Thoughts on Friendships, Working, and the Past

Been more stable than usual for the last couple weeks.  Besides the fact I usually stay up all night, go to bed at sunrise, sleep until early afternoon, and then wake up for good, I don’t have much unusual going on right now.  Perhaps one of the reasons I have stabilized lately is that I have a routine that works for me.  I usually don’t alter it unless necessary.  I had to be up early a few days ago so maintenance could do some work in my place.  Spent a few hours out of my place and socializing with fellow tenants like old times.  Even though I haven’t socialized much over the last several months, I picked up like I never left off.  I was lucky in that I ran into a few of the more interesting tenants and we were able to do more than talk about the weather or complain about other people.  Mundane chit chat really drains me real fast.  That’s why I don’t do well at large social gatherings or Christmas parties.

Been reestablishing a couple of the friendships I had lost contact with over the last few years.  There are more I’d like to get back going.  One of my best friends from childhood I’d love to get back in contact with but I haven’t seen him in almost twelve years.  It’s a sad deal because we were almost like family to each other in junior high and high school.  Very interesting man.  But we just lost contact over the years.  I lost contact with most of my old high school friends besides one or two of them.  In 2019, my twenty year reunion is coming.  I’m probably not going as most of the friends I had as a teenager aren’t the type that go to reunions.  And part of me is afraid to go back after fighting mental illness for my entire adult life and falling apart the way that I have.  One of the reasons I’m not very nostalgic about my youth, or the past in general, is that high school, at least for me, was the toughest four years of my life.  I can’t imagine how tough they would have been had I not had the interesting and stimulating friends that I did.

I had some great times in college.  It was far more fun and stimulating than I experienced anywhere before or since.  It was one of those experiences that, as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t realize how rare it would be compared to the rest of my life.  I think I’m starting to understand why most people don’t like their jobs and think adulthood sucks.  I might be in the same camp had I not had a mental illness destroy any shot I ever had at a decent career.  I never could adapt to office politics or the thought that mediocrity in the workplace and life in general was acceptable.  I certainly couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that being good at a job meant that I was a threat to my coworkers and bosses. Workplaces really are like living Dilbert cartoons.  I don’t know what it’s like in other nations, but Dilbert and The Peter Principle aptly describe my experiences in the American workplace.

Even though I’m fighting a mental illness and don’t have much money, I’m pretty happy overall for the most part.  Not having a career made me realize that we really don’t need a lot of money if just having a happy existence is your main goal.  For years I have heard people say things like “you never hear a dying man say he wishes he worked more or had more possessions”.  And then these same people would work themselves into poor health, excessive stress, and destroy their personal relationships and families pursuing possessions and excessive working.  I think this is stupid.  Learn from the mistakes of the dying generations already.  Stop parroting their thoughts and then doing the exact opposite.  I guess I had to lose a career and my prestige to find my sanity and peace.

Advertisements

Thoughts on Isolation

Been isolating a lot lately.  I sometimes have entire days when I don’t even leave my apartment anymore.  I’m just burned out on people in general.  Even though I sleep at night I find myself wanting to sleep almost all the time anymore.  Seems like the only time I don’t feel anxious or depressed is when I’m asleep.  I have gotten to where I am anxious every time I even hear people talking out in my hallway or even when I hear footsteps in my hall.  My neighbors had an argument this morning I could hear through my wall.  Made me definitely not want to leave my apartment today.

I know that eventually I’ll just have to gather my courage and force myself to leave my apartment just to do laundry and check my mail.  But I really have gotten to where I no longer trust anyone it seems.  I’m afraid of people more or less.  Seems that everyone I meet is in a foul mood all the time.  Of course going online to look my friends up doesn’t help any as foul moods and arguments are the rule online anymore.  A friend of mine once suggested I start a youtube channel and just do voice over videos.  Not a chance.  YouTube comment sections are even nastier than twitter or facebook.  We have near god like capabilities with our current state of tech yet we act completely uncivilized online.  If I acted a fraction that rude in public, I’d expect to get a beating or a jail cell.  Though knowing my countrymen’s attitudes about guns, I’d probably get shot rather quickly.

At this point I don’t feel sorry for isolating or having all my groceries delivered to my apartment.  I don’t regret that it’s been two months since I had guests in my apartment. I don’t regret rarely leaving my apartment.  I don’t regret being lonely.  I’d much rather be lonely than made miserable by other miserable people.  In some ways I am glad I am an outcast and an outsider on mainstream civilization. I’m burned out on all the fighting and negativity I see every hour of every day.  I’m tired of people being ugly and evil to each other all the time.  I’ll interact with some people via phone or online chat.  The rest of humanity is welcome to keep it’s distance until they come back to their senses and act like civilized people again.

Taking A Vacation From The Insanity

I’ve been feeling more depressed and frustrated than usual the last few days.  I think it’s because I’m spending too much time on sites like Facebook, twitter, and youtube. I’ve decided I’m going to avoid most socializing for the next several days and see if I feel better then.  It saddens and angers me that I can’t even have a civil conversation with a friend without having to sort through angry posts and memes.  I really hope these people aren’t that mean and angry with people in real life.  I hope they aren’t but then again many people have messed up priorities.

I would love to know when my friends and my countrymen became so angry and divided.  And why do they feel like it’s a God given duty to spew that venom and hate for the whole world to see.  You don’t live in an echo chamber.  People who don’t agree with what you post see that stuff all the time.  We usually don’t comment or respond.  We certainly weren’t this divided in the months after 9/11.

I also don’t understand why my countrymen are so obsessed with politics.  People didn’t used to be nearly this obsessed, at least not that I can remember.  Believe it or not, there are other things going on in life than politics.  Politicians are not gods.  I will say that again, politicians are not gods.  Stop treating them as such.

I imagine my friends on Facebook get tired of me posting about science and technology.  I have only a handful of friends who post on science.  But almost all of them feel a duty to do posts complaining about politicians or complaining about  protesters or complaining about people who complain about protesters.  Protesting, if done properly, can lead to change.  Look at colonial America, Ghandi’s India, and the Civil Rights protests.  Too bad there weren’t more people protesting the actions of the governments early on in Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, etc.  I am especially disgusted with some states trying to pass laws for harsher penalties for protesters.  There wouldn’t be as many protests if the politicians were actually doing a good job.  You want to stop protests, listen to the people and quit doing stupid things.  Even Jesus protested the abuses and hypocrisy of the religious and political leaders of his time and place.

While I will be going underground and not socializing much for the next several days, I still will be doing research and writing blogs.  My critics aren’t getting rid of me that easy.  I just have to unplug from the insanity for a few days.  Most people need to unplug from the insanity for a few days and realize that someone who disagrees with them is not evil.

It’s a Sane, Sane World

images.jpeg

Over the years of trying to learn what makes average people act the ways they do, the only absolute I have come to is this; the biggest difference between being diagnosed as insane or sane is the number of people involved. It is considered insane to have crippling paranoia or depression. It is considered sane to complain about your shortcomings but do nothing to address said shortcomings. Over the course of the almost three years I have done this alifeofmentalillness blog I have stated on several occasions I would do just about anything to be sane and normal again.  I should be more specific and revise this.  I would give anything to not suffer delusions of persecution, hallucinations, crippling bouts of anger and depression, and the general isolation that comes along with it.  But I do not want to become what most people would consider normal.  By that I mean I do not want to lose my ability for empathy.  From what I have seen out of normals over the years, they seem to have a general lack of empathy or ability to see things from others people’s viewpoints.  I do not want to be uncaring.  It causes a great deal of pain that I sometimes have to be mean and even borderline abusive to people just to get a point across.  I hate being angry and mean to people.  I’m not a natural jerk.  Never have been and never will be.  I don’t know how much of that is the illness and how much of that is my natural personality.  But I absolutely hate being mean and combative to people. If I can’t be pleasant with someone and have them be pleasant to me, I try to avoid that person. To paraphrase Lee Marvin from the classic ‘Paint Your Wagon’ “you don’t have to love thy neighbor if you just leave the poor fool alone.”  But too seldom have I seen anyone, mentally ill or not, just leave other people alone.

Another aspect of sanity I never want to possess is the tendency for group think.  I love having a mind and using it. I hate celebrity gossip.  I hate reality tv.  I hate tabloid journalism.  I’ve even come to hate watching sports on tv because of the base nature of what is modern sports journalism.  It doesn’t bother me that a pro athlete makes more than any worker that isn’t executive management or an entrepreneur.  If I had 50,000 people pay $50 for tickets to read my blogs  or ten million subscribers like some popular youtube personalities, I’d be wealthy too.  Besides, well over half of pro athletes wind up bankrupt within five years of their retirement.  Watch the ESPN documentary ‘Broke‘ to see how true this really is. I am however bothered with how people will build up someone with talent only to knock them down later.  That is why I hope and pray I never become famous or wealthy.  “More money, more problems” as the late Biggie Smalls said.

I love learning new things, which is a skill which will become more valuable than it is now in the coming years and decades as technological and scientific advances get even faster than they are now.  For years I have listened to normals complain about their jobs.  I heard the “Oh God It’s Monday” and “Thank God It’s Friday” memes long before I had even dial up internet.  And I’ve seen and read articles on both domestic and foreign news sites about how potentially we could see job losses to automation with future unemployment rates that would make the 1930s look like a bull market on steroids.  NPR had an interactive article I’m linking to about chances of different types of jobs being taken over by machines and computers.  For example many jobs in customer service will likely be taken over, but many traditional medical and STEM jobs probably won’t be automated anytime soon.  And I bring this up because now many people are fretting over their jobs being taken over by machines.  Seriously?  First you complain about how bad you hate your job.  Now you complain that you may lose said job that you were cursing not even a couple months ago?  Make up your minds, people.  Do you think your current job sucks or do you want to do that lousy job?  Personally I don’t care if the robotics take the jobs I’ve had, providing there is some restructuring to tax laws and social safety nets.  The robots are coming, make no mistake.  They will take a lot of jobs.  Advances can be temporarily delayed but will win out.  Robots and computers will take many, if not most jobs.  How will we address a significant portion of people who identified with their work for their entire lives being unemployed and behind on their payments?  I normally don’t talk politics on this site, but regardless of your political philosophy these are issues that we need to demand our lawmakers discuss, ideally sooner rather than later.

Believe it or not I have worked before, even after I was diagnosed with a mental illness.  I have been a retail clerk, fast food cook, waiter, factory worker, teacher’s aide/graduate assistant, dish washer, janitor, construction worker, farm hand, lawn mower, and newspaper delivery boy (when I was 10 years old).  And everyone of those jobs (with the exception of teacher’s aide) was repetitive, mind numbingly boring, required no creative imagination, and didn’t really make a difference to even my small hometown.  Most of those jobs stand a good chance of being automated within the next twenty years anyway.  So those jobs were drudgery, not stimulating, and I worked mostly with people who were not very creative or intelligent. But those were the only jobs available to me, at least in my small town and rural area.  I can foresee a mass migration out of rural areas and small towns all over the world (more so than now) once automation really gets rolling.  Even I may be going to a big city if enough of my hometown dries up and or stagnates.

Creative jobs will likely become in demand soon.  I liked the teacher’s aide job because I got to interact with above average intelligence people everyday, got to use computers, got to teach a few college courses as a substitute teacher, and was actually encouraged to use my creativity.  Unfortunately that job was contingent on me being a graduate student in the Masters in Business program.  I loved the job but didn’t do well enough in the classes to keep my job.  I could have seen being a computers instructor and research rat for the next fifty  years.  But I can’t because I don’t have that piece of paper that states I am qualified for a job like that.

So here I am living on the fringes of society because of my disability.  Wasn’t my first choice but that is the current system we live under.  I don’t make the rules, I just live by them.  I never wanted to just waist my mind on disability.  But the aspects of the illness that make figuring out office politics and dealing with vicious bosses and coworkers will not allow me to function in our toxic modern work environment.  I don’t see how normals function under such systems.  Perhaps normals do it only by copious doses of reality tv, alcohol, anti depressants, tabloid news channels that don’t report anything that really makes a difference (I watch foreign news casts even more than U.S. news because I don’t care at all about celebrity gossip or what steroid pumped football god beat up his girlfriend this week).  I didn’t like the work environments I was in.  Not because I couldn’t physically or mentally do the work.  Far from it.  I just couldn’t adjust to the environment of toxic coworkers and borderline abusive bosses.

As far as people who think I am lazy and just being a leech off the good tax payers of my nation, I wish to leave you with the following thoughts.

buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough.jpg

I am definitely not one of the one in ten thousand who can make the breakthrough, perhaps maybe among the one in ten who truly try to appreciate the men and women who make breakthroughs possible.  If it weren’t for brilliant scientists working on psych meds I would be in a padded room in an insane asylum as would some of the coolest people I ever met.  If it wasn’t for medical science my dear mother might be dead because of heart and thyroid problems.  If it wasn’t for scientists and engineers we wouldn’t have the internet, anti biotic drugs, sanitation, etc.  I am grateful every day for the ‘one in ten thousand.’  Everyone should be.

Thoughts on Employment and Education Options While On Disability

GLA7035

I live in a small town that hosts a small state university.  School began for the fall session earlier this week.  Even though I haven’t been enrolled as a student at any school for ten years I still enjoy it when the college kids start back.  Since a significant percentage of my town is either enrolled at the college or works for the college, the town is really quiet, almost dead, for most of mid May to late August.

I went to the campus last weekend for the welcome back street fair.  Got some cool freebies and got to see that practically every student organization, fraternity, academic department, and interest group had a booth and was represented.  Surprisingly I got a lot of freebie handout coupons that we exclusively for students.  Now I’m in my mid 30s so I was quite surprised that I got these deals in spite my obviously not being a student.  But I was getting carded every time I went to a pub to see a concert well into my 30s except for a few times when I had a full beard.  I didn’t think I looked that youthful.  There are days I certainly don’t feel it.  But I wasn’t about to pass up free giveaways.

While I was at this street fair I couldn’t help but think ‘Do this kids really know what’s going on in the world off campus’ and ‘What will these kids be doing ten to fifteen years from now.’  In my case when I went to college back in the pre wireless internet days of 1999, I really didn’t pay that much attention to the world outside the ivy walls of my Christian college.  Like most naive college freshmen I thought that I would get my degree and then do well in the workplace.  Little did I realize that unless you’re majoring in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field or went to a two year school for a specific trade, college cannot teach you what you need to know for a work place.  Even my friend the high school teacher told me that little of what he learned in his teacher education classes helped him much.  He said concentrating on his subject matter (history and social sciences) and student teaching helped him more than anything he learned in any classroom.

My problem was while I did well in the classroom, I couldn’t make the transition to the real world of work because of my inability to work through stress, crippling anxiety (I literally used to vomit from panic attacks before I went to work even as a minimum wage retail clerk),  inability to read people, and inability to work around office politics.  Would have been good to known this before I sunk five years of my life into college for a degree I would never use in any way, shape, or form.  I am very fortunate to have escaped college debt free.  Most of my classmates weren’t so lucky.  As much as I enjoyed college I would have been far better off going to a two year trade school to learn something like computer networking, web page design, or computer coding.  I would love to go back to school to learn any and all of these three things, but with being on disability insurance I don’t see how that is possible without losing Medicaid.  As it is, my medications cost over $2,000 a month without insurance.  The only way I could go without medications and not be a danger to myself and others is through long term hospitalization.  That’s not really an option as many long term care hospitals have been shut down over the years due to budget cuts and a general move away from institutionalization of mental health patients.

I would love to get into some computer related field, namely webpage design or computer networking.  If there is a way to learn this without getting thrown off the Medicaid entirely I would love to know how.  I’d probably have to do free online classes (if those are recognized by potential employers) as what I make is below poverty level.  I’m tired of being on disability and having to let my mind go to waste.  If anyone from Social Security Disability is reading, you guys are really missing out if you aren’t encouraging people into online studying for jobs that don’t require traditional education.  Besides most jobs do not require a four year degree if it wasn’t for the artificial barrier to entry it created.  Most employers I talked to said that most jobs could be learned with a year of intense on the job training or less.  If the U.S. Air Force can turn recruits into great pilots in less than two years, then it realistically doesn’t take four years of college to learn data entry or any other entry level office job.

In closing I want to work, especially at something like web page design.  I am definitely open to the idea of working from home (commuting even five minutes to my old courthouse job got old), would prefer it actually.  I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on disability and squander my mind and creativity.  And I think it’s insane that we, at least here in the USA, have a disability system that makes it confusing, frustrating, and almost impossible to return to productive work without a mountain of paper work and a maze of hoops to jump through.  It shouldn’t take acts of Congress and God both to return people who want to work back.  And frying chicken at KFC for minimum wage is not a viable career option for thirty to forty years of a working life.