Late Winter Updates

Been doing alright the last few days.  Staying close to home except to meet delivery people on ground floor of my complex.  It gives me a reason to leave the house.  I usually get a few deliveries per week, whether it’s groceries, items I order through Amazon, or the pizza guy.

I’m getting new flooring next week.  My parents are visiting for the weekend too.  I’m also getting my walls repainted and having some work done in my bathroom.  I’m actually happy about getting a new toilet.  Yes I am middle aged.  I’m looking forward to having my place remodeled, but I am not really looking forward to having be out of my nest for a few days.  But I can put up with it to have the problem solved for 15 years.

The weather is starting to warm up.  The last few days it hasn’t been below freezing except at night.  The snow we had over the winter is melted.  The tree outside my window is starting to bud.  And the migratory birds are coming back.  I often hear geese flying overhead and my town is a big spot for cranes returning this time of year.  When I still had a car, I’d drive around out on the county roads near the river and just look for cranes.  They would just be sitting in the fields and be so thick you couldn’t see the grass.

Baseball season starts in a few weeks.  My fantasy league draft is in a week and a half.  I haven’t done very well the last couple years.  My best finish was a second place finish in a league of twelve a couple years ago.  Hopefully the Rockies can do better this year.  Regardless, I am ready for some spring.

It has been a long winter for me even though I haven’t had breakdowns since before Christmas.  I did a lot of reading over the last few months.  I usually pass my days with reading, computer games, staying in contact with family and friends, and keeping up with my neighbors.  I usually see my neighbors once or twice a day.  They usually make dinner for me once a week.  They make some excellent Mexican dishes.

I usually do most of my own cooking.  I think it’s been two years since I ate at McDonalds.  I just don’t really like fast food that much anymore.  Makes my stomach unsettled.  And I’m a pretty decent cook, at least for myself.  I can make some pretty good bratwursts and barbecue chicken on my electric grill.  I don’t do much baking as I don’t eat much bread or carbs anymore.  I eat a lot of grilled meats, vegetables, and soups.  Pretty simple tastes I suppose.

I don’t drink as much caffeine anymore.  I usually have a cup of coffee with breakfast and that is often it.  I sometimes get jittery and irritable on days I have too much coffee.  Plus I am convinced it makes my muscles tight and makes me breathe harder.  An uncle of mine rarely drank anything with caffeine because he said it “cuts your wind”, meaning it made him breathe hard.

Don’t use social media much except to keep in contact with close friends and family.  I had to cut down my friends list and change some of the settings because it was getting too overwhelming to manage.  It’s not that I am upset with people, it’s that I can still contact them if needed.  The good thing about facebook is that it’s easy to drop in on old classmates.  I do my best to avoid being part of arguments.  I already have too much chaos running around my mind to intentionally add to it.  Sadly, mental illness has put limits on my ability to socialize.

February 21 2020

Overall I’m feeling pretty decent.  I usually make a point of leaving my apartment at least once a day or host guests.  Whenever I have delivery people come, I usually meet them on the ground floor lobby instead of wait in my apartment.  Been doing this for a week.  It gets me out of the apartment and forces me to socialize more.

Started reading more again.  Had been lazy about that for almost two weeks.  I usually go to bed around 9pm and wake in the middle of the night.  I stay up for usually two to three hours and then go back to sleep, usually until 7am.

I have been fighting a minor cold for a few days.  Just taking vitamin C pills and drinking hot fluids until this clears.  Second cold I’ve had this winter as I had one around New Year’s.

Spring is a few weeks away.  This winter hasn’t seemed as long as some previous winters.  I’m looking forward to warmer weather again and not having to sit under a blanket most of the time.

Mentally I feel pretty decent for the most part.  I sometimes have moments of anxiousness and irritability.  Fortunately I can break out of it usually after a few minutes.  I’m glad I haven’t had problems in front of neighbors or family lately.  Sometimes breathing exercises and just disconnecting for several minutes is enough to let it pass by.

I still talk to my parents two to three times per week.  I call my brother two to three times a month.  He’s usually pretty busy with work and taking kids to sports practices or school activities.  My oldest nephew is a freshman in high school.

Talk to my friends more often.  I have a couple I try to reach out to at least once a day on facebook.  I don’t do much with my groups other than just read posted articles.  I just no longer have the energy or desire to engage in long discussions online except with friends and family.  I see my neighbors a few times a week.  They were kind enough to make dinner for me earlier in the week.

Don’t have much planned for the weekend.  Probably just go outdoors for awhile if the weather isn’t too bad.  Might sleep in too.

Doing Well

Doing much better the last several days than normal.  Getting quite regular sleep, my aches and pains aren’t nearly as intense, I’m getting more mobile, at least within my own apartment, I don’t have as many issues with anxiety or paranoia, and I’m not even bothered by guests to my apartment.  It’s amazing how much of a difference a couple months can make.

I try to talk to family and friends at least once a day.  Even if I don’t leave my apartment every day I still attempt to socialize.  I still hear from my neighbors once a day on average.  After spending an entire day out of my apartment last week, I was able to touch basis with several of my friends here in the complex.  One friend I talked to for almost two hours.

I’m reading more too.  I’m now a third of the way through Wealth of Nations.  It will probably be one of those all winter projects.  I try to read at least one hour a day.

I don’t participate on social media much outside of close friends and family.  I am inactive on my groups.  I usually just read posted articles and don’t comment.  I no longer have the time, patience, or energy for online discussions and disagreements.

I still watch movies every so often.  Been catching up on some of the newer movies I didn’t see in the theatre.  In fact, I haven’t been to the theatre in over five years.  I haven’t even been inside a fast food restaurant in almost two years.  The only time when I eat fast food is if one of my guests brings in food.  Fast food doesn’t agree with me much anymore.  I prefer my own cooking or my neighbors’ cooking.  At this point, I would rather host guests and make a home cooked meal as opposed to going to a restaurant.  Besides, far more places deliver than even five years ago.

I haven’t driven a car in a few months.  I sold mine back in the fall to a friend of my dad’s.  My car wasn’t doing any good with me not driving anymore.  I just got to where I was too scared to go on the road.  I actually got a panic attack one day while driving.  I’m glad my old car went to a good home.

Don’t have much planned for the next few days.  Probably will watch the Super Bowl.  I have several friends who are Chiefs fans and a few family members who are 49ers fans.  I guess it makes no difference to me who wins.  I would just like to see an exciting game.  Even when I did watch lots of pro football, I watched the Super Bowl more for the game than the commercials or half time shows.  I used to go to Super Bowl parties when a few of my friends hosted them in their apartments.  Those were fun times.

It’s been quite amazing in that I haven’t had any bad flare ups for over a week now.  Even the few I had were quick hitters that were over within a minute or two.  Right now I’m doing quite well, far better than my usual for the last year or two.  I think it definitely helps that I am in more contact with my neighbors, family, and friends.  Going to the doctor for my annual checkup in December let me know where I stand and what I’m doing right and what needs adjusting.  I’m currently on a winning streak.  I hope I can keep this going for awhile.  It feels like things are going back into some kind of normal and more relaxed.

Anger and Grief while Mentally Ill

Still going quite stable overall.  I still have minor flare ups a few times a week, usually they are triggered by stress or moments of excessive irritability.  Fortunately they don’t usually last more than a few minutes.  Most times I can burn them out through a few minutes of ranting to my self.  Sometimes I’ll verbalize my rants but keep my voice quiet enough so I can barely hear myself.  I don’t want to scare my neighbors and cause trouble.  So far it has worked.  I did have a real bad flare up in late August, which I regret.  The older I get, the more regretful I am of my taking my problems out on others.

While I am grateful that my friends and family don’t make issues out of my problems (at least not to me), I feel bad anyway.  I feel like I’m abusing my position as a friend and family member.  I think it would probably be easier for them to deal with if I just broke down and cried during my real bad flare ups rather than lash out at family and friends.  But most times, even when I feel really sad, I can’t bring myself to break down and sob.  I sometimes do tear up, especially when listening to really emotional instrumental music pieces (such as theme songs to some of my favorite war movies like Braveheart, the Civil War documentary series, and We Were Soldiers).  But I haven’t just broke down and sobbed since I was in college.  Sure I was sad at my grandparents’ funerals, but I wasn’t distraught.  Instead I had a stronger sense of being happy that such honorable people lived and had a sense of duty that it was on us who were going on into the future to continue the work of generosity, fairness, decency, and honor.  I just hope I can be an honorable and decent person to those I come into contact with on a daily basis, whether in person or online.

Hosting Christmas and Weathering Blizzards

Hosted Christmas for myself and my parents again this year.  Even though they live out of state now, they had to be back in Nebraska for a couple days to close up some business issues and visit some family.  I did get to face time with my nephews and niece, granted it was on my dad’s smart phone and not my computer.  I do miss those kids.  Makes me hope that I can spend Christmas 2019 at their place.

Right now I am house bound for the next couple days at least.  We had massive amounts of rain before changing over to snow.  I don’t know how much snow we have as my windows are so iced over I can’t see out.  Our city did declare a snow emergency and told everyone besides critical workers to stay home today.  Fortunately I have enough groceries I can stay home for a long time if need be, and I even have a lot of non perishables that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated.  I haven’t gone as far and picked up any of those Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) popularized by the military and back woods campers.  But I should be alright.  I keep everything charged in case we do lose power.  With as much ice and wind and snow as we have, that is a possibility.

I got some picture frames for Christmas.  I bought several prints of art work done by a long time friend of mine.  I finally got some frames to go with them.  My apartment doesn’t look so much like a monk’s chamber now.  I guess I don’t mind the kind of starkness of white walls with few decorations.  But some paintings on the walls do make the place seem warmer and less sterile.

Been going to bed around 9pm and waking up for good around 5am lately.  I feel more stable now that I have a regular sleep pattern.  I still sometimes nap in the afternoons for an hour or two at a time.  I sleep much deeper than usual now.  But I’m getting better sleep too.  I think that only helps with my issues of paranoia and delusions.  I tend to be less distressed after a few days of good sleep.  I also get deeper sleep on days I don’t have as much caffeine.  Feel less irritable on those days too.

Been feeling pretty good the last few days.  I enjoyed Christmas with my parents.  And now I am ready to face the rest of the winter.

Christmas Thoughts and Support of Family and Close Friends

Been feeling more irritable and short tempered the last few days.  Not sure what to make of it.  Hopefully it is just the stress of being so close to end of year holidays.  I won’t be going anywhere for Christmas this year.  My parents are returning to Nebraska for a couple days and will be spending Christmas with a few of my aunts.  If I’m up for guests I might have them over for a few hours myself.

But, as it’s been, I just really haven’t wanted to see anyone lately.  Kind of depressing in that I was doing so well for a long time.  Had a short but tough break down a couple weeks ago.  Fortunately it wasn’t as vicious as many as I’ve had in years past but it was still unpleasant and painful anyway.  I hate that I vent my problems on family when I have breakdowns.  I’m sure it has caused them much grief and fear over the years.

I would love to alter my personality to the point that I would just break down and sob rather than be angry and take my problems out on others.  I don’t know how much of that is the way I was raised in my culture and how much of it is being a man.  But I have never been good at suffering distress by taking it out on myself.  I don’t raise my voice as much as I used to during breakdowns.  Hopefully I’m better at coping with the distress of these flare ups.  After nearly twenty years of mental health problems, I should hope so.  I hope at this point I’ve moved far beyond even the acceptance phase and into the advocacy for those who aren’t as experienced with these problems as I.

The weather has been quite decent, by December standards, for the last ten days in my home state.  It still gets below freezing at night so we still have a few patches of ice.  But the roads are clear and it’s pretty easy to drive around town when I need to.  My family and I recently hired a cleaning person who works with a few elderly people in my complex.  I like her work.  Hopefully I can hold onto her services for a while.  I had a really good cleaner a few years ago who cleaned twice a month, at least until she had heart problems and had to take retirement.  I liked her.

I’ve seen my psych doctor a couple of times in the last few weeks.  I’m on a newer anti psych medication that’s supposed to help reduce compulsive behavior and serve as kind of a stimulant.  Most of the psych medications I’ve been on have promoted drowsiness.  I’m still getting used to the fact I don’t need as much sleep as I’ve had in past months.  I usually sleep only six to seven hours a night now, with a couple exceptions when I’m feeling really distressed.  I think sleep is one of the ways my mind works against mental health problems.  But I suppose there are worse ways of dealing with mental distress than sleeping ten to twelve hours a day.

I am looking forward to Christmas.  While I don’t have much planned, I should call friends and family and see if I can set up Skype with them.  I have the programs on my computer, I just don’t use them very often so I’m rusty with them.  I have learned over the years, the real value of the holiday seasons is spending time with family and friends. I don’t really remember much of the gifts I got as a child.  I don’t even really remember when I quit believing in Santa Claus and magic elves.  But I do remember the time I spent with friends and family, especially my grandparents and a couple of my uncles who have now passed away.  Those times aren’t coming back.

I’m glad I had a family that, even in our disagreements, we didn’t cut each other out or bring up our grievances during holidays or weddings or funerals.  I didn’t realize how rare that was until I went to a Christian college and found out from friends and classmates that, in some cases, even devoutly religious families can have serious issues.  I’m glad I dodged those bullets.  I never realized how cool my family was growing up.  Like many teenagers, I thought my family was kind of embarrassing and didn’t know what was what.  But now that I’m of the age when most of my friends have children of their own, my family knew their stuff far better than I realized all along.  My parents are now more like good friends and wise confidants than the authority figures I respected and sometimes feared as a child and teenager.

I’m glad I got to this point in my relationship with my family before they went into declining health or died.  I’m glad for all of it, even the discipline and nagging I couldn’t stand as a ten year old child.  But it served it’s purpose.  I may not have a successful career and well adjusted children like my brother and most of my cousins, but  I am managing an otherwise crippling mental illness pretty decent.  From what I have seen when I was inpatient hospitalization and from what I’ve heard from my readers, this thing could be much tougher to manage.

December 14, 2018

Another week has come and gone.  Besides seeing my psych doctor I haven’t been out too much.  But it looks like our cold spell is over and it’s supposed to more bearable for the next several days.  Our snow and is ice is melted.  So getting around town is easier now.  I spent an entire week without driving because of the snow and ice early this month.  I was starting to feel kind of confined and needing to get out.  Even I have times I just need to leave my fortress.

Been chatting with friends over facebook more lately.  Made some new friends in my techie groups and kept in contact with friends and family.  For awhile I was getting discouraged that I wasn’t hearing from my friends and family as often as I would like.  But then, I wasn’t posting on my personal site much besides promoting my blog.  Socializing is much like investing; no deposits, no returns.

Haven’t been reading much besides online articles and blogs lately.  The thing is I read as much, or even more, than I have in years past.  But I don’t read much for hardback print books.  The things I enjoy reading about now are science, tech, geopolitical, and medical news articles and essays.  Haven’t even listened to long audio books for weeks.

Sleep patterns have changed too, this time for the better.  Most nights I go to sleep around nine or ten pm and wake up for good at four or five am.  I still get my handful of quiet hours, I just get them in the early morning rather than the middle of the night.  Been this way for a few weeks now.  And it seems it takes more to make me irritable and paranoid ever since my sleep patterns changed.

Still haven’t made any concrete plans for Christmas.  I may go to my parents’ new house in Oklahoma.  But weather can be so unpredictable and dangerous for travel this time of year in my part of the country.  I guess I don’t have any gift wishes this year.  The PlayStation 5 won’t come out until next year at the earliest.  I would like a new gaming console as the one I have is several years old and showing it’s age.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset after saving his chore and odd job money for months.  Personally, I’m waiting a few years until the quality improves and the prices drop at least 50 percent from what they are now.  One thing about information and computer tech, the first versions are usually expensive and clunky (think cell phones from the 1980s or televisions from the 1950s), and after a few revisions they become inexpensive and every one has them.  My cell phone is a $99 Wal Mart special smart phone.  Yet, as far as computing power goes, it’s far better than the $2000 desk top computer I got for college back in 1999.  Too bad the costs for things like housing, automobiles, and education didn’t drop with time like computer tech.

As it is, I’m enjoying this holiday season.  The college bowl games start tomorrow, so there will be games on almost every day until New Year’s.  That’s what I’ll be doing for awhile.

Thoughts on Mental Illness Treatment Side Effects

I’ve been sleeping more than I would prefer lately.  But I have found over the years if I want to sleep more than normal, there is usually a good reason for it.  I’ve learned to listen to my body and give it what is says it needs more often.  Learning to live with mental illness is mainly a trial and error kind of thing.  It wasn’t learned immediately.  Sadly mental illness is one of those tests that is impossible to study for.  I had no idea what having schizophrenia meant when I was first diagnosed almost twenty years ago.  But then, there is no way I could have known just by reading some books and going to a psychiatrist.  Mental illness effects everything about a life it inflicts just by the nature of the illness.  And since the human brain is the most complex piece of biological machinery we have seen (at least unless we discover alien intelligences superior to our own), it is one of those we still don’t know much about.

One of the things that gives me hope, maybe not for myself so much as future generations afflicted with mental illness problems, is that we are learning more about the human brain every day.  I don’t know if I’ll live to see the fruition of much of this research, but I am encouraged that there is now a push to learn this and see if we can design better treatments with fewer side effects.  As much as I am appreciative of what my anti psych treatment has done for my mental state, there has been a price I had and am still having to pay for this stability.

One of the side effects of my psych treatments is that I gained a lot of weight over the years.  I won’t go into exact numbers but I will say I weigh at least one hundred pounds more than I did when I was first diagnosed.  Yet, I was for all purposes not functioning when I was diagnosed.  I was having mental breakdowns two to three times a week, I could sleep only a couple hours a night, I wanted to spend all my time alone and just avoid people, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even read a single page of a book.  I guess my options were I could keep my physical health but be completely dysfunctional mentally or I could regain my mental stability but have a weakened body because of it.  Not optimal choices by any means.  But I’m glad I opted for the better mental health.  Otherwise I’d probably be dead or in prison.

Even though my physical health has declined over the years, in part because of the treatment’s side effects and the nature of the illness itself, I consider the price to be worth it.  At least for me the price of losing much of my physical vitality was worth the price of keeping myself together mentally.  I have also lost most interest in sex and socializing in person because of the illness.  I haven’t dated in at least ten years and I don’t like going to social functions much anymore.  But I guess there are always trade offs.  I’m actually glad that I was not as ruled by my hormones as most younger men.  It saved me much headache and heartache, especially in my late twenties and early thirties when it became obvious to me that I would never have a wife or children through no fault of my own.

I am not anti marriage or anti family.  I’m quite the opposite actually.  I see my brother and his wife and children as well as my cousins with their spouses and children and I see that, if done properly, family is the best thing that can happen to a person.  I think it really does have a calming effect on people, young men especially, and forces people to be more long term thinkers than they normally would.  I would have loved to had a wife and a couple kids with the picket fence and apple pie kind of life.  But with the mental illness and the hangups involved, I know I would make a lousy husband and father.  As it was I couldn’t manage a minimum wage job with my mental illness even though I was an honors graduate in high school.  So the next best thing is to write about my experiences with mental illness as my purpose for my work and be a good son to my parents and a good uncle to my brother’s kids.  I’m interested to see where this all leads.

Mid Winter Recharge and Reset

I’m currently at my parents’ house.  Been here for a few days.  I’m using this time away from city and apartment life to reset and recharge.  I haven’t been anywhere outside of my current home city since Thanksgiving.  I had gotten stale and stuck in my routines.  I imagine this happens to a lot of people in their mid thirties with careers and families where it sometimes becomes month after month of nothing but job and family responsibility.  It happened to me and I don’t even have a family or a traditional job.  I spent so long doing the responsible adult routines that I forgot why I was doing them or what I was living for.  I have found that it sneaks up on all too easily.  I haven’t even been fishing for over two years and I used to go fishing almost every weekend during the summers as far back as high school.  I want to do more of that once the weather warms again.

While I haven’t been subject to nasty psych breakdowns for months, I have been having problems with anxiety, paranoia, and depression.  Because of these issues, I had been not leaving my apartment except when absolutely necessary for several weeks.  I finally had enough of this and came to the conclusion that changes were needed.  To help this change along, I left my apartment and came to my parents’ house in the small village I grew up in.  In my younger years, I used to travel some at least once a week.  Sometimes I would come to my parents’ place for a day or two or I would just go places with friends.  Once I got serious about the blog and started having issues with chronic pain, those travels became almost nonexistent.  I haven’t seriously road tripped since before my car accident in October 2015.  I think as a result of not seeing anything different and just seeing the same neighbors day after day made me stale and more closed minded than I would have liked.  I even ran into the rut of only eating in the same three or four restaurants when I did dine out, did that for two years.  Routine can be settling for mentally ill people, yet too much for too long can be mentally and physically unhealthy.  It was even starting to make me a jaded and bitter old man far before my time.  So glad I was able to break out and see something different for a few days, even if it is just my childhood home.

September 5, 2017

Been several days since I last wrote.  An update is in order.  I’m still sleeping more than I would like.  To see if I can change this around, I’m starting to sleep in a recliner.  When I slept in my recliner because of back pains, I would usually be awake shortly after sunrise and sleep only 6 to 7 hours per night.  As it is now, I have been sleeping 10 to 14 hours a night for much of the summer.  Something has to change.  Mentally I have been feeling well for months.  Since late summers are usually the toughest time of year for me, I have been reluctant to change much this summer.  As good as I have been feeling lately I haven’t wanted to change my meds or routines.  But this sleeping twelve hours a day and being up most of the night can’t be kept up.  My social life is hurting because of it and I haven’t been outside of my hometown all summer.  I have to make some changes.

I think some of my neighbors may be worried about me considering how little I socialize in my complex and how I often sleep during the days.  I try to keep out of peoples’ ways and keep to myself most days lately.  This is a change as I used to be more social than I am now.  I think I don’t socialize much mainly because of the paranoia I still sense when I’m around large groups of people or out in public.  Even though I have much of the depression and hallucinations of schizophrenia taken care of, I still deal with some paranoia and social anxiety.  I haven’t dealt with this level of social anxiety in several years like what I’m dealing with now.  Sometimes I’m even too anxious to run regular errands like buying groceries until I absolutely need to.  Needless to say, this isn’t healthy.  And with winter coming up, I’m just going to have to break out of this anxiety somehow and start buying more than a few days worth of food at a time.  Some winters we can get big blizzards that will shut things down for a couple days.  And of course ice storms also make traveling during the winter tough.  So I think I have no choice but to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and just start stocking up for when the weather turns cold in a couple months.  Fortunately I tend to be more stable in the winter and spring than summer and early autumn.

I haven’t had a regular counselor for several months.  Not because I was upset with my counselor or anything like that.  It’s just that I got stable enough I didn’t think I really needed it.  Mentally I’m stable and have been for months.  I still face some social anxiety and do feel anxious about driving somedays.  That’s the big reason I haven’t left my hometown all summer.

One of the good things about living as an adult with mental illness that I didn’t have in my late teens when this mental illness was just getting started is that I can still keep in contact with people real easy as opposed to twenty years ago.  I may sometimes rant about the abuses that people do with their Facebook and twitter accounts, but they are still good ways to keep in touch with people from my high school, college, and extended family.  I definitely regretted not going to my family reunion this summer, especially since my mother and father were the main hosts.  But the anxiety was that strong.  I know the anxiety exists in my brain and mind but the mind is strong enough that it can make anxiety real enough to be crippling in some cases.  I have friends who have problems with anxiety and depression too.  It breaks my heart that I often can’t do much to help them out other than being a sounding board and listen to them.  I tend to be a problem solver by nature, but sometimes things like depression, anxiety, and mental illness simply don’t have immediate solutions.