Getting Back On Track

Been changing up my routines now the weather is staying warm.  Went outside a few times today.  First time was something as simple as taking my trash out and then spending an extra ten minutes outdoors.  Then this late afternoon I spent almost an hour outdoors.  When I do spend time outside lately, it’s usually for about a half hour at a time in the middle of the afternoon.  I have been doing that for the last week or so.

I also decided to get serious about my diet again.  Today was the first day of tracking what I eat.  By that I mean I wrote down everything I ate today.  Ate only two meals today just because I got tired of writing everything down.  I know now that the only surefire way to lose weight in my case is to write down everything I eat.  I lost seventy pounds in less than a year doing that a few years ago.  I quit tracking after my car accident, got depressed, and started eating a lot.  Gained back the weight I lost. I want to lose weight because there are still things I’d love to do in my life.  I already have a strong mind, I just as well get the body to go with it. I imagine with my build being what it is, I will never be able to run marathons.  I’m naturally barrel chested and stocky with short limbs.  But I could easily walk four to five miles a day when I was in college.  I want to lose weight largely because I think that is the only way my back is ever going to completely heal.  I’m tired of dealing with back pain.  I’ve lost weight before.  It’s a matter of doing it again.

I also hired a house cleaning service.  They are currently scheduled to come to my apartment every two weeks.  They’ll be here tomorrow afternoon.  My place is looking better than it was even a few weeks ago.  One of the things that caused me such depression, I think, was living in a cluttered house.  I was depressed because the house was cluttered and the house stayed cluttered because I was too depressed to do anything about it.  Mental illness can be such a vicious cycle that it tough to pull out of.  But I think I am pulling out of my winter depression and anxiousness.  I am so glad I haven’t had the anger and anxiety that I’ve had in years past.

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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.

Start of Spring and Changing Routines

As quickly as the weather turned decent, it turned back to cold, dreary, and rainy.  But I actually like rainy weather.  Living on the plains of Nebraska, we need good spring and summer rains for the corn crops.  But now that I’m up more in the days I can spend my daylight hours drinking hot coffee, listening to jazz music on YouTube, playing computer games, and just enjoying the sights and sounds of early spring.  I still force myself out of my apartment at least once a day just on principle.  I didn’t used to isolate so much.  In fact, I used to be rather social to people in my complex until a few years ago.  I think that losing three close friends in less than six months like I did in 2014 really took more of a toll on me than I initially thought.  I became rather jaded and cynical for a couple of years.  But then again, many people I knew became this way right about that time.  So I stopped socializing as much.  I stopped going to the park several times a week.  I preferred to stay home, sleep, and socialize online rather than in person.

I think I’m starting to pull out of that just wanting to be left alone all the time.  I try to socialize some every day, even if it is just with the delivery lady or mail man or cashier at the store.  But I really haven’t talked to my neighbors much this winter.  I’m trying to break out of that.  I see that my complex has had several new people move in during the last few months.  I need to get out more and see who they are.  I’ve been in this complex now for almost twelve years.  In some ways I’m becoming one of the more tenured residents even though I’m only in my late thirties.  Originally this complex was designed for senior citizens and low income disability people.  I was one of the first low income disability young people to move in years ago, at least from what I understand.  For most of those first several years I worked part time jobs.  It was in 2012 that I became tired of office place politics and decided to devout my energies to seeing if I get blogging up and going.  I had been writing poetry, mental illness essays, and a couple novels before then.  It was in 2012 I came to the conclusion I would have a better audience eventually if I set up an online blog.  After a few years of this I have been proven right.  I have had a bigger audience than I could have imagined just six years ago.  It has gotten to where I almost never have days when I don’t have any traffic anymore.  And I almost always have as much outside the USA traffic as I do inside the USA.  It makes sense once I looked up the numbers and found that almost 95 percent of the world’s population isn’t from the USA.  Being in a more isolated area of my country I have to remind myself of that occasionally.

 

Rebirth of Spring and Readjusting Accordingly

Now that spring has started and the days are longer than the nights, I’m going to attempt to readjust my sleep schedule.  I’m in the second day of this so I think it will be kind of a bumpy ride for the next few days.  I just woke up and got out of the bath tub and it’s right at 3 am as I write this.  I went to bed around 12 am but decided to get up once I could no longer sleep.  Usually taking my medications earlier in the night helps me to fall asleep sooner.  I did fall asleep at midnight instead of the usual 6 am.  But of course I didn’t sleep the night through.  But I have always had problems sleeping an entire night even as a child.  So my mom gave me a reading light so I could read and stay quiet while everyone else in the house slept.  By the time I got to high school I didn’t have a traditional bed time, I just had to be up by 7 am every morning so I didn’t miss school.  But I am starting to adjust to sleeping at night rather than in the day.

Yesterday I spent much of the day with unexplainable aches and pains, namely in my back.  First time in weeks I had such problems.  But after a couple hot baths and a few advil pills I was back to normal.  I have also noticed I feel fewer aches and pains on days when I don’t eat sugar or lots of processed foods.  Usually if I stick to water, vegetables, and fresh cooked meat I can do quite alright.

I am so looking forward to the warm weather and long days of spring.  Baseball starts in a week so I’ll have games on in the background when I’m doing my evening activities.  My Rockies had a decent season last year and bigger things are expected this year.  I hope they don’t disappoint.

Now the weather is getting better, I usually keep my windows open during daylight hours.  Since I’m awake in the day light hours more than I was this winter, I had forgotten how much I enjoy the smell of fresh air and the feel of a light breeze.  There are a lot of trees on my property and in my hometown and they are starting to bud again.  I’m sure we will have at least one quick hitting April blizzard like we usually do.  But I am glad winter has passed.  It was a tough winter for me, at least in terms of socializing and moving around.  It was tough that I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Hopefully that nonsense is over.  I’m ready for warmer weather, flowers in the park, and the occasional sun burn.  No season is perfect but at least I won’t be seeing nothing but ice, snow, and gray sky for weeks on end anymore.

Changing Over To Spring

Spending a quiet, calm, and uneventful weekend at my apartment.  Haven’t talked to anyone this weekend.  After several days of forcing myself out of my comfort zones trying to be more social and out going, I am needing a quiet weekend to recharge and regroup.  Deciding that I’m spending the weekend binging on computer games and youtube music videos.  Been listening to some of the music I listened to in high school and college the last few days.  I refuse to go as far as to say music was better twenty years ago because anyone will be nostalgic for what they grew up listening to in the formative years of their teens and early twenties.  I imagine in early 1800s Germany there were people complaining about Beethoven.  And I’m sure when the 2030s roll around my nephews’ generation will complain about what their kids listen to, watch and read.

As it is, it’s been a calming and relaxing weekend.  It was overcast, kind of chilly, and raining on and off all day yesterday.  We get those days quite a bit in early spring.  I enjoy those type of days.  Boil some coffee, find a good book, and just enjoy the day.  I also do some of my better writing on days like that.  Days like that are one of the reasons spring is my favorite time of year.

Looks like I made it through another winter without having any major setbacks.  I did have to readjust my life some as I got to where I didn’t like being around people and preferred to sleep as much as possible.  Maybe one of the reasons I stayed stable was I avoided people as much as possible.  But with winter ending I suppose I no longer have the excuse of it being too cold or too much snow to leave my complex.  I have to renew my lease in a few weeks.  So I have to get my paper work together for that.  Too bad I couldn’t do this online and submitting e-files.  My rent is literally the only thing I even write checks for anymore.  I imagine this dream of mine is still a few years away.

Seasonal Aspects to Mental Illness

Spring is pretty much here in my part of the country.  The days are getting longer and warmer.  Been spending more time outside, mainly at night as I’m still a little paranoid around large groups of people.  Still staying up late but I don’t sleep most of the day like I had been for the previous couple weeks.  Most days I’m awake at noon after going to bed around 4 or 5 am.  I just prefer the quiet solitude of the overnight hours anymore.  Hopefully this will change as the weather warms and spring advances.  Spring has always been one of my happiest times of year.  April, May, and June are usually my most stable months.  I’ve often had my biggest problems in August and September.  There is a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia.  I don’t know how many others with this  diagnosis have similar problems.  I’m also usually stable in the winter months.  Winter and Spring seem to be my best times of year.  From what I’ve heard, usually winters are toughest for those with seasonal aspects of mental illness.  But for me it’s always been the opposite times of year that were the most stressful.  Never could figure out why.  But like many people I do have better times of year than others.

Mid Winter Recharge and Reset

I’m currently at my parents’ house.  Been here for a few days.  I’m using this time away from city and apartment life to reset and recharge.  I haven’t been anywhere outside of my current home city since Thanksgiving.  I had gotten stale and stuck in my routines.  I imagine this happens to a lot of people in their mid thirties with careers and families where it sometimes becomes month after month of nothing but job and family responsibility.  It happened to me and I don’t even have a family or a traditional job.  I spent so long doing the responsible adult routines that I forgot why I was doing them or what I was living for.  I have found that it sneaks up on all too easily.  I haven’t even been fishing for over two years and I used to go fishing almost every weekend during the summers as far back as high school.  I want to do more of that once the weather warms again.

While I haven’t been subject to nasty psych breakdowns for months, I have been having problems with anxiety, paranoia, and depression.  Because of these issues, I had been not leaving my apartment except when absolutely necessary for several weeks.  I finally had enough of this and came to the conclusion that changes were needed.  To help this change along, I left my apartment and came to my parents’ house in the small village I grew up in.  In my younger years, I used to travel some at least once a week.  Sometimes I would come to my parents’ place for a day or two or I would just go places with friends.  Once I got serious about the blog and started having issues with chronic pain, those travels became almost nonexistent.  I haven’t seriously road tripped since before my car accident in October 2015.  I think as a result of not seeing anything different and just seeing the same neighbors day after day made me stale and more closed minded than I would have liked.  I even ran into the rut of only eating in the same three or four restaurants when I did dine out, did that for two years.  Routine can be settling for mentally ill people, yet too much for too long can be mentally and physically unhealthy.  It was even starting to make me a jaded and bitter old man far before my time.  So glad I was able to break out and see something different for a few days, even if it is just my childhood home.

I Want To Shake Things Up and Get More Active Again

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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.

Pessimism and Optimism

Haven’t been outside of my neighborhood for almost two weeks now, mainly because of the bitter cold, snow, and ice.  I haven’t even gone outside this week because it’s been so cold.  Hopefully it doesn’t stay this bad all winter because I’m beginning to get kind of tired of being housebound all the time.  And I don’t think I’m the only one.  Seems to me that even my family are starting to get short tempered and irritable over the cold weather.  My neighbors are getting short tempered too.  And of course the people on social media have been short tempered and joyless ever since social media was opened to the public at large.  At this point I’m not sure I want to stay in touch with anyone besides family and a few close friends.  It just seems that humans get some kind of sadistic joy out of being angry all the time.  Personally I’m burned out on all the anger and pessimism.  Have been for a long time.

I almost never heard anything good about my fellow man or the world in general from my teachers and elders while in school or even in college.  I had one teacher in junior high who seemed to get joy out of ranting about how the “cold cruel world” was going to kick our thirteen year old butts.  And of course I rarely heard anything good about people in general from the news stations or even church service.  After observing these happenings until I was in my mid twenties, I started taking notice of what was actually happening compared to what I was being told by my elders and bosses.  After the economic crisis of 2008 and hearing that civilization was fixing to collapse any day, I payed attention and took notes.  Of course it didn’t happen and the people who stayed in the stock market and didn’t panic are now making major money.  That is when I came to the conclusion that the crowd is usually wrong. The whole ‘wisdom of crowds’ usually comes to nothing or mob mentality.  The world didn’t end with Y2K, or 9/11, or the housing bust of 2008, or the Mayan calendar of 2012, or when the conservatives were in power, or when the liberals were in power, or when social media became a festering cesspool for people to gladly wallow in negativity and pessimism.  After years of hearing that the world was going to end any day now and that younger people (or older people depending on who you ask) would be the death of us all, that’s when I had enough.  Enough is enough.  I have had it with fear mongering and pessimism about things that never come to pass or turn out to me more manageable than we previously thought.

Many worries are much to do about nothing and come to nothing.  And everything else seems to be more manageable than previously thought.  If our species can survive world wars, crippling famines, plagues that kill off millions of people, ice ages, tyrants, incompetent leaders, and even science used for evil purposes, some people can survive just about anything barring a comet hitting our planet or the sun going out.  I probably wouldn’t survive most major events, primarily because of my mental illness and declining physical health as I age.  But it’s okay as far as I’m concerned.

I can say that I have lived a pretty good life considering the circumstances of having a mental illness my entire adulthood.  I have a good relationship with all my family members, I got to know my nephews and niece, I got to know quite a bit of my family history, and preserve it, before my grandparents died, I have cool friends who are willing to at least put up with my eccentric behavior and mental breakdowns, I haven’t been to jail or homeless, the longest I spent in a mental hospital was one week (and I have been working with a mental illness since age seventeen), and until recently was in good physical health in spite of fighting weight problems.  When I was a teenager I was able to go scuba diving and climb an Aztec pyramid when I visited Mexico.  In my early thirties I could walk five miles a day easily in spite weighing over 300 pounds.  I got to hike and camp in the mountains of Colorado.  I got to see B.B. King preform live a couple years before he died.  I got to see country music acts like Brad Paisley, Reba Macintyre, Sarah Evans, etc. preform live before they became big stars.  I have been able to live on my own with a mental illness for almost fifteen years.  And I got to learn about some of the cool things that science and tech are doing that will be coming to fruition within the next ten to twenty years.  My only true regret is that I might not live long enough to see some of the really cool things coming, like colonies on the moon or the first people on Mars or life extension tech or nuclear fusion plants.  But I am convinced that such things are coming in most people’s lifetimes.  And I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to force myself to become this way until eventually it became second nature.

Optimism for The Future in the Face of Constant Pessimism

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I haven’t posted regularly on my facebook or twitter accounts since September.  I just got tired of all the fighting and negativity.  But the thing that bothers me the most about social media is how much of what I try to communicate gets lost in just text.  Most times I don’t wish to come across as snarky or combative, but that’s how so many people interpret what I write.  Maybe facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. wouldn’t be so negative if people had to post video and audio rather than just text.  Put a voice and face to the comments and let the world know they aren’t talking to a machine or subhuman entity.

I gave up on using social media for anything than shamelessly promoting my blog three months ago when I came to the painful conclusion that most people were never going to share my optimism or joyful outlook.  And the weird thing is I am more optimistic than ever even though I almost never convince anyone of reasons to be optimistic.  I am definitely not an optimist by nature or upbringing.  I almost never heard anything positive about the world or the future from my parents, teachers, bosses, or elders while growing up in the 1980s and 1990s.  For quite sometime I was wondering why if most people were so pessimist about the future, then why were they having kids.  I could never figure those kinds of contradictions out.  I know very few people even in December 2017 who don’t have kids because they are worried about the kind of future these kids would have.  Most people that don’t have kids that I know can’t biologically have kids.

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Like I said, I am not an optimist by nature.  I had to make myself into one.  And I did it with little help from mass media, popular culture, or my elders.  Most of what I learned about what was going right in modern civilization I had to actively seek out through secondary sources and rigorous research.  I learned more science, technology, psychology, history, philosophy, literature, and economics on my own with an internet connection and five years of daily youtube viewing than I ever thought possible after spending eighteen years in traditional education.  Then again, it should be noted that is simply impossible for any kind of formal education system to teach everything a person needs to know for living just within the system itself.  With life expectancies going into the eighties in some countries (and even the sixties in some of the poorer developing nations), it is simply impossible to be able to say “You know what you need to know for the next fifty to sixty years once you’re turned out into the world at age eighteen.”  No, the best thing an education system can do in this day and age of long life span and ever changing tech and social norms is to foster the never stop learning attitudes and mentalities.

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In the mid to late 2000s when I was struggling to adapt to my mental illness and working low wage remedial jobs I could have done as a high school dropout, I was quite angry about my time in formal education.  For several years I was convinced that doing well in high school and college was wasted effort if all I was going to do with my life was push a mop in a courthouse or sell carpet for a billion dollar company.  After a few more years of maturity and seasoning, I found out to my pleasant surprise that my years of working hard in school and loving learning weren’t misspent.  The biggest thing my years in formal education did was awaken in me a love for learning and a desire to continue doing so.

Sadly, many people don’t have a love for learning.  Tragically most of those people are going to get left behind in the waves of science, technology, geopolitical, and social changes that have only recently begun to gain momentum.  The old ideas of graduating high school at age eighteen, getting a union membership, getting a job in a factory, getting married at age twenty two to someone from your hometown or college, etc. aren’t feasible anymore.  And sadly, many people can’t or won’t adapt.  But we’ve had changes in the past eras.  I imagine many people didn’t adapt during the Renaissance or Industrial revolutions and got painfully displaced.  Same things are happening now as we move to a more connected, digitalized, fast paced, and informed world.  National borders don’t mean as much now as they did even when I was a child back in the 1980s.

Sure it’s a chaotic time for many people, especially for people and institutions that aren’t adapting to the new realities.  Politicians in my home nation are talking about building walls to keep out illegal immigrants and refugees and bringing back traditional manufacturing jobs to this country.  To which I reply “planes can fly over walls” and “3D printing”.  Sadly, many people want to deny such changes are already here and will resist to the point of being left so far behind they’ll never catch up.  I see it every day just in my own community and circles of friends and family.  I decided that I was going to adapt and welcome the changes regardless of what my friends, family, and neighbors were going to do.  Some cool things are happening and I don’t want to get left behind or wallow in fear and anxiety for the rest of my life.  I deal with fear and anxiety enough in my own mental illness.  I won’t allow external forces to add to these.

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