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.

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August 4, 2018

Even though we still have officially six weeks of summer left, it’s starting to feel like autumn is just around the corner.  I’m seeing back to school sales and getting fliers for said sales in my mail on almost a daily basis.  One of my neighbors has tomato and pepper pants in the back yard of our apartment complex and they are looking almost ready for harvest.  My parents have kept tomato plants as far back as I can remember and we always had fresh tomatoes every August.  A friend of mine from out of state and her husband grow tomatoes and peppers to make fresh salsa.  I should sweet talk them into sending me a jar one of these soon days.  School for my nephews and niece starts in two weeks.  Soon I’ll be spending my Saturday afternoons watching college football.  I guess I always preferred the college game to the pros, if for no other reason, Nebraska isn’t big enough to support pro teams.

Mentally I still feel quite stable.  And I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  I usually eat two large protein rich meals per day and drink mostly only water and coffee.  I don’t even buy bread anymore as I have cut most grains out of my diet.  I don’t eat much for dairy besides Greek yogurt and occasionally cheddar cheese.  But my diet mostly consists of baked and grilled lean meats and fresh vegetables.  I saw an online article featuring a former pro football player who lost over 100 pounds in a year and all he was doing was eating grilled chicken, fresh vegetables, lots of water, and lifting weights three times a week.  While I don’t count on such excellent results, it doesn’t hurt to aim big.  I feel like I’ve made much progress since Independence Day, exactly one month ago today.

I socialize in person more now.  Most days I leave my apartment at least once daily, if to just check the mail or buy a Diet Coke from the ground floor vending machine.  I usually drive my car three times a week just to keep it loose and ready to go.  Still haven’t made any road trips this summer besides going to my parents’ house a couple times.

I am still mentally stable.  I am usually in bed by midnight and awake by nine a.m. most days.  I avoid drama and pointless arguments as much as possible now.  Overall I feel well.  I haven’t felt this well for such a prolonged time period in a few years.  And I love it.

I’m glad that summer is almost over.  I always enjoyed autumn more than summer.  I look forward to the cooler weather, the turning leaves, the farmers’ markets, fall football,  playoff baseball, and the college kids returning to town.  My town really comes to life during the falls and springs when the college is in session.  I can hardly wait.

Routines

I did go and do some shopping on Black Friday.  That is, if grocery shopping counts.  Bought enough food to last several days.  I haven’t eaten fast food in a few days as I’m doing my own cooking again.  I’ve also had some of my psych meds doses lowered as I’ve been stabilizing for a few weeks.  I sleep a little less now.  I’m staying up later again but I really don’t drink that much caffeine.  I have all but given up coffee and I usually have only one or two soda pops a day.  I notice I feel less tense and short tempered since cutting back on the caffeine.

I’m back to eating less too.  For several weeks I was practically living off fast food and I have no doubt my health suffered.  Now that I’m back to cooking my own meals and eating healthier I am gradually noticing small improvements.  My stamina is beginning to come back, I am not as irritable, I am not as short tempered, my flare ups aren’t as bad, and I’m getting better sleep.  I think I have also lost a few pounds as my clothes are fitting a little looser.

I’m looking forward to winter even though I missed the summer with back problems and had more stress than usual during the fall.  I love the chilly weather, I don’t mind shoveling snow, I love spending time with family over Christmas, I enjoy watching college football games all day on New Year’s, and I like making cold weather food like potato and cheese soup and chili.  My Christmas shopping is done as I just did everything online this year.

I didn’t get what I wanted accomplished health wise this year.  I gained back much of the weight I had lost in 2014 and 2015.  Some of this came after I hurt my back and lost a summer’s worth of exercise.  Some of this came as I was more depressed and unstable this year than some of my previous years.  But for the last few weeks I’ve been having more of a sense of stability than I have had for months.  I’ve actually gotten some of my more healthy routines going again.  I still don’t socialize much in my apartment complex as I’m trying to avoid negative and depressing people.  I’m gradually getting back on Facebook.  I avoided it as much as I could for most of the fall.  But now that winter is almost here I’m getting to where I want to socialize to break up some of the colder, slower days.

Peace and Quiet with Mental Illness

It’s been a more peaceful and quiet week this week than most of my previous weeks.  I still don’t leave my apartment more than a few times a day.  But I am talking with my friends and family more over the phone and online.  I am starting to cook most of my meals and am eating less now.  For several weeks I was essentially living off fast food because I was too depressed to go grocery shopping.  No doubt I gained weight.  Now the struggle of taking that weight off begins.

Bought a couple new computer games and a couple new books this week.  They came just in time for the weather to turn cold.  We had our first snow in my hometown this week.  It came about right on schedule after weeks of warmer than usual fall weather.  I’ve been breaking up some of my old routines and reading more lately.  I try to have one major reading or writing project every winter.  One year I read a couple major philosophy works.  Another winter I started writing a novel.  And many winters ago the seeds that would later become this blog were planted when I started writing essays about life with schizophrenia.

I admit to being lazier than usual about writing this week.  But things have been more peaceful and settled the last several days than they had been in months.  I’m enjoying the colder weather and I have most of my winter provisions gathered again.  Hopefully I won’t have to get out much this winter.  I usually avoid travel if there is a lot of ice or snow on the roads.  So getting these new computer games and books will go a long way in keeping me occupied this winter when it’s too cold to go anywhere.

One of my biggest problems of the last several months was keeping my mind occupied with things other than the circus side show that was the last election.  I avoided a lot of people because that was all most people wanted to talk about.  It got old several months ago and I started isolating.  Unfortunately my mind being what it is craves mental stimulation.  I have to find something to always be researching or looking up.  For about two years I have been throughly researching science and technology advances.  I had forgotten how much I loved science classes as a kid.  But I have come to where I have researched those topics more in the last two years than most people do in a lifetime.

Before I researched science advances I was studying economic history.  Spent a couple years studying old economics books and theories.  It cured my itch for new knowledge and encouraged me to get out of debt and save some emergency money.  And my thirst for science knowledge might lead me and my father to building some homemade solar panels for his cabin at the family acreage.  He’s not going to go completely off the grid but he’s toying with the options that he could with a few adjustments if needed.  Our family has always had back up plans on top of our back up plans.  We don’t like leaving things to chance.  So even though winter is near we are already making plans for next spring and summer.

It’s been a few smooth days for me mentally.  I have made my plans for the winter.  I plan on reading several books and mastering some new computer games.  I will keep writing this blog.  Fortunately with mental illness it’s not all depression and anxiety all the time.  But the depression and anxiety do make me enjoy the calm and peacefulness more than most people who are well adjusted.  I know that problems will come up again, probably sooner than I would like.  But for now I’m just enjoying the few days of peace and calm.

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.

End of Summer

It’s Labor Day weekend in my country.  Many people are going to the beach or having their last party of the summer.  I decided to stay home this weekend.  I don’t like fighting crowds.  It has been a tough summer for me.  Summers are usually tough because of mental illness problems.  But this is the first summer I’ve had in several years that really wasn’t that hard in terms of mental illness.  This one was tough because I hurt my back and spent two months healing.

I’m finding it hard to believe that fall is practically here.  I do pretty well in fall.  I have most of my problems with mental illness in the summers.  There is definitely a seasonal aspect to my illness.  I’m looking forward to the cooler weather and the beauty of the fall leaves.  While I didn’t have the mental health problems this summer I’ve had in previous years, I didn’t get out to enjoy the summer much.  It was a letdown of a summer that stretched for longer than normal.  I’m not sad to see summer end.  I’m ready for cooler weather.  I’m even ready for snow again.  I’m glad that I was able to make it through this summer with fewer than usual problems.  Perhaps my problems with schizophrenia are starting to decrease with age.

A Sense of Calm with Mental Illness

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It’s been a quiet and calm week for me.  I can tell the weather is starting to cool and that autumn is only a few weeks away.  School has already started in my hometown.  I was at the Wal Mart on 10pm on a Friday night and the place was packed with high school and college students doing last minute back to school shopping.  Years ago when I was in school, it seemed like the place to be on the weekend before school started was parties that amounted to the last fling of summer.  Maybe the younger people today have better priorities than what previous generations had.  It was also the first time I used a self check out machine.  Just scanned my items, swiped my debit card, and bagged my purchases and left.  Sure this may put some cashiers out of work but who dreams about being a cashier working for minimum wage when they are kids?

From about early July to the first week of September has traditionally been rugged times for me.  Both times I checked myself into a mental health hospital were in early September.  Many of my major flare ups and breakdowns have come in July and August.  The first time my parents saw me break down was around Independence Day back in 2000.  I didn’t have the serious breakdown last summer besides yelling out a store clerk in early July (which I immediately apologized for).  Originally I thought I didn’t have the breakdown last summer because I had extra resiliency because of my grandmother’s death.  Besides yelling at one friend over the phone for a couple minutes and writing a nasty email to a second friend last month, I really haven’t had many problems this summer.

I still don’t go out as much as I had previously.  Anymore I’m somewhat content to just stay home, read books, write blogs, play computer games, and Facebook with friends. I call friends and family on the phone almost daily.  I am having more frequent and longer conversations with my best friend from college.  We usually call each other every Sunday night and chat.  For the first several months after he got married I kind of backed off and just gave him and his wife their space.  He’s a huge history and sports geek (just like I am) so it’s not uncommon for us to be discussing baseball statistics, the ancient Greeks, 19th century German philosophy, and American foreign policy within the same phone conversation.  I love people like that.  Tragically I don’t find many people with those kinds of interest.  My old friend Pastor Verne was one of those types.  He was fluent in both ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek from his days in seminary.  He was a brilliant man.  I’m glad I got to know him.  I hope to be that interesting and sharp if I ever make it to that age.

I got my insurance settlement this weekend.  I wasn’t planning on anything extra from the accident besides getting my car fixed and coverage of my medical bills.  But I am now sitting on top of a wind fall I wasn’t really expecting.  I imagine most of it is going into the emergency fund.  One of the positives of being debt free is I don’t have the pressure of having to make payments every month.  It feels good to not have debts, to have an emergency fund, and a few options.  Those are the best stress busters I have ever found.

As this is a lazy Saturday afternoon in late August I currently have a college football game on in the background as I’m writing this  Football is one of my guilty pleasures.  I’m not obsessed over it but I do like to have a game going on in the background on idle fall weekend afternoons.  I do kind of feel bad about watching young men maim themselves for my enjoyment.  But at least it’s not as violent as Roman gladiators fighting.  I can tell that summer is all but over now that I’m watching a football game.  From the Summer Olympics to fall football within a few days of each other.