Late Winter Updates

Been doing alright the last few days.  Staying close to home except to meet delivery people on ground floor of my complex.  It gives me a reason to leave the house.  I usually get a few deliveries per week, whether it’s groceries, items I order through Amazon, or the pizza guy.

I’m getting new flooring next week.  My parents are visiting for the weekend too.  I’m also getting my walls repainted and having some work done in my bathroom.  I’m actually happy about getting a new toilet.  Yes I am middle aged.  I’m looking forward to having my place remodeled, but I am not really looking forward to having be out of my nest for a few days.  But I can put up with it to have the problem solved for 15 years.

The weather is starting to warm up.  The last few days it hasn’t been below freezing except at night.  The snow we had over the winter is melted.  The tree outside my window is starting to bud.  And the migratory birds are coming back.  I often hear geese flying overhead and my town is a big spot for cranes returning this time of year.  When I still had a car, I’d drive around out on the county roads near the river and just look for cranes.  They would just be sitting in the fields and be so thick you couldn’t see the grass.

Baseball season starts in a few weeks.  My fantasy league draft is in a week and a half.  I haven’t done very well the last couple years.  My best finish was a second place finish in a league of twelve a couple years ago.  Hopefully the Rockies can do better this year.  Regardless, I am ready for some spring.

It has been a long winter for me even though I haven’t had breakdowns since before Christmas.  I did a lot of reading over the last few months.  I usually pass my days with reading, computer games, staying in contact with family and friends, and keeping up with my neighbors.  I usually see my neighbors once or twice a day.  They usually make dinner for me once a week.  They make some excellent Mexican dishes.

I usually do most of my own cooking.  I think it’s been two years since I ate at McDonalds.  I just don’t really like fast food that much anymore.  Makes my stomach unsettled.  And I’m a pretty decent cook, at least for myself.  I can make some pretty good bratwursts and barbecue chicken on my electric grill.  I don’t do much baking as I don’t eat much bread or carbs anymore.  I eat a lot of grilled meats, vegetables, and soups.  Pretty simple tastes I suppose.

I don’t drink as much caffeine anymore.  I usually have a cup of coffee with breakfast and that is often it.  I sometimes get jittery and irritable on days I have too much coffee.  Plus I am convinced it makes my muscles tight and makes me breathe harder.  An uncle of mine rarely drank anything with caffeine because he said it “cuts your wind”, meaning it made him breathe hard.

Don’t use social media much except to keep in contact with close friends and family.  I had to cut down my friends list and change some of the settings because it was getting too overwhelming to manage.  It’s not that I am upset with people, it’s that I can still contact them if needed.  The good thing about facebook is that it’s easy to drop in on old classmates.  I do my best to avoid being part of arguments.  I already have too much chaos running around my mind to intentionally add to it.  Sadly, mental illness has put limits on my ability to socialize.

Returning To Stability

It’s been a good day.  Talked to my landlady and I’m going to be having some maintenance work done in my apartment within the next couple days.  I’ll have to be out for a few hours while the work is done.  My neighbors said I could stay with them for the day.  It is work I have been needing done for a few weeks and it is finally being worked on.  One of the reasons I’m glad the holidays are over is that I can now get things accomplished that have been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Holidays are a stressful time for me, partly because almost nothing can get done during the holidays.  This is especially bad in the case of emergencies.

With some of my Christmas money I bought a few cheap games. I also subscribed to Disney +.  Yet most of what I watch is NatGeo.  I did watch Avatar a few days ago.  Hard to believe that movie has been out for over ten years already.

Been sleeping better since I received my new bed.  I also read more too.  I’m currently working on some of the classics I read in my early twenties.  I am keeping myself occupied in spite of the colder weather.  One of the things I like about winter is that I can get a lot of reading done during the long and cold nights.  I’m adapting well to the winter.  Winter and spring have always been my happiest times of year.  Late summers and early fall are usually my toughest times of year.

I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  I definitely feel stronger than I did when I started this routine last March.  I may have not lost weight in 2019 but I didn’t gain any either.  It looks like I have to adjust my eating activities to lose weight.  I want to lose weight, but for health reasons.  I really don’t care about impressing other people that much.  I can do most of my socializing at home anymore.  And my blog I can do from anywhere I can take a laptop and find a wireless internet connection.  I couldn’t have imagined doing what I am doing as a blogger even ten years ago.  Back in the mid 2000s I was still trying to get into writing through literary magazines and traditional publishing.  I probably couldn’t have gotten the audience and platform I have now except via dumb luck before blogging became big.

I still don’t know what this blog can become ultimately.  As it is I try to treat it like a job, even though I don’t make much money at it.  I didn’t know I had much of a talent for writing and story telling until I was in college.  I wouldn’t have figured this out had I never went to college.

Once I get these maintenance issues resolved within the next day or two, I’ll be set for awhile.  Just right in time for the next cold spell to come in.  I enjoy the cold weather.  I love reading with a cup of coffee and reading while under a fleece blanket.  I can hardly wait.

Christmas 2019 and Mental Illness

It’s only a few days until Christmas.  My parents are coming up to Nebraska for a couple days, weather permitting.  Unfortunately, weather is always a factor in winter travel in my part of the country.  But I’m actually enjoying Christmas more this year than most other years.  I think many of my friends are the same way.  It helps me that I no longer have to fight the crowds whenever I need to buy something from a store.  I get most of my purchases delivered to my home anymore.  My grocery store has next day delivery and, even though I live in a remote small town, Amazon usually has two day delivery.  I have been playing Christmas music via YouTube and Spotify the last couple weeks.  I haven’t seen any real Christmas movies yet besides a documentary on the Christmas Truce of World War I between German and British soldiers in the trenches.

Overall I am doing okay.  I hired a couple home health aides after my doctor’s appointment.  I have a nurse who drops in every week and a physical rehab specialist who drops in twice weekly.  I don’t have much physical stamina anymore, but fortunately I retained most of my muscle strength.  Odd deal I suppose.  But I am slowly rebuilding my heart and lung strength.

My blood pressure is better regulated now.  And I feel less stressed and anxious overall too.  I leave my apartment to walk in the hallways with my physical therapist.  But I still stay home a lot.  I no longer stay home because of stress and anxiety.  I do it mainly because I am used to keeping myself occupied at home.  I can easily keep in contact with friends and relatives via facebook and phone.  I talk to my parents at least a couple times per week.  I have reestablished contact with my brother.  I wasn’t angry at him or anything, we just don’t have much in common.  He has a high end career, a wife, four kids, a house in the suburbs, etc.  I guess I don’t know how to relate to much of that.  I am grateful to be on good terms with his kids.  I’ll probably never have kids of my own, but I am happy with being Uncle Zach to those kids.

I’ll be watching football most days for the next two weeks with the college football bowl game season and the end of the pro season.  Unfortunately my Huskers didn’t make a bowl game this year.  But they are a young team that shows potential.  Winters are often a slow time for me.  But they are a time when I get a lot of writing and reading done.  Haven’t decided what my reading project will be for this winter.  I may do some philosophy works as it’s been a few years since I read good philosophy.  Since I no longer own a car, I won’t be going anywhere unless I can get a ride.  But it is easier to spend time at home than even five years ago.

 

November 26 2019

Today is the first major snow storm of the season in my town.  I’m enjoying staying at home, listening to the wind howl, and watching the snow fall.  I’m glad I’m not traveling in this mess.  It’s a good night to just stay home and stay bunkered down.

Even though I still spend most of my time at home, I get more visitors.  My neighbors visit usually once a day.  They were over here all afternoon on Sunday.  After a few weeks of having more regular company, I’m less paranoid about people in general.  I still spend most of my time at home, but it’s not as a defense mechanism. I usually stay home because I want to.  And I have plenty of books to read and things to keep me occupied in my apartment.  I am enjoying the longer nights.  I usually go to bed about 9 or 10 pm and wake about 4 am anymore.  I sometimes nap in the afternoons too.

I don’t have much planned for Thanksgiving.  I’m spending it with my neighbors.  My parents are coming to my place a few days later.  I haven’t decided what I’m doing for Christmas. I guess I really don’t want to go anywhere, but I’m up for hosting a few family members.  I just don’t like to travel much anymore.  I imagine much of this is due to the illness.  I am glad I got to travel in my younger years.

My illness has changed over the last few years.  Some things really upset me now that didn’t used to.  I am more prone to want to be left alone.  I am less tolerant of being treated poorly by others.  I have zero patience for gossip and drama.  But I am more likely to seek help before things become crisis.  I’m more honest with myself and others.  I’m more accepting of my quirks and hangups.  And I no longer feel I have to hide my mental illness.  And I feel more hopeful overall.  While I’m not delusional enough to believe I will get cured, I have learned how to adapt to the illness and plan accordingly.  I guess I don’t know how I would adapt to life without a mental illness.

I don’t know what I would do if I ever was cured.  It would probably mean I’d have to get off social security disability and find work again. Because of the illness, my work skills have deteriorated to almost nothing.  Few jobs are available anymore that don’t require college degrees or moving to an urban area.  I don’t want to go into debt to get a degree that will probably be obsolete before I pay it off.  I certainly don’t want to get married at this point.  I’m almost 40 years old.  I don’t want kids at this point.  I didn’t have kids or get married because I feared I would be a lousy father and husband.  I just knew myself too well.  I don’t really care about become rich.  I certainly don’t want to become famous. I’ve seen too many high achievers get built up only to get torn down later.  I always thought that it was stupid how we praise high achievers only to condemn them later for making mistakes and being human.  I don’t want to be famous, at least not in my lifetime.  Right now I’m content to be an independent scholar, write my blogs, write my journals, and have a few close friends and some family.  I really don’t want much more than that.

Sometimes I don’t even really mind living in a large apartment complex, especially as long as I can stay out of sight and out of the way of drama.  I don’t want to hear gossip anymore.  I don’t care about who did or said what to whom anymore.  The easiest way to make me happy is to not harass me and even just leave me alone unless you have good news.  I’m happy to see my neighbors because they are almost always in good moods.  I’m happy to see my cleaning lady every week because she doesn’t mind the conversation while she works.  And I’m usually happy to chat with my friends and family, at least as long as they aren’t knit picking me.

November 12 2019

It’s been another good day.  I spent the afternoon hosting my neighbors as visitors.  They were here for a couple hours.  I forgot how good it was to have visitors that weren’t family.  I had been isolating more or less for months.  I hope this is because of paranoia on my part.  But I just don’t feel safe in public anymore.  Haven’t for a long time.  I guess spending most of my time at home, reading books, writing, and working on computer games has become the new normal for me.  I no longer want to deal with outside drama. Some people can be so mean anymore.

I’m having fewer aches and pains overall.  The worst is when I wake up in the mornings. After a soak in a hot bath, and my morning routines I feel better.  I make it a point to stand up for a couple minutes every hour or so.  Used to be I would sit for hours on end when reading, writing, etc.  I don’t want to do that anymore.  It wasn’t healthy.

Been writing a few emails.  Got a couple responses from an old friend from high school. I find it easier to communicate via email than social media.  Social media is alright to drop in for a couple minutes.  But it simply wasn’t designed for long, drawn out conversations.  Those are the exact conversations I crave.  My best conversations have never been over facebook.  But I and my friends are rediscovering emails.  I now treat them like traditional letters.

Removing Myself From Social Media and Thoughts on Change

I decided I’m giving up social media.  I cancelled my twitter account and have put my facebook on inactive status.  I spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually writing and researching.  I have only a couple close friends and a few cousins I really hear from anymore via facebook.  I would have given it up over a year ago if I wasn’t fearful I’d permanently lose contact with my friends and family.  I tired writing more emails several months ago, but got only one response from the dozen I sent out.  I suppose it feeds into my paranoia that my friends and family really don’t like me that much.  Every time I call my parents, the bulk of the conversation focuses on what I can do to improve myself and how to make my apartment more presentable.  I find this irritating.  I really do.  I can’t even just live anymore.  At this point in my life, I don’t care if I impress people or am popular.  I have never been popular, not even in college or high school.  But I had a good time in college because I got to spend time with people even more eccentric and academically oriented than myself on a daily basis.  I know many people condemn academic knowledge, scholarly pursuits, and intelligence.  I have endured this my entire life.  And I have given up on people ever changing their attitudes towards intelligence and wisdom.  I just want to live and be allowed to pursue my goals, which include learning as much as I possibly can about as many subjects as I can.  I don’t give a damn if I ever make a cent off my pursuits of knowledge and wisdom.  As long as I have enough money to make rent and keep my pantry stocked and myself clothed and my psych medications current, everything else is just add ons.  I don’t need a large house, a prestigious career, a trophy wife, lots of kids, a fancy car, designer clothes, or the respect of people I have nothing in common with.  I never have.  I was, like many ambitious teenagers, brainwashed into thinking I needed such nonsense to have a fulfilled life.  It took a serious mental illness and struggling for most of my twenties to realize that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  And it took a few more years to where I got to the point when I no longer felt shame for not wanting a life I had no say in designing.

I don’t feel shame for not wanting to be rich or famous.  I don’t write blogs every few days with the idea I will get noticed and make a train load of money.  I write for a record of what it like to be a mentally ill man in early 21st century America.  I don’t write just for my current audience.  I write for future generations so there is at least one record as to what mental illness meant in the early stages of the Information Revolution.  And make no mistake, our species and our civilizations are going through a period of transition at very least as profound as the Agricultural Revolution thousands of years ago and the Industrial Revolution hundreds of years ago.  It should be no wonder so many people are afraid and angry.  Afraid of what’s happening and what is going to happen.  Angry that we found that much of what we learned in our youths and what worked well in previous generations is starting to no longer apply.

We are at a point in history when our science and tech is advancing faster than our institutions of government, religion, education, finance, industry, and social norms.  At this point in time (November 2019), the world is far different than the one I went to high school in during the 1990s.  I’ve recently rewatched some of the tv shows that were popular when I was a teenager, and it’s almost quaint looking at some of the tech that was considered cutting edge twenty five years ago.  Even in the Matrix series, there were no smart phones, social media, video sharing platforms, laptop computers, etc.  There were still phone booths in that series and that was made only twenty years ago.  I didn’t notice the subtle changes that were happening over the course of a year or two when things were happening.  But looking at it over the span of twenty years, I am as a 39 year old man living in a world that is foreign to the one I occupied at age 16.  I’m not even sure my niece and nephews have seen a VCR tape anywhere outside of a history show or museum.  I sometimes chuckle when I see older people who don’t research online as much as my cohorts do.  But my teenage nephews would chuckle that I have never run a 3D printer or used a VR headset.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset from money he raised working odd jobs for his parents and neighbors.  He set up a VR flying simulator for my father.  As for me, I’m waiting a couple of years for the prices to drop and the tech to get more user friendly.  As crazy as the changes I have seen in the last twenty years have been, I guarantee the next twenty will be even more so.  At this point I’m just content to buckle up and enjoy the ride from my apartment in small town Nebraska.

My Online Confessions

I’m going off subject for this article.  It has been too long since I wrote a just for fun piece.  For this one, I’m going to disclose some facts about myself.  Some will be funny, some may be unpopular, but all of them are true.  So here goes:

  1. My three favorite hobbies are computer games, writing, and weight lifting.
  2. I love nonfiction science books.
  3. I can’t stand dystopic novels or movies (which, unfortunately, is most of tv in recent years).
  4. My favorite pizza toppings are pepperoni and Italian sausage
  5. I can’t stand most fast food.  I haven’t even had a Big Mac in over two years
  6. I get very irritated when people ask me “when are you getting married?”  Sometimes I want to retort to them, especially if they are older than I am, “when are you going to die?”
  7. I don’t like watching sports as much now as I did when I was in my teens and twenties.  But I do mainly so I can have something to talk about with family and friends.
  8. I can’t stand most cable news channels.  I like some business news channels, namely Bloomberg, because they report on things like science and tech breakthroughs more than politics and disaster.
  9. I don’t tolerate rudeness from others in my online interactions.  And I never give second chances to people I don’t personally know.  No exceptions.
  10. I often go out of my way to defend younger people, especially college age and those just starting out in adulthood.  I remember how bad it hurt being stereotyped as a “damn kid” even when I was in grade school.  When I was a teenager I promised myself I would never put anyone else through what I was forced to endure.  Certainly makes me unpopular with my elders and even people my own age.
  11. I don’t understand why it’s popular to be dumb.  Never have and never will.
  12. I don’t understand why it’s evil to be smart.  Never have and never will.
  13. When I write, I find writing in the first person point of view far easier than third person.  Always have.  My best material has always been with myself serving as the narrator.  Even most of my early poems and novel rough drafts were in the first person.
  14. I once had an outline for a science fiction series of novels.  It was mainly about humanity several thousand years with various human settlements declaring independence from an interstellar empire.  Pretty much think Star Trek, Dune, and a touch of the American Civil War.  Sadly I no longer have those notes.
  15. I once had the goal of becoming a best selling writer where half of all my writing and speaking profits would go to philanthropy, namely mental illness research and to the college I graduated from.
  16. High school was some of the toughest years of my life.
  17. College was one of the few places I felt that I wasn’t a complete outcast.  It was one of the only places I met people more eccentric than I am.  I loved college.  Kind of too bad I can’t live in a communal type setting with other researchers, academics, and eccentrics.
  18. One of the few parts I don’t like about being an adult is how tough it is just to spend time with friends.
  19. One thing I absolutely love about being an adult is that I don’t have to act like I care what other people think about me, at least as long as I’m not breaking the law.
  20. I don’t understand the whole ‘Oh God It’s Monday’ and the ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ nonsense.  I never thought it was funny.  Never will.
  21. I don’t understand why it’s funny to hate your in laws or argue with your spouse.  My two best friends I’ve known both for over twenty years.  I can count the number of major arguments I’ve had with the two combined on less than five fingers.  And it certainly doesn’t make our friendships sterile or lifeless or meaningless.  The only time I argue with my parents is during psychotic breakdowns, usually only a couple times per year.
  22. I absolutely despise the phrase “man up.”  I think it’s possibly the stupidest phrase in the English language.  I have never heard anyone tell a woman to “woman up” or an old grandfather to “young down.”  I don’t even hear adults tell kids to “grow up” very often.
  23. I get irritated when I present facts and statistics in a discussion only to be blown off or told I am a lair.
  24. My favorite ice cream is vanilla, simply because it goes good with most toppings and favorings.  It mixes with almost anything.
  25. I like poetry, particularly poems about war, struggle, and overcoming challenges.
  26. I don’t understand why many people can’t see that mental health problems are real.  I mean, the human brain is the most intricate and complex piece of machinery we know about.  Yet, too many people act like nothing can go wrong with it.  Shows a lack of critical thinking on many people’s part.
  27. I am extremely distressed by most education systems not teaching kids how to critically think or be adaptable.  We have known our schools weren’t adapting to the challenges kids would face as adults as far back as the 1980s (at least).  Yet we still teach our kids in 2019 like it was 1919.  I am convinced that is why so many people are anxious and depressed about their lives as adults, simply because they weren’t taught how to adapt to the current realities.  In short, we train kids and teenagers for a local and stable world only to dump them out in a global and rapidly changing world in their early twenties.  And then we have the gall to wonder why they are anxious and struggling in their lives.  We trained them for a world that no longer exists, often to the tune of many thousands of dollars in student debts that will take most of a career to pay off.  If that isn’t child abuse, then nothing is.
  28. I am sometimes lonely.  But I don’t socialize because I don’t want to hear my family and friends endlessly complain.  About the only people in my life who don’t unload their problems on me are my two best friends and my mother.  And it weighs on me and can cause me to be resentful.
  29. I hate being told I’m lucky.  I hate it almost as much as I do being told to “man up.”
  30. I don’t understand why the only manliness most people respect comes out things like war and violence.  Personally, I think Einstein and Newton were every bit as manly as George Patton and Napoleon.  Why is being a thinker considered a sign of weakness?  Hell, if it weren’t for thinkers, there would be no civilization and humanity would probably be extinct.  Think about that the next time you condemn someone for resorting to their brains before their fists or guns.
  31. I don’t understand zero sum thinking.  The idea that someone has to lose for me to gain a benefit is a load of crap.
  32. Don’t discuss politics with me.  Ever.
  33. I have never thought having lots of sex makes a man manly or a woman immoral.  Some people just like sex more than others.
  34. I have lost more jobs and friendships than I can remember because I never gave up on trying to think for myself.  Found out the hard way the world doesn’t respect original thinkers, at least not before they make major breakthroughs.
  35. I am convinced societies love their living tyrants but condemn their living benefactors only to reverse it once their children become the leaders of society.  So maybe there is a sense of justice, even if it’s only in history books and the minds of future generations.
  36. I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories. But I do believe that just enough of them have just enough truth to them to make the entire subject a dark, addictive, and dangerous one.
  37. I believe we live in one of the coolest times in human history, at least as long as you don’t watch the news channels.  News channels report only negative news precisely because that is what we are hard wired to pay attention to.  Good news sites fail, not because they are “fake news”, but because no one pays attention.
  38. I believe we as a human society can solve our problems (or at least adapt so to minimize the impact) and have a really cool future that we, even in 2019, will be jealous of.