Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Since the weather has been so hot the last several days, I’ve been running most of my errands at night.  Picked up some new medication that supposed to help with binge eating problems.  I am a binge eater.  I’ll go hours without eating and then gorge all at once when the hunger pains take over.  And that’s probably worse than snacking throughout the day.  Been on this new med for a few days and I think it’s starting to work.  I have eaten much less than normal and I even need less sleep too.

I still stay awake until dawn and usually sleep until noon, at least unless I have doctors’ appointments.  I’ve also been socializing more often.  Made friends with a new neighbor last night.  I went to take my trash out, sat down as she was coming out for a smoke, and the next thing I knew I had talked to her for over an hour.  I guess I didn’t realize how many new people moved into my complex this year alone.  I really haven’t been socializing because, until recently, I was too depressed and paranoid to.  I was happy to spend much of my days attending Youtube University and learning for my own personal vanity.  It’s amazing what one can learn in several months of intense study.  And I was able to pick up the social skills like I always had them.  It also helps that a few of our problem residents have moved out over the last several months.  Until recently I was too wrapped up in my own depression and paranoia to notice.

I socialize more on facebook too with old friends and extended family.  I had pretty much dropped off facebook for a year or so because of all the arguing and fighting during the last election cycle.  Hopefully these bad experiences have cooled many peoples’ passions and made us more tactful as a species.  But I definitely make it a point to avoid politics, child rearing, and money as these can divide friends and family even in good times.  I think I’m not the only one who wants to make social media fun again.

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.

Struggles With Mental Illness in College, Part 2

            In a previous blog entry, I wrote about my struggles during the first year and a half of college before I began treatment.  This entry will be about my struggles after my treatment began.  Just because I was under treatment didn’t mean my problems were over.

            During the last three years of my collegiate career, I never achieved the quality of grades I had during my first year of college.  I also changed over to a different major.  I originally started college as a pre-pharmacy student.  After a year and a half of struggling with my mental illness as well as my classes, my grades were bad enough that I wasn’t going to be getting into pharmacy school.  I needed a change.

            I switched to a business management major, which was a surprise to my family.  I had never taken any business classes in high school.  I didn’t have much of an aptitude for sales, and I was quite an introvert.  So to my family and friends the move didn’t make much sense.  But to me it made a great deal of sense.

            In my line of thinking at the time, I wanted to be able to be employable with a good job as soon as I graduated from college.  Even though I was really passionate about literature and history, I always figured I could read all the history books and classics of literature on my own time when I wasn’t studying for my business classes.  With my best friend being a history education student helping me out with history and classical literature books, which is exactly what I did.

            I admit with this “Dual Study Program” with my studying business classes officially by day and reading my classical literature and history books late at night and on the weekends, I didn’t have much time for outside socialization.  I had my small core group of friends, and I also made it a point to be friendly as possible to as many fellow students as possible.

            As the last three years of college went on I slowly picked up a few more friends and gradually went to more social activities.  There were a few music bands on campus that occasionally played weekend concerts that I went to.  They were pretty much cover bands that also played some of their own material.   I made a few friends with some of the band members through that.

            I also made a few friends through some of my business clubs like Students In Free Enterprise.  I also went to many of my college’s home baseball and basketball games.  I preferred the baseball games because of the more laid-back atmosphere of baseball and I had a few friends on the team.  I also made a few friends through games of softball, ultimate Frisbee, and flag football.  I wasn’t a fast runner but could be a vicious blocker.

            I bring all of this up to show that I was able to have the average college experience in spite of having a mental illness.  There were a few things I obviously couldn’t do, namely the drinking scene because of my medications.  But I wasn’t in college to drink and drug.  I was there to get a degree.

            I didn’t work during the school year because of the stress of going to school full time, having a mental illness, and having a job would have just been too much.  So I worked in the summers instead.  It also helped that I had a good academic scholarship based on my grades.  Even though I wasn’t getting straight A’s, I was still managing to do well.  And I was enjoying the college experience at the same time. 

            A strange thing happened during my last year of college, I became interested in writing.  I had been reading voraciously the previously two years, so I suppose that writing would only be the next logical step.

            All of the struggles, problems, victories, and defeats of five years of college came to a culmination on May 8, 2004.  That was the day I graduated from college.  Graduating from college meant that I had overcome the problems of mental illness and accomplished my life long goal of finishing college.

            While it’s been several years and I still haven’t found permanent employment in my major, I still won because I was able to finish college.  I thank God that I was able to finish in spite of my illness.  Finishing college by itself is hard enough.  Throwing a mental illness in the mix makes the degree of difficulty pretty steep.  I hope that by finishing college that perhaps someday I can encourage someone with a mental illness to reach for and achieve their dreams.