It’s almost Independence Day in my country. And of course people are shooting off fireworks and making plans for cookouts already. I don’t have any real plans besides grill some bratwurst on my electric grill and watch fireworks from my apartment window. As it has been quite hot and humid the last several days, I have avoided going outside unless necessary. Of course I’m not getting much sunlight by staying indoors most of the time.
I’m a week into my new medications plan. I found out the hard way if I take them all at once like I have traditionally done, then I will want to do nothing but sleep for the next twelve hours. After a couple nights of that, I found out I had to break my medications into at minimum twice a day. So I usually take some of my medications when I eat breakfast and I take the ones that help me sleep at night before bed. After a week on these new meds I have found my self eating less than usual. And I have recently had an odd craving for cheese and milk. Maybe I haven’t been getting enough calcium the last several months. I’m also looking out for more non meat sources of proteins like beans. I now actually want to eat certain fruits like strawberries and blueberries. Too bad they are kind of pricey. It’s also too bad that most inexpensive foods aren’t very healthy. That could explain why so many poor people, at least the poor in the USA, are overweight.
As far as blood pressure goes, I knew for years it was only a matter of time before I ended up on blood pressure pills as that runs in my family. My father has taken blood pressure medications for years and he’s now in his early 70s. He also hasn’t had any heart attack or stroke problems. Hopefully I can make it to my 70s inspite mental illness and being overweight.
I’ve noticed a few changes already in this new treatment. It takes more to make me irritated. I’m less paranoid. I actually want to leave my apartment and interact with my fellow tennants. I’m better able to stay on top of household chores. I eat less than normal. I feel less tense. I have fewer unexplained aches and pains. About the only true drawbacks I noticed so far are that I want to sleep more if I’m not careful about when I take my meds and I have to use the rest room more often. I don’t know if that’s the meds or the fact I drink more water. I easily drink almost a gallon a water every day. But there are worse things than water to be consuming. For a few years I’ve been having nerve problems in my thigh that sometimes felt like burning electrical shocks. But those problems have all but gone away by now.
I still have to get some new furniture for my apartment. Most of the things I had were quite old and had to be replaced. I’m thinking of sweet talking my parents into letting me have one of their sofas. I also think I need a heavy duty recliner that I could sleep in if my back ever started hurting again. My living room is looking kind of bare with only a couple kitchen table chairs and my tv and a “coffee table” decorated to look like an old style travel trunk with all the stickers of places and resorts from around the world. That was my mother’s idea. I’m glad she talked me into putting those stickers on.
Overall things are going well. I’m gradually being cured of wanting to sleep all the time. And I’m also slowly being cured of my desire for sugared soda pop. Anymore if I want caffeine, I’ll have coffee or tea. I can hardly wait to see what the next few weeks bring.
Currently in the middle of my spring cleaning. It’s not going as fast as I would like it to though. My lower back flares up after being on my feet for awhile so I have to go slower than I used to. I am beginning to fear that lower back pain is something I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life. One of the reasons this is turning into a bigger than usual job is that I wasn’t keeping up on the cleaning and maintenance this winter like I had in years past. I didn’t keep up on it because of the back pain and occasional bouts of depression to where I didn’t want to do anything but read and watch youtube videos. I went through a lot of that last fall and this past winter. I don’t know if it was the weather that had me depressed or if the illness was flaring up in different ways than previously. I did go through bad bouts of paranoia when I would sometimes go two to three days in a row without leaving my apartment. I don’t get the paranoia nearly as bad anymore. I don’t know if the weather turning warmer or just the natural cycles of my schizophrenia is causing these changes.
It’s not that I was lazy about my upkeep just because I was lazy. I have lived on my own more or less for fourteen years and I always made a point to keep my place picked up and better looking than most bachelor pads. I think the mental illness was effecting me more this last fall and winter than I would have cared to admit. Looking back on some of my winter writings I was really paranoid and too often had delusional feelings of persecution that, in reality, were alive only in my stressed and diseased mind. I have to admit as my paranoia can flare up worse than in years past and with my physical health not as robust as it once was, I have to bring in outside help. I am convinced I’ll need to reconfigure my budget and hire a regular cleaning service. Sometimes I’d be depressed about the apartment looking shabby and the apartment looked shabby because I was too depressed and paranoid to do anything about it. I know I can get back on top of my current issues. Living on my own for fourteen years I have proven to myself and others that I can even if it takes me a little longer than many average people. It’s just a matter of doing so.
I know that sometimes in my blog I probably appear over optimistic about having schizophrenia and being an adult in general. Sometimes that is be encouraging to the readers, sometimes I write things I need myself to hear. I imagine I have been overly optimistic when I wasn’t in the grips of paranoia and delusion this winter.
In other news, I think I’m starting to lose weight again. I can tell my clothes are fitting looser and my back pain isn’t as intense. As far as my diet goes, I have cut out pasta, rice, and bread. I eat mostly grilled lean meats and vegetables anymore. And I think I’m starting to see some results. I want to get back on top of everything that slid during my fall and winter bouts of depression, paranoia, delusions, and anxiety. At least I no longer feel anxious when I hear footsteps in the hallway. So that’s a start.
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.