December Routines and Socializing While Mentally Ill

Been staying close to home the last several days.  Did get outside for a couple hours today just to replenish on sunshine even though it was barely above freezing.  I am staying occupied even if I don’t leave my house much.  Cleaned some in my apartment this weekend.  I also cut my hair.  I bought myself a hair trimmer for Christmas and wacked off my hair.  I had let it grow shoulder length.  With that length of hair and my full beard I was looking like an extra from Game of Thrones.  Now I look like a military recruit at the start of Basic Training.

Been exercising at home lately.  I got a stationary exercise bike from my dad before he moved out of state.  I use that several times a week.  My stamina is slowly coming back.  And, unlike walking, it doesn’t really bother my lower back.  My sleep patterns have changed too.  Anymore I usually go to bed around 9 or 10pm usually to wake up at 5 or 6 am.  Most of my awake time is spent in daylight hours now even though it is late autumn.

I still don’t know what I’m doing for Christmas.  It depends largely on the weather.  I would love to go see my parents’ new house and my brother’s family.  I saw his kids over the summer but I haven’t seen him or my sister in law since Thanksgiving 2017.  I guess if I can’t go see them in person I’ll have to dust off my Skype and talk to them that way.  I am looking forward to the college football holiday bowl season.  That has always been one of my favorite sports events over the years.  I enjoy watching football and it gives me a chance to see teams I don’t see very often.

Been chatting with old friends more often lately.  I guess now that the end of the year holidays are here, people are taking more time to reconnect to family and friends.  Even though I don’t usually talk to many people in person, it’s not because I hate people.  I usually don’t talk to people in person as much if I don’t have common interests.  I have always thought it would be cool if there were entire communities of people with similar interests and passions living together, much like college dormitories or artists’ communes.  But I guess good luck getting such set ups for science and history enthusiasts together without the considerations of money or jobs.  Maybe in future centuries there will be such places.  For now, I guess hobbies and interests groups on social media are the next best thing.

I have spent much of my life alone because I have rarely known people with my kind of interests and passions.  College was fun in that I did meet many people with my interests.  It was also a place where being eccentric and quirky wasn’t condemned but generally tolerated.  I miss that about living in the adult world, not many people with my interests and generally little tolerance for being different than the norm, especially in work places and social settings.

I was never a conformist as a kid and I certainly refuse to be one now.  Sure it has made me lonely over the years and on the receiving end of much harassment and abuse, especially in the work place.  But I can’t stand the thought of being just another soulless empty suit in an office or another cog in an industrial wheel.  Maybe disability was the best thing that could have happened to me in this regard.  As much as I didn’t fit in during my teenage years, I fit in even worse in the workplace and adult dating scene.  But I no longer regret either one.  In fact, I am thankful for this.

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Voting, Family Time, and Possibly Moving

Got out and voted Tuesday after dinner.  Since I went later in the day, I missed the crowds.  I was able to get in and get out pretty quick.  As I’ve been having lower back problems recently, I was able to get a chair to sit in while I worked the ballot.  All I had to do was ask.  Sometimes I think people in general don’t get the assistance that could make things easier just because they don’t ask for help.  For years I had problems asking for help as I instead preferred to give help instead.  Only within the last year or so have I gotten comfortable asking for help whenever I have a problem I can’t easily solve on my own.  I guess that I, like many men, am a problem solver.  And sometimes it was tough for me to admit I could use an extra set of hands or extra mind working on a problem.

In other news, my parents are in the process of moving out of state.  They bought a small house in the same town my brother and his family live in.  As all their grandkids are in school now they want to see them grow up and participate in activities and school functions.  I think that once they get settled in permanently in their new house, I’ll look to relocate nearby.  As where they are moving to is in a suburb of a metroplex, I imagine I’ll need to be careful about what kind of low income housing I move to.  My brother has already told me a few neighborhoods that are rougher than others that I should avoid.  As they hope to be relocated by the end of November, I will be hosting them for a Thanksgiving dinner this weekend.  I’ve been spending much of my day after the midterm elections straightening and decluttering my home.  I had been kind of lazy about clutter for the last few weeks.  But I want the place to be presentable as it will probably be our family’s last gathering in Nebraska.

I guess I have mixed emotions about leaving the small farm towns I have known as home my entire life.  I am excited about the possibility of moving to a larger area where I could meet more writers and people with my interests in person.  I am excited about going somewhere that is growing and not so out of the way.  But I am concerned about starting over in my late 30s, especially with mental illness issues.  I am also concerned about fitting in at a different social environment.  I’ve had problems fitting in even among people I grew up with my entire life.  So I am kind of scared of the social aspects as I have problems socializing even in my hometown.

Other than getting to see my nephews and niece more often, I hope my life doesn’t really alter that much.  I do hope I can have a closer friendship with my brother and his wife.  My brother and I weren’t close growing up.  Part of that was traditional sibling rivalries, and another part was that we were such opposites personality and interests wise.  I don’t have any animosity toward him, I just don’t have common interests.  I consider not having a close relationship with my only sibling one of the few regrets I have about my life up to this point.  Sure I regret becoming mentally ill but there isn’t anything I could have personally done to prevent it.  As it is, I have worked around it for twenty years.  I’ve been hospitalized only twice and have avoided trouble with the law.  So I’m doing something alright.

Overall, the last several months of quiet monotony have come to an end.  My parents are relocating and I probably will be too within the next several months.  I am both excited and apprehensive at the same time.  The only true constant if life is change.  But with change comes the possibility of new opportunity.

Day After Christmas

Another Christmas has come and gone.  I hosted Christmas at my apartment again this year and I got to celebrate with my parents.  We had a big dinner and exchanged a few gifts.  I got some clothes.  As a child I wouldn’t have been excited about getting clothes, but clothes were what I was needing this year.  Now the gathering of family and friends means more to me than getting and giving gifts.  I guess since I live alone, if I need something I’ll usually buy it myself.  And since I am a minimalist by nature and necessity, I usually don’t need very much most of the time.

In other news, one of my computers crashed on me recently.  It depends on what’s wrong with it whether I’ll get it fixed or buy a new one.  I’ve had that computer for two years and it’s crashed on me twice already.  My Mac had issues at the same time.  Fortunately I was able to save it without going to the shop because it was a fairly minor problem that took only a couple hours to solve.

Winter has officially arrived in my town.  It’s been quite cold for several days and we had several inches of snow the weekend before Christmas.  It looks like it will stay very cold for the next several days.  Probably be staying home until this cold spell is over.  It’s alright as I have some reading to catch up on.  I usually do a lot of reading and writing when it’s too cold and snowy to be outside for long.

I have been quite stable for the last couple weeks in spite the changes in my sleep patterns.  I’m sleeping less and waking up earlier.  I’m now usually awake at sunrise, sleep for a couple hours in the afternoon, and stay awake until midnight.  I haven’t noticed any changes in my moods or mental states yet.  I’m glad things have been quiet in that regard.

Overall, I’m ready for winter.  I won’t feel guilty about wanting to stay home for the next three to four months.  Winter and spring are my favorite times of year.

Getting Ready For Winter

Been spending more time at home since the weather is turning cold.  Haven’t had any real snow yet, but that probably won’t last long.  Avoiding the stores and crowds of holiday shoppers.  I have never done well in crowds and it seems to get worse as I age.  Found out that one of my local grocery stores offers home delivery.  I have used this a few times as I really don’t like driving on crowded streets anymore.  Found out I do just fine on rural highways when I went to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving.

Overall I’m feeling pretty stable.  Haven’t done much since cleaning my apartment over the weekend.  Haven’t really been in the mood to talk to many people, so I keep to myself most of the time.  Besides talking to a few friends and my parents, I haven’t had much for a social life for the last week.  Now that I have winter supplies stocked again, I really don’t have to leave my complex for at least a few days if I don’t want to.

Between getting out my winter coat and stocking up on cold weather food, I think I’m ready for the next three to four months of winter.  Even though spring is my favorite time of year, I’ve also enjoyed winter in years past.  I usually get a lot of reading and writing done on cold days.  I don’t feel guilty for not wanting to go outside in the cold.  I am ready for winter.

Readjustments, Halloween Movies, and Random Thoughts

The weather is turning colder again indicating that winter won’t be too far away.  The leaves on the trees have completely turned.  Since I have lots of trees in view of my apartment windows, I can enjoy the autumn foliage and not even put on a coat.  I am still a little guarded about whom I socialize with, but at least I socialize a little everyday now. Somedays I’ll stay home most of the time, but I am not as afraid of traveling as I was even a few weeks ago.  I try to get outside at least once a day and I’ve been lifting weights for a week now.

I’m also attempting to readjust my sleep patterns to more regular times.  For weeks I have been sleeping in the mornings after staying awake most nights.  Naturally this messed up my social life and sleep patterns.  It also doesn’t help that I’ve been drinking more coffee and hot tea to try to warm up during these colder days.  I imagine that this could take several days as I am used to sleeping in the mornings and then being up in the afternoons and overnight hours.

I haven’t seen any family in person since the summer.  That will probably change in a few weeks as Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up.  I have usually been stressed during the holidays in years past.  Anymore I avoid going to the stores and malls from Halloween to Christmas just to avoid crowds and the sensory overload.  I don’t enjoy Christmas shopping or Christmas music.  The only truly Christmas movies I like are It’s A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story.  I like the supernatural thrillers of Halloween better.  I can’t get into those slasher killer movies.  So I’ve been watching more supernatural thrillers lately in the spirit of Halloween.  I also enjoyed the old ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast.  Youtube has a few recordings of that.  So I’ll be binge watching Halloween movies for the next couple days.

Changes in My Mental Illness

Started to restock my winter supplies and emergency food.  I am now set to the point that  I don’t have to venture out for several days if needed.  Lately I have been content to stay close to the complex besides running errands.  Mentally I have been stable even if I am staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.  Maybe that is why I am so stable.

I have gotten to where in my illness that socializing makes me paranoid and irritable.  I no longer enjoy socializing with my neighbors.  I no longer enjoy driving, not even across town.  I’m pretty much content to just keep to myself anymore.  Anymore I am my own favorite company.  I hope this is mainly paranoia and the illness, but I really can’t stand to be around most people anymore.  I would rather socialize over the phone or online than in person anymore.  With the holidays coming in a few weeks, I may be forced out of this isolation routine that has worked so well for me.  I’m not looking forward to losing my routines.  I am definitely not looking forward to the holidays.  I really don’t feel like celebrating much of anything anymore.  And I certainly no longer care to celebrate merely because the calendar and society as a whole tells me I have to.  Maybe schizophrenia really does get worse with age in some aspects.  I don’t have much for hallucinations or angry outbursts anymore.  But I do still have paranoia, delusions, and just prefer to be left alone almost all the time.  I hope it’s my illness messing with my mind, but I just can’t stand to socialize in person anymore.  I definitely can no longer hold a job.  I can barely venture out into my hometown without problems anymore.  I can only hope this illness stops getting worse as I age.  It has definitely screwed with every aspect of my life.

Random Thoughts on Holidays, Family, and Younger Generations

Been feeling quite stable the last several days.  I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were.  I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months.  I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year.  I see people are already putting up their decorations.  I haven’t decorated for holidays in years.  I just don’t see the need to.  I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online.  Thank God for amazon and the postal service.

I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games.  I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget.  I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money.  But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years.  Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday.  No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂

I have found myself eating less over the last week or so.  I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals.  Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me.  It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks.  I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.

As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving.  My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places.  It may be just myself this year again.  I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids.  I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on.  One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown.  Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought.  But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two.  A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.

Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends.  Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing.  I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down.  Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents.  I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties.  I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties.  I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school.  But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.

I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older.  I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago.  We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright.  Ease off.”  If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me.  I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts.  And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that.  It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth.  It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness.  But that is a topic for another place and time.