The Curse of Being Intelligent with a Mental Illness

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I’m still sleeping more than I would like.  But I really think I often sleep just out of boredom or lack of stimulation.  In some ways I feel like a zoo animal where I have my basic needs met yet I feel something fundamental is missing.  I speak of course of social interactions.

As much as I enjoy being an adult, one of the things I miss about high school and college is being around intellectually stimulating peers and taking challenging classes.  Now that I’ve been in the ‘real world’ for thirteen years, I now realize just how rare and special those interesting class discussions and all night conversations really were.  It saddens me that I’ll never have that back.  I didn’t lose that from lack of trying to keep social networks up.  I lost many of my friends from moving out of state, starting careers, starting families, etc.  It’s painful not to have intelligent conversations.  I crave intellectual and mental stimulation every day.  I can’t go through a day without reading a book or online journal.  Learning is my drug of choice.  It gives me a jolt that no drug, woman, booze, or money could possibly give me.

Now that I am an adult starting to get a little gray in my beard, I am painfully realizing just how rare intelligent people and good conversations are.  Few people in my low income housing complex talk about anything besides how they don’t enough money from disability and gossip about fellow residents.  And it gets quite boring really quick.  After about five minutes of hearing such drivel I’m ready to go back home and watch youtube.  It’s absolutely frustrating not having interesting people to talk to.  I am not hard wired to just sit on a park bench, smoke cigarettes, and complain about how bad the world sucks.

Intelligence has been both a blessing and a curse for me.  Being smart has allowed me to keep writing a blog inspite of a severe mental illness.  It has also helped me stay out of money problems.  I have friends who make much more than I do but their finances are worse than mine because they couldn’t stay out debt or just bought junk they don’t need to impress jerks they don’t like.  But intelligence has also murdered my social life.  For some odd reason, most people I have met over the course of my life (especially since I left college) just hate intelligence.  And it’s frustrating.  I wonder if a hatred of intellectual things is just a rural thing, an American thing, or if it’s just cross cultural and smart people are just condemned to have lousy social lives while benefiting an ungrateful humanity with their accomplishments.  Mental illness is lonely enough.  Being intelligent with a mental illness is a double curse.

 

 

 

 

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Discouragement and Socializing With Mental Illness

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Been spending much of the last several days watching the World Series and football games.  As far as my hopeless addiction to watching sports on tv is concerned, October is traditionally the happiest time of year for me.  But all in all it’s been an uneventful fall.  The weather is starting to cool and I haven’t run my air conditioner in almost three weeks. Some nights I even run the heater.  We’ve already had a few freezes but no snow yet.  In my hometown we usually don’t get our first snow until mid to late November.  I still have to winterize my car and restock my emergency winter supplies.  It won’t take too much other than a couple trips to the store.  It’s just a matter of getting it done.

I didn’t do anything special this Halloween.  Some times I like to go to the all night diners to see people in their costumes after the bars close.  Some years I help hand out candy to the kids that come to our complex.  Didn’t do any of that.  I’m still kind of afraid of socializing.  If it wasn’t for cell phones and Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have much of a social life.  But then again, years ago the only option for someone like me was long term hospitalization.

During the last two weeks I was on higher than usual doses of some of my anti psych medications.  They helped take the tension off and knocked down the hallucinations but I did end up less motivated than usual and slept more.  I haven’t posted anything to Facebook for almost two weeks.  I’m trying to avoid a lot of nastiness and negativity that’s going on lately.  I haven’t watched the news in months because I’m tired of the wall to wall election coverage.  Even my parents who are hopeless news junkies have been boycotting all news channels just to avoid it all.  I thought we were electing representatives and not gods.  I have grown to hate politics and I would love to live to see scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, etc. get the kind of press we seem to have only for politicians and entertainers.  It’s probably a pipe dream, but I can hope can’t I?

As it’s been I’ve been depressed and discouraged for weeks.  I can’t stand normal conversation and small talk anymore.  It’s just reruns as far as I’m concerned.  That’s probably why I isolate so much.  I just don’t want to rehash politics or sports or the weather anymore.  Perhaps I’m too tough on my fellow man because most of what I see is people doing the same stupid things and talking about the same stupid stuff all the time.  I might feel different if I lived in a large city with more diversity of thought and culture.  I probably would feel different if I didn’t live in low income housing.  But it’s not like there’s ever going to be low income housing for smart but eccentric people.

Some people got the idea because I live in low income housing and am on disability that I’m stupid.  I’m not.  But I will say it has been pretty tough living in low income housing ever since my pastor friend and brilliant but eccentric photographer friend died two years ago.  Their deaths have been tough to bear.  The intellectual life of my complex took a nosedive since they passed on.  Now I pretty much hear people complain about how they don’t get enough in social security money when they buy mostly lottery tickets, cigarettes,  and booze with their money.  It’s discouraging seeing people do the same dumb things over and over again but never getting the idea.  Anyone who ever said there virtue in poverty has never lived in HUD housing.  We have the same mix of crooks, losers, cranks, and jerks as every other class of society.

It’s discouraging dealing with dumb and rude people everyday.  After awhile I might get jaded and just think that dumb and rude people are all there is.  I hope it never comes to that.  I wouldn’t be happy as a nihilist.  I see the potential in people.  I see that my species is making positive changes and scientific breakthroughs on an almost daily basis anymore.  I know we can be better than we currently are.  I know we can make ourselves more ethical and wiser.  I would love to someday live in world where wisdom is as valued as ignorance is now.  It just gets discouraging during the day to day grind when it seems like no progress is being made around you.  But I guess low income housing is probably going to be the last place in the US that sees any kind of technological progress.  We still have people who don’t own computers or have email accounts. I just try to keep reminding myself that progress is happening even when it’s not evenly spread out.

Getting to Know My Neighbors

We received over 15 inches of snow during this last snow storm.  It essentially shut down my hometown for a day and a half.  Fortunately we never lost power or water.  Since I was home bound for two days I had to make the best of that time.  Finished a book I was reading and almost finished a second one I have been working on for the last few weeks.  I also used the time to chat with one of my neighbors for a few hours.

This guy is roughly my age and lives on the same wing I do. We live in a low income apartment complex that is primarily senior citizens with disabilities.  Talking with him, I learned that he too has had problems in the past with older residents who don’t believe that younger people with disabilities should be allowed to live here.  He has also had problems with a few tenants who don’t believe in mental illness and think we’re just making this up because we’re ‘lazy and don’t want to work.’  He’s lived here for a few years and we have some similar interests.  He and I are both into computers and gaming.  He and I have similar backgrounds as we were both from small farming villages and we were heavily involved in school activities.  When I was visiting at his place yesterday after spending much of my day shoveling my car out of a snow drift, we got to chatting about our younger days, friends we had, and the stupid nonsense we got in as teenagers.  His path and mine didn’t cross very often as he has his group of friends and I have mine.  But we were friendly to each other and would hang out a few times a year.  But it never got to be anything regular.

I found out this guy also has schizophrenia.  In some ways he’s had it worse than I have.  He’s been hospitalized more times than I have and he wasn’t diagnosed as early as I.  Like me he started having problems in his late teens and early twenties.  Unlike me, his illness didn’t make him as socially reclusive as mine did.  I have always had a hard time socializing, especially with people I just met.  There are times I just don’t want to socialize outside of family and long term friends.  Hopefully this newfound friendship can open a few more doors for socializing.