End of the Year

Been a bit of an up and down year for me.  I’ve had several positives like finding a new general practice doctor and restarting my weight lifting routine.  Even though my lungs are still weak, my physical strength is almost as good as it was when I was in my late twenties.  I have employed a cleaning lady for a year.  The apartment feels more like a home than a hide out.  I redecorated my apartment.  I put up some art work done by friends and a few classic battle flags.  My personal favorites are the old U.S. Betsy Ross flag and the Pirate Ship flag.  I ordered several through amazon as they were on sale. While the flags look excellent, they are also bigger than I expected.  I currently have three on my walls. I’d love to hang all of them but I don’t think I have enough wall room.

As far as drawbacks go, I lost confidence in myself to drive my car.  So I sold my car to one of my dad’s friends.  It was an older, but lower mileage, car.  I no longer drove enough to justify having it.  And it was doing no one any good just sitting in a parking space.  I still isolate some, but I have reestablished contact with some of my old college friends and extended family I had lost contact with over the last few years.  I suppose after being a regular on social media for a few years, I have figured out what to post and what not to mention.  I think most people are at least starting to adapt.  I’ve noticed I’ve been involved in fewer online arguments than even three years ago.

I almost never have back pain anymore.  But I still get short of breath if I’m really active.  My physical therapist said I retained most of my physical strength even if I lost a lot of my lung capacity and my heart needed to get stronger.  In addition to lifting weights, I also make a point of walking around and doing stretches in my apartment every couple hours.  I am now on a blood pressure medication.  I have noticed I don’t need as much sleep as I did before I started the medication.  I’m also regaining stamina more quickly than before.

As far as science news goes for 2019, there were some really cool happenings.  A probe was landed on the dark side of the moon by the Chinese.  A few more probes were sent to Mars.  Self landing and reusable rockets are becoming almost common occurrences.  The world now has almost five billion people with access to the internet.  Strides in life extension medicine have been made.  There is now at least one company, started by a young man in his twenties, that is now removing garbage from the Pacific Ocean.  Plans are being made to start cleaning up orbital space garbage.  I bet my grandparents when they were watching the USA vs USSR space race back in the 1960s didn’t think this would become a problem so soon.  And now private companies and small countries are sending up probes.  Definitely not my parents’ space race anymore.

Even an electric powered pickup truck is now in development by the guys at Tesla.  I joked about that a few years ago.  Maybe my joke about custom making a fishing pole on a 3D printer or buying camping supplies with Bitcoins aren’t far behind.  And I’m sure there are already people who can build computers and moon shine stills from scratch (see my Nerdy Redneck posts).  Now it looks like it is starting to happen.  I also saw that a cross country self driving truck delivery was made here in USA a few weeks ago.  There was a driver present but the only time he took over was for things like refueling and maybe road construction.  Ten years ago this was science fiction.  Looks like I’ll be telling my brother’s kids to not consider being a truck driver or taxi cab driver.  Even the small college town I live in has a few Uber drivers now.  Before my car accident I applied to Uber, thinking I could make a few dollars ferrying around college kids on the weekends.  I was turned down because my car was too old.  One of my friend’s, her husband works for an Uber like company.  Made decent money but worked long hours and was rarely home.

2019 has been an eventful year overall.  Much of it has been good news, some of it bad.  The bad news is going to get more attention simply because that is what the human mind notices first.  Brilliant survival strategy in the Stone Age but can drive us insane when most of the basics are already met for most people in our world.  According to a scholar named Yuval Noah Harrai, our world now has more people suffering health problems from eating too much as opposed to not getting enough food.  Our great grandparents would have never imagined that.  As much as I enjoy futurism and tech predictions, I would be foolish to say what isn’t possible for the citizens of 2120, especially after how much change I’ve personally witnessed since I graduated high school in 1999.  My best friend and I were among the first families in our small farming town to subscribe to internet.  I didn’t have my own email address until I was 18.  And it was my friend who taught me how to get free music (which I never did) and free dirty pics (guilty as charged).  My eight year old nephew is enamored with my mother’s old mechanical type writer.  I never used one myself but learned how to type on an electric type writer when I was in junior high.  The change over to computers was easy in comparison.  Maybe my nephew’s kids will be surprised that we had to type on computers, rather then just think and communicate that way.  Or it could be something completely out of the blue we can’t imagine yet.  If the 2010s are any indication, the 2020s will be even more eventful and sometimes chaotic.  It’s only going to get more interesting and eventful.

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.

 

December 11 2019

Only two weeks until Christmas.  2019 is going to be passing into 2020 soon after.  2019 has been a long year for me.  I think spending much of my time at home made this year go slower than usual.  It was a year of changes for me.  I sold my car so I’m no longer driving.  I lift arm weights regularly.  I gave up most fast food.  I gave up most sugary food.  I broke down and hired outside help to keep my home livable.  I now have help with cleaning and laundry.  I gave up on a few friendships once it became painfully obvious some of my friends and I no longer had the same interests or values.  I guess people do change over the years.  It’s usually so gradual that we don’t notice it until afterwards.  I am beginning to overcome some of my anxiety about people.  Guests don’t bother me much anymore.  I still get slightly paranoid when I hear people talking out in my hallway.

I didn’t watch much tv or news this year.  I can’t relate to many tv shows.  I even cancelled my Netflix subscription.  Most of what I watch anymore is youtube or live sports.  The news is depressing, but I get that’s what catches the attention.  We have plenty of good news stories that will never get mentioned simply because good news doesn’t catch the attention.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked either, outside of online science and tech articles.  I guess it’s been kind of a less eventful year, at least for me.

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.

Settling Into Mental Stability and Winter Routines

Now that the holidays have come and passed, I am settling into my winter routines.  I find that I am spending much of my day reading online articles and reading books.  I don’t play as many computer games as I used to.  I’m finding myself dining out less as I’ve had fast food only once in the last week.  I’ve been eating less than normal the last week.  I can tell I feel less sluggish because I’m not eating so much unhealthy fast food.  I do sleep more than I did during the summer.  But it does help pass the time when so much of the day is dark and cold.  I don’t just go out and drive my car much anymore.  While I have conquered my fear of driving I just see no need to do much of it anymore.  I fuel my car probably only once a month now.  I just see no need to really go anywhere unless it’s necessary.  I can do most of my socializing online and via cell phone now.

I’ve been reading on some of the books I bought over the last couple months.  I’m reading a lot of online articles too.  Just because I don’t have many guests in my apartment doesn’t mean that I don’t socialize.  I’m slowly starting to socialize more over Facebook and even in the hallways of my apartment complex. It has been a slow process getting over my paranoia and fear of socializing.  And it’s one that’s not completed by any means.

I haven’t seen any regular tv in the last several weeks besides live sports.  For a couple weeks around Christmas there were college football bowl games on every night it seemed.  I would have a game on in the background most days while I was working online but I wasn’t really paying attention to the games.  I guess I just feel guilty about watching young men maim themselves for my enjoyment the older I get.  I probably should watch more soccer or basketball until baseball starts again. I just don’t watch a lot of tv.  I avoid the news channels as they are mostly negative news that doesn’t effect me.  Bad things have been happening all over the world throughout history, it’s just now that we know about it instantly with our communication tech.  The world isn’t more violent than in the past, it’s just better informed.

I’m starting to settle into winter routines.  Been reading a lot of online articles, been reading my amazon books, been listening to free podcasts through youtube, and I’m generally feeling stable and content since the weather started turning colder.  I’m ready to face the winter.

 

Adapting To The Holidays

Aurora lights up sky over log cabin

Alaska. The Aurora Borealis lights up the northern sky with a log cabin in winter. PR

The weather is turning colder and the days are really short now.  As a result I haven’t been leaving my apartment complex much the last several days.  And I don’t feel guilty at all about it.  I never did well around the crowds of shoppers during the holidays.  I just don’t like fighting crowds and waiting in long lines just so I can buy a few items.  I think one of these days I’m going to do most of my shopping online and see if I can just get things delivered to my door.

As a result of my quasi hibernation for the last week and a half, I am spending more time reading.  I have plenty of books I bought months ago that I’m only now getting into.  I have found that I am eating much less too.  Most days anymore I eat two meals a day and that’s really about it.  I also rarely drink coffee and I used to have a solid four to six cup a day habit.  When I do drink soda pop it’s mostly diet anymore and only with meals.  I find that in spite the longer nights I’m staying up later and waking up later.  I usually experience only a few hours of sunlight a day.  It doesn’t really bother me.  I really don’t like getting out and fighting traffic and crowds during Christmas.

Christmas really doesn’t mean that much to me as I don’t have kids.  I rarely go to Christmas programs and I haven’t decorated for years.  I just usually go spend a couple days at my parents’ place and that’s about it anymore.  My brother and his kids have  their own traditions so they rarely come to Nebraska for the holiday.  But Christmas really hasn’t meant much to me other than a few days of vacation and weeks of faux cheery music, too many lights, and too many bells.  Now I do like a few Christmas movies like ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’  I can’t imagine how tough Christmas is for autistic children who have problems with sensory overload problems.  It’s tough for me as an adult with schizophrenia who can voluntarily withdraw when needed.

I really don’t send out Christmas cards as I keep in regular contact with most of my old friends via Facebook.  I won’t go to the complex Christmas party again this year.  Seems like most people have been in a more foul mood than usual this year.  And I just don’t want to experience that during the holidays.  Sure it’s tough essentially spending the holidays in self imposed exile because of sensory overload and fear of crowds.  But I just don’t see any other options.  2016 has been a more rough than usual year and I’m sure the holidays this year will be worse than normal.  I’m just ready for things to go back to some sense of normal.  I haven’t experienced normal and prolonged periods of calm for a long time.

2014 in review

I don’t normally post information about my views to alifeofmentalillness.wordpress.com.  With this being the end of my first full year of posting about mental illness and mental health issues, I felt it appropriate to give appreciation to everyone who visited during the last twelve months.  It was a good year.  I hope we can make 2015 even better.  Thanks.  Zach

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,500 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 42 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.