Discouragement and Socializing With Mental Illness

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Been spending much of the last several days watching the World Series and football games.  As far as my hopeless addiction to watching sports on tv is concerned, October is traditionally the happiest time of year for me.  But all in all it’s been an uneventful fall.  The weather is starting to cool and I haven’t run my air conditioner in almost three weeks. Some nights I even run the heater.  We’ve already had a few freezes but no snow yet.  In my hometown we usually don’t get our first snow until mid to late November.  I still have to winterize my car and restock my emergency winter supplies.  It won’t take too much other than a couple trips to the store.  It’s just a matter of getting it done.

I didn’t do anything special this Halloween.  Some times I like to go to the all night diners to see people in their costumes after the bars close.  Some years I help hand out candy to the kids that come to our complex.  Didn’t do any of that.  I’m still kind of afraid of socializing.  If it wasn’t for cell phones and Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have much of a social life.  But then again, years ago the only option for someone like me was long term hospitalization.

During the last two weeks I was on higher than usual doses of some of my anti psych medications.  They helped take the tension off and knocked down the hallucinations but I did end up less motivated than usual and slept more.  I haven’t posted anything to Facebook for almost two weeks.  I’m trying to avoid a lot of nastiness and negativity that’s going on lately.  I haven’t watched the news in months because I’m tired of the wall to wall election coverage.  Even my parents who are hopeless news junkies have been boycotting all news channels just to avoid it all.  I thought we were electing representatives and not gods.  I have grown to hate politics and I would love to live to see scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, etc. get the kind of press we seem to have only for politicians and entertainers.  It’s probably a pipe dream, but I can hope can’t I?

As it’s been I’ve been depressed and discouraged for weeks.  I can’t stand normal conversation and small talk anymore.  It’s just reruns as far as I’m concerned.  That’s probably why I isolate so much.  I just don’t want to rehash politics or sports or the weather anymore.  Perhaps I’m too tough on my fellow man because most of what I see is people doing the same stupid things and talking about the same stupid stuff all the time.  I might feel different if I lived in a large city with more diversity of thought and culture.  I probably would feel different if I didn’t live in low income housing.  But it’s not like there’s ever going to be low income housing for smart but eccentric people.

Some people got the idea because I live in low income housing and am on disability that I’m stupid.  I’m not.  But I will say it has been pretty tough living in low income housing ever since my pastor friend and brilliant but eccentric photographer friend died two years ago.  Their deaths have been tough to bear.  The intellectual life of my complex took a nosedive since they passed on.  Now I pretty much hear people complain about how they don’t get enough in social security money when they buy mostly lottery tickets, cigarettes,  and booze with their money.  It’s discouraging seeing people do the same dumb things over and over again but never getting the idea.  Anyone who ever said there virtue in poverty has never lived in HUD housing.  We have the same mix of crooks, losers, cranks, and jerks as every other class of society.

It’s discouraging dealing with dumb and rude people everyday.  After awhile I might get jaded and just think that dumb and rude people are all there is.  I hope it never comes to that.  I wouldn’t be happy as a nihilist.  I see the potential in people.  I see that my species is making positive changes and scientific breakthroughs on an almost daily basis anymore.  I know we can be better than we currently are.  I know we can make ourselves more ethical and wiser.  I would love to someday live in world where wisdom is as valued as ignorance is now.  It just gets discouraging during the day to day grind when it seems like no progress is being made around you.  But I guess low income housing is probably going to be the last place in the US that sees any kind of technological progress.  We still have people who don’t own computers or have email accounts. I just try to keep reminding myself that progress is happening even when it’s not evenly spread out.

Aging With Mental Illness

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As summer fades into fall I think I have passed through the toughest time of year for myself.  Other than a couple problems I have escaped this summer without any kind of serious breakdowns.  I consider this a victory.  Perhaps it means that after fifteen years of dealing with a mental illness diagnosis I’m able to manage even the worst parts well.

I have heard from my psych doctors and other people in the know that problems with schizophrenia often lessen with age.  When I was going through the worst of my illness in the early years I didn’t pay any attention.  I was hurting bad enough with the depression, hallucinations, delusions, anxiety, and paranoia that any possible improvements years later seemed a hallow promise.  I was barely able to function for much of my twenties so the prospect that things would start to get better in my late thirties or early forties didn’t matter at all.  All I knew was I had lost every dream I ever had because of schizophrenia and I would be living on the fringes of society for the rest of my life.  It was no consolation that I might get better in twenty years.  I knew that my prospects for a productive and meaningful life were over.

At least that’s what I thought a dozen years ago when it became obvious to me that I would never be able to hold any kind of meaningful full time employment.  I filed for disability insurance through Social Security and moved into HUD housing.  During my stay in HUD housing and my two stints in a mental hospital, I met many people who were in worse shape than I ever was.  I met people who still didn’t want to take their medications even after twenty years of a diagnosis.  These people refused to take their meds even when it was obvious they weren’t functioning at all without them.  I met people who had severe physical health problems because of smoking and drug abuse in addition to their mental health problems.  I met some people who were just angry and irritable all the time and a few of them even had a mental health diagnosis.

Over the years I also met some pretty cool people with mental illness and or living in HUD housing.  I met one lady who had a pretty high end corporate job until her problems started in her forties.  She was quite an artist too.  I met the pastor friend of mine who knew Hebrew and Greek in HUD housing.  While I miss him and haven’t found any friends like him since he died two years ago, I imagine someone just as good will come along in my apartment complex given enough time.  We have had a few jerks and cranks move in during my ten years here.  We have had many move out or get evicted too.  On a long enough time scale the jerks and cranks usually get what they earn.  Even the ones who didn’t get evicted got shunned by the tenants at large.  One way to make a stay in an apartment complex really unpleasant is to always be mean and or act like the rules don’t apply to you.  Fortunately I haven’t had those problems.  I know that some of the older tenants were resentful of me moving in to the complex ten years ago when I was so young. Previously my complex had been reserved for the elderly.  But, seriously, where else was I going to go?  Long term hospitalization isn’t a highly utilized option anymore.

Of course as good as some of these psychiatric medications have gotten over the last couple decades, long term hospitalization isn’t needed for many psychiatric patients.  Of the three medications I am currently prescribed, two of them didn’t exist even five years ago.  And the DNA tests I took earlier this year indicated that these medications would work quite well given my DNA.  Sure enough these tests were right.  Since I can’t process stress and anxiety well enough to hold a full time job anymore, I’m approaching my life much like a retiree.  I am grateful for the time I have.  I am grateful for being able to live a low stress life.  I am grateful to be able to come and go as I please.  I am grateful I have learned to live on not much money.  And I am especially grateful that I am still able to write about my mental illness and be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves.  It’s been an up and down last fifteen years with a diagnosis.  But I think I have seen the worst parts of the illness and am settling into middle age.  I can hardly wait to see what the next fifteen years brings me personally and the treatment of mental illness at large.

 

 

Mid Winter Cleaning

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Since I’m feeling ambitious with more consistent sleep, I’ve decided to clean my apartment and get rid of some clutter.  I went somewhat minimalist a year ago, so there wasn’t as much clutter to get rid of this year.  After dusting what furniture I still have (I have decluttered enough I now need only one bookshelf, a tv stand, a couch, a chair, and an all purpose large table in my living room) I vacuumed the place entirely at least three times.  I have that lovely light beige carpet that shows dirt and dust real bad.  It’s a pain to keep clean.  Still have to work on my small kitchen.  I’m doing all of this cleaning now because our apartment complex is having a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) inspection next month.  In case HUD decides to check random rooms, the management here is inspecting all apartments in two weeks.  We had a preliminary inspection before Christmas.  All I really had was minor issues that could be remedied within a few hours of cleaning.  Just because I’m a bachelor doesn’t mean my place is as filthy as a Neanderthal cave.

With paranoid schizophrenia I am naturally a little concerned about letting people I don’t associate with regularly just look around my apartment.  With our preliminary inspection last month I didn’t know what our new manager would be looking for.  It usually takes one annual inspection before I know what a manager will and will not look for.  A previous manager didn’t like that I had “too many electrical cords” on my floor.  But they weren’t tripping hazards.  Another didn’t like that I had my couch against my living room window. Claimed it was a hazard in case the fire department had to come through my window. Another was a stickler about dust and carpet cleanliness.  I got hammered on the carpet because the carpet is probably thirty years old and has needed replaced as long as I’ve lived here.  Not even a Rug Doctor can save carpet that old.

It’s always been nit picking and moving the goal every time a new manager comes in.  I’ve always been annoyed by subjective standards that aren’t quantifiable.  That’s why while I liked doing one act plays and speech in high school, I didn’t care for the competitive end of it.  Seems to me the difference between bringing home first place and finishing dead last is the judges more than the actors or speakers.  One time my brother and his best friend did a humorous duet skit that was unbelievably funny. But they were doxxed by one judge at districts and denied a shot at the state tournament because one judge didn’t like that they made a passing reference to homosexuality.  But this was twenty years ago.  As far as speech and acting went, if my audience went home enlightened and entertained I felt I did my job. I never cared about any judge whose opinions and motives I can’t even guess.

I’m not worried at all about these inspections anymore.  The first couple years I lived here I was.  I was paranoid enough back then I thought I was on the edge of getting evicted at any time.  I didn’t know the rules to the game of living in low income housing and disability insurance I do now.  I have been around long enough to see that the only sure ways to get evicted in low income housing is to not pay your rent, break the law, or keep a house so awful it’s a health hazard.  So annual inspection one of those things that it’s just a minor inconvenience to be endured for a short time.  But that’s pretty much the sum of my last few days.