Social Life and Depression

Getting out of the apartment several times a day now.  Have been for the last several days.  Catching up on the news of what’s been going on around the complex and meeting some of the new residents who moved in during the summer.  Seems like we have a few really cool people move in lately, and some of them are even in my age bracket and younger.  So I might be rebuilding some of my social safety nets that had fallen apart over the last few years.

I haven’t been as social over the last three years as I had been previously.  I think some of it started when three of my friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  Then we had a few problem residents come in that gave problems to everyone.  So I started isolating to avoid the drama.  Then my grandmother died, which I think I took harder subconsciously than I realized at the time.  My car accident in late 2015 left me scared to drive and not able to trust other drivers on the road for a long time.  2016 is a lost year as far as I’m concerned.  The drama and emotions from the elections caused me so much grief and anxiety.  I also lost some good friends and lost contact with some extended family because of those emotions running hot.

After months of hot emotions and people going insane over the pettiest things, 2017 was another tough year.  I spent most of that year alone.  I rarely visited friends or family.  I went entire days without leaving my apartment.  I more or less lost my ability to see anything decent in other humans, especially people in my immediate life.  I devoted most of 2017 to my writing and self directed scholarly endeavors.  Seeing some of the advances that were rapidly being developed was one of the few things that gave me hope in those dark years.  Like a fool I tried to share this information with people, but almost no one took me seriously.  I had some jerks tell me I was “fake news” and a liar.  “Fake news” is another stupid phrase I despise.  After a few episodes of this, I became real despondent.  I lost myself in computer games and youtube videos and just became annoyed and irritated with people in general.  The less I had to deal with flesh and bone people, the better as far as I was concerned.

But after almost three years of depression imposed exile and hermitage, I am slowly becoming more social.  I actually want to socialize now.  I truly believe that the type of people one surrounds themselves with can effect your mental and even physical health.  I have believed this for years.  But since most people I knew and ran into on a daily basis were in foul and angry moods, it just seemed better to just isolate, stay out of sight, and hope to God that people eventually came back to their senses.  I’m thinking that people, at least the ones I associate with, are starting to come back to their senses.  I certainly hope so.  The last three years were lonely years.  The only years I would rather relive less is my late teens and early twenties before I was being treated for mental illness.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Recovering From Rough Patches

Spent the last couple days out of my hometown while visiting family.  It was pleasant to unplug and unwind while enjoying the company of my parents.  Didn’t get much done on this trip other than unwind and touch base with family.  I was needing at least a couple days of different surroundings.  I visited my family at the acreage.  It was good to be back around nature and less rush.  While I am a self admitted city slicker even though I grew up in a rural area, it was still fun to be outside again for a couple hours at a time without being paranoid of being watched by nosy neighbors.

I sometimes get paranoid around even individual people nearby, especially when I want to be alone.  When I was in college, I used to take my trash to a dumpster on the other side of town because I was afraid that people where going through my trash.  I used to be afraid that neighbors and even family were listening in on my conversations.  But the real paranoia I am working against now is that I fear that I am losing favor with my neighbors and fellow tenants in my complex.  I may not be the greatest tenant in my complex, but I still try hard to be friendly with people and just avoid arguments as much as possible.  Fortunately in my over ten years at my current address, I have had real arguments with only three tenants that I can think of right off hand.  Fortunately those cleared up really quick and the problems were resolved shortly afterwards.

Paranoia is indeed strange.  I know in the reasonable part of my mind that my paranoias aren’t real and that I’m essentially worrying over nothing that can’t be easily resolved.  But, the irrational part of my mind keeps replaying these paranoid thoughts on an endless loop.  Drowning out the paranoid thinking process with positive news that is actually happening helps. Positive thoughts help, especially if they can be shown to be true.   That’s why I spend a lot of time researching science advances and medical news. Yet, even then, occasionally the paranoia gets the better of my reasonable side.  The problems I had over the last few days, fortunately, tend to get more rare and even less intense than even a few years ago.  I was happy that I was able to go through this last round of problems without yelling and acting out.  I’ve notice the breakdowns I do have anymore don’t seem to be as intense.  I hope I have gotten better with letting off a little at a time rather than holding it in for a major meltdown.

I was more depressed and weary than angry and irritated these last few days.  I guess that depression and weariness are becoming stronger than irritation and anger at this stage in my life.  I’m glad that it takes more to anger me than in years past.  I no longer avoid driving because of fears of going into road rage; I avoid driving now partly because I find it kind of boring and I don’t like being on the lookout for people who just aren’t paying as much attention to the road as they should. It doesn’t make me angry, but it does make me think ‘how bad do I really want to go out tonight when I can still contact friends from home.’ I used to love to travel.  But I don’t enjoy the travel as much now.  I enjoy the company of friends and family more now.

Attempting To Lose Weight With Mental Illness and Other Adaptations

Spring is here though I wouldn’t know it by the weather.  Got a few inches of snow on Easter Sunday.  Even though much of it has melted by now, it’s supposed to stay colder than normal early spring for the next few days.  It’s a pity as I was looking forward to warmer weather and fewer excuses for staying indoors most of the time.  As it is I probably won’t go anywhere until the weather finally warms up.

Been adjusting to new sleeping patterns.  I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier.  I still sleep only five to seven hours a night so I’m usually awake around sunrise anymore.  During much of the winter I would sleep almost until noon.  But the sleep patterns are changing with the seasons.  So I must adapt accordingly.  I still feel mentally stable even though I still have little desire to socialize much outside of friends and family.  I still call my parents a couple times a week.  Haven’t talked to my college friends much the last couple weeks.  One old friend just had his first child a couple weeks ago, so I’ve been giving him his space as he adapts to fatherhood. Other friends I have lost contact with over the last few years, I want to reestablish contact with these.  I also lost contact with some family members over the last few years I want to reconnect with.  I just got busy with my life and my mental illness got such in some cases I just didn’t want to contact even friends.  I lost many of my old interests over the last couple years.  I haven’t gone fishing in almost two years.  My back can flare up bad enough anymore that I don’t do much outdoors anymore.  I can understand why people with chronic pain can sometimes be short tempered, especially if they were in good health in their younger years.

I’ve been fighting weight problems since puberty.  Yet for the longest time in spite being over weight I didn’t have problems with mobility, pain, etc.  When I was in college I could easily walk over five miles a day in spite weighing over three hundred pounds.  Yet I think the chronic pain is catching up to me.  I can use the car accident I had messing up my back as an excuse, but after the accident I got really depressed and quit doing most physical activities.  I stopped going to the park regularly.  I stopped walking around the old downtown.  I stopped going to the library, preferring to read online articles and audio books instead.  I stopped going fishing.  I even stopped road tripping.  I hate to admit it, but the car accident really took a lot of fire out of me.  At least, I allowed it to take a lot of fire out of me.  To this end I decided I want to get back on top of my health.  I’m giving up on the sugary foods and soda pops.  I’m going to cut the bread out.  I’m cutting out most carbs.  And I started lifting arm weights again.  Oddly I got this idea from a pizza delivery lady who said she lost over fifty pounds just giving up sugar, bread, rice, and pasta.  I am going to do the same thing.  Started this over the weekend.

First I decided to track what I was eating.  Took only a couple days to see I was eating mostly bread, pasta, canned soups, and meat.  Explains why I’m not losing weight.  While I’ll probably end up spending more money on groceries buying healthier and fresher food, if I lose weight it will be worth it.  I’ve lost weight before.  I once lost over seventy pounds in less than a year.  Unfortunately I gained it all back over the course of three years.  One of my blessings is I can usually lose weight pretty fast when I commit to it.  Of course I also have the opposite curse, I can gain weight pretty fast when I am not careful about what I eat.  I tend to be undisciplined about my diet when I go through bouts of depression and anxiety.  But I’m going back to what worked in the past.  Been eating mostly meat and fresh fruit the last few days.  I’ve noticed I have a little more energy even after a few days.  And since I kicked my fast food habit over the winter, I don’t think that will be much of a problem now.  It’s just a matter of giving the time and effort to making the plans work.

College Years and How I Became a Blogger

Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me.  I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it.  I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work.  I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego.  As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension.  It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.

I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body.  Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life.  It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures.  It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing.  That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels.  I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there.  I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu.  Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people.  I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library.  But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story.  And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.

I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

whybenormal

My back has healed up.  I’m back to essentially a more normal routine.  Because of the colder weather and being housebound for two weeks, I got to do some thinking about changing things in my life.  I have essentially been in a rut for the last couple years where it’s pretty much the same old every day, day in and day out.  I haven’t done any real traveling for almost three years, spending much of my time self educating via youtube and Khan Academy and reading books.  I gained back the weight I lost within two years of my car accident back in 2015.  Now I’m getting more serious about my health again.  I don’t eat fast food anymore.  I’m starting to get out of my apartment more and walk a little every day.  I do arm weights three times a week.  And about the only things I drink anymore are water and coffee.  I feel like I’m beginning to see some results.  I started this new routine shortly after New Year’s.  Because my back slowed me down for two weeks, I just cut back on what I ate.  I’m to where I now eat meat only once a day, usually for breakfast.  The rest of the meals I eat things like spinach leaf salads, soups, peanut butter, and meatless pasta.  I think my routines are starting to work.  I feel like I have more energy.  I feel more mobile.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  And I am sleeping better too.

I’m also thinking that after I have lost some weight, I’m going to have to get out and about more.  I am in desperate need of shaking up my routines and adding more spice to my life.  A few years ago I said that I would like to do some traveling eventually.  I still have my savings that I built up a few years ago.  I’m thinking I’m going to have to see my old college friends again.  I don’t have a definite time line set just yet as this is still in the dreaming before making plans phase.  I have always wanted to get my passport and travel through Europe and see places like Barcelona, Paris, Berlin, London, etc.  Part of me would, if I get back to the same weight I was in college, love to travel on some of the old Silk Road from eastern Europe to China or vice versa.  When I was in high school I spent a couple weeks in Mexico with my Spanish class.  It was the most enjoyable vacation I had in my entire life.  Now that I am an adult, debt free, committed to getting back into good physical health, and have a little bit of a savings, I’m going to have to do this traveling before I get too old to enjoy it.  Since I am single, have a safety net in my disability pension, and I can do my blog from anywhere that has WiFi internet, I’m starting to hear the faint beckoning call of the open road again.

When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I did a little traveling every year.  My senior year of college, my parents and I went to San Antonio for Christmas.  I got to see The Riverwalk lit up for Christmas, visited the Alamo, got to see one of the Air Force bases my dad was stationed at during the Vietnam War, and got to see my Nebraska Huskers play a post season bowl game.  And an old college friend and I used to go to Denver to see Colorado Rockies baseball games, one of those games being a World Series game.  Spent all winter paying off the cost of that quick weekend trip, and even though the Rockies lost the Series, it was worth the trip.  I visited an old college friend in Minnesota for a week several summers ago.  I was amazed at how beautiful Minnesota is (I wouldn’t care to fight their winters). My friends and I used to go to minor league baseball games every summer.  We were able to get front row seats, a couple hot dogs, and a couple soda pops for less than $25 a person.  Just thinking about these old times while I was house bound for the last two weeks got me to realize just how much I missed travel and seeing different places.

I know that before I can fulfill these dreams of traveling, I have to lose some weight.  I have done it before.  And by God I can do it again.  I know it’s going to take at least a few years before I can get to doing the travel overseas like I dream of doing.  But I have pretty much gotten to where I have played all the computer games and done most of the self study I care to do.  I took a couple years doing that and I have gotten it out of my system.  Now it is time for a different chapter in my life.  It’s time to lose some weight and prepare to hit the road again.

Dealing With Paranoia and Shame

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.

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.