Quarantine Journal: July 13 2020

Today is the four month anniversary of when I started my volunteer quarantine for this coronavirus pandemic.  I haven’t gone out much these last four months except to pick up deliveries and check my mail.  Been fortunate that I had a couple neighbors help with my laundry and apartment cleaning.  I am starting to get more mobile again as I have fewer aches and pains.  Even the mornings aren’t too bad if I just give myself a couple minutes to loosen my muscles after sleeping.

Haven’t had any symptoms of the virus yet.  There have been dozens of people in my town who have been sick.  Mentally I am sometimes stressed.  Glad I don’t have much for paranoia these days.  Summers can be tough for me to begin with, especially August and early September.  I think it’s helped that I limit my time on social media and limit my exposure to regular news.  I get most of my news online instead of regular cable channels.  I do occasionally watch Bloomberg online via youtube.  But that is more business and tech news than anything.

I keep in contact with friends and family on a daily basis.  Talked to my nephews and niece this afternoon.  They are visiting the grandparents right now.  I sometimes envy my parents being so close to the rest of the family and living in a larger area with more options for medical care, entertainment, etc.  But I probably couldn’t enjoy much of this as I no longer have a car.  I still have my drivers’ license but I haven’t driven in almost a year.  I just got too much sensory overload and I didn’t feel like I was safe operating a car.  Besides, I’ve rediscovered the joy of staying at home, eating home cooked meals, and hosting guests in my own home as a result.

Haven’t watched much new for tv.  Did finish Upload on Amazon a few weeks ago.  Been listening to audiobooks quite a bit.  Started a new video game, well new to me anyway.  Been working on Final Fantasy 15 for the last few days.  I like games like that and Skyrim.  They are a good change up from the Civilization, Total War, and Sim City games that are my usual fare.

My best friend from college and his wife are expecting their second child in less than two weeks.  They have a two year old daughter.  And my oldest nephew will be taking his drivers’ license test in a few days.  It’s fun watching these kids grow up and develop traits and personalities of their own.  Yet I am thankful I didn’t have children of my own, at least with my mental illness.  Maybe I could have made a decent father and husband had I never become schizophrenic.  I’ll never know.  I rarely dwell on the ‘what could have been’, certainly not like I did ten years ago.  The only times I do the what if game is when I am in a mental breakdown.  Glad those don’t happen very often, usually only a few times per year.  As it is, if I can’t be a father and husband, I can do the next best thing and be a great friend, a great uncle, and a great son to my parents.  Even as a middle aged man getting a few gray hairs in my beard, I will always be my mom and dad’s son.

 

August 18 2019

Having a decent weekend overall.  Other than feeling a little restless and lonely at the same time, I am doing well.  I haven’t felt restless for weeks so this is kind of a different feeling for me.  I do occasionally get lonely, but usually a few phone calls or chats with friends online will cure me of that.  I’m also noticing the days are getting shorter.  I’m ready for cooler weather and watching football again.  I have done well this summer even if I haven’t gotten out as much as previous summers.  I still keep active with indoor exercise.  I am fortunate in that when my cleaning lady comes to my apartment every week, she will chat with me while she works.  I get some socializing that way.  I also chat up the delivery men when they bring my groceries. I now know why senior citizens get lonely and love it when friends and family drop by for even a few minutes.  I may not be physically as active as years past because of my back and weight problems.  But I am slowly losing weight and regaining some stamina.  I didn’t get out of shape overnight so I can’t expect to remedy this problem quickly either.

January 27, 2019

Got an earlier than usual start to this day.  It’s still dark as I write this.  Got only five hours of sleep last night.  I had been getting eight or so for weeks.  I hope this change in sleep patterns isn’t a prelude to problems.  But overall I feel quite well.  Sometimes I do get kind of lonely though.  Socializing over facebook and phone just isn’t the same as seeing someone in person.  But I don’t socialize much in person because it seems that so many people I come into contact with are in foul and irritable moods all the time.  Don’t know what to make of it.  I just don’t want that negativity rubbing off on me.  I don’t have the energy or the time to deal with needless drama anymore.  I’m too old for it.  As it is I’m content to stay alone for the time being.

Paranoia Returning

I haven’t been doing as well the last few days as I have been in previous months.  I’m feeling excessively paranoid and just wanting to be alone all the time anymore.  I don’t even enjoy talking on the phone.  Other than a couple friends and a couple futurist groups, I have given up on socializing on facebook.  Just seems to me that everyone wants to be irritable and riled up all the time anymore.  And it makes me sick.  Makes me wonder why bother being an optimist or trying to stay in a good mood.  Everyone else it seems is in always in a lousy and angry mood, why should I be any different?  I just don’t see any happiness or genuine joy in the world anymore.  I’m just scared all the time anymore.  I’m scared of my neighbors, I’m scared of my landlords, I’m scared of my family, and I’m scared of even friends and acquiantances anymore.  It’s like empathy doesn’t exist anymore.  I just want to stay home and sleep all the time anymore.  And even in my dreams I am tormented.  But at least my dreams aren’t real.  My paranoias might not be reality either, but they just as well be as that is how powerful the human mind is.  I’m just too tired and burned out to stay angry all the time anymore.  That anger has given way to genuine fear and anxiety.  I am tired of being full of fear all the time.  I used to believe the future would be really cool if we could get past our short term issues.  I no longer believe that.  I think the dystopians were right and the future will be worse than even now.  I’ve observed people in my own life since I was a child and rarely do people change for the better over the years.  Most actually get more angry, greedy, irritable, and hateful as they age.  At least, that’s the impression that I have gotten over the years.  I’m tired of always being sad and depressed.  I’m tired of seeing nothing but hate and anger in everyone I meet anymore.  People like that just as well be back in the Stone Age.  And maybe that’s where we are heading.  I hope not.  I guess I’m writing just to get things I’ve kept bottled up for weeks now.  I’m scared if I had the traditional psych breakdown where I vent for a couple hours that I’ll get the cops called on me and I will definately then be evicted.  I’ve always had the fear of being evicted from my apartment too.  Had that for years.  I doubt it would be any better if I owned my own property.  I’m just paranoid to a disabling degree.  But such is the nature of schizophrenia.  And I still have no understanding of people who don’t believe that mental illness exists.  But some people are just ignorant and lack any kind of empathy.  If you have no empathy, than I won’t deal with you.  The world needs empathy, compassion, and a willingness to forgive and let a few things slide more than ever.  And I just don’t see this happening, at least not where I live.

Trying To Live The Drama Free Life

I just realized that I don’t post as much to this blog as much as I used to.  I just really haven’t had that much drama in my life lately.  I’m not complaining.  Drama and mental illness are vicious tag team partners that are always together.  Normally with mental illness, it has been quite rare that I don’t have at least a minor flare up every few days.  It’s just that as I have aged and matured I don’t act on these impulses nearly as much anymore.  I have learned that yes, it is alright to feel bad.  Yes, it is alright to fume and quietly rant to yourself.  This is especially true if it helps me cope with mental illness and I don’t take out my issues on other people.  Mental illness is scary enough for me.  I can’t imagine how bad it is to someone who isn’t familiar with the ups and downs.

As it is as I have aged and been under treatment for most of my adult life, I have fewer ups and downs than I did in my teens and early twenties.  It is actually quite nice to not have problems like I had in the past.  Yet it did come at the cost of almost isolating myself for much of my life.  Fortunately for myself I can keep myself in good company for days at a time if need be.  It is kind of a lonely life, but at least I have always been one who preferred my own company or small groups as opposed to being Mr. Social Hour.  I enjoy living a drama free life.  At least, my life is as drama free as someone with schizophrenia is going to be.

End of Winter and Desires for Travel

Today was the first day in weeks we had warm weather.  I had to get outside to enjoy it.  This has been a tougher than usual winter.  I spent a lot of time indoors and hibernating because of the bad cold spells and snow storms.  Now that it’s almost March I can see the beginning of the end of winter.  And I am not sorry at all to see winter on it’s way out.

Been spending too much time indoors and isolating.  There were times I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  With as bad as the weather was, it seemed pointless to just wander the halls.  There were days I would sleep sometimes as much as twelve hours a day just out of boredom.  Unfortunately I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked this winter.  And I was lazy about writing for the last few weeks.  While I have been stable mentally this winter, this was probably because I wasn’t doing much to invite troubles.  I lost some of my social contacts from isolating and staying home so much this winter.  Hopefully I can get those reestablished soon.

I still hear from old friends and family a couple times a week.  Not as often as I would like, but I get that most people don’t have as much free time as I do.  Mental illness essentially sent me into early retirement right about when my friends’ careers were taking off.  Most of my friends now are married and have kids.  I have as much freedom as anyone I know and yet I don’t get to share it very often.  It’s a shame that most of my best friends from the past live out of state.  I do have online friends from my discussion groups, but many of them live in other countries.  I’ll probably never get to meet them in person even though I have far more in common with these friends than I do most people in my own hometown.

I would love to travel more but I absolutely can’t stand driving anymore.  And flying airlines anymore is about as enjoyable as going to the dentist for root canal work.  I have friends scattered to the four winds I haven’t seen since college graduation that I would give almost anything to see even for a few days.  Since some of the old friends live in foreign countries I’d have to get a passport.  I don’t know what Social Security’s rules are for disabled people traveling overseas and collecting disability pension.  But I guess those dreams of travel and seeing old friends will stay in the realm of pipe dreams probably forever.  I’ll just have to do the next best thing and socialize online I suppose.

September 5, 2017

Been several days since I last wrote.  An update is in order.  I’m still sleeping more than I would like.  To see if I can change this around, I’m starting to sleep in a recliner.  When I slept in my recliner because of back pains, I would usually be awake shortly after sunrise and sleep only 6 to 7 hours per night.  As it is now, I have been sleeping 10 to 14 hours a night for much of the summer.  Something has to change.  Mentally I have been feeling well for months.  Since late summers are usually the toughest time of year for me, I have been reluctant to change much this summer.  As good as I have been feeling lately I haven’t wanted to change my meds or routines.  But this sleeping twelve hours a day and being up most of the night can’t be kept up.  My social life is hurting because of it and I haven’t been outside of my hometown all summer.  I have to make some changes.

I think some of my neighbors may be worried about me considering how little I socialize in my complex and how I often sleep during the days.  I try to keep out of peoples’ ways and keep to myself most days lately.  This is a change as I used to be more social than I am now.  I think I don’t socialize much mainly because of the paranoia I still sense when I’m around large groups of people or out in public.  Even though I have much of the depression and hallucinations of schizophrenia taken care of, I still deal with some paranoia and social anxiety.  I haven’t dealt with this level of social anxiety in several years like what I’m dealing with now.  Sometimes I’m even too anxious to run regular errands like buying groceries until I absolutely need to.  Needless to say, this isn’t healthy.  And with winter coming up, I’m just going to have to break out of this anxiety somehow and start buying more than a few days worth of food at a time.  Some winters we can get big blizzards that will shut things down for a couple days.  And of course ice storms also make traveling during the winter tough.  So I think I have no choice but to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and just start stocking up for when the weather turns cold in a couple months.  Fortunately I tend to be more stable in the winter and spring than summer and early autumn.

I haven’t had a regular counselor for several months.  Not because I was upset with my counselor or anything like that.  It’s just that I got stable enough I didn’t think I really needed it.  Mentally I’m stable and have been for months.  I still face some social anxiety and do feel anxious about driving somedays.  That’s the big reason I haven’t left my hometown all summer.

One of the good things about living as an adult with mental illness that I didn’t have in my late teens when this mental illness was just getting started is that I can still keep in contact with people real easy as opposed to twenty years ago.  I may sometimes rant about the abuses that people do with their Facebook and twitter accounts, but they are still good ways to keep in touch with people from my high school, college, and extended family.  I definitely regretted not going to my family reunion this summer, especially since my mother and father were the main hosts.  But the anxiety was that strong.  I know the anxiety exists in my brain and mind but the mind is strong enough that it can make anxiety real enough to be crippling in some cases.  I have friends who have problems with anxiety and depression too.  It breaks my heart that I often can’t do much to help them out other than being a sounding board and listen to them.  I tend to be a problem solver by nature, but sometimes things like depression, anxiety, and mental illness simply don’t have immediate solutions.

Seasonal Aspects of Mental Illness and My Working History With Mental Illness

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I’m adjusting nicely to the summer.  Traditionally summers have been my roughest times of year.  I would usually be more paranoid and irritable than usual this time of year.  I could usually count on at least one psychotic breakdown every summer, usually in late August or early September.  Both times I went to the mental hospital were in early September.  So there is a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia.  Having dealt with this illness for close to twenty years I have figured out that there are times of year that are worse than others.  July and August are always tough.  The holidays season can be tough unless I avoid crowds and lots of stimulation.  Winters and springs are always pleasant and productive times for me.  I do a great deal of writing and reading in the winters and springs.  Spring has always been a favorite time of year for me.

But this summer so far I’m doing well.  I think it helps that I usually spend a lot of time out of the heat and avoid stressful situations and people.  Granted this means a pretty lonely stretch of the year where I don’t socialize much in person.  Yet, I still keep in contact with family and friends via phone calls and internet.  Facebook is a large means of promotion for this blog.

As it is, I don’t have a regular job.  Haven’t for five years.  Before I decided to devote myself to this blog and being an advocate for the mentally ill who couldn’t speak for themselves, I worked a variety of jobs.  Over the years I have worked as a salesman, a teachers’ aide at a small university, a factory worker, a janitor, a loading dock employee, a fast food cook, a waiter, and a tutor.  Even though this blog doesn’t even break even, I consider it the most rewarding job I ever had.  I have gotten many dozens of comments that have stated that I am helping them or helping them understand loved ones with mental illness problems.  I have been doing this blog for over four years, which is as long as I held my longest job.  Used to be I’d get serious anxiety attacks before I went to work and even while I was at work.  Many of these would be bad enough that I would vomit before I went into work.  After years of fighting these anxiety issues, I decided that working a traditional job wasn’t in my future.  I thought I needed to change course because I was making myself miserable over minimum wage jobs and dealing with rude and unreasonable people.  I have a few horror stories from my time working in retail and fast food.  I’m sure most working in these industries have far more.  As it was, I came to the conclusion that regular work wasn’t worth it anymore.  It it wasn’t for Disability Insurance, I would either be homeless, in prison, or dead.  So it bothers me anytime someone talks about wanting to eliminate these programs.  What kind of “advanced” civilization doesn’t care about the weakest and most vulnerable among their citizens?

I did not end up on disability by my own doing or choice.  I originally went to college with the idea of going to medical school and becoming a medical research scientist.  But my problems with mental illness got so severe in college that I had to change paths and even take a semester long break.  I finally graduated with a business degree.  The reason I chose business was that I wanted to be employable as soon as I left college.  Even though I love writing and reading, I had heard horror stories about liberal arts majors working minimum wage jobs because they couldn’t find work in their fields.

It turned out that I’m grateful I didn’t succeed in sales or find a banking job like I thought I would after graduation.  I know now that I would be miserable wearing a suit and dealing with people day after day.  At least with a blog I don’t even have to leave my living room.  No shirt, no shoes, no problems I suppose in my chosen field.

In closing I’m doing well despite it being a traditionally rough time of year for me.  I think the medications changes I undertook a few weeks ago are working.  And after twenty years of mental illness, I have figured out that there are some things that can make even tough situations much more bearable.

Loneliness and Depression

Haven’t been out that much the last few days besides getting a little sunshine everyday, at least on days the sun is shining.  We’ve been getting rain everyday it seems for almost two weeks.  So I’ve been living off my food reserves and rarely leaving the apartment the last few days.

Not that I really mind.  Sometimes it’s therapeutic just being alone with my thoughts for hours on end.  It takes me a long time to fall asleep anymore, but I spend most of the time trying to fall asleep allowing my mind to wander.  I am sometimes my own best company.

In the past I’ve tried day programs designed for mentally ill people.  But much of what went on seemed quite remedial to me, almost like a rehash of grade school.  I found such programs quite boring and didn’t make any friends there.

I’m finding it harder to make friends the older I get.  Most people my age have careers and families.  I really can’t relate to either one.  And some people don’t want to friend me because I don’t have a family or a career.  And it’s really tough making friends in my apartment complex anymore.  Half of the people in my complex are senior citizens, and some of them seem resentful that I live in low income housing with them.  The other half are people with chronic illnesses and developmental disabilities.  It can get lonely in here at times.  I know that spending most of my life alone isn’t healthy.  But many people I just can’t relate to because I’m terrible at small talk.  Too bad there aren’t communes for eccentric people like me with a variety of interests.  Kind of like dormitory living for adults.  I know, not going to happen.

The depression occasionally crops up.  Fortunately the delusions and paranoia hasn’t followed.  I have lost interest in many things I once found enjoyable.  I no longer like travel.  I no longer like fishing.  I don’t even read as much as I used to.  Maybe I’m entering a new phase of my illness.  In a lot of ways, the illness itself is much easier to cope with than ten to fifteen years ago.  But I still do get kind of sad when I look at my friends and people I went to school with and I get to see what they’ve accomplished and their families.  I definitely feel like I’m missing out.  At least I can still write about these issues.  It’s the closest thing to a career I’ll ever have.

Needing To Vent

Been raining for almost a week straight in my town.  Not that I mind because it gives me an excuse to sleep in and stay home.  I’ve always been a natural night person and I don’t see that changing soon.  Unfortunately my landlord’s office hours are always in the morning so I never get to see her.  I’ve given up on ever getting my walls painted and carpet replaced.  I’ve been hearing that it was coming for over a year.  They can build skyscrapers in less than a year in China it seems.  Yet I can’t get approval for my walls to be painted and carpet replaced.  Go figure.  And people wonder why I don’t trust authority figures.

Somedays I really wonder if I am making any difference with being mentally ill or even making progress with this illness.  I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ll never get cured of schizophrenia, which would be a dream come true for me.  I’ve fought this illness for over twenty years and I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of always feeling paranoid.  I’m tired of being depressed all the time.  I’m tired of not being able to work.  I’m tired of people thinking I’m just making my problems up.  I’m angry that I’m never going to live up to my potential through no fault of my own.  It would be one thing if I fried my brains through drug abuse.  I would probably get more empathy if this illness was self inflicted. The public’s lack of understanding about mental illness and anything having to do with science is sickening.  I mean this is 2017 people, we’re supposed to be an advanced civilization.  Not advanced enough for me that’s for sure.

I can’t even really socialize anymore.  Most people seem to be in foul moods all the time or just want to talk about stupid things that have been rehashed a thousand times before.  Do people really get dumber the older they get?  I was always under the impression that older people were supposed to be wise and full of good advice.  Not so from what I’ve seen.  Most days I just don’t want to leave my apartment anymore.  I’m just tired of dealing with stupid and rude people all day.  I’m so glad I no longer work in retail customer service.  Those people take an incredible amount of abuse for no more then they are paid.

I don’t know if there is a point to this post.  I’m sure some are thinking I should “man up” and “quit whining.”  But, even I have moments of weakness at times.  I can’t be everyone’s Mr. Sunshine all the time.  And I shouldn’t have to be.  Years ago, someone with my diagnosis would be long term hospitalized and never heard from again.  Out of sight out of mind.  One of the reasons we’re seeing more and more mentally ill people in public is because of deinstitutionalization.  It’s not that the younger generations are weaker and morally inferior to previous generations.  It’s not that at all.  Modern times are not crazier than the past, they are just better documented.  I’m just tired that’s all.  I just need to vent.  And if a mentally ill person isn’t allowed to vent, then no one should.