Socializing In Person and Online

Even though I haven’t been socializing much in person lately, I still make a point of calling friends and family often.  I visited my parents in person a couple times already this summer.  I saw my nephews and niece on my birthday last month.  I call home at least twice a week.  And I try to contact old college friends a couple times a month.  Even though the last time I saw some of my college friends was three years ago, I still pick up with them like I never left off.  And I’m getting better about dropping in on friends on facebook more often.  I had been avoiding socializing over facebook for a year or two because of how contentious things could get even among friends.  But I think people are starting to adapt and use more caution and tactfulness when online now.  But two or three years ago, it was practically a nasty free for all that I wanted little to do with.  I wound up unfollowing most of my friends and family (and unwisely ended a few friendships too) just because I was tired of all the divisions and fighting.

Originally facebook was a godsend for someone like me who wanted to stay in contact with people but wasn’t exactly sure how to do it.  I readily admit I don’t have great social skills.  I never really have.  But I do get lonely at times, even when I don’t show it.  Sometimes the best thing a person can do with someone who struggles with mental illness and socializing is to make the first move and just ask us how are things going.  I am convinced that much of the stress of modern living is due to us not having as strong as personal social bonds as even our grandparents had.  Life may have been shorter and more physically demanding during the Depression, the World Wars, and definitely during the frontier days, but they were made bearable because people had living and breathing friends they could count on for things as mundane as playing a game of cards or having dinner together after a long day in the fields.  I think if we ever rediscovered the joy of having nearby friends in our neighborhoods and communities, we would see fewer cases of suicide, violent crimes, and drug addictions.  I am convinced that much of these happen because some people don’t have that sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Even though I haven’t been to church services regularly or been part of civic organizations for a few years, I understand why things like church, local sports teams, neighborhood associations, and civic clubs like the Elks Lodge or the Masonic Lodge are popular among those who participate; they give a sense of belonging and community.  I guess I get my sense of community from shared interests in a few of the science groups I’m part of via facebook and through my blog.  I used to be a member of a local writers’ guild.  It’s too bad that group kind of faded away after a few of our members moved away.  A sense of community is important for people.  We are by nature social animals, have been long before recored history.  Even the most introverted humans are more social than many animals in the wild.

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June 19, 2018

Decided to spend a few days at my parents’ house.  Getting some much needed rest and relaxation.  Haven’t gotten in the conversations as much as I would like mainly because I have been sleeping so much.  Even after two days of unwinding, I can tell things are starting to improve.  I’m glad that I don’t have the temper I did even five years ago with this mental illness.  Maybe some people do mellow and relax with age.  I believe I have.

This trip to my parents’ place made me realize how much I miss travelling and visiting people.  I haven’t  travelled as much as I used to primarily because of chronic back pain.  But since I’ve lost some weight and just forced myself to get more active, I think I’m somewhat more mobile now than I was over the winter.  I still have to take it easier than I would like, but even that is starting to go away.

I have been so used to eating alone over the last several years I almost forgot what dinner conversation could be like.  Have had a few of those with my parents since I came to their house.  I forgot how much even a few minutes of face to face interaction could make me feel better.  I am convinced it was and is the paranoia aspect of my illness that doesn’t allow me to interact with others as much as I should.  I know I would be better grounded mentally and physically if I spent more time interacting with other people in person.

Getting some other things taken care of I had been neglecting for too long.  I have put things off when I was alone because I didn’t have either the motivation to get things done or the help to get things done.  One thing I still have to force myself to do is ask for help.  I have always had hard times asking for help, as if it made me feel inadequate and weak.  But I suppose as I age I’ll have to just ask for help more often.

It’s been a relaxing couple days out of the routine.  I imagine I’ll spend another couple days here at least before I try to go back and face my usual routine again.  But even the strongest people need to rest and relax once in awhile.

Living With Very Few Regrets While Mentally Ill

 

I have my birthday coming up in a few days.  My birthday doesn’t mean as much to me anymore as it did when I was in my youth and early adulthood.  I’ve made my peace with the fact that I’m not going to get younger or stronger as I age.  I accept that things on my body are going to start wearing out.  I’ve even accepted that I may become forgetful and not have as rapid mental recall as I did in my younger years.  But this mental illness has become easier to manage than it was even five years ago.  Even my current problems aren’t overbearing like they were years ago.  Now they are irritable occurences that I just deal with until they pass by.  I really think my mental illness is easier to deal with now in my late 30s than it was when I was in the prime of my health.

I don’t worry about getting older.  I actually welcome it.  I’m not really that nostalgic about the past and I really don’t have that many regrets about my past.  I avoided all the major mistakes and learned from the minor ones.  I’m not tied down as much as many people I know.  I know people from my classes in high school and college who have gone through divorces, stuck in dead end jobs, paying off massive debts, in unhappy marriages, have addiction problems, and generally not having a very good time in their thirties.  My only true problem is I can stand to lose about 100 pounds.  I’ve already lost at least 25 pounds since New Year’s.  All I really did was give up fast food, give up most sugar, give up most bread, and drink only water and coffee.  Even my chronic back pain is gone.  I do occasionally allow myself thin crust pizza, but I go heavy on vegetable toppings when I do.

As cool as my college years were, in spite of the schizophrenia, in some ways my late 30s are even more amazing.  I stay in contact with my college friends via facebook and instagram.  I have all the music I spent a small fortune on in my teens and twenties for free on youtube and spotify.  And I even listen to some of the newer material that comes out too, not just what I grew up with.  When I was a teenager I promised myself that regardless of how my life or career turned out, I would never allow myself to become a bitter old man.  That’s why I don’t complain about the “lousy kids” or pine for the “good old days.”  I do have a few regrets, but the big one (not having much of a relationship with my brother), even that can be reversed once he and I start to put the effort into it.  We may not talk much, but that isn’t because we hate each other.  We just have totally different lives and day to day experiences.

I may not have dated many women, but I did have some roller coaster ride romances I don’t regret.  I asked out all the women I had crushes on in my life, got turned down by most of them, but I’m not wondering ‘what if’ about the one I let get away.  Just because I asked was a victory in some regards.  I’m glad for the dates I had, even the really lousy ones.  I don’t regret being stood up by women, or being rejected, or watching one woman I liked date one of my close friends.  And I don’t regret being unmarried at this point in my life.  I definately don’t regret not paying alimony or child support.  If, at some point down the road, I do meet my forever instead of my usual until whenever types, I’ll consider it an added bonus.  But I am not worried about being an old man and alone. By the time I get to be an old man, I may have a robotic assistant that does everything that a professional care giver would anyway.  I’ve lived 38 years at this point and experienced some cool things.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

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.

Day After Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone.  I hosted Christmas at my apartment again this year and I got to celebrate with my parents.  We had a big dinner and exchanged a few gifts.  I got some clothes.  As a child I wouldn’t have been excited about getting clothes, but clothes were what I was needing this year.  Now the gathering of family and friends means more to me than getting and giving gifts.  I guess since I live alone, if I need something I’ll usually buy it myself.  And since I am a minimalist by nature and necessity, I usually don’t need very much most of the time.

In other news, one of my computers crashed on me recently.  It depends on what’s wrong with it whether I’ll get it fixed or buy a new one.  I’ve had that computer for two years and it’s crashed on me twice already.  My Mac had issues at the same time.  Fortunately I was able to save it without going to the shop because it was a fairly minor problem that took only a couple hours to solve.

Winter has officially arrived in my town.  It’s been quite cold for several days and we had several inches of snow the weekend before Christmas.  It looks like it will stay very cold for the next several days.  Probably be staying home until this cold spell is over.  It’s alright as I have some reading to catch up on.  I usually do a lot of reading and writing when it’s too cold and snowy to be outside for long.

I have been quite stable for the last couple weeks in spite the changes in my sleep patterns.  I’m sleeping less and waking up earlier.  I’m now usually awake at sunrise, sleep for a couple hours in the afternoon, and stay awake until midnight.  I haven’t noticed any changes in my moods or mental states yet.  I’m glad things have been quiet in that regard.

Overall, I’m ready for winter.  I won’t feel guilty about wanting to stay home for the next three to four months.  Winter and spring are my favorite times of year.

Being Home Alone With Mental Illness Gave Me Time To Ponder Life In General (Or Philosophy From The Sofa)

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Haven’t been writing much lately  but that is mainly because I haven’t had much to report.  I have been quite stable for weeks.  Haven’t had any real bouts of delusion or paranoia.  The excessive anger doesn’t come up very often.  The hallucinations have subsided for the most part.  The ones I do have are more annoying than fear or anger inducing.

I don’t leave my apartment as much as I would like, mainly from the holiday crowds all over the place.  It doesn’t help any that many people I know seem to be in perpetual foul moods all the time.  It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for irritable people.  At this point, there is no way I could go back into working in customer service.  I can no longer stomach rude and angry people, even if I get paid for it.  Money is poor compensation for having to deal with uncivilized behavior all the time.

Even though I spend most of my time alone and at home, I still keep occupied.  Been reading a lot of science journals online and watching science programs on youtube and curiosity stream.  It’s too bad that more people aren’t interested in science and tech.  Both fields are fascinating, especially the last few years with as fast as these fields have been advancing.  The sad thing is I wouldn’t know about any of these advances if I didn’t specifically make a point of seeking this information out.  The media, at least easily accessible media, really does a poor job informing people to the current state of science and technology.  As much as people use these things, I would think people would be interested in hearing about these things.  I get that people are naturally drawn to bad news, it’s how we are wired.  I must be weird in that I just got tired of hearing about bad news and tragedy all the time and started seeking out what was going right and well.  I get enough bad news and negativity just from being mentally ill, I just don’t need outside sources adding to this.

In other news, Christmas is only two weeks away.  I readily admit to being tough to shop for as I am a practicing minimalist.  I really don’t require that much to keep me occupied and entertained.  I’m sure my family doesn’t find it very thrilling that I ask for things like clothes and home decorations.  I like electronics, but there are only so many I need as my computers do most of what I need.  I don’t need music CDs as I get most of my music through youtube and spotify anymore.  I don’t need movie DVDs as I can get everything through amazon and netflix.  I have got to say, having a high speed wireless internet connection has really decluttered much of my life.  Besides spending money on food, I just don’t spend as much money on miscellaneous things anymore.  Maybe the Star Trek economy where money doesn’t really matter that much isn’t three hundred years away.  We could be witnessing the early stages of it already.

I may not make much money but I still live what I consider a fulfilled life.  I know that many people of my generation and younger lament that many of us don’t have as much money or material possessions as our parents’ generations, but with much of living being digitalized, do we really need the whole four bedroom house with the picket fence and two automobiles in the garage?  What my computer and smart phone can do would have been worth millions back in the 1970s.  I probably wouldn’t even own a car except for occasional road trips.  As it is, I may not have a lot (not by American standards anyway), but I don’t feel lacking or poor.  It was just a matter of realizing what’s really important and adjusting accordingly.  It’s a pity that it took for myself becoming mentally ill and losing a career to realize all of this.

Thoughts on Changes Since Childhood

I’m currently at my parents’ house for a couple days for the Thanksgiving holiday.  My brother, his wife, and their four kids are here too.  We have seven of us sleeping in the basement but at least I get my old bedroom.  That way I can retreat and regroup if need be.  But my brothers’ kids are well behaved and old enough they shouldn’t give me many problems.

This is the first time in months I have been back to my old childhood home.  A lot has changed in this town since I moved out in 2005.  For one, all of my old high school friends have moved away.  The cousins that stayed have families of their own.  Most of my old teachers have retired or moved to bigger schools.  All my grandparents and a couple of my uncles have died.  My old grade school was torn down.  The retail store I worked in during the summers went out of business.  In many ways this isn’t the same town I grew up in during the 80s and 90s.  I haven’t been getting back to my parents’ place much the last several years as none of my old friends live around here anymore.  In many ways, this is no longer my town.  It doesn’t feel like home and it hasn’t for several years.

I bring up growing up and the changes my parents’ place have gone under because, with my mental illness, those years I grew up here seem like someone else’s life.  I started having problems with depression and anxiety when I was seventeen.  I was doing quite well in school and involved in many different activities.  It seemed like I was on the fast track to a career and life of my dreams, at least that was until the depression and anxiety started.  Twenty years later, my seventeen year old self wouldn’t even recognize the thirty seven year old man I am now.  I imagine my seventeen year old self would have seen who I am today as a failure.  Back then I knew nothing of mental illness and disability.  Like many teenagers, I also didn’t have as much empathy as many adults who have had their ups and downs, wins and losses.

If nothing else, fighting this mental illness for twenty years has taught me how to have more empathy for people different than myself.  It has taught me patience and how to accept things I can’t change.  It has taught me that, contrary to popular belief, life isn’t about keeping up with other people.  Life is mainly about competing with your self and being the best you that you are capable of being.  He who dies with the most toys is just as dead as anyone else in the cemetery.

I haven’t been giving much time to reflecting on the past for the last few years.  I have mainly been focused on the present and future possibilities.  I normally have little use for nostalgic thoughts.  But I’m sure having them now that I’m at my childhood home for the first time in months.  I guess the nostalgia has shown me how much I lost because of this mental illness.  Yet, in spite of the life that never was, I think I still have a great deal to stay alive for.  I’m interested to see what the next twenty years in this life of mental illness will show me.  I can only guess what changes will have come by the time 2037 rolls in.

Changing Routines and The Holidays

I’ve been feeling quite well the last several days.  I make it a point a socialize with at least one neighbor per day.  I still call my parents twice a week on average.  Other than running errands and a couple doctors’ appointments this week, I’ve stayed pretty close to home.  It’s been colder than usual the last couple weeks, so I’ve pretty much been going to bed earlier and waking up early.  I think I finally broke the habit of staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.

Been avoiding negative news for months now.  And I think it’s given me a more positive outlook overall.  Most of what I watch anymore are science shows, comedy, and inspirational materials.  I am still largely avoiding social media except to occasionally drop in on friends and promote my blog.  I just came to the conclusion that the drama involved in most social media isn’t worth the trouble.  It does make the nights kind of  lonely as facebook used to be a lot of my socializing.  But I am adjusting.

Mentally I am stable.  I am not sleeping as much as I did during the summers.  And I’m not staying up all night either.  I think I have found some balance in the kind of schedules I keep.  I have made a point of keeping my apartment cleaner than usual.  And I have to think that has positively impacted my mental health.  I’ve decided I’m regrowing my beard for the winter.  Other projects I have this winter include rereading some of the old philosophy books I read years ago in college.  I may watch more classic movies too this winter.  I don’t really have any plans for the next couple weeks.  I’m going back to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.  I am definitely not doing the Black Friday shopping nonsense.  I do all my shopping from my computer anymore.  I don’t plan on going out shopping this Christmas but I will probably watch a few Christmas movies.  It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two all time favorites.

Recovering From A Rough Road

It’s been almost a week since my psych breakdown.  I’ve pretty much put the pieces back together.  I’m going to bed earlier and have given up all caffeine for the last few days.  I do sleep a lot again and I do occasionally get minor headaches.  I hope the headaches are more from stress than caffeine withdrawal.

I do get out of my apartment a little everyday.  I bought groceries and gas over the weekend.  Had been putting that off for too long.  Since the weather has turned cool I have been eating a lot of higher carb things like spaghetti and rice.  I always did better in colder weather than the heat of the summer.  I always did enjoy hunkering under a blanket and reading for hours on end.

I’m still reading many science and tech sites.  Some days I have to remind myself that things like this are being attempted in the here and now all over the world and that it’s not a sci fi tv series.  I saw things like driverless cars, urban farming, and portable computers only in comic books as a kid in the 1980s.  Even our natural disasters, we are able to predict major storms days in advanced and organize rescue and humanitarian aid within hours.  As bad as these recent hurricanes, forest fires, and earthquakes have been, in past eras they could have been much worse.  I don’t know if I’m being overly optimistic, but I have spent much of my early years being a pessimist.  I gave pessimism up once I figured out that most of what I worried about was more manageable then I previously thought.  Anxiety is often worse than the actual problem itself.

Overall I’m feeling pretty decent considering how rough last week turned out.  Even though I leave my apartment everyday, I don’t socialize much in person.  I try to avoid social media as I have found some of my friends and family I enjoy talking to are now avoiding it too.  I have enough going on in my schizophrenia stressed mind to deal with anyone else’s problems.  I have to take care of myself before I can help out anyone.

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.