Summers and Mental Illness

We are now a couple weeks into summer.  I can notice already that the days are a little shorter than they were a few weeks ago.  I got a new air conditioner as my previous unit broke down.  It was the original unit from when my complex was built.  So I don’t have to rely on fans and cold baths anymore.

Summers are traditionally a rough time for me, especially July and August.  So far I feel stable and calm.  I haven’t had problems with depression or paranoia since I changed my medications.  And I even sleep less than I did during the winter and spring.  I still don’t socialize much outside of phone calls and internet.  But I have been enjoying the summer anyway.  I still play a lot of computer games.  I’m also listening to a lot of audiobooks on youtube.  I’m currently working on the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.  I usually play Civilization or Medieval Total War on my PC while listening to audiobooks on my Mac.

I have beens staying up later the last several nights.  But I am still getting eight hours of sleep a night.  I still sleep in until late mornings.  I just stay up later and sleep less.  I like staying up late as I have been a night person as long as I can remember.

 

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Feeling Better

I’ve been on this new medication routines for two weeks.  I’m noticing improvements.  I don’t feel very depressed or paranoid anymore.  In addition to a new medication routine, I’m also taking multivitamins and probiotics.  I’m noticing that I have less unexplainable aches and pains.  I am sleeping less than I was previously.  I now average 8 to 9 hours a night whereas during the winter and spring I got almost 12 hours a night.  Mentally I’m feeling more stable.  Physically I’m feeling more energetic and getting a little more active with each passing day.  I get out and socialize a little every day, even if it’s just when I go check my mail or go to the vending machine.  Overall I’m feeling better than my usual summer fare.

Summer came a little early this year as it got real hot in early June and stayed that way for two weeks.  Unfortunately my air conditioner broke down on me.  So I’ve been using lots of fans and a window air conditioner unit for two weeks now.  The repair man said I needed a new unit as the old one was over thirty years old.  That’s supposed to be getting done within the next day or two.

Have dined out only once in the last week.  For awhile when I was really depressed and paranoid, I didn’t do much grocery shopping and ate fast food at least once a day.  It’s no wonder I was feeling sluggish and lethargic.    Since I quit eating out every day, I’ve noticed I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains and I have more energy and actually want to be active.  I’m also severely cutting back on sugar.  I no longer drink sugared soda pop and I haven’t had candy bars or ice cream in months.  I may not be losing weight as fast I would like, but I definitely feel better overall.  And it’s all because of a few minor changes in medication routine and diet.

Adjusting to Summer

Been staying near the complex and avoiding the early summer heat the last few days.  Bought groceries early this week so, in theory, I don’t have to leave the house for the next several days.  I’ll probably have to stay at home tomorrow as I’ll be getting a new air conditioner and thermostat.  My old air conditioner was almost forty years old and it broke down two weeks ago.  So I’ve been using lots of fans and a portable air conditioner since.  I’m glad that this problem will be solved soon.

I’ve been having a lot of issues hanging over my head for weeks that just seem to take longer then they should to get resolved.  My sink was fixed a couple weeks ago.  I started a new medication a week ago.  I’ve been sleeping in a recliner for a week now as my lower back has been giving me pain.  But I’ve been feeling quite stable mentally for the last several days.  I don’t want to sleep all the time anymore.  I’m usually awake quite early instead of sleeping until noon.  I’m taking better care of myself.  And I’m making a point to get out of my apartment to socialize with my neighbors for at least a few minutes every day.  The socializing is going kind of rough as there aren’t any people in my apartment complex who share my interests or likes.  Looking back on it, having three friends in here die within six months a couple years ago really effected me.  I lost a lot of good conversations after that.  So it’s tough finding things to talk about with people anymore.

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.

Thoughts on Different Generations and The Generations Yet to be Born

I’m going off the path of mental illness writing for this entry.  But it is something that has weighed on me for years, especially since I live in low income housing where half of the residents are low income senior citizens and the other half are disabled younger people.

I have never understood why people from the older generations complain about the people from younger generations and why younger generations complain about older generations.  I never have.  I was born in 1980, so that either makes me late Generation X (I’d like to give a beating to whomever coined that stupid term) or early Millennial, at least in terms of generations.  And even in grade school I heard about how sucky my generation did in school compared to kids in countries like Japan, South Korea, Germany, etc.  I was told we were “unruly”, “stupid”, “thieving”, “lazy”, “whores”, “sluts”, etc.  But, the same Baby Boomers (that’s another really stupid term I despise), had their hangups and critics when they were kids too.  I’m sure the World War II generations thought the Rapture was nigh when they saw their kids participating in free love, drug abuse, civil rights protests, draft riots, etc.  Even many soldiers who went to Vietnam abused alcohol and drugs during their tours.  The same Boomers who were rocking out to The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, etc. were horrified when their Gen X kids starting listening to Metallica, NWA, Madonna, etc.  And oddly, said Gen Xers, now that they are parents, are freaking out about their kids listening to Lady Gaga and dubstep music.  I swear, people instantly forget what it was like starting out as soon as they have kids.

I have zero patience for old people who complain about the “idiot kids.”  Likewise, I have zero patience for younger people who complain about senior citizens.  The world is going to fall apart as soon as the current generation in power retires and dies?  Screw you, no it won’t.  Speaking of older generations, I’d love to slap Tom Brokaw for calling the World War II generation “the greatest generation.”  I guarantee that the Hitler Youth generation in Germany and the Japanese soldiers of World War II were considered a disgrace to their nations for years.  It should be known that many of the World War II soldiers spent their teens and twenties drinking bootlegged booze and chasing flapper girls and suffragettes during the 1920s and early 1930s.  I’m sure many of the World War I generation thought their kids were going insane for flaunting the laws of prohibition and promoting such blasphemy as women’s voting rights and wanton promiscuity.  But hate for other generations is nothing new.  People have been complaining about the loss of virtue and honor in their children’s generations for thousands of years.

Every generation has it’s cranks and losers, it is true.  There were war protesters during World War II even.  Youtube has videos of these protests.  But generations are made up of many millions of people.  So to say the “millennials are lazy” or “baby boomers are greedy” isn’t true at all.  Such broad generations are cherry picked nonsense.  I like the World War II guys who beat back nazism and imperialism, pioneered space flight, and saw to it the Civil Rights act was passed.  I also like the Baby Boomers who did much of the early leg work on personal computers, communications tech, produced some really cool music (namely rock and early hip hop), and started breaking down barriers like the Iron Curtain, and pioneered the internet.  I also like the Gen Xers who are making renewable power sources finally financially feasible, pioneering private space flight, making international business easier, and building up e-commerce.  I also like the Millennials who are building social media, starting businesses, fighting terrorism, trying to spread the ideas of freedom, democracy, and self determination in nations that have been authoritarian or theocratic nations for centuries.  And I like people of all generations that see that, regardless our ages or nationalities or creeds, we are all living on the same planet and that what happens in one place doesn’t just stay in one place.

Another thing I am tired of is dystopias and pessimist visions for the future.  I never really got into science fiction nearly as much as science nonfiction because most science fiction books and movies depict hopeless and lousy futures and presents such lousy futures as inevitable.  Who is going to fight for a better future with “inspiration” like that?  One of the reasons Star Trek is so popular even after fifty years is that it portrays a future where humanity has overcome many of their past hangups.  It shows what can be possible.  It shows a good future worth fighting for.  Far more scientists were inspired to pursue science by stories like Star Trek then the Terminator series.  As much as people are afraid of Artificial Intelligence turning against humans and killing us all, I would laugh and cry both if AI programs and machines turned out to have more empathy and compassion than humans in general. Besides, we already have millions of AI machines and programs, like every smart phone and computer with internet access.  I don’t foresee these things taking over, but I can see humans and machines merging their intelligences and making humans much, much smarter within a few generations.  I mean, most people already use their smart phones and computers as brain extenders and they haven’t been around that long.   In many ways, people already have the potential to be much smarter and better informed than previous generations simply because of information technology.  And if we get to the point that future generations can augment their brains through surgical implants, then our great grandkids will look back us and pity us for being so unintelligent.  We may seem like cavemen to the citizens of the 22nd century.  I certainly hope so even though I’ll likely never get to see it.

For most of human history, we have made tools to extend our bodies.  Now with computers, internet, and AI, we are making tools to extend and augment our brains.  I don’t fear technology because technology is merely a tool.  Granted, all tools can be used for ill purposes.  Fire cooked our food and kept us warm but it also burned down our villages and cities.  The printing press made knowledge available to the masses but it also made misinformation and propaganda possible too.  I can make friends over the internet I would never otherwise meet but I still have to work around opinionated trolls and trouble makers made more bold by the technology.  I try not to take trolls and trouble makers personally as I know most people wouldn’t be saying such things to a live audience.  And I try not to take my elders personally when they gripe about my generation because they were young once too and had their elders complain about them.  But I wouldn’t mind breaking this pointless and aggravating cycle though.  I try hard to not complain about people younger than me because I remember what it was like to be a kid myself and be ragged on by my elders.  Maybe people rag on younger people just because we forget what it’s like starting out.  And maybe young people don’t like older people because they don’t realize that these elders had many years head start and that someday they could do well themselves given the time and effort.

Blasting Mental Illness Stigma and Giving Hope For the Future

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I suppose this could be filed under rant and frustration with normal people. There are times when I feel like I’m making some difference with this blog and that I’m making a positive impact on people.  Then there are times I feel like I just as well be talking to myself because I don’t seem to be getting through to people.  Right now I feel like I’m not making any kind of positive difference.  Most neurotypical people still think it’s alright to shun and discriminate against the mentally ill.  Many still think we are dangerous and to be locked up permanently out of sight and out of mind.  Mental illness is still stigmatized by popular culture and misunderstood by the public at large.  I’m sure I have people in my Facebook friends list who think I’m just dreaming up my problems because they think I’m weak, lazy, and don’t want to do any real work.  I am definitely not making these problems up.  I would gladly give ten years off the end of my life if it meant I never had to suffer from schizophrenia again.  I’ve been fighting this mental illness since age seventeen, so for over half of my life now.  I can’t remember what it’s like not to suffer from delusions, paranoia, depression, easy anger, and excessive fear.  I can’t remember the last time I talked with even close friends about things like politics and religion without fear of having a psychotic breakdown and ruining the friendship.  I can’t remember what it’s like not living in fear and paranoia of authority  figures, whether they were bosses, landlords, or police officers.

I never understood the mentality that nothing can go wrong with the human brain.  We don’t stigmatize people with heart problems, diabetes, blindness, deafness, or cancer.  We as a society accept that things can go wrong with every other organ in the human body.  But as a society we don’t seem to be as accepting that things can go wrong with the human brain, arguably the most complex instrument in the currently known universe.  I am somewhat hopeful with the programs began by the U.S. government and the E.U. that attempt to reverse engineer the human brain.  Maybe we can find out why some brains malfunction and develop mental illness.  I’m not delusional enough to believe I will ever be cured of schizophrenia, but perhaps better treatments can be developed and maybe future generations can find a way to cure mental illness.  As it seems to me, the brain is probably the final true unknown of medical science.

I imagine that my friends and readers get sick of me always writing about science and tech advances being the true benefactors of humanity.  But I get far more encouragement out of seeing science and engineering advances made on what seems a weekly basis now than listening to political debate or religious dogma.  There are cool things happening in science practically every day in this day and age.  I am thrilled to hear that private companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin as well as NASA are seriously talking about sending people to colonize Mars within the next twenty years.  I am thrilled that we could soon have a vaccine for HIV, which I believe will be looked upon by future generations with the same horror we now look upon smallpox and bubonic plague.  I am happy that we are finding possible ways to treat anti biotic resistant bugs.  I know some of my farmer friends will want to crucify me for this, but the possibilities of vertical farming in big cities and lab grown meat intrigue me.  Supposedly there are medications in trials that could reverse obesity that have already been tested on lab rats.  Something like that, providing it doesn’t interfere with my psych medications. would be a life saver for me as I’ve been overweight since puberty.  That alone would reduce burdens on the health care system in many developed countries.  I am anxious to see lab grown replacement organs make the organ and tissue donor system obsolete.  I would love to see driverless cars take off and make owning your own car as much of a relic as the horse drawn carriage.

We are living in some of the most exciting times in human history, if not the most exciting times.  Yet these wonders seem to be lost on most people I interact with on a daily basis.  I don’t know why people lost their sense of wonder, creativity, and possibility.  To listen to most people we aren’t advancing at all, as if everything from hear on out is going to be down hill.  I don’t understand why most people are pessimistic and fearful.  I don’t see enough people saying ‘we have problems but we’ve solved problems in the past and we will continue to do so.’  Why is it considered normal and grown up to be worrisome and blind to the beauty and possibility of life?  That is yet another idea you normals seem to be born with that I wasn’t.  If I have to be constantly depressed, anxious, angry, and mopey to be considered an adult, then screw it.  I want no part of it.  I just see too much possibility and good things happening in the world to be consumed by worry.  Even your religious texts tell you to ‘not let your hearts be troubled’ and ‘don’t worry about the future.’  Seems to me these texts need to be spoken from the pulpits more than fear, hate, and wrath.

We are living in cool times with progress being made every hour of every day.  Breakthroughs in science, technology, health, and humanitarian efforts are being made all over the world.  It’s not just the U.S. who has advanced technology, advanced research, and freedom.  The world is not falling apart.  The world is not going to hell in a hand basket.  The past is not better than the present.  And I am saddened and tired of hearing  doom and gloom from people who don’t bother to look at the facts and numbers nor look out how far we’ve come just in the last few generations, let alone since we left the caves.  Make no mistake, we will continue to make progress in spite of your complaints and fears that the world is falling apart.  The doers and achievers of the world ain’t listening to the Chicken Littles of the world.  I may not be a great achiever but I’m not listening to the doomsayers either.  I have had enough.  I have heard doom and gloom my entire life.  I have no idea how many supposed end of the world type predictions I have weathered.  I laugh at such predictions now.  I find it annoying that many people are giving themselves needless grief and sadness simply because they can’t or won’t look up facts.  We have the quasi magic Google machine and Wikipedia that would put the Library of Congress to shame at our finger tips. We just have to use them.  Keep complaining and crying if you wish, but I will continue to look up the facts and the truth.  I will attempt to dispel the myths in this blog.  To paraphrase Jack Palance from the movie ‘City Slickers’, normal people “really do worry about a lot of crap that don’t matter.”

 

Baby Steps In The Direction of Normal

A few changes have happened over the last couple days.  First I got my car back on Tuesday.  It wasn’t in the shop as long as I thought it would be.  As far as I can tell it drives just as well as before the accident.  The guys at the auto body shop did a top notch job.  I can’t tell any difference from the car body appearance.  My car was struck right on the passenger side front tire so I was afraid some engine damage would be done.  I was actually afraid the car would have to be completely totaled.  But once everything was done the car was fixed just as well before the accident.

I had my esophagus scoped as well on Tuesday.  After the doctor took a couple biopsies, he came to the conclusion that I have some inflammation that could possibly be caused by food allergies.  I can’t recall the name of the condition right off hand but it goes by the abbreviation of EoE.  You can Google EoE for more information.  As it looks right now, if these problems are caused by food allergies, I’ll have to severely reduce my intake of foods that contain wheat, corn, dairy products, and other foods known to promote allergic reactions.  I have known for a few years on days I don’t eat bread I feel better physically and mentally.  I haven’t drank milk or ate yogurt on a regular basis for years.  But it looks like I may be having to give up bread and most other foods with wheat.  Have to be reading labels much closer now.

I’m now two weeks into my chiropractic program.  Doing some at home exercises in addition to getting my back worked on in the office three days per week.  Looks like I’ll be doing this chiropractic routine well into the winter.

We got our first snow of the season yesterday.  Got at least five inches of snow after a steady rain.  It was tough navigating the streets in the snow as I had appointments for chiropractic and had to run other errands.  But we have at least four months of this ahead. The first snow is usually the one that catches everyone off guard.

Between the ongoing chiropractic therapy, getting my car back, getting my esophagus scoped, and adding two new medications as a result of the esophagus scope, it has been anything but an average week.  But getting my car back is a step in the right direction of my desire for a return to a sense of normal.