Being Delusional About Not Being Delusional

I am now throughly convinced I have been delusional about how not delusional I have been for the last several months.  I admit to isolating most of the time and rarely leaving my apartment.  I admit to rarely socializing with other people and tenants in my complex.  I admit to occasionally going days without showering.  But I don’t think I realized how delusional I was being about my problems.

I talked to my landlord this afternoon.  She told me that there were several tenants worried about little I was socializing and how unkempt I have been for a long time.  I have pretty much isolated and kept to myself since last summer.  I just got to where I saw no point in socializing.  In my delusion diseased mind, I was thinking most people are violent idiots who would rather curse you out and physically harm you than say hello to you.  Fortunately most of these thoughts are symptoms of my mental illness flaring up and not being treated effectively.  My fellow tenants and landlord aren’t angry at me nor do they want to see me thrown out on the street.  They are actually very worried about me.  I just didn’t realize how far I had fallen in the last year because of the delusion blinders I had due to my illness.

I have gotten to where I was scared to leave my apartment.  I have gotten to where I was scared to go to the laundry room and wash clothes.  So I have been doing most of my laundry in my bathtub for the last few months.  Let’s face it, it just doesn’t do the job like a regular wash machine.  I have gotten to where I am scared to socialize in person with anyone.  I don’t go outside to talk with  people because in my delusion wracked mind, most people were just bitter and angry all the time.  I have gotten to where I’m just scared and depressed all the time.  And I hate it.  I see my psych doctor tomorrow afternoon and I am demanding he put me on something else.  My current routine isn’t working at all.

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Mental Stability With Schizophrenia Is Tough and Other Thoughts

I have been mentally stable for weeks now.  It is a welcomed relief to not have to fear having mini breakdowns everyday or risk having major setbacks because of relatively minor problems.  I may have given my readers the idea that taking medications and going to regular counseling sessions are enough to stabilize the mentally ill.  If only it were so.

Many, if not most, mentally ill people are worse off than I am.  A significant percentage of homeless people are untreated mentally ill people.  Just today I read an article about a homeless lady from Oregon who recently died from hypothermia.  She was homeless because she fell two months behind on her rent at a low income housing complex.  No one informed her family members she was being evicted or having mental health problems.  This lady, like me, had schizophrenia.  Like me, she had been a model resident in her complex for several years before the mental health problems came back.  I sometimes find myself afraid that something similar could happen to me.  I have some setbacks, I get in trouble in my complex, I get evicted, and no one bothers to inform anyone who could help me out.  I have also seen statistics that one fourth of people killed by police officers are mentally ill people having psychotic breakdowns.

This is one of the reasons I am paranoid about cops.  I appreciate that they have a brutal and often thankless job but I am still afraid of them.  Some may say “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”  If only that were true.  I have had plenty of experience of authority figures, coworkers, peers, and even my own parents just telling me off over things I wasn’t guilty of.  I used to get yelled out for being too sad and even too happy.  It was like I was supposed to have the emotions of a pile of garden tools.  I’m not unemotional.  I have strong feelings and opinions, especially when I don’t share them.  I have enough white noise and hallucinations going on in my mind even on good days that getting in my face and yelling at me doesn’t calm me down or motivate me.  If anything I want to severely hurt anyone who raises their voice to me.  The Marine drill instructor, alpha male jock, kick ass and take names approach does not work on me.  It never has and it never will.  It only makes me more angry.

I am scared of people who yell and scream a lot.  I am scared of people who love violence.  I am scared of people who think violence and war will solve all problems.  I am terrified of stupid people in large groups.  One of the reasons I hate socializing is that I don’t like being vulnerable or dealing with the unknown.  I have to admit that somedays I don’t want to leave my apartment simply because I am afraid of people in general.

I am not really a misanthrope.  I genuinely love intelligent conversations that are calm and non argumentative.  I have yet to have an intelligent conversation with a dog or a house plant.  And I imagine it will be a long time before a computer can be a worthy substitute for human conversation.  I don’t hate people, I just can’t stand it when they do stupid and cruel things.  Now I know that people are no more cruel and stupid then they were in past generations.  If anything they were probably dumber and less compassionate before mass media and universal education.  I just hear about stupid and cruel actions more just because I am more connected than past generations.   Years ago, for me to hear about a homeless mentally ill person dying of hypothermia, it would have had to happen in my hometown.  But as it is we are more connected now than ever.  That isn’t going to change.  If anything we are going to get even more connected and involved in the lives of complete strangers living all over the world in the coming years.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am convinced that one of the reasons people will fight with others is because we can’t see where the other person is coming from.  I think it was a lack of open communication and intermingling that lead to peoples and nations in past ages to fight wars against each other.  Personally I would rather do business with a foreigner or have dinner with him than fight him in a war.  In all honesty, people have far more in common then they know.  It’s this fear of the unknown that keeps peoples apart.  It is my hope that in coming generations these barriers will continue to be broken down through mass communications and trade.  It’s kind of tough to go to war against a country when you are doing a lot of business with a potential foe.  Perhaps in future generations they can say that it was the internet and international trade that led to the end of massive wars.  I may be a dreamer but I am definitely not the only one who can see a better future than what we have even now in January 2017.

Fear and Mental Illness

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I have dealt with a mental illness since my late teens.  But even after so many years with schizophrenia I still find there are things I fear greatly.  I have had a severe fear of heights since this illness became full blown.  I haven’t ridden in an airplane since my early twenties and I don’t foresee ever doing so again.  I know that flying is statistically much safer than driving but it’s the heights that still cause that tingling feeling of fear to corkscrew down my spine.  I can’t even climb ladders or get on roofs.  I am sure my bosses were very unhappy with me that I didn’t work well on ladders.  But a fear of heights has developed since I became mentally ill.  I have tried to conquer my fears of heights by forcing myself to be in high places but this almost triggered a full fledged psychotic breakdown more than once.

In addition to heights, I have a severe fear of confrontations and arguments.  I have gotten to where I hate logging onto social media because of the stupid and immature arguments and things even my family and friends get into.  With this being an election year people in my family and friends circles are especially on edge and combative.  I have unfollowed dozens of people because I don’t want to hear the arguments anymore.  I have unfollowed people I even agree with.  I especially hate when I post something on a friend’s page and someone has to post some negative and angry comment on my thread.  I have experienced enough to know that most people are not mean and malicious by nature.  But even some of the most mild mannered people I ever knew can turn vicious online.  Have you forgotten you are talking to a real person on the other end?  And I know you wouldn’t be that mean if you were having a conversation in person.  Some of things I have read on many people’s sites would get them arrested or ostracized if they said those things in public.  I would love to see the day that we have the same civility online that we have with the people in real life.  I would also love to be cured of schizophrenia and not have to deal with these fears anymore.  A man can dream, can’t he?  I’m just thankful that this maliciousness doesn’t spill over into everyday life very often.  We just hear about the few times it does, thanks to always being connected.

I have always had a fear of driving, especially in large cities and express ways.  I literally haven’t driven on the Interstate in almost ten years.  Too fast traffic, too much going on, and too many people not paying attention.  I was almost in another car accident yesterday when a driver ran a red light when I was driving through an intersection.  This isn’t the only close call I’ve had lately.  I am getting to where I’m scared just to drive to the neighborhood gas station.  Some days, between the fears of driving and fears of my argumentative neighbors, I just don’t want to leave my apartment.  Being out among angry and sullen people just isn’t my idea of a good time.  It’s like some of these people want to argue and even fight.  I have grown tired of it.  I am weary.  I am ready for winter again when I am not expected to be out of my apartment.  Besides I do better mentally in winters than summers anyway.  I just don’t want to deal with these fears.

Reflections On Being a Recovering Doom Junkie

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As I’ve been laid up for the last few days with a sore foot that is only now starting to clear up, I have been allowed the opportunity to reflect back on all the changes that have happened over the last several years in my lines of thinking.

I turned 35 years old this summer.  Even after being a college graduate, working for several years, and being on my own for a dozen years, I’m still not as smart as I thought I was at age 18.  But, I enjoy being an adult.  I also have enough years of experience that I’ve survived several supposed “end of the world and collapse” type scenarios that I chuckle every time I see such drivel. After seeing the ’88 Reasons for the Return of Jesus in 1988′, the Branch Davidians, the Hale Bop Comet cult, Y2k, 9/11, the tech bubble, the stock market bust of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession, the Mayan apocalypse of 2012, listening to my grandparents’ stories of the Great Depression, Dust Bowl, and World War II, and seeing ‘evidence’ that every U.S. president since at least JFK was supposed to be the Anti-Christ, I’ve developed the attitude of “Meh, let it come.”

I suppose this is an advanced line of thinking, especially since I am prone to unhealthy paranoia.  But the older and wiser I get, the less time I have for doom and gloom nonsense.  I spent a couple years researching some of that doom nonsense myself and even thought some of it possible.  But then, I used to think that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, magical elves, pixie dust, and Disney fairy tales were possible too.  When I was a child I thought and acted as a child.  Now that I am a man I put foolish and childish things aside.  Wise words, St. Paul.

As I’ve experienced changes over the course of my 35 years I’ve come to the conclusion that change is the only constant.  I’ve come to embrace it and actually hope for even more. I’ve also accepted that there are always going to be hustlers and well meaning fools that are convinced that the ends of civilization and humanity are just around the next corner.  If I live long enough I’m probably going to see blogs and youtube videos, or the successors to blogs and youtube, about how the manned missions to Mars are hoaxes, how greedy elites are hoarding the proceeds from asteroid mining for their evil purposes, how we’re all going to die from nanotech and anti-matter experiments gone bad, etc.  I’ve seen enough of this before.  Nothing new.  Since our ancestors survived several ice ages and bubonic plagues I know at least some people will be able to whatever comes our way in the future.  One could make a fortune not betting against humanity.

Worry and Stress

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Worry and stress hinder the mentally ill and the neurotypical alike.  No one can escape it.  It served us as a species well for most of our history when hunter gatherers needed successful hunts and fight other bands.  Otherwise they would die.  Worry and stress are natural to us.  It allowed humans to go from barely surviving to modern civilization.

Yet our natural inclinations to worry are deteriorating our quality of life.  The old fight or flight mentality isn’t serving us as well.  We are seeing more people going through depression, panic attacks, anxiety problems, and physical health problems brought on by mental stress.  We haven’t yet developed the ability to mentally let go of worry.  This skill is not natural to us.  It has to be learned.

Learning how to let go of stress and worry, even with years of practice, won’t be perfect.  I have been taking steps to lessen my worry for several years and I occasionally slip into old habits.  Things I have found helpful include keeping journals, engaging with negative people as little as possible, venting slightly on occasion, and never watching news broadcasts.

When I keep journals, I don’t hold back. I write my frustrations, my anxieties, my annoyances, my fears, and the delusional thoughts that sometimes accompany my mental illness.  I get it out of my mind and onto paper.  But I don’t share these with anyone.  It does me much better to vent on paper rather than hold these worries in and drop them on someone else all at once.  Many of our problems with stress, I am convinced, come from the idea that we aren’t allowed to vent or have to put up a good front at all times.  I can’t change how anyone expects to act in public.  What I can do is vent in the form of pen and paper, get it out of my mind, and then move on.  Once the notebook is full, I throw it away.  Been doing this for at least two years.  It helps.  Sure I occasionally have problems and just dump my frustrations on family members.  But that’s the nature of the beast of mental illness and I do my best to minimize those blow ups.

I vent to my friends and family as needed to.  I used to be one of these people pleasers who listened to and try to solve everyone’s problems.  But I wouldn’t tell my problems to anyone.  It made me resentful and feel like I was being used.  I can’t remember when it was but during a conversation with someone I finally said, “I’ve heard enough of your problems.  Now you’re going to hear about mine.”  Fortunately for this relationship I wasn’t malicious about it.  But being resentful of listening to others problems while I didn’t stand up enough to have others listen to mine cost me at least a couple friendships.  My friends have problems.  I have problems.  We are now more balanced in talking about our issues.  I don’t just do all the giving while not taking some of my own anymore.

I don’t watch any of the 24 hour news broadcasts.  Haven’t for a few years.  Why should I?  I already know there is a lot of trouble and mess out there.  Always has been.  Always will be.  I have no need or desire to know every little bit of trouble going on, whether it’s halfway around the world or halfway across my country.  Seriously, why give myself more stress and anxiety then I already have?  I can’t solve all the world’s problems.  I’m not that good.  Anyone who has any kind of awareness knows that there are serious messes in the world around them.  Just because the world is messed up doesn’t mean I have to be.  Since I learned to let go of things I didn’t personally cause and can’t prevent, my life has had fewer worries and fewer stresses.