October 20, 2017

Had some workers do some roofing work at my apartment complex today.  So I didn’t get to sleep as much during the day as I normally do.  But it was a beautiful day for that kind of work.  I’m glad it was done before first snow.  Maybe today will help break me of sleeping in the day and being awake at night.

Still staying awake much of the night.  This has to be effecting me more than I realize.  I still get sleep, it’s just when I get it that’s different from everyone else.  I hope this is a phase that will pass before long.  Mentally I’m still stable.  I don’t have many bad days or flare ups.  I still don’t like venturing out on the streets and driving much.  It’s kind of tough just wanting to stay home all the time.  I didn’t use to be this way.  I was always going somewhere as a kid.  I preferred going to friends’ houses instead of having them come to mine.  Now I have to force myself to leave my apartment every day.  Don’t want to get too house bound.

I’m so glad I’m not having bad hallucinations with this current trend of fearing leaving my apartment.  I sometimes hear footsteps that aren’t there in addition to the phone ringing when it’s not.  At this point it’s more annoying then frightening.  I’m glad I’m not dealing with all my past problems in addition to my new ones.

About the only real positive coming out of me staying home more is that I eat less fast food now.  So I am eating healthier and cheaper too.  I am glad I was taught how to cook when I was growing up.  I guess I can find some positives in my current situation.

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Improvements

Been feeling better physically the last few days.  I’m getting out of the apartment several times a day, I spend a little time outside everyday, I’m walking more again, and I’m eating less junk food too.  As a result I’m feeling fewer aches and pains and sleeping better.  I still sleep in my recliner as my back still acts up if I sleep in a bed more than a few hours at a time.  I’ll probably spend the rest of the summer in my recliner and just let my back heal.

I’ve been feeling well mentally all summer.  That’s a welcome relief as summers have traditionally been a rough time of year for me.  My best times tend to be springs and winters.  I do feel better in autumn than summer usually but I have had problems in autumn in the past.  So far this summer has gone along rather uneventful.  It has been quite hot this month so I usually won’t go outside in the middle of the day.  I do my shopping usually in the evenings or early mornings.  I don’t go out in the overnight like I used to but I am still an incurable night person.

Haven’t had any problems with depression for weeks.  Haven’t had issues with anxiety or delusions either.  The only real hallucinations I have experienced this summer are occasionally hearing footsteps in the hallway when no one is there and I’ll still have unexplainable itching on my arms like ants walking but nothing is there.  Overall I’m doing alright.  I think I have even managed to lose a few pounds in the last couple weeks.

Don’t really have much to report.  Mentally I’ve been feeling stable.  Physically I’m feeling better with each passing day and getting more and more active all the time.  Sometimes no news is good news.

Keeping My Mind Occupied

It’s been a few days since I wrote so an update is in order.  I haven’t left my apartment much the last few days.  We’re in the middle of a heat wave and it’s really too hot to be out if you don’t need to be.  I still have some groceries from when I went shopping a week ago, so there’s no need to go out yet.

Even though I’m stuck at home, I have been keeping occupied.  I found a free gaming site online that carries many of the old Apple games I grew up with in the late 80s and early 90s.  So I have spent quite a bit of time there the last few days.  I’m still working on some old computer games as well as having bought a couple cheap games a few days ago.  I’m still calling my family and friends at least once a day.  So I have intelligent and fulfilling conversations even without leaving my couch.  Been playing enough computer games lately that it’s keeping me occupied.  I usually play games while listening to audio books or science lectures on youtube.  Plowed through a few audiobooks already this month.  I got through the first book of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  It’s a good read.  If you are into any kind of science fiction, I highly recommend it.

I’m also watching old Star Trek reruns on Netflix.  So I’m keeping occupied, entertained, and getting my science fiction fix at the same time.  It’s a shame I didn’t discover my love for good science fiction until I was in my thirties.  I think I would have enjoyed those kinds of things as a teenager.

I haven’t had any bouts of depression or anxiety for weeks.  I’m also no longer hallucinating.  Most of my hallucinations were auditory ones that were doing commentary on everything I was doing, kind of like play by play of a ball game on the radio.  I sometimes felt things on my skin, feeling like bugs crawling on my skin.  When I’d go to look, there would be nothing there.  Other hallucinations I’d have involved hearing foot steps outside my door, hearing my phone vibrate when no one was calling me, and sometimes I’d even hear knocking at my door that was so soft that I could barely hear it.  About the only hallucination set I still have is the feeling of bugs crawling on my skin.  I still get that a couple times a day.

Overall I really don’t have a lot to report.  Been mentally stable for weeks and I really haven’t gone anywhere besides to the convenience store to buy soda pops a few times a week.  I’m now sleeping only eight hours a night.  I’ll usually sleep five hours in the middle of the night, wake up at sunrise, stay up a couple hours, then sleep another two to four hours until late morning.  So  far it’s working out to be a good summer routine.  Fortunately have been able to avoid stressful situations and aggravating people.  Hope I can keep this up for the rest of the summer.

Socializing and Decreased Hallucinations

Now that I have my medication situation under control I’ve been easing back into more of a normal type of life.  At least it’s as normal as a life of mental illness is going to get.  One of the aspects of my life that is starting to resemble normal is my social life.  Just last week I spent two hours outdoors chatting with two of my neighbors. Three days ago I chatted with a third neighbor for over an hour. Today I chatted one on one with another neighbor for almost two hours.  Those are the three longest conversations I’ve had with someone who wasn’t family in months.  I still make a point of calling my parents at least twice a week.  It’s not just Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day I talk to my parents.  I still go to counseling twice a month with the same counselor I’ve had for the last year and a half.  We have a pretty good thing going.  I also have a good deal going with my psych doctor.  I do kind of worry because both of these men are getting close to retirement age.  So I’ll be in the market for new therapists and doctors within a few years.  I’m so glad the subject of DNA testing came up with my psych doctor.  The medication I changed to was one my DNA tests said would work really well for me.  So the DNA testing has already paid off.  We might make another change within a few weeks.  But things seem to be working well enough now we might not even need to make a second change.

I’m also noticing I can now go entire days without feeling irritable.  I don’t even really get irritable while driving.  Since I usually drive a little slower than speed limit, especially in town, I usually get passed and sometimes cut off.  But neither really bothers me that much anymore.  And I’m beginning to drive more again.  For several months I drove only when I had to run errands or to visit my family.  I rarely made spontaneous trips.  And being in an auto accident several months ago didn’t help any.  Even though I wasn’t at fault in that accident I lost some confidence in my driving ability.  It’s now coming back.  I haven’t set out on a long road trip yet but I probably will this summer.  I try to take at least one several hour road trip every summer.

I’m also having fewer auditory hallucinations.  For me, my hallucinations were almost always voices. Occasionally I hear foot steps and doors closing that no one else does, which can be quite creepy. Voices and foot steps are the two biggest hallucinations I have.  If one were to watch me closely when I’m alone, you could see my lips move and I would be speaking under my breath. That’s how the hallucinations make themselves manifest. It no doubt looks very odd but hopefully it’s not as painfully obvious as some schizophrenic hallucinations.  I can have entire conversations with the voices and not even speak loud enough to be heard.  But since most of the voices are quite nasty and critical it’s not like the conversations are enriching or enjoyable.  But I’m getting to where I now have much more conversation with real flesh and blood people than just isolating and arguing with my hallucinations.

Schizophrenic Hallucinations

As I am now well into the process of changing medications, I’m noticing changes in my behavior and habits.  Most of these are good problems to have but they do take adapting to none the less.  I have noticed I now feel lonely more often.  On my old medications I could gladly go days on end without interacting with anyone in a meaningful way.  I used to avoid contact with other people as much as possible.  In my paranoid and delusional states I used to think that most people were stupid, malicious, and not worth spending time with.  And the hallucinations, when my mind would talk to me without my permission (that’s what my auditory hallucinations are), would just go over all the times when I was let down by other people’s thoughtlessness and slights.  It was massive doses of confirmation bias by means of my schizophrenic mind.

When the hallucinations (or my mind working without my permission) gets into working like that, it takes a lot of work to break out of that.  Sometimes it will just burn itself out. Other times it can lead to completely unrelated trains of thought that have no connection in reality but are interconnected and related in my schizophrenic mind.  This can lead to extremely bizarre thought patterns and behaviors on my part.  When I was in college I used to believe that people were going through my trash or watching me at all times. Once I did see another student going through the dumpster, so that was all the confirmation I needed for a real long time. This lead me to throwing my trash in the Wal Mart dumpsters on the other side of town and doing all of my shopping in the overnight hours. The thought that it was a coincidence was never entertained by the hallucinations.

Confirmation bias can be really nasty for someone with schizophrenia, especially for those with unhealthy and crippling levels of paranoia.  I shopped in the overnight hours for years to avoid being watched.  I always listened to my music with headphones so no one could listen in my music.  I still really don’t feel comfortable talking about my tastes in music for fear people will be excessively critical of my tastes.

 

Schizophrenia and What it Means

In previous posts I have written about my life experiences as a mentally ill individual.  In this post I’m attempting to describe the symptoms of my particular illness, rather than just the results of the symptoms.  I have done this in a poetic form.  So here goes.

 

Schizophrenia and What it Means

 

Schizophrenia means a broken mind,

A mind broke off from the real world.

Unable to separate the delusional

from the factual truth.

It also means crippling depression,

Constant sadness,

And mourning for dead potential;

The loss of a life that never was.

Schizophrenia shattered mind unable to process

most kinds of stress or anxiety

without ghostly hallucinations chanting their condemnations,

Causing wave upon wave of unrelenting anxiety

to slam upon an already tormented, battle weary soul.

How do I explain to old friends,

family, and strangers I meet

I am not well, have trouble holding a job,

When on the surface I look normal and well?

Lurking in the depths of my mind

The monster schizophrenia causes havoc,

launching an all out assault on my mental senses.

My abilities to socialize, to handle stress, to live normal,

are crippled.

I’m not lazy, I’m not a freeloader.

I’d do anything to be rid of this silent monster.