End of Summer and The Power of Not Screwing Up

Still feeling slightly more irritable and paranoid than I previously had for the last few days.  Having a false fire alarm in my apartment complex over the weekend didn’t help to ease tension much.  All it accomplished was getting me out of the house for a couple hours during the heat of the afternoon.  That was over the weekend and I have essentially kept a low profile since.  It’s been too hot to do much else.  But fall will be here in a few weeks as will cooler days and chilly nights.

Haven’t really kept in contact with friends and family as much as I normally do.  But then, I guess I don’t have much to report.  My life has been uneventful other than trying to avoid drama and keeping the creeping symptoms of the illness at bay.  I pretty much sleep ten hours a day now, not that I want to but I know I need to.  Otherwise I might be having more issues.

I still have another few traditionally tough weeks ahead before things will settle into a more normal and calming routine.  For now I’m taking things day by day and not really looking too far ahead.  I’m just deep into routine on top of routine now.  About the only thing I don’t like about being an adult is that it’s practically impossible to socialize with old friends and family.  And of course good luck making new friends at this point in life.  Everyone I know that would have similar interests are either busy with families or work life.  I’ve lost contact with lots of friends this way.  Some I haven’t heard from for a few years and then the next thing I hear is that they’re divorced and starting over.  Or they got laid off from a job and they still have student loans and kids to raise.  To people like this I feel kind of guilty in that I don’t have that level of drama or issues.  Sometimes I feel like an outcast because I didn’t make decisions like marrying the wrong person, having kids I couldn’t afford, or taking a job that got automated or outsourced.  But if miserly loves company, than wisdom is the loneliest.  And I don’t even consider myself that successful or accomplished.  My only real accomplishments I’ve had are avoiding major life crippling mistakes and making my peace with my life of mental illness.  It’s not like I had several kids, make massive amounts of money, or have a lot of positive influence and prestige.  I just managed to avoid serious screwups.  But I guess there is a great deal of power in freedom in not messing up.

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There Really Is More to Life than Just Working and Money

Been feeling quite lonely for the last few days.  I’m actually craving attention from other people, especially from people with similar interests and in my age bracket.  Haven’t heard from any of my old high school or college friends in weeks.  Seems like many of my friends got busy with family and careers and forgot about their old friends.  As far as I can tell, I am one of the only single friends in my circle of friends.  Some of my friends have even gone through divorces by now.  I almost never hear from my brother.  But he has four kids and a serious career, so I guess we have nothing in common.  And to make things even worse, we weren’t close at all growing up.  We were just completely different people with nothing in common except that we had the same parents.  Not having a relationship with my brother is one of the few true regrets I have about my current life that I could have done different.

Having a serious mental illness taught me that there is more to life than having a career.  Unfortunately, too many people don’t realize this until they are retired and most of their life is behind them.  This is probably why so many people feel depressed and useless once their careers are over, especially older men.  Like most boys, I was constantly asked what I wanted to do when I grew up.  I usually answered something in the sciences.  But the mental illness came creeping in just right before I could cash in on my brains and use them in a career.  Thank God I found a small niche online as a mental health blogger/philosopher.  I don’t even want to think what would have happened had I been born in my grandparents’ generation and not had this outlet.  It also makes me wonder how many mentally ill geniuses were lost over the centuries because they had no outlets to use their smarts.

I wanted to be a scientist when I was a child.  As it turned out I became a writer with interests in science.  I developed lots of interests and hobbies over the years, but never became profecient enough to turn these interests into careers.  For awhile as a child I flew model airplanes with my dad.  I did quite a bit of fishing and survival training when I was in Boy Scouts.  I made model cars for awhile.  I collected coins and baseball cards for a few years.  Still have all of  my baseball cards from my youth.  I taught myself some basic computer coding.  That probably could have turned into a job, at least until computers can regularly code themselves.  Who knows, maybe in the future the majority of people won’t have regular jobs simply because machines and programs can do them better and make many things cheaper.

While I wouldn’t mind a future like this, I do understand why some people are apprehensive about what could be coming in the next couple decades.  For generations, people have identified with the work they did to live.  Everybody was interested in work and a person who didn’t need or want a regular job was an outcast.  I have been an outcast in this regard for the last several years in that I don’t have a regular job, and really don’t need one as I can live just on my disability pension.  I no longer feel the need for a lot of money.  What I want at this point is to do work that makes a difference to people, the kind of work that “puts a dent in the universe” as the late Steve Jobs used to say.

While I am not delusional enough to believe I’m sure to get famous just from blogging, I do want to make a positive difference in the lives of the people who happen to read these postings.  I suppose that since my basic needs are met by my disability pension, I can now move onto meaningful work and self actualization on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Self actualized and I make poverty level (for American standard) salary, only in the early 21st century.  The closet I can think that anyone else in history was to this while living at low wages is probably medieval monks and scholars.  No need to be entertained with lots of money when my own mind can keep me company.

Measuring Up

Not much has happened in the last few days.  We’re bracing for a snow storm to come in over the next couple days.  I’m still sleeping in my recliner as I’m still nursing my bad back.  Mentally I guess I have been okay even with fighting off the occasional bouts of boredom and anxiety.  I still feel kind of paranoid about people in general.  Since I have pretty good hearing, I can hear everything that goes on in the hallway outside of my apartment.  I don’t like unanticipated visitors as I have always been paranoid about that. I enjoy visiting people, but I can’t stand someone coming over unannounced when I am already self conscious about myself and my place.  My entire life I have had a fear that I don’t measure up in anything and that nothing I do will be good enough.  And since I’ve been fired from a few jobs in the past for things I didn’t know I was doing wrong and have lost friendships over people being annoyed with me being eccentric, many of my paranoias have been confirmed.  At least they are confirmed in my diseased mind but probably not in anyone else’s.  And since I don’t have the ability to read people very well, socializing has become a nightmare I would rather avoid.

Burned Out On Angry People

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Other than a few bad days and one really bad day, I have been doing quite well for months.  I imagine part of this has to do with avoiding angry and rude people.  Sure I may not have much of a social life, but at this point in my life I no longer want to deal with rude and irritable people.  I suppose I have hit my limit and don’t want to deal with it anymore.  This kind of scares me as I am fearful that limiting my socializing will make me jaded and mean spirited as I age.  I have known irritable and mean older people my entire life.  I promised myself a very long time ago I would not turn out to be an angry and bitter old man.  Maybe the only way I can do this is to severely limit who I socialize with anymore.  I don’t post anything to Facebook or twitter anymore besides these blog posts.  I finally became burned out on all the negativity, drama, etc.  I have enough problems in my mentally ill mind that I don’t need my friends and family adding to them.  I don’t see many of my friends online anymore either.  I suppose they became burned out too.  I hope that all this negativity and anger isn’t a new normal.

I really don’t enjoy socializing with most people anymore.  I don’t want to socialize with negative and rude people anymore.  Yet that is what all I seem to see anymore, online and in my own community.  I try to tell my friends and family about what is actually going right, but I get mostly dead silence from these people.  The few that do respond usually tell me I’m a liar.  Seems to me normal people love to be immersed in anger and negativity.  I don’t understand people.  Then again I never have.  I suppose I never will.  I’m just tired of all the anger and negativity.  From now on I’ll keep my optimism to myself.

 

Starting New Routines

A few days ago my family came to visit me.  We spent the day cleaning my apartment.  Once that was done I went to see my psych doctor.  We decided to add a third medication and I’m supposed to see him again in two weeks.

Other routines that have changed is I’m waking up earlier and not staying awake all night like I used to.  Since I’ve been having pains in my lower back again I’ve been sleeping in my recliner more.  I still spend the bulk of my days in my apartment and alone.  I still don’t want to leave my place very often.  Even though I’m sleeping less I find myself wanting to sleep at the oddest times.  I want to sleep but fortunately I can’t fall asleep whenever I want.

I’m still keeping in contact with old friends and family.  At least that hasn’t fallen apart.  But other than that I still don’t socialize much.  I guess I’m only now starting to realize how far I have declined in the last year and a half.

Socializing, Family, and Facebook

The Memorial Day weekend has come and gone and now the weather will definitely start getting hot soon.  I’ve been feeling stable but on and off depressed for months, especially since the middle of winter.  I think some of this depression comes from just being so lonely all the time.  There are only so many books I can read before I’m burned out.  Fortunately I was able to see a couple cousins and their families for the afternoon over the long weekend.  I hadn’t seen either cousin in a long time.  It was fun catching up with them.  First prolonged intelligent conversations I had in months.

I gets bouts and depression and loneliness more frequently than I used to.  It doesn’t help that I don’t really have any friends in my apartment complex anymore.  It also hurts that I had major falling outs with a few old friends that I had known for several years.  One of these friend couldn’t respect the fact that I’m not working a regular job and spending most of my time alone.  This person also thought I’m wasting my time with this blog.  Well, I sent that friend packing.  If a person can’t respect my decisions about work and how I spend my time, then we can’t be friends.

Another friend and I had a falling out over politics.  I’m sure I’m not the only person who can claim that these days.  But I just can’t stand how divisive and hateful modern politics has become.  It didn’t used to be this way.  Besides, political fan boys on all sides seem to be too blind to realize that modern politicians don’t care about the voters unless said voters are lobbyists or big money donors.  The way some of my friends and family post on Facebook, you’d think they were getting paid for every post about politics they put on their sites.  Besides, does anyone change their thinking because of these posts.  It’s like watching monkeys at the zoo fling manure at each other but not nearly as entertaining and far less civilized.  I’d quit Facebook and twitter if they weren’t the only means I had to keep in contact with most of my friends and my key promotional materials for this blog.  Mark Zuckerberg really has a business monopoly that would do any 19th century robber baron proud.

The biggest reason I don’t post about my particular beliefs is that, well, no one group reflects what I value.  When it comes to social issues, it depends on the issue.  When it comes to having a good military, I’m in line with some Reagan era Republicans even if I’m not as interventionist.  When it comes to curbing the abuses and excesses of Wall Street and big business, I’m almost as militant as any Occupy Wall Street guy.  And I definitely won’t support any politician of any stripe that wants to cut science funding.  Science funding is quite small compared to military or social programs.  I don’t have a political home because there isn’t any party that reflects what I value.  And I think many people in the under 40 crowd feel the same way.  And I know it may irritate some of my elders to write this, but I think the last thing our world needs is a senior citizen politician who isn’t familiar with science and modern technology.  My parents generation has been in charge for almost thirty years.  Retire and play with your grandkids already, you earned it 🙂

I guess the biggest reason I have been fighting depression for awhile is that my primary means of socializing and communicating, social media sites, have become so toxic and nasty even among friends and family.  And I think it sucks.  Some days I doubt I really am making any positive difference.  Heck, some days I wonder if people even want positivity and happiness in their lives.

Christmas and Mental Health

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I was originally going to do only one article today.  But consider this my two for the price of one sale. Christmas and the other end of year holidays will be upon us soon.  I didn’t put up any decorations and skipped out on the apartment’s Christmas party.  I don’t even do any shopping besides grocery shopping this time of year.  All the lights, bell ringing, too loud music, and too over the top decorations really give me bad cases of sensory overload.  Sometimes I can get sensory overload even driving in rush hour traffic.  Just everything moving too fast, too many sites, and too many noises I suppose.  So you can imagine how bad Christmas can be for me.

I’ll probably go to my parents’ house for a couple days but I doubt I’ll do anything with the extended family.  Once again too much sensory overload and no means to tactfully excuse myself from such overload.  I’m looking forward to the end of the holidays and the end of 2016 in general.  I really haven’t watched that much football this year as it has lost much of it’s appeal for me.  I just no longer enjoy watching it.  I did watch playoff baseball but really haven’t watched any tv outside of netflix and youtube since the end of October.

I enjoy the colder weather.  I’m happy for the longer nights and the decreased expectation that I always have to be going somewhere and spending time with someone outside of my apartment.  I enjoy spending time in my apartment with my books, my internet, my music, and my computer games.  When I want to talk to friends and family I can always call them over the phone or chat online and not have to be embarrassed or shamed if I want to end the conversation in a hurry.  I really have no stomach for small talk or gossip.  I guess I never have.  Sometimes I am my own best company.  I guess I adapted too well to spending most of my life alone.  Anymore I prefer to be alone almost all the time.  I haven’t had a roommate in over twelve years and I don’t see ever having a roommate again.  Whoever invented the rules for human socializing never took mentally ill people into consideration.

Yet, I couldn’t be happier with my current living conditions, especially considering I have to fight a mental illness everyday.  I guess that’s why holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas cause me some sadness in that I’m expected to socialize and engage in small talk against my will.  I really don’t like going to Christmas parties, especially with people who I see in foul moods most of the year.  I don’t like listening to Christmas carols, those songs don’t articulate my memories of Christmas from childhood or my feelings right now.  I don’t like going to the mall and fighting crowds just so I can buy a couple items for myself.  I don’t like being told to be jolly or of good cheer.  I hated being told how to think as a kid and I hate being told how to think even more as an adult.  I’ll feel however I like and just not talk about how I feel or think.

I’ll enjoy the holidays regardless if I do it in traditional ways.  I can socialize, but I can do it for hours on end if I have some intelligent conversation.  If small talk comes up I’ll be ready to leave after twenty minutes.  It can be kind of tricky being mentally ill around the holidays.  It can take a few years to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  It certainly took me several years to figure out what to avoid and what to do to ensure a smooth holiday season.

I’ve Lost Interest In Politics but Gained Interest In Science

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I must be the only man in America who won’t be watching the Presidential Debates tonight.  I’ve had my fill of politics months ago.  I am so tired and frustrated how hateful and divided politics has become.  I can’t even talk about politics with close friends and family any more without feeling frustration.  But politics and sports are all many people I know want to talk about anymore.  There is a lot more going on in the real world than politics and sports.  But it’s the abnormal that gets the most attention.  Few people can throw a football 80 yards or charm thousands of people in a speech.

I readily admit I do not understand neurotypical thinking.  I have spent years trying to figure the average people out and have even point blank asked people why they think the way that they do.  Alas, I haven’t gotten any concrete answers or come to any real conclusions.  I definitely believe the Tommy Lee Jones line from ‘Men In Black’ when he said, “The individual is smart but people are dumb and panicky animals.”  I see this everyday.  I do much better dealing with only one or two people at a time rather than trying to deal with crowds.  I don’t understand why for the last year and a half about all I see on my newsfeed and friends’ Facebook comments have to do with politics.  Some pretty cool stuff has happened in other fields just in that time, namely in science and technology.  But no one likes to discuss any of that.  About the only people I can discuss science with are my parents who had extensive science backgrounds because of working in the medical fields.  Even then I am convinced they don’t like discussing science that much and do it just to humor me.

I have always been interested in science and technology.  I pursued a career in medical research until it became painfully obvious that my mental illness wouldn’t allow me to continue this path.  It helped that I had some good science teachers in school that were willing to put up with my endless questions.  But after spending over a dozen years in the adult world, I painfully realized that most people didn’t have that luxury.  Most people do not see the beauty and wonder of science and the natural world.  I think that if people like this were to take a few evenings to watch some presentations by the late Carl Sagan and Michio Kaku on youtube instead of whatever sports ball game or political news is trending this week, we’d have a much more informed and enthusiastic populace.  We’d also have more interesting people too.  And isn’t being interesting a worthy goal?

Since the fall of communism and the rise of information tech in the early 1990s, we have lived in some really interesting times.  It seems hardly a week goes by anymore that some breakthrough is happening.  Sadly, most people I associate with on a daily basis are blind to these wonders.  And it seems that the few that are paying attention are worried about some dystopian future.  Personally I am very angry with Hollywood and popular culture for selling people these horrible visions of the future.  Visions like that are intellectually lazy and probably dishonest. And it’s not like there isn’t a market for good science fiction that shows a possibly cool future.  Star Trek has been around for fifty years and is going as strong as ever.  People are worried about machines that have no empathy or compassion?  Please, most people I know lack empathy and compassion and our world still works.

I guess in my ranting frustration I have to take heart in the fact that the entire world doesn’t have to be inventors or scientists or artists or humanitarians.  The politicians, freaks, cranks, and creeps may get the lion’s share of the attention from the media.  But it’s the scientists, engineers, health care workers, artists, humanitarians, and incurable dreamers that make living better and more meaningful.  I end this article with a few thoughts from the late Buckminster Fuller about how it often doesn’t take a great multitude or following the crowd to make a positive difference. buckminster-fuller-earn-living-technological-breakthrough