End of Winter and Renewed Hope

I think I’m finally breaking out the depression and anxiety fuel irritability that I have been fighting for almost two weeks.  Got some good sleep the last few days, granted at odd times.  I still sleep eight hours a day, but I usually sleep from 8pm to midnight, rattle around for a few hours in the middle of the night, then sleep from 4 am to 8am.  Even though I have an odd sleep pattern anymore, everything isn’t going completely bad.  I started lifting arm weights in my home about two weeks ago.  The first couple sessions were tough as I hadn’t lifted regularly for over a year.  But I think it’s beginning to come back.  Picked up some multi vitamins, fish oil pills, etc. the last time I bought groceries.  I have to think some of my lethargy, aches and pains, etc. were made worse by an unbalanced diet.  For most of the winter I ate lots of lean meats, some soups, yogurts, canned vegetables, rice, and occasional baked potatoes.  I wasn’t getting much for fresh fruits or vegetables this winter.  So I been eating more fresh fruits and vegetables lately.  I’m beginning to notice a positive difference.  I don’t have as many unexplainable aches and pains and I feel mentally sharper and less scattered overall.  My favorite fruit is probably red grapes.  My favorite vegetable has to be tie between green peas and carrots.

I still don’t travel outside of my hometown due to the flood problems.  Many places are still cleaning up and still in danger of even more flooding.  I won’t be surprised if food prices start going up later this year.  It’s been pretty rough for a lot of people but I have been spared much of it so far.

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Keeping Myself Company and Thoughts On The Future

Haven’t had much to report for the last few days.  Been getting out of my apartment a little again.  Spent a few hours out the other day because of maintenance work.  I still don’t socialize much in person as it’s just too big of a drain dealing with rude and irritable people most of the time.  Sadly it seems like most people I deal with are in foul moods more often than not.  This is regardless of whether it is online or in person interactions.  It’s times like this that make me glad I can keep myself company for days at a time if necessary.  I have too many problems with my mental illness to be dealing with anger and rudeness from others.

I’m starting to sleep during the days again.  But if I want to avoid people that seems the way to be.  Let me rephrase that, I don’t want to avoid people at all.  I just want to avoid rude, hateful, and stupid people.  I find it sad that we as a civilization had almost godlike powers to get in touch with people all over the world that we would otherwise never met and we squander it tearing other people apart and subdividing ourselves.  I would love to see people stop this madness but I imagine that’s a pipe dream.  I actually think some people want to be angry and miserable.  I think some people do not want to be happy.  I hope I am wrong but I look at their actions and have to wonder.

As I have been spending much more time alone the last several weeks I have been preforming some mental exercises in an attempt to just let my mind wander and think.  One thing I think about is what will future generations in future centuries condemn us in the early 21st century for.  People today readily condemn past generations and civilizations for their attitudes toward slavery, women’s rights, religious zealotry, bigoted attitudes, and general ignorance.  Maybe future generations will curse us for being too sensitive about what others say about us, maybe they’ll hate us for not reigning in our industrial pollution, maybe they’ll hate us for subdividing ourselves into factions and digital tribes, they may hate us for eating meat, they may hate us for medicating our children who don’t like school, maybe they’ll think us too narrow minded and hypocritical, maybe they’ll hate us for waging wars, maybe they’ll hate our general distrust of science, maybe they’ll think we are religious zealots.  In short, we don’t know.  We are not as enlightened as we like to pride ourselves on.  We as a species have come a long way since we started out as hunter gathers in forgotten antiquity, let alone since we started building villages and cities.  But if we think that we, in 2018, are the pinnacle of human wisdom and culture, then we are so sadly mistaken.  We can do much better than we currently are.  And, guess what, we will do much better in the years, decades, and centuries ahead providing we don’t destroy ourselves in some short sighted stupid fit of collective insanity.  We are on our way to achieving some really super cool things within the next several decades, let alone in the far future.  Sure the ride is rough getting there.  There are times I have my doubts about my fellow man.  But the fact is that most advances are discovered by a tiny fraction of the human race.  The rest of us are along for the ride.  We can follow, try but fail miserably to stop change, or get out of the way.  Change is coming.  Change is inevitable no matter how much we snipe at each other in our social interactions.  The world is a cool place in spite what the news man tells us.  If it bleeds it leads because that is what our species developed to notice first.  It was a brilliant survival strategy when we were Stone Age hunters but it’s causing us unnecessary grief and anguish in the Information Age.  Part of me would love to stick around to an old age for no other reason to see negative fools and naysayers proven wrong and I can laugh at their fear and hate.

Furniture, Futbol, and Feeling Fine For the Future

Picked up some new furniture this weekend.  My mother and father let me have one of their couches and office chairs and I have a heavy duty recliner being delivered to my apartment this afternoon from a local furniture store.  I feel like I have an actual home again.  For the last few weeks I didn’t have much in the way of furniture besides a couple dining room chairs and my bed.  It was extremely odd eating my lunches and dinners sitting on my bed.  I had moved my computer desk to my bedroom so I could do my work from my bed.  I’m glad I got a couch and office chair as it makes my apartment feel more like a permanent residence.  And now that I can write from an office chair or couch, I feel like I’m doing more professional work on my blog and even my computer gaming.

Watched the World Cup finals over the weekend.  I kind of wanted Croatia to win as they were big underdogs.  But I wasn’t going to say much as I have readers from both Croatia and France.  But I think that Killian Mbassa (spelling?) from France is going to be as big a star as David Beckham and Cristian Ronaldo by the time he’s through. And he’s only nineteen.  When I was that age I was a geeky farm kid starting college.  But, living in USA,   I am probably a “Johnny Come Lately” when it comes to understanding soccer and appreciating how tough a game it really is.  When I was in college, my attitude was that I respected the soccer players for being in great physical shape.  But I thought it was “a lot of running for so little scoring.”  USA didn’t even have a professional soccer league until I think the 1990s.  So yes, we are behind most of the world in that regard.  I started following mainly because I have a niece and a nephew who love playing soccer.  When my parents were medical missionaries in Panama, most of the kids down there were kicking around soccer balls in the same way kids in USA play basketball all day.  But I did enjoy this year’s World Cup almost as much as I do the Olympics.  And I’m happy to see that USA will be one of the host countries, along with Mexico and Canada, in 2026.  But World Cup served as my sports fix at least until college football and baseball’s push for the playoffs start in September.  Hard to believe that September is only six weeks away.  Where has the time gone?

I have new furniture and we’re now almost halfway through summer.  And overall I’m feeling alright.  I don’t even feel depressed or paranoid very much anymore.  I feel quite hopeful about my life and society as a whole for the first time in months.  I enjoy this feeling.  I wish I could bottle some of it and save it for the “rainy days” that will eventually come back.  But for now, I’ll ride the happy streak I’m on for all it’s worth.  They don’t come along every day.

Optimism and Mental Illness

Optimism and mental illness are two things that probably don’t normally go together.  Yet after fighting through a mental illness for almost twenty years and still being in one piece and still functional, I think I’ve more than earned the right to be an optimist.  And I think being an optimist is a right that too few people take advantage of.

Why shouldn’t I be an optimist?  I have access to a world wide audience through the technological achievement that is the internet.  Fifteen years ago when I started writing poetry in my spare time, I had never even heard of a blog.  Youtube didn’t exist and neither did Facebook.  Even though I don’t make much money from my writings, I have a much bigger audience now than I could have imagined ten years ago.  From the numerous messages I get from readers, I know I’m making a difference.  That’s more than I thought would happen in 2006 after I lost my job at the university and applied for disability.  Back then I thought I was going to be condemned to a life of poverty and quiet desperation.  I also thought I lost most purpose for my life as it became painfully obvious I could never hold a regular job and support myself.  Yet here I am in 2017 with a decent blog, relatively stable mental state, and I’m still here.  Sure I may die earlier than most people without mental illness, but thanks to the internet, modern medicine, advanced counseling techniques, and social safety nets, I have been able to tell my story about living with a mental illness.  Hopefully I’ve been able to dispel some myths about mental illness and break down some barriers.  I just hope that the conversation about mental illness will continue.  As far as I can tell, the mentally ill are among the last people that it’s socially acceptable to discriminate against.  I hope to be part of changing that nonsense.

After surviving with mental illness for twenty years and still being functional and able to live on my own, I have become more optimistic now at age 36 than I was at age 16.  I have gotten optimistic enough that I have found myself less and less tolerant of pessimist, naysayers, and those who spew doom and gloom.  I have left friendships with people who were incurable pessimists.  Though you wouldn’t know it from the news sites, but we are actually living in some of the most prosperous and peaceful times in history.  Of course you aren’t going to hear this from politicians and news casts because news casts and politicians depend on attention and we humans are naturally more likely to notice bad news and threats.  It served us well when we were ice age hunter gatherers but it’s causing us in the more settled and civilized world undue stress and anxiety.  I can tell you from personal experience that most of what people worry about either never happens or turns out to be more manageable than previously thought.  One of the reasons I refuse to watch the news is that it’s nothing but bad news all the time.  You hear nothing about science advances, humanitarian efforts, or any kind of good news.  But good news isn’t fit to print, now is it?  And I for one am tired of always hearing bad news and doom.  If one were to listen to the “experts”, the world has always been heading for tragedy.  The sky is not falling.  We’ve had problems in the past but we solved them.  We’ll continue to solve our current and future problems.  Mark my words.

After surviving the worst of what schizophrenia has to offer, I have no patience for pessimists and doom sayers.  Sell that snake oil to someone else.  While you worry about problems and do nothing to solve said problems, there are far more people than you will ever know working on solving the world’s problems.  Quit worrying already.

Mental Illness and My Interest In Science

 

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Since it has been colder lately I have found more time to read books and online articles.  I recently finished a couple books by Michio Kaku and Ray Kurzweil.  I’m currently working one of Matt Ridley’s books and a Steven Pinker audiobook.  After the activity of the holidays  is over I’m probably delving into some Carl Sagan or Eric Drexler.  All of these are science books.  Science classes were always my favorite classes in high school.  It really broke my heart when I had to give up science as a career.  But after years of reading philosophy, history, and economics I have come full circle again.  I like science even more now than I did at age sixteen.  Ten years ago I didn’t study science as I was still in mourning over having to give it up.  Who knows?  Maybe if I live long enough I’ll get to see what amounts to effectively a cure for schizophrenia. I could then take my skills as a writer and write for science and tech webpages, unless of course by then machines have taken over most jobs and money is no longer very important.

Being cured of my madness would be a dream come true, especially if I was able to retain most of my natural intelligence and problem solving skills.  I recently saw an article that scientists have identified rare genetic risk variants that can lead to increased risks of developing schizophrenia.    It is actually quite amazing how fast some of these developments are occurring in medical research.  The human genome wasn’t figured out until 2003 and I was diagnosed in 2000.  If we had the same genetic testings in 2000 that we have in 2016 my prognosis might have been even better.  I might not have had to give up my shot at a scientific career.  I probably wouldn’t have spent a year changing medications every few weeks hoping to find something that would work.  I might not have even had to fight through the last two years of high school and the first year of college with a mental illness being completely untreated.  But with the progress being made in medical research into brain issues, who knows what will be available in 15 years, let alone 50.  I only hope the research continues to find new breakthroughs.

Social Media Hiatus and Recovery

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In an attempt to help speed up my recovery from my bouts of depression and hopelessness, I’ve decided to avoid all social media in addition to regular news casts.  I’m now two days into this and I notice a positive difference already.  I’m less stressed and less despondent even after a couple days of media blackout.  I just got so tired of hearing nothing but bad news that I decided to unplug and drop out for at least a few days.  I will still be posting blog entries to Facebook and twitter because my posts automatically post to these anyway.

One thing I have noticed is inspite my vacation from news and social media, my life still goes on.  All life still goes on in fact.  Some things I’m probably happier not knowing quite simply because there is nothing I can do about it.  While I may not be happy with any of my elected officials, it’s not like I get an extra vote for every time I post to Facebook concerning the elections.  The U.S. Constitution never said anything about uber informed people getting extra votes.  On election day, I’m just going in and casting my votes and that is going to be that.  I’ll live with whatever the results are.  And I’ll still pay more attention to science and technology endeavors than I do to politics or popular culture.  Unless the Kardashians figure out nuclear fusion or cure cancer, I couldn’t care less about them.

While I may be unplugging from social media, I’m still keeping informed on things like science.  I am finding out the lights are still on and there’s still food in my pantry regardless of what nonsense a political figure says or whatever some troll writes.  Some pundit says something about the election, so what?  Nations are rattling their sabres and talking about wars, will my worrying prevent war?  I can only control my own life, what I see online, and how I choose to react to it.  And that is all I need.  Sure I’ll miss my friends during my hiatus from social media, but it’s probably for the best for the next several days.

 

On Minimalism or Why I’m Not Pessimist Even Though I Don’t Have Money or Job Security

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I have never learned the fine art of being able to let go and no longer care.  Maybe that is another trait neurotypical people are born with that we the mentally ill aren’t. Even though one of my favorite comedians was George Carlin, I have never been able to bring myself to the nihilist thinking of if the world is going to fall apart then I’m going to enjoy the ride down.  I think I’m more of an idealist in that I know we as a species have problems, issues, and baggage but we can compensate for said hangups and move onto something better.  I guess I never quit dreaming and seeing what we can as a species accomplish.  I missed the memo that said I had to be a pessimist and a grump once I became a man.

The scientists, engineers, doctors, and humanitarians of the world have done some really amazing things just since I was old enough to start paying attention twenty five years ago.  And twenty five years is just a blip on the radar of human history.  I would have been life time hospitalized in 1966.  I wouldn’t be blogging in 1986 with the audience I now have (I appreciate all my visitors).  I wouldn’t be able to keep in contact with my college friends in 1996 nearly as easily as I do now.  My father always told me one of his greatest regrets was not keeping in contact with his college and Air Force friends more and taking more photos when he was in school and overseas.  With Facebook I hear from people I was just casual friends with on an almost weekly basis.  I have even had good conversations with people I have never met in person.  But because we have similar interests we can connect quite easily.  With my cell phone I can cheaply talk to friends and family at all hours or call for emergency help.  In the late 1980s about the only people who had cell phones were Wall Street tycoons.  And as good as my $99 Wal Mart cell phone is, I don’t even really need it as much as I used to.  Anymore I can most of my banking, order books through Amazon, order clothing (I have an odd size so I have to special order sometimes), and even get pizza and deli delivery via the internet.  If I were so inclined to get back into the dating game, I’d just go to any one of a number of internet dating sites and let their algorithms match me to a woman with similar interests.  None of this was possible when I was growing up.  It is an excellent time to be alive.

For years I have heard that my generation of Americans was going to be the first that was worse off than their parents.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re worse off only in certain areas.  Sure GenXers and Millenials have higher levels of student loans and more job insecurity than did the Boomers and World War 2 generations.  But what money we do have can go much further than in the past.  You really think Andy Griffith could have accessed an entire encyclopedia of knowledge on his rotary phone in the 1960s?  You think that Archie Bunker would have as good of a chance to survive cancer in the 1970s?  Sure many of the high paying manufacturing jobs have left Europe and North America, but blame technology and automation as much as China or trade deals.  Just Google the monetary worth of manufactured goods in the U.S. or E.U. and compare it to before the beginning of automation.  It’s probably higher now though done with fewer laborers.  Yes you may be discontent with your job as a convince store clerk or a fryer cook at KFC, but with as cheap as many things are getting now, you may not need the $40,000 a year job right out of college to have an alright life.

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I make less than $15,000  per year from all sources.  But I still have two computers, an automobile, a cell phone, a good wireless internet connection, no debts, and I’m not going hungry.  Yet according to the U.S. government statistics I am living in poverty.  But I have pretty much everything I want and definitely everything I need.  I don’t need the four bedroom house with the picket fence (especially not when I have pay home owners’ association fees, property taxes, shovel snow, and fix my own plumbing when the pipes break at 3 am on Sunday morning).  I think the ideas of having a large house in a good neighborhood, a mini van and an SUV, lots of trinkets to impress people I don’t care about, a stressful job that could be automated or outsourced at a moment’s notice, a marriage that is always strained because of not enough time with the wife and kids, are overrated.  I never got the memo that said I had to have all of that to be happy and content.  I don’t have any of those “hallmarks of success” and yet I don’t feel like less of a man because of it.  Some people may think less of me because I don’t have a lot of money, a prestigious job, a trophy wife, children, a big house, or a SUV.  But that is their hangup and a reflection on them, not me.

Sure I make less money than my parents did (and many of my friends can claim the same thing).  But we definitely have more flexibility, more adaptability, more connectivity, better access to knowledge and information, and less of our budgets are going to basics like food and rent.  Even with as little as I make only half of my money goes to food and rent.  And I don’t even get food stamps.  Take heart GenXers and Millenials, even though you may never have the job stability or the money your parents and grandparents had, you definitely have more freedom and flexibility because you are not as tied to one area.  And you GenXers and Millenials will find out that once you get your debts completely knocked out (which will take time and discipline), you will find you can live on much less than you thought and you suddenly have lots of options.  My parents are tied to their small farming village because they would have to sell their house, their acreage, their cars, and most of the trinkets they acquired over the years of being tied down.  Me, besides my bed, my dresser, my book shelf, and my two couches, I can throw everything I own in my car and be moved within a few hours if need be.  And being able to do so much more online now, I can easily transfer to a new bank, new insurance company, and find pretty much whatever I need wherever I wind up.  I wouldn’t give up my freedom and flexability so I could be tied down just because I have a house and some money.  Freedom and flexability are currency in the information age.  I wouldn’t want to live in the past.  I would go nuts from the lack of freedom and lack of options.