Late January and Winter Routine

I weathered yet another snow storm this winter.  Fortunately this one is starting to melt off already after only a couple days.  If I wait long enough, maybe I won’t have to shovel the snow off my car 🙂  Been staying close to home and generally getting less than I would like accomplished.  If I haven’t written as much the last month it’s only because I have less to report than usual.  We’ve had a couple new people move into our complex.  So far they seem to be working out.  I haven’t been outside of my hometown since before Christmas and I haven’t had house guests since our family’s Christmas party.

My back seems to be doing better.  I can walk further distances but not as far as I would like.  I’m still lifting arm weights to make up the difference.  I’ve been sleeping more.  I am convinced this is due to cutting out caffeine for the last few days.  I haven’t gotten jittery and irritable from withdraw, at least not yet.  I’m probably going to get out and buy some coffee within the next day or two once all the ice is melted.  We’ve had snow cover for over a month now.  And usually here in Nebraska winters are bitterly cold but dry.

One month of winter has come and gone.  And I really don’t feel like I got much accomplished from all of my indoor time.  I do go see my psych doctor early in February. I guess I really don’t have much to report to him besides being more or less stable though a little paranoid around people.  But even that paranoia has been lessening within the last few days.  I don’t foresee any medication changes coming in the near future.

It’s been a quiet and uneventful winter for me so far.  But I am beginning to look forward to spring.  Just another two months to go.

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Homebound in Winter

Been several days since I have been out of my neighborhood.  We’ve had a lot of snow and cold weather.  It has been a colder than usual January for sure.  Since I have been sitting tight and not really going anywhere, I have been living off my own cooking for almost two weeks.  Good thing I’m a decent cook.

As it is, I’m going to eventually have to get out of my neighborhood and pick up more supplies.  I’m not really looking forward to it.  As much as I enjoy the long nights and quiet of winter, I definitely don’t like winter travel.

I have been feeling mentally stable even with the lack of activity.  Fortunately I can still socialize with friends and family.  My back has all but healed up.  It took a week of sleeping in recliners but I think I’m doing better in that regard.  I’ve gotten used to sleeping in recliners so I think I’ll do this for the foreseeable future.

Haven’t been watching news or much for other tv lately.  The only things I have been watching lately are youtube shows and live sports.  And that is about all.  Been focusing more on my computer games like Civilization and Skyrim.  Unfortunately both game types can be kind of addicting and pass the time real fast.  But with the flu and other sickness going around bad this winter, it’s probably not a bad idea to stay away from people unless necessary.

We’re now three weeks into winter.  It feels longer than that.  Maybe because I haven’t been outside of town since before Christmas.  Been housebound for much of this time.  It sometimes gets kind of boring.  I feel like I should be doing more outside, at least until I look out my window and see all the snow and ice.  It feels daunting that we have at least another two months of this left.  I’m looking forward to spring.

Chronic Back Pain with Schizophrenia

In my part of the country, the weather is warming up enough to get rid of the ice and snow we’ve had since before Christmas.  It is a welcome relief that I can leave my complex without too many problems.  Got out and about a few times this weekend.  I ran a few errands, so I am set for the next couple weeks.  I still don’t socialize as much as I would like because the paranoia still remains.  Sometimes it was strong enough I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Physically, I’m having back problems again.  I can’t stand for more than ten minutes at a time without lower back and upper leg pain.  I can still get around if I walk for ten minutes, take ten minutes to sit, and repeat.  But this isn’t practical when navigating out in public.  I’ll have to go back to the chiropractor or some other doctor to see what I can do about my failing back.  I’ve been fighting back problems on and off since my car accident in 2015.  I imagine I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life from now one.  It’s a pity that I start falling apart physically right at the time when I start figuring things out mentally.  At this point I wouldn’t mind just being a head in a jar attached to a machine body, like in Futurama 🙂

With my back being messed up, I am more house bound than I would like.  I miss the things I was able to do even just a few years ago that, due to my bad back, I can’t do anymore.  I miss walks in the park, I miss going swimming, I especially miss not worrying if sitting on a hard chair will mess me up.  I even have a hard time getting in and out of my car anymore because of back pains.  So I don’t drive unless it’s necessary now. I am now starting to see what I get to look forward as a senior citizen.  Golden years, yeah right.

The positive side to having such limiting back pain is mentally I am still stable.  I have remained stable for months.  In the past, physical pain and illnesses have made my mental health worse.  It doesn’t seem to anymore.  Maybe as I become an old man I have learned to cope with the hangups and stresses of mental illness better.  I do miss having a good strong back.

Plans For The Rest of Winter

 

Weathered the last winter storm alright.  We didn’t get much snow but we had a lot of ice that made travel impossible for over two days.  I spent those days indoors listening to free audiobooks on youtube.  Between audiobooks and my regular books I’ve kept quite occupied this winter.

I decided that I want to get more serious about improving my physical health.  I’m starting to lift arm weights again.  I’m going to get a Fitbit in a couple days.  And I’m going to schedule a checkup soon.  My previous practitioner has retired so I have to find a new doctor.  I haven’t been to a regular doctor for a couple years so I don’t exactly know where I stand physical health wise.  I haven’t been physically sick other than an occasional cold for several years, so I think I might be doing something right on that end.  I know I have gained a bunch of weight since my auto accident.  After my back went out I got real lazy about exercise and dieting.  I have been eating healthier since the weather turned colder.  But I definitely want to get serious about my physical health again.  I think I have the mental health pretty well set, at least for now.  It’s been months since I had a breakdown and weeks since I’ve had any real depression or anxiety.

Right now I’m a third of the way through winter.  I’ve adapted to the shorter days and colder weather pretty well.  I’m not experiencing the crippling bouts of depression and boredom like I have in previous winters.  I still keep odd hours.  I stay up quite late and then sleep in until late morning most days.  I don’t socialize much around my apartment complex.  I don’t really drive much anymore either.  I haven’t been outside of my town for weeks.  But during the winter there really aren’t many places to go and the weather is too unpredictable for much travel.  I keep occupied by online research and keeping in contact with friends and family most days.  I’m looking forward to spring and warmer weather.

Looking Forward To Fall

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Now that my back has completely healed I’ve been getting out of my apartment more the last couple weeks.  At my most recent doctor’s appointment I found out I gained 15 pounds this summer.  Most of this is no doubt due to lack of physical activity and my eating too much comfort foods.  I did spend  this summer with alternating periods of depression and irritability.  I spent too much time indoors and exercising my mind and not enough exercising my body.  In short, this summer has been a loss in terms of physical health and activity.  The only positive of this summer is that I’m posting more on this blog and have gotten some more audience.

But fall is just a few weeks away.  I can already tell the days are getting shorter.  We also are no longer having several days in a row with nothing but scorching heat.  Looking ahead I see that we’re supposed to have some more cooler weather over the next several days.  I have spent most of my afternoons indoors avoiding the heat.  Since I spent the first month of summer on the mend I never adjusted to the warmer weather.  I normally have bad times during the summer.  Besides the blow ups on a couple friends I haven’t had any real serious problems this summer.  I know that I still have another three to four weeks of traditionally bad times ahead.  Hopefully I can make it through without anything else major.  I made it through last summer before having problems in October but I think working through my grandmother’s death made me more resilient because I had no options.  So my problems last year weren’t avoided as much as they were delayed.  So far things look good mentally.

I have been bored by the forced inactivity this summer.  Besides seeing my family a few times I really haven’t had much for social activity since Memorial Day.  But with the weather starting to get cooler and the nights starting to get longer, maybe my social activities will increase in the coming weeks.  I admit I am not sorry to see this summer go. I’m ready for cooler weather again.

 

Looking Forward To Spring’s Rebirth

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Spring will officially begin in a few days.  In my part of the USA, we’ve had unbelievably nice weather for the last week.  Got to do some outdoor activities like watching the migrating cranes and geese a few miles from my hometown.  My part of the country has literally thousands of birds like Sandhills Cranes and Canadian Geese flying through this time of year.  The lakes, rivers, and fields will be covered with them.  It’s a sight to see for anyone remotely interested in bird watching.

I’m now exercising more outside as I’ve already done two walks in the park already.  I managed to lose 12 pounds in the winter months, even with less activity.  I was concerned how well I would do health wise with the forced inactivity.  Looks like I survived the first winter of this lifestyle overhaul quite well.  I’m down 70 pounds overall in the last year.

Been to a couple cookouts already.  Since I live in a complex with sixty other people, it’s pretty easy to get those organized with almost no advanced planning.  There were ten of us at the one tonight.  All you had to do was bring something to share with everyone else.  And it wasn’t one of those things organized by the manager of the complex.  The tenants did this entirely on our own.  We’re pretty good about organizing get togethers with no notice.  It’s almost like my freshman dorm over fifteen years ago, minus the loud music at 2 am.

One thing I have neglected during the winter months was my social life.  I didn’t go out much nor did I chat with friends as much this winter.  While we didn’t get hammered with as much snow as our East Coast friends, we still had a pretty cold winter.  Yet using the cold as a reason not to socialize was a poor excuse.  It is easy to socialize in spring and summer.  But when it’s cold, not much is going on, the nights are long, and some people are more depressed in the darker days, that when socializing with living and breathing people is needed.  There are only so many computer games and podcasts I can do before I just have to get out of the apartment.  Anyone with a job and a family knows there is more to life than just going to work everyday, spending a paycheck before it’s collected, and counting off the days and years until retirement.  I often get so rapped up in the day to day living that I forget to have a life.  Or even worse, get so wrapped up in day to day struggles that I forget how much we’ve accomplished or how much fun we’ve had with friends already.

In line with being lost in the day to day struggles, I have to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come just in the last twelve months.  Losing 70 pounds, writing a few dozen blog entries, getting outdoors some everyday, staying in contact with old friends while making a few new ones in the process, simplifying my life and decluttering my apartment, etc. are not small accomplishments.  This was all in the last 365 days.  I can only imagine what the rebirth of spring and the next twelve months will bring.

Winter Inactivity and Longing for Spring

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Winters are usually a time stability but boredom for me.  This is the third winter when I wasn’t working some kind of paid employment.  So I’ve gotten used to the idea that winter is a time of forced inactivity.

I usually do most of my physical activity, socializing, and at my happiness in spring and early summer.  Most activities I enjoy like walking, fishing, working outdoors, going to barbecues, watching baseball games, going to the park are almost impossible in winter in the part of the country I live in.  January and February are times I’m usually mentally stable but because of the weather of winter, it is also when I’m least active.  I tend to be one of these people that can’t sit still and force myself to be inactive.  If I’m not out walking, I have to read a book, play some strategy computer game, or watch something that’ll make me sharper on youtube.  I just hate having to force myself into physical and mental inactivity.  Monks that teach meditation would hate students like me 🙂

One blessing of my mental illness, if you can call it that, is the seasonal aspect of mine is late summer instead of winter.  Even while the weather is lousy and travel is questionable, I can usually feel well even if I have to be inside for long periods.  Many mentally ill people I know have a seasonal aspect and it’s often in the winters.

Luckily, as I am a writer/blogger, I can fulfill my mental activity needs even if I can’t get out and walk or go fishing.  A significant chunk of what I have written has been in the winter months.  That helps quite a bit filling the voids while I’m waiting for spring.  As a baseball fan I am glad to see that spring training will be starting in less than two weeks.  I prefer the laid back nature of baseball to a lot of other games and I like how if a team loses, it can’t be dwelt on since they have to play again tomorrow.

I’m already over half way through winter.  Only six more weeks of bitter cold and probably eight weeks until the last snows.  We’re getting there as we always do.

Inactivity, Depression, and Seasonal Components to Mental Illness

 

In this life with schizophrenia, I have had my ups and I have my downs.  Lately, actually for the last three months at least, I have been more inactive than I should be.  I haven’t been exercising every day like I should be.  Usually I go for short walks everyday and lift hand weights two to three times a week.  Haven’t been doing that as often lately.  And I can tell it’s starting to take it’s toll.  I don’t have as much energy to accomplish everyday tasks as I once did.  I also have been lacking the motivation to work on my writings,  unlike a few months ago.  In addition to these blog posts, I also write poetry, journals, and am working on a novel.  I currently have two books of poetry self published through lulu.com.  I figured if I don’t have a regular job, I need to find some way to keep myself occupied and somewhat productive.

As a result of my inactivity I can tell my physical health has suffered.  I have more aches and pains than someone in their early 30s should.  I attribute this to way too much inactivity.  I am convinced my inactivity was initially brought on by a bought of depression that was bad enough that I checked myself into a mental health hospital for four days back in September.  After I got out of the hospital I would sometimes sleep twelve to fourteen hours a day.  Some days I would sleep just out of depression, while others I would sleep out of boredom.  It became a nasty cycle.  I would sleep out of depression and I would be depressed that I was missing out on what was going on around me.  I would be too tired and or depressed to do my exercise and my socializing.  And I would be tired and depressed because I wasn’t exercising or keeping up with friends and family.

Even though I have been depressed and inactive for a long while, I feel like I’m starting to pull out of it.  Maybe it’s the change of the seasons or the hope of the upcoming new year that’s helping me out of my current depression.  Or it could be one of the phases of my individual illness.  This isn’t the first time I have gone through a period of inactivity and depression.  I went through one similar to this about six years ago, back in the fall of 2007.  

One of the positives about having had a mental illness for over half of my life is that I can recognize many of the patterns of the illness.  Not only can I recognize the triggers and know what places, types of situations, and people to avoid, I know a lot of the short term and even some of the long term patterns.  Many people with mental illness have a seasonal component that goes along, where they do worse during some periods than others.  For me, I have always done bad in late summer, usually August and early September.  For others it’s during the winter.

I always have had to remind myself during these days of depression during the last three months that I’ve been through these times before.  I’ve come through these times before.  And I will come through them again.  Better times will be ahead.