I find myself wanting to avoid in person contact most of the time. Yet I still have a strong desire to socialize. I don’t socialize in person much partly because I know only two people in my entire apartment complex who share any of my interests. Sure my neighbor is cool and we help each other out a good deal, but we don’t have much in common interests. It is lonely not having anyone nearby to talk about things like history, philosophy, psychology, literature, tech, science, economics, etc. Social media used to be good for that before it became a toxic cesspool. Social media was fun until about ten years ago. It got real ugly in 2015 and 2016, a time when I was already having lots of personal problems. From October 2014 to October 2015, my three best friends in this complex died, my grandmother died, I had my car accident, and had falling outs with several friends and family members. In short I got tired of hearing negative crap about politics all the time. And I even agreed with some of these people, but they were still toxic about their beliefs. I confronted a few about their toxic behavior. Every one of them told me I could go away if I didn’t like it. I did go away. I have stayed away. I won’t even go to family functions and class reunions anymore. One of my college friends I haven’t talked to in almost seven years. It’s so sad and frustrating I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s sad that many people care more about politics than family, work, religion, and even life itself. I want no part of that.
Still going quite stable overall. I still have minor flare ups a few times a week, usually they are triggered by stress or moments of excessive irritability. Fortunately they don’t usually last more than a few minutes. Most times I can burn them out through a few minutes of ranting to my self. Sometimes I’ll verbalize my rants but keep my voice quiet enough so I can barely hear myself. I don’t want to scare my neighbors and cause trouble. So far it has worked. I did have a real bad flare up in late August, which I regret. The older I get, the more regretful I am of my taking my problems out on others.
While I am grateful that my friends and family don’t make issues out of my problems (at least not to me), I feel bad anyway. I feel like I’m abusing my position as a friend and family member. I think it would probably be easier for them to deal with if I just broke down and cried during my real bad flare ups rather than lash out at family and friends. But most times, even when I feel really sad, I can’t bring myself to break down and sob. I sometimes do tear up, especially when listening to really emotional instrumental music pieces (such as theme songs to some of my favorite war movies like Braveheart, the Civil War documentary series, and We Were Soldiers). But I haven’t just broke down and sobbed since I was in college. Sure I was sad at my grandparents’ funerals, but I wasn’t distraught. Instead I had a stronger sense of being happy that such honorable people lived and had a sense of duty that it was on us who were going on into the future to continue the work of generosity, fairness, decency, and honor. I just hope I can be an honorable and decent person to those I come into contact with on a daily basis, whether in person or online.
My mental health has been quite stable for several months. I’ve probably come to a point that after 15 years with a diagnosis I know my triggers and problem areas well enough I can avoid these without even thinking about it. I’ve put in enough practice now I have carved out enough of a niche that I don’t really miss things I would have missed five to ten years ago. I have now come to accept that I don’t have to be defined by a career or lack of in my case. In my case a career never really launched but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. In my twenties I had read about those who had schizophrenia, bi-polar, autism spectrum, etc. that went on to have great careers and families. I thought ‘if they can do it, why not me?’ So I tried various job fields but never could overcome the anxieties and panic attacks I often had with working and socializing. I’ve come to the level of acceptance that a traditional career, family, and American Dream type of life isn’t going to happen, but I’m alright with that. I don’t have a problem with not achieving this even if others I know do. These others do not live my life for me.
Psychiatrists often talk about levels of grief when something bad happens, like a death of a loved one or the loss of a career. I think they go something like Shock, Disbelief, Anger, Bargaining or Denial, and Acceptance. I went through all of these, slipped back between stages at times, and only within the last couple years have I come to accept that I won’t have the great career, great family, picket fence neighborhood type of life I spent my younger years working so hard in school to get. Yes, it would have been cool and I know I would have done well in that type of environment without a mental illness. But, mental illness is one of those wild cards that no one can foresee or even plan for. Back up plans for getting mental illness do not exist. When things do happen, it will take time to come to a level of acceptance where it’s like ‘Yeah this happened and it sucks. I didn’t do anything to bring this on. It can’t be changed but I’m alright with it.’ It takes a lot of time and a great deal of hardship, but acceptance of life with mental illness can be possible. But it’s a very tough road to travel to come to that level of acceptance.