I haven’t been doing as well the last few days as I have been in previous months. I’m feeling excessively paranoid and just wanting to be alone all the time anymore. I don’t even enjoy talking on the phone. Other than a couple friends and a couple futurist groups, I have given up on socializing on facebook. Just seems to me that everyone wants to be irritable and riled up all the time anymore. And it makes me sick. Makes me wonder why bother being an optimist or trying to stay in a good mood. Everyone else it seems is in always in a lousy and angry mood, why should I be any different? I just don’t see any happiness or genuine joy in the world anymore. I’m just scared all the time anymore. I’m scared of my neighbors, I’m scared of my landlords, I’m scared of my family, and I’m scared of even friends and acquiantances anymore. It’s like empathy doesn’t exist anymore. I just want to stay home and sleep all the time anymore. And even in my dreams I am tormented. But at least my dreams aren’t real. My paranoias might not be reality either, but they just as well be as that is how powerful the human mind is. I’m just too tired and burned out to stay angry all the time anymore. That anger has given way to genuine fear and anxiety. I am tired of being full of fear all the time. I used to believe the future would be really cool if we could get past our short term issues. I no longer believe that. I think the dystopians were right and the future will be worse than even now. I’ve observed people in my own life since I was a child and rarely do people change for the better over the years. Most actually get more angry, greedy, irritable, and hateful as they age. At least, that’s the impression that I have gotten over the years. I’m tired of always being sad and depressed. I’m tired of seeing nothing but hate and anger in everyone I meet anymore. People like that just as well be back in the Stone Age. And maybe that’s where we are heading. I hope not. I guess I’m writing just to get things I’ve kept bottled up for weeks now. I’m scared if I had the traditional psych breakdown where I vent for a couple hours that I’ll get the cops called on me and I will definately then be evicted. I’ve always had the fear of being evicted from my apartment too. Had that for years. I doubt it would be any better if I owned my own property. I’m just paranoid to a disabling degree. But such is the nature of schizophrenia. And I still have no understanding of people who don’t believe that mental illness exists. But some people are just ignorant and lack any kind of empathy. If you have no empathy, than I won’t deal with you. The world needs empathy, compassion, and a willingness to forgive and let a few things slide more than ever. And I just don’t see this happening, at least not where I live.
Even though winter is all but over and the weather is warming up, I’m still spending most of my time alone and isolated. Just been more irritable and short tempered lately. Even hearing my neighbors walk down the hallway can irritate me anymore. And since my neighbors are prone to argue among themselves and make lots of noise during the day, I have intentionally been sleeping during the days and staying up until sunrise for most of the last two weeks. Why shouldn’t I? It’s not like I have much of social life anyway. At least I haven’t had much of a social life for the last few years once even social media stopped being fun. I mean, do normal people enjoy being angry and argumentative all the time? It seems to be that way to me. It didn’t use to be this bad. In fact, most people used to be pretty cool about petty disagreements.
I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to my nation and my friends over the next few years. I used to believe that if we made it though these tough times, we’d have a real cool future. But every time I try to be encouraging or bring up something cool science has done recently, I’m met with either stone cold indifference or fear. My countrymen didn’t used to fear change nearly as much as we do now. Hell, we used to force change sometimes out of boredom. When I look at my elders, leaders, and even people my own age in my hometown and my country in general, I find it hard to believe that these peoples’ parents and grandparents landed on the moon, built personal computers, won major world wars, or even had the courage to immigrate to a new land where they knew no one and had only their dreams and work ethic to keep them going in the dark times. Whatever pioneer spirit and love of innovation my people once had is dead. And it’s quite sad. But no one cares anymore, at least not enough to embrace change. I know some really cool things are coming within the next ten to twenty years for the people of this world, at least those who are willing to push through their fears of change and adapt accordingly.
But I look around me in my hometown and my family and friends, and I don’t see any adapting. I see nothing but fear and hate. In some ways I’m glad I’m not well adjusted to my current reality. The only people who seem to be are those who are nostalgic for a past that never really existed in the first place. I no longer see the courage and original thinking that made my nation and it’s people the envy of the world. And I won’t let us slip away without putting up a fight.
Even though I have been feeling quite stable overall, I have very little desire to leave my apartment complex except when necessary. I am still a little paranoid about people I meet in public. And I am somewhat that way about people within my own complex. It’s sad to say, but I think I have developed a phobia of people in general. I really don’t interact with anyone in person unless necessary. Anymore I prefer to communicate by phone or social media rather than in person. I didn’t used to be like this. But anymore I am paranoid and scared to venture out in public, sometimes leading me to neglecting to run errands unless absolutely vital. Anymore when I do leave my apartment complex, it’s usually at night so I don’t have to deal with crowds or strangers. I’m even starting to become afraid of the people in my complex. I am scared that many people in my complex don’t like me. I suspect some of the elderly residents don’t like younger people on disability living in here. But I hope that’s my paranoia being in high gear and nothing more.
My illness has changed over the course of the years. I can more easily deal with the delusional thoughts, hallucinations, and anger. But dealing with the paranoia and problems socializing have gotten slightly worse. Anymore I desire to be alone most of the time. Most people I don’t want to socialize with. And it’s often because I am afraid of them. My fear stems from not being able to read unspoken cues and body language. I also have no concept of how to deal with office politics and the nonsense social games that many normals seem to fair well under. I don’t understand office politics. And it has cost me several jobs over the years. I have no desire to “man up” and go back to a regular job mainly because of office politics. Personally, I hope that automation takes a lot of these jobs and people will have to find other ways to define themselves besides job titles and money. I had to once it became painfully obvious that my hopes of a career were killed by my mental illness. Adaptation is the best strategy in living rather than holding on to a past that isn’t coming back. I’m not going to regain my ability to work a forty hour a week job and I have accepted that. And I no longer feel shame when anyone tells me I’m making my problems up or that I’m not worthy of living because I don’t have some remedial and repetitive job that will probably be taken over by machines in not too many years. I know what I have been thorough and have dealt with. No one else has. So these people can condemn all they want, but their condemnations mean nothing to me.
After several rougher than usual days, I’m starting back on the mend. Feeling depressed, anxious, and paranoid really drains me. I still don’t socialize much other than phone calls and blogging. I have recently gone entire days without leaving my apartment. And it saddens me. I am afraid to travel, so I don’t get to see many friends or family. I don’t even like driving across town to buy groceries and house supplies anymore. I’m just so afraid and paranoid much of the time anymore.
Maybe the problems I traditionally have in late summer finally caught up to me. I just usually want to just curl up under a heavy blanket and try to sleep much of the time. It’s usually hunger that causes me to get out of bed.
In spite my recent issues I attempt to stay optimistic. Granted I haven’t been real successful at this lately. I attempt to avoid angry and irritable people as much as possible. It would be better for me and everyone involved if I just wasn’t as sensitive to these kinds of things as I am. Yet, for better and worse, it is how I am wired mentally. Losing my sensitivity, compassion, and empathy would involve destroying who I am mentally. It would mean being someone I have never been. I just can’t do it. I now understand why I never succeeded in a workplace environment. I just have too much compassion and empathy.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.