End of Winter, Maybe

Getting out of the apartment more than once a day now.  For awhile during the fall and winter, there would be times I’d go entire days without leaving my apartment.  But I guess that spending my days chatting with online friends, reading articles, and messing with computer games and programs gets stale after awhile.  A change was due.  Right now much of my region of the country is getting bad blizzards.  I personally have only a couple inches of snow, some ice, but terrible winds.  Fortunately it isn’t as cold as it could be, otherwise it would be Ice Age revisited.  And this happened right as most of the snow we’ve had since before Christmas was melted.  But, this being a late winter blizzard, should be melted soon.  Then we’ll worry about flooding.  So it goes.

Now that I actually want to leave my apartment and venture out, I can’t because of weather.  I’ve been bound to my town all winter just because it was too risky to travel.  My car doesn’t do well in snow.  So I pretty much stay inside most of the time.  I do force myself outside every few days just to get what little sunshine and fresh air I can.

Been having a few minor flare ups of irritability and depression lately.  Fortunately I’ve been able to constructively deal with these.  I do have to sleep more and severely limit my caffeine.  I haven’t had coffee in over a week.  While I do feel less irritable, I do sleep more and feel more scattered.  Fortunately I don’t get much for back pain anymore.  Maybe I have lost more weight.  I exercise some every day.  And I make it a point to stand up or lay down every couple hours so as to break up the boredom and long days.  Been a tougher than usual winter.  Physically it’s been tough because of the snow, cold, wind, and lack of physical activity.  It hasn’t been too terrible mentally.  The last several days have been the toughest.  But I’ve been socializing more too.  And I admit I get more irritated with rude people than I should.  I almost never respond to rude people except to avoid them at all costs.  I have enough going on already without dealing with unnecessary rudeness.

The unexplainable aches and pains are becoming less common.  I guess I’m taking more preventative measures now.  I no longer sit for more than two hours at a time. I sleep in my recliner half of the night to rest my lower back.  I sleep lying down so not to get leg cramps from sitting too long.  I take hot showers at least twice a day now, mainly to keep my joints warm and loose.  Sometimes a few minutes of hot running water on my knees, lower back, and hands will work more wonders than even a couple Advil.  And making a point to get up every couple hours to do even simple things like walk to the kitchen to get a cup of water or walking to check my mail every evening can keep my joints loose.  I think one of the problems I was having with my back and unexplainable aches was that I didn’t move around enough.  I went through a state of excessive paranoia and anxiety for much of 2017 and all of 2018.  I was scared to drive my car, I was scared to talk to my neighbors, I was scared to leave my apartment after dark, I was scared to walk my neighborhood, and I was even scared to check my mail.  Most of my mail is junk mail now that I do everything online almost.  The 1 percent that wasn’t junk mail was usually from social security or my landlady.  I always felt a tinge of anxiety with those letters, and any time I was called before anyone in authority.  I’ve had too many bad experiences with short sighted, heartless, and irritable people in authority over me.  I just don’t trust authority to not abuse their power and influence anymore.  And, yes, it is unnerving and scary.

Winter is almost over, at least according to the calendar.  And it isn’t happening too soon.  I’m beginning to get cabin fever real bad.  I guess even strong people have their breaking points.  I am convinced I would feel much better when the weather warms up and there are options to how to spend my days.

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Rant on “Quit Whining and Man Up” and observations about socializing

Been kind of depressed and irritable for the last several days.  Haven’t been sleeping well either.  About the only thing going really well for me is my renewed diet.  I am eating less than I normally do and getting more activity.  I get my activity in the afternoons even though I’m in the habit of sleeping until noon again.

I also no longer want to socialize.  And this time I don’t feel guilty for it.  I am tired of people who are in foul and angry moods trying to drag me down into their own mindlessness and petty vendettas.  Unfortunately, anymore, if it weren’t for negativity and fighting, there would be few conversations and certainly no social media.  I hate how I just can’t have a civilized conversation with even people I partly agree with anymore.  And good luck trying to talk to anyone who doesn’t view the world the same way you do.  I’m beginning to think that many people have mental health problems just because of the way we treat each other and the stress of modern living.  Granted, a person doesn’t have to be chronic like those of us on disability to have problems.  I have had a mental illness for almost twenty years now.  And only recently are people starting to talk about the effects of stress, anxiety, and chronic mental illnesses.  For the first several years of my diagnosis I didn’t talk about my mental health to anybody.  And I think I lost several good friendships because my friends didn’t understand that my depression and anger were nothing personal, they were manifestations of the sickness.

For the first several years of my illness I just didn’t talk about it, not even to friends or employers.  Back in those days mental illness was shrouded in more mystery and ridicule than even now.  I have no idea how many times I was told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘man up’ in those early years.  ‘Man up’. Now there is a stupid phrase I can’t figure out.  What does it even mean?  Is there really only one type of manliness?  And why is it the only type of virtues in a man we appreciate are those that involve the John Wayne frontier mentality that violence is the only way to solve all problems?  I think this is stupid, very stupid.  A mentality like that will make our species extinct.  And quite honestly, I enjoy living too much to sit idle while this type of barbarian behavior is honored and encouraged.  I would rather not go back to the Stone Age.  I hated all the ‘Mad Max’ movies and I definately don’t want to experience them in real life.

Another thing, we don’t females to ‘woman up’ and we don’t tell senior citizens to ‘young down’ nor do we tell terminally ill people to ‘hurry up and die.’  It’s little things that normal people just take for granted that I don’t understand and that I often see the dumbness and hypocracy in.  But most people seem pretty cool with dumb things and hypocracy anyway, at least when it comes from sources they like.  Unfortunately I never understood this line of thinking.  It’s probably why I have problems socializing with the public at large.  And of course having a chronic mental illness that people are still ignorant about doesn’t help either.

In closing, as a thought experiment, I was wondering what would happen if someone (or a group of individuals) just went about their daily lives being as rude and condescending to physical people as we are to people in our online interactions.  I would love to see some psychiatrist conduct this experiment.  I think the results would be either very interesting or very disturbing.

Spring Routines

I’m glad that spring is finally back.  I’ve been getting outside a little more often, I’m keeping my place a little cleaner, I’m watching baseball most nights, and I’m even eating less too.  I’m still not as physically active as I would like but I think it’s starting to come back.  After my car accident in October 2015 I gained back most of the weight I had lost in the previous two years.  I think I’m finally back on the right track.  Since I still don’t have a great deal of stamina yet, I’m cutting back on calories as much as I can.  This means I’m giving up most sugar and eating meat only once a day.  I am also doing my best to avoid fried foods.  After several weeks of eating less than usual, I think I’m in a new routine.  I can’t even eat as much as I could last summer.  One of my problems was, after my accident, I got depressed and lost much of my confidence.  From there I just got lazy and ate a lot.  I have made efforts over the last several weeks to break out of this vicious cycle.  And I think I’m starting to see results.

I’ve also noticed my habits are getting better too.  During the winter I had gotten kind of lazy about shaving and cleaning up as there were entire days I didn’t leave my apartment complex.  I’m back into good habits like these again.  I would hate to think I let my personal appearance slide just because I was depressed by lousy weather.  But mental illness can do odd things to a person.

I’m starting to socialize some again.  Not so much with my neighbors as I am family and old friends.  I still don’t enjoy the fact that many of my neighbors are grumpy and irritable most of the time.  I have been around that kind of negativity for years and I don’t want it dragging me down.  I spent enough of my life being depressed, irritable, and a pessimist.  I just don’t want that anymore.

Stability and Moving Into Summer

It’s been three months since I had my last psychotic breakdown.  I have been on a different medication since.  It is working better than my previous medication.  I am more optimistic, more social, less depressed, less irritable, and I haven’t had hallucinations in three months.  The only true negative of the last several weeks was the back injury that made me inactive for three weeks.  I can lay on my stomach and get up now.  But I won’t sleep on my back in a traditional bed until I no longer have back pain.  I’ve gotten used to sleeping in a recliner.  I’ve gotten used to going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier.  I’m usually up by 6:30 in the morning.  When I was in a bed I usually wasn’t awake until 8:00.  I haven’t pulled any all nighters in a month.  I think part of my stability comes from more consistent sleep.  I know problems are coming when my sleep patterns change, especially when I get less sleep.

Traditionally late summers have always been tough for me.  I usually start feeling more irritable than usual in early July.  Usually it builds until I have a break in late summer, often in late August to early September.  Both times I went to a mental hospital I went in early September.  I have always been anxious, short tempered, and irritable from late July to mid September.  I don’t know if it’s because of the heat or if I subconsciously have bad memories of going back to school.

Last year I had a mini breakdown in early July but got through August without much problem.  The major break last year came in early October.  I also sometimes have a breakdown a few days before Christmas.  The holidays are traditionally an overwhelming and stressful time. I intentionally avoid malls and box stores in November and December.  I can’t stand the sensory overload from the decorations, bell ringers, and piped in Christmas music.  I have had to skip Thanksgiving at least twice in recent years.

I am not sure why traditionally happy times always make me depressed, sad, and irritable.  Maybe because I don’t like being told how to feel or think even on a good day.  I didn’t even like teachers telling me what to think in grade school.  Perhaps I have too strong of an independent streak.  I have never been capable of just gone along to get along. That has caused me a great deal of grief over the years.  It has caused me lots of problems in school and the workplace.  I never understood why people accept things they know to be questionable, senseless, and wrong.  I have never been able to accept something I believe to be senseless or false.  That alone has gotten me labeled a malcontent and having a bad attitude.  But I am simply unable to shut down my mind and just be an obedient sheep.  I’m sure I was quite a headache to some of my teachers, bosses, and parents when I was growing up.  I just had to know why things were done as they were.  I was that precocious child who was always asking ‘why’, even with complete strangers.  But somebody has to keep asking questions and challenging the status quo.  And I guess that I am one of those somebodies.

Socializing and Decreased Hallucinations

Now that I have my medication situation under control I’ve been easing back into more of a normal type of life.  At least it’s as normal as a life of mental illness is going to get.  One of the aspects of my life that is starting to resemble normal is my social life.  Just last week I spent two hours outdoors chatting with two of my neighbors. Three days ago I chatted with a third neighbor for over an hour. Today I chatted one on one with another neighbor for almost two hours.  Those are the three longest conversations I’ve had with someone who wasn’t family in months.  I still make a point of calling my parents at least twice a week.  It’s not just Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day I talk to my parents.  I still go to counseling twice a month with the same counselor I’ve had for the last year and a half.  We have a pretty good thing going.  I also have a good deal going with my psych doctor.  I do kind of worry because both of these men are getting close to retirement age.  So I’ll be in the market for new therapists and doctors within a few years.  I’m so glad the subject of DNA testing came up with my psych doctor.  The medication I changed to was one my DNA tests said would work really well for me.  So the DNA testing has already paid off.  We might make another change within a few weeks.  But things seem to be working well enough now we might not even need to make a second change.

I’m also noticing I can now go entire days without feeling irritable.  I don’t even really get irritable while driving.  Since I usually drive a little slower than speed limit, especially in town, I usually get passed and sometimes cut off.  But neither really bothers me that much anymore.  And I’m beginning to drive more again.  For several months I drove only when I had to run errands or to visit my family.  I rarely made spontaneous trips.  And being in an auto accident several months ago didn’t help any.  Even though I wasn’t at fault in that accident I lost some confidence in my driving ability.  It’s now coming back.  I haven’t set out on a long road trip yet but I probably will this summer.  I try to take at least one several hour road trip every summer.

I’m also having fewer auditory hallucinations.  For me, my hallucinations were almost always voices. Occasionally I hear foot steps and doors closing that no one else does, which can be quite creepy. Voices and foot steps are the two biggest hallucinations I have.  If one were to watch me closely when I’m alone, you could see my lips move and I would be speaking under my breath. That’s how the hallucinations make themselves manifest. It no doubt looks very odd but hopefully it’s not as painfully obvious as some schizophrenic hallucinations.  I can have entire conversations with the voices and not even speak loud enough to be heard.  But since most of the voices are quite nasty and critical it’s not like the conversations are enriching or enjoyable.  But I’m getting to where I now have much more conversation with real flesh and blood people than just isolating and arguing with my hallucinations.

Sleep Effects On Mental Illness

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Since the end of the holidays things have slowed down in my life.  I have gotten quite a bit done.  I have also more stable than the last several months.  I attribute this greater stability to not just the end of outside stressors but also on how much sleep I get.

I confess to being a night owl.  Have been my entire life.  Even I need at least seven hours of straight sleep in order to function well.  I can get away with pulling two all nighters in a row and sleeping for maybe five hours in the morning hours every two to three weeks.  But it takes longer to recover than in years past.  A lack of sleep makes me irritable, short tempered, and unable to focus if it goes on for more than a few days.  So to cut this off I’ll reduce caffine, especially after lunch for a couple days.  This helps with falling asleep easier.   It allows me to sleep at times when the normals of the world do.  After a couple days of more consistent sleep I feel like I’m reset.  I can probably do one all nighter every five to seven days without much problem.  But I try to sneak a second one in I’m asking for trouble. Three in a row is asking for problems.  After my grandmother died and my subsequent car wreck, I was pulling two to three all nighters per week.  No wonder I had two breakdowns within three months.  I usually have only one per year, often in late August or early September.

In short, I need sleep.  It takes a toll on my mental stability if I don’t get consistent sleep for more than a few days.  Mental illness can be made more severe without good sleep.  I know mine can be worse when I’m not sleeping well.