game.  Even as a kid I was a slow runner but  didn’t mind getting hit or hitting others.  So that’s why I played football in high school. So that’s why I still watch football in the falls.  But we have made it through the long stretch of summer and fall will be here soon.  It helps that it has been cooler than usual the last several days in my part of the US.  Makes me hopeful for fall and the return of cooler weather.

Feeling Better

I’ve been on this new medication routines for two weeks.  I’m noticing improvements.  I don’t feel very depressed or paranoid anymore.  In addition to a new medication routine, I’m also taking multivitamins and probiotics.  I’m noticing that I have less unexplainable aches and pains.  I am sleeping less than I was previously.  I now average 8 to 9 hours a night whereas during the winter and spring I got almost 12 hours a night.  Mentally I’m feeling more stable.  Physically I’m feeling more energetic and getting a little more active with each passing day.  I get out and socialize a little every day, even if it’s just when I go check my mail or go to the vending machine.  Overall I’m feeling better than my usual summer fare.

Summer came a little early this year as it got real hot in early June and stayed that way for two weeks.  Unfortunately my air conditioner broke down on me.  So I’ve been using lots of fans and a window air conditioner unit for two weeks now.  The repair man said I needed a new unit as the old one was over thirty years old.  That’s supposed to be getting done within the next day or two.

Have dined out only once in the last week.  For awhile when I was really depressed and paranoid, I didn’t do much grocery shopping and ate fast food at least once a day.  It’s no wonder I was feeling sluggish and lethargic.    Since I quit eating out every day, I’ve noticed I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains and I have more energy and actually want to be active.  I’m also severely cutting back on sugar.  I no longer drink sugared soda pop and I haven’t had candy bars or ice cream in months.  I may not be losing weight as fast I would like, but I definitely feel better overall.  And it’s all because of a few minor changes in medication routine and diet.

Trying To Pull Out of Depression

It’s been a rough last several days for me.  I’ve been feeling quite depressed and hopeless for much of the last two weeks.  I still don’t cook much as I’ve been eating mostly fast food for the last two weeks.  That’s probably part of my problem right there; I just don’t have the motivation and energy to cook lately.  I’ve been sleeping probably twelve hours a night for the last two weeks.  Anymore I have to force myself to get out of bed and get out of the apartment.

Paranoia has been a problem too.  I usually spend most of my days in my apartment doing internet searches or reading books because I’m scared of people anymore.  I am afraid of them and my paranoid voices tell me that most people are stupid and not worth dealing with.  The voices also tell me that people are violent animals who don’t know how to settle issues without violence.  And then I go on Facebook and see violent news stories in my news feeds and people’s posts advocating violence against anyone who doesn’t agree with them.  After months of a steady diet of negativity which I didn’t seek out, I’ve become despondent and hopeless.  There are times anymore I don’t have any hope for the future of the human race or myself.  Sometimes I can’t figure out how we as a species have made it this long.  I hope I’m just paranoid and reading too much into news stories and people’s comments.  I really hope it’s the paranoia that’s going full power and not the way people really are.

With not cooking for the last couple weeks, I really don’t have a healthy diet.  No doubt I’ve gained a bunch of weight in the last few weeks.  At this point I really don’t care if I ever do lose weight and get physically healthy.  Losing weight isn’t going to cure schizophrenia.  Losing weight isn’t going to get rid of my depression.  I have no desire to work or date again.  I’ve seen what messes both those arenas are and I want no more part of them.  I really don’t care if I ever get healthy.  I’m tired of fighting a losing battle.  I’m tired of always having to watch my back.  I’m tired of people being mean and angry all the time.

In an attempt to try to help myself recover from my current depression, I am going to attempt to avoid Facebook for the next several days.  I’ll still have my blogs posted there as I’m on an automatic post to Facebook set up.  It’s just depressing to see people snipe at each other and myself over the most trivial of matters.  I’m depressed with how messed up most people’s priorities are.  At least their posts indicate their priorities are out of wack.  I guess I never completely learned that who people are online is not always who they are in real life.  That’s another lesson I missed while in school that most people seem to have gotten.  I’m just going to lay low and try to avoid social media until I’m feeling better.

 

Getting My Car Back, Going Back To The Hospital, and Looking For A Sense Of Routine

It’s been a month since I went to the ER and the doctor found an ulcer forming in my stomach.  On Tuesday I go back to the hospital to get my stomach scoped again to see just exactly what is going on.  Between going to the chiropractor three times a week, going to my psych doctor once a month, my therapist every two weeks, it seems like I’m going to appointments every time I look up.  My routine for the last month has been go to appointments during the day and watch science and history programs on netflix and youtube for much of the night.

One change to my routine coming up is my car is fixed and ready to be claimed.  Had been driving a borrowed car for almost three weeks.  I actually got used to driving a different car.  Might be a bit of a change adapting back to my old car.  But it’ll be great getting back to some resemblance of routine.

I’m also getting into my late fall and winter diet and exercise routines.  I’m tracking everything I eat far more diligently.  I’m starting to exercise indoors.  The weather is still nice enough I only need a light jacket most days but it gets below freezing most nights.  Won’t be too long and we’ll be shoveling snow.  In Nebraska we usually get our first snow around Thanksgiving.  But we can also get several days of almost summer like warmth in mid to late November before winter finally takes over.  But with the warmest days behind us I have to exercise indoors most days until at least late March or early April.  I have struggled with my weight loss and health improvement routines this year.  Didn’t have nearly as much success in 2015 as I did in 2014.  But I’m not giving up on my health improvement routine.  I’m going to learn from this year’s mistakes and shortcomings and adapting.

Losing Weight while on Anti-Psychcotic Medication

doctor-2 mental-health

In addition to my problems with mental illness, I’ve been fighting problems with having an unhealthy weight since at least age seventeen.  I spent the first several years of my schizophrenia diagnosis trying to figure out the many aspects of my personal mental health problems.  I was able to figure out that there were seasonal elements, certain situations and stressors that made the illness worse, people and places I needed to avoid as much as possible, and I learned coping skills that made the mental part of my health much more tolerable.

While I was covering the mental aspects of my health, I completely ignored my physical health.  I gained a lot of weight during the first ten years of my diagnosis.  One reason I neglected my physical health was I often lacked motivation to stay with an exercise program.  I would do fine the first few days.  When the inevitable aches and discomfort set in, I’d take a day or two off.  I felt terrible for taking days off and would in time drop the program.

A second reason I gained weight was I fell into the trap of believing I couldn’t lose weight while on anti-psych medication.  Many anti-psych medications have weight gain as one of their most prominent side effects.  Noticing I was at a very unhealthy weight even as far back as early 2007, I went off my medications in an attempt to lose weight.  Real bad idea. I had a relapse after being off medications for three months.  Whatever weight I lost in that time off the medications was gained back and more.

Finally about the summer of 2013, I’m guessing, my general practitioner  told me that I would have major health problems, including diabetes, heart issues, and probably even early death if I didn’t do a complete change of my eating habits and physical activity.  That gave me an incentive to at least attempt to lose weight while on anti-psych medications.  My options at that point were to either keep blaming the weight gain on my psych meds and wait for an inevitable disaster perhaps only a few years in the future, or I could get more active and accept responsibility for my physical health with the same dedication I took to getting my mental health managed.  I guess my decision to lose weight came down to the persistent thought that my well managed mental health conditions would not matter if my physical health deteriorated.

My first efforts to lose weight were not entirely successful.  Beginning to exercise wasn’t much of a problem as I had the idea of dealing with diabetes, heart disease, and a mental illness all at the same time to keep me walking at least four to five days per week.  It was the adjusting my eating habits that was the major issue.  I would lose weight some weeks.  Other weeks I would not lose and often actually gain.  This went on until about April 2014.

After several months of exercise and learning all I could find about good nutrition on a small budget, I reexamined everything I was doing.  Every thing checked out just fine.  I even changed some of my psych medications at my psych doctor’s recommendation.  I finally decided to track everything I was eating for at least a few days.  It took only one day to figure out exactly how much I was eating on an average day.  That was an attention grabber.  I figured out how much I was eating and how much I was burning off through physical activity.  I could see that on even average days I was taking in more calories than I was burning off.  I found out why I wasn’t losing weight as easily as I wanted.  It wasn’t the psych medications causing it all alone.  It was that I had no idea how much I was actually eating.

Once I figured this out, I committed to tracking everything I ate every day.  I was able to do this though tools and trackers with a free account at wedmd.com.  I just type in what I eat, how much of a food I eat, and how much exercise I do.  I had to do this everyday for at least the first two to three months every day.  Once I knew how much I was eating everyday as well as how much I was exercising everyday and was recording it, that is when the weight starting coming off.  Since I started tracking everything I ate and all exercise I did I’ve lost over 45 pounds.  I’ve been doing this tracking since the middle of April 2014, so I’ve been doing this for right at five months.  I’m sure that for those who wish to have a diet and exercise tracking app for a SmartPhone or an iPod there are several good apps available that don’t cost anything.

Weight loss while on anti-psychcotic medications is possible.  It can be done.  Like anyone else trying to lose weight, it takes a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and it takes time.  I suppose I have the thoughts of where I once was, where I’m at now, how much better I feel now than even six months ago, and where I can and want to be as motivators.