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.

Change of Season, Change of Mood, Change With Age

The weather is cooling off, especially over the last few days.  The nights are almost as long as the days now, some farmers are beginning the harvest, farmers’ markets are open all over the place, and I’m getting outside more.  I’ve had my windows open the last few days and I’ve pretty much stopped using my air conditioner.  Yes the change of seasons is upon us.

I for one am glad that summer is over.  Mentally I’m just not very stable during the summers.  And I never could figure out why.  I didn’t experience any true tragedies or trauma as a child.  I was bullied in school but I know kids who got it worse than I did.  I’m thinking many of my problems during the summers stem from dealing with the heat and humidity.  I never did like hot weather.  I like spring in the fact that there are still cool days but not weeks on end of hot weather.  And I like fall because of the cooling weather, the fall leaves, and I’ve always enjoyed fall activities more than summer.  I’m sure that being overweight doesn’t help in dealing with hot summers, let alone dealing with a mental illness.

Mentally I was more stable this summer than most previous summers.  Even though I couldn’t do much with a bad back I was still pretty stable for the most part.  Now that I’m healed from my back I am getting outside more.  I am also eating less too.  I can tell my stamina is coming back, more slowly than I would like but it’s still coming back.  I think that I have made it through the roughest part of the year already.  I hope that things keep getting better.

I have noticed a few changes with my mental illness over the last few years.  I can tell that things that used to bother me real bad don’t bother me as much.  If I had dealt with a problem a few years ago, I’d be angry for an hour or two.  Now I’m over such things in only a couple minutes.  I’ve become more accepting of the illness now.  I’ve accepted that I’ll never have a great career or a family of my own.  This used to bother me real bad as recently as five years ago.  Now I’ve just accepted it and planned accordingly.  Since I see that many of my friends are having problems at their jobs and marriages, I’m actually thankful in some regards that I never got to go that route.  I have the problems of a mental illness but I don’t have the problems of a stressful job and hectic married life.  I have a mental illness but I don’t have as much stress and pointless drama as my friends.  And I love it.  I don’t have much money or prestige but I do have peace of mind.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Looking Forward To Fall

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Now that my back has completely healed I’ve been getting out of my apartment more the last couple weeks.  At my most recent doctor’s appointment I found out I gained 15 pounds this summer.  Most of this is no doubt due to lack of physical activity and my eating too much comfort foods.  I did spend  this summer with alternating periods of depression and irritability.  I spent too much time indoors and exercising my mind and not enough exercising my body.  In short, this summer has been a loss in terms of physical health and activity.  The only positive of this summer is that I’m posting more on this blog and have gotten some more audience.

But fall is just a few weeks away.  I can already tell the days are getting shorter.  We also are no longer having several days in a row with nothing but scorching heat.  Looking ahead I see that we’re supposed to have some more cooler weather over the next several days.  I have spent most of my afternoons indoors avoiding the heat.  Since I spent the first month of summer on the mend I never adjusted to the warmer weather.  I normally have bad times during the summer.  Besides the blow ups on a couple friends I haven’t had any real serious problems this summer.  I know that I still have another three to four weeks of traditionally bad times ahead.  Hopefully I can make it through without anything else major.  I made it through last summer before having problems in October but I think working through my grandmother’s death made me more resilient because I had no options.  So my problems last year weren’t avoided as much as they were delayed.  So far things look good mentally.

I have been bored by the forced inactivity this summer.  Besides seeing my family a few times I really haven’t had much for social activity since Memorial Day.  But with the weather starting to get cooler and the nights starting to get longer, maybe my social activities will increase in the coming weeks.  I admit I am not sorry to see this summer go. I’m ready for cooler weather again.

 

Routines, Reflections, Dollars, and Desires

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This summer has been anything but routine for me.  I hurt my back in late May and I was out of commission for six weeks.  I rarely spent any time outside and didn’t travel.  I went to the park maybe three or four times in the six weeks my back was mending.  Normally I go to the park three or four times per week during the summer.  I haven’t done any traveling as I haven’t been outside my hometown since late May.  I haven’t driven much and have actually developed a slight phobia of driving.  I guess I never gained my confidence back from my accident last October.  While I got my car fixed I still haven’t heard anything back from if I can get any kind of settlement.  Progress is insanely slow in some cases.

I haven’t been outside around the complex much this summer.  It seems that most of my neighbors have been more short tempered and irritable the last several months.  I don’t know what to make of that.  I still have the one neighbor who always in a foul mood and never has anything nice to say about anyone.  Apparently he won’t be moving out any time soon.  It’s kind of tough living in here anymore.  Three of my most interesting friends in here died in 2014 and 2015.  Since I live in low income housing, who we get as neighbors is luck of the draw.  There are days when I’m depressed I would love to move out and start over.  But I don’t think any where else in my hometown would be any better.  With my mental illness and disability pension I can’t afford to move to a larger city.  I don’t want to move back in with my parents as their hometown has far less to offer than my current town.  I really don’t know if I can move to my brother’s hometown because of my disability pension and transferring to a different state.  If I were to move to another city, I’d love for it to be to a place with reasonable public transit.  I hate driving anymore.  I’d never drive again if I had the choice.

I don’t suppose schizophrenics do well in large cities.  I hear horror stories about people with mental illness ending up homeless or in jail in large cities. My schizophrenia being what it is, it’s not like I can start over with a job that pays enough to give me a decent living if I were to leave disability.  I was anxious working as retail store clerk and factory worker. I used to have panic attacks so bad I’d vomit from the anxiety before I went to work.  I fear the idea of working with the public.  I have been verbally abused enough by customers and coworkers in my previous life as a customer service worker that I never want to experience that again.  And blogging about mental illness will never pay the bills even if I am providing a good service for others.

It’s not the money I care about, it’s what the money can buy that I’m concerned about.  I don’t need the status of a high paying job to satisfy my ego.  I don’t need the large house in the suburbs or the high end penthouse in a skyscraper.  I don’t need the large pickup truck or high end foreign car.  I can get around just fine in a twelve year old four door sedan that is as good on gas mileage as anything besides the really small Japanese cars.  If I need to move something with a pickup truck, that’s why I have friends and family members with pickup trucks.  It’s amazing what one can accomplish with a phone call, a little elbow grease, and offering to buy lunch or a tank of gas.

I really have my basic material needs but I can get by with almost no splurging.  I have learned to live inexpensively on my disability pension without a job.  I am happy wearing t-shirts, sneakers, and pants from K-mart and Wal-Mart. I can get all the music I want for free via youtube or pandora radio. I don’t even have music CDs anymore.  I haven’t even downloaded music from iTunes in over a year. I would rather watch Netflix at home, sit on my own couch, and eat a delivery pizza than go to the movie theatre. I would rather go for a walk in the park or shovel snow in the winter than spend heaven knows how much on a gym membership.

Splurging for me is grilling bratwursts and spending cool and overcast autumn Saturday afternoons watching Nebraska Husker college football games on my flat screen tv.  Splurging for me is buying a bucket of KFC and a couple side dishes instead of eating off the dollar menu.  When I need new furniture I talk to friends and family who are moving or having estate sales.  I got my couch, lamps, and recliner after my grandfather died.  I got my bed and dresser after my grandmother died.  I got my house plants from helping my mother.  All I had to do was help my family clean out their places for a weekend.  The most I gave for a piece of furniture was $50 for my all purpose heavy duty table I eat from and use my computer on.  So a person can live quite inexpensively if you use your family and friends’ connections and help people out once in awhile.  The only time I go to restaurants that aren’t fast food is when I’m entertaining out of town family and friends. I have stayed out of debt for two years even without a job.  I managed to save up some emergency money that could fund my life for a couple months even without a disability pension.

So I’m not concerned about getting rich.  For the first few years I was serious about writing, I was hoping to make some money as a writer, travel on the speaking circuit, and donate a bunch of money to my college as some of my happiest memories are from my four and a half years at York College in York, Nebraska.  Now that I know how to live on less than I thought I could and I see how much stress my brother is under with his job, I know it’s not the high paying job or successful business that I need or even want.  The big thing that I want now is for my experiences and writings to make a positive difference for whomever happens to read these entires.  I have no delusions I’ll make much money writing a mental illness blog.  Schizophrenia my involve delusions but that’s not one of my delusions.  I don’t care if I make money off  my writings and blogging.  I really don’t even care if I make above poverty level wages.  I just want to make a positive difference in the lives of whomever reads my blogs, whether you be a mental health patient, support person, or just someone who cares about the problems of the mentally ill.  I don’t desire riches.  I desire to make a positive difference in at least a few lives.