Social Life and Depression

Getting out of the apartment several times a day now.  Have been for the last several days.  Catching up on the news of what’s been going on around the complex and meeting some of the new residents who moved in during the summer.  Seems like we have a few really cool people move in lately, and some of them are even in my age bracket and younger.  So I might be rebuilding some of my social safety nets that had fallen apart over the last few years.

I haven’t been as social over the last three years as I had been previously.  I think some of it started when three of my friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  Then we had a few problem residents come in that gave problems to everyone.  So I started isolating to avoid the drama.  Then my grandmother died, which I think I took harder subconsciously than I realized at the time.  My car accident in late 2015 left me scared to drive and not able to trust other drivers on the road for a long time.  2016 is a lost year as far as I’m concerned.  The drama and emotions from the elections caused me so much grief and anxiety.  I also lost some good friends and lost contact with some extended family because of those emotions running hot.

After months of hot emotions and people going insane over the pettiest things, 2017 was another tough year.  I spent most of that year alone.  I rarely visited friends or family.  I went entire days without leaving my apartment.  I more or less lost my ability to see anything decent in other humans, especially people in my immediate life.  I devoted most of 2017 to my writing and self directed scholarly endeavors.  Seeing some of the advances that were rapidly being developed was one of the few things that gave me hope in those dark years.  Like a fool I tried to share this information with people, but almost no one took me seriously.  I had some jerks tell me I was “fake news” and a liar.  “Fake news” is another stupid phrase I despise.  After a few episodes of this, I became real despondent.  I lost myself in computer games and youtube videos and just became annoyed and irritated with people in general.  The less I had to deal with flesh and bone people, the better as far as I was concerned.

But after almost three years of depression imposed exile and hermitage, I am slowly becoming more social.  I actually want to socialize now.  I truly believe that the type of people one surrounds themselves with can effect your mental and even physical health.  I have believed this for years.  But since most people I knew and ran into on a daily basis were in foul and angry moods, it just seemed better to just isolate, stay out of sight, and hope to God that people eventually came back to their senses.  I’m thinking that people, at least the ones I associate with, are starting to come back to their senses.  I certainly hope so.  The last three years were lonely years.  The only years I would rather relive less is my late teens and early twenties before I was being treated for mental illness.

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Death of Family Members While Being Mentally Ill and Thoughts on My Own Mortality

Besides my family and one college friend, I haven’t kept in strong contact with most of my friends the last couple weeks.  My best friend’s mother died a few weeks ago and I haven’t talked to her much.  I decided to let her do what was needed and not bother her much.  She probably wasn’t much in the mood for talking the last few weeks.  I haven’t had a parent die yet.  All of my grandparents and a couple uncles have died.  But I wasn’t really torn up by their deaths as I was just happy that such people had lived.  At my grandparents’ funerals, the immediate family was mostly spending the time retelling stories of the cool and funny things they did during their lives.  We weren’t crying that much but instead were celebrating their lives.  There was almost as much laughter as crying at my grandfather’s funeral as the immediate family were retelling stories of my grandfather’s jokes and funny things he did during his life.  And my last grandmother to pass away was quite sharp and aware until she had a stroke about two weeks before she died.  But she was in her late nineties and had real bad arthritis to where she could barely walk.  She had said for the last few years of her life that she wasn’t afraid of dying and that she was ready at any time.  I think that maybe she was sad seeing most of her friends and family die over the years.  Fortunately I was able to handle the grandparents’ funerals without any flare ups of my mental illness.  I was a pall bearer for both my grandmothers.

I guess that as I have now crossed into my late thirties, I’m beginning to think about my own mortality a little.  This has been especially true the last few months as I’m getting more unexplainable aches and pains and I can’t lift as heavy as items as I could previously.  It also doesn’t help that schizophrenics, statistically speaking, have shorter life spans than mentally healthy people.  If I were to die prematurely, I think I want to donate my body to science.  I figure that something good should come from my having schizophrenia effect my mind and destroy my career.

I’m sorry for sounding morbid with this entry.  But I have been thinking about how several people who have influenced me in my young years are now dying off.  Even my own parents aren’t in the greatest health.  But I guess they are in their late sixties.  I’m thirty seven and that would have made me an elderly person in the Stone Age. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter how long you live as long as you make the most of the days you have.

 

A Sense of Calm During the Holidays

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a sense of calm and normal.  But things are finally starting to settle and slow down.  I’m progressing enough in my chiropractic therapy I go in only twice a week.  My EoE is being treated and I’ve altered my diet to account for many possible food allergies.  So my stomach feels better and I’m not as easily irritable as I was earlier this fall.

After a couple hectic and stressful days last week, things started calming down yesterday.  I made no attempt to fight the mobs on Black Friday.  Instead I stayed home, watched football, listened to audiobooks on youtube, and drank a few cups of black tea.  Found that black tea is easier on my stomach and gives me just enough caffeine to keep sharp for those late night research sessions.  I’ll probably switch over entirely this winter.

My back isn’t hurting anymore.  Even the tail bone injury I had years ago in high school has cleared up.  I always thought it was one of those things I was doomed to live with.  Too bad I didn’t get it worked on shortly after it happened.  But chiropractic treatments were even less mainstream then now.

Now I have my car back and it looks as if the accident never happened.  I have also more or less begun my winter routines.  We’ve already had a couple light snows.  Found my car handles well on ice.  That was one of my concerns going into the first winter with a different car.  But this car is low enough miles it should last me at least ten to twelve years.

I’ve now come to the acceptance part of my grandmother’s death.  I was more easily irritated and depressed for probably three months, which I think was part of my grieving process.  But she was a positive influence on my life for years.  And I was talking to her right until she had a major stroke about ten days before she died.  She was mentally sharp at her birthday party in June but she wasn’t very mobile because of physical health problems.  It has to be tough being mentally sharp but feeling your body fall apart.  It was bad enough for myself knowing my ability to process stress and social situations because of my schizophrenia while my cognitive ability remained relatively changed.  Being in a car accident didn’t help with the irritability and short temperedness.

I’ve also come to the acceptance that, barring some miracle of future science and medicine, I’m not going to ever be able to handle any kind of job where I can use my natural intellect.  Coming to this acceptance has only happened recently and it was by far the toughest aspect of my life I had to accept.  I grew up believing that if one found their niche and developed that niche, then good things would happen.  Found out at a very early age I had some unusual intelligence.  I also learned I had almost no bodily coordination and hated athletics.  So I never had any dreams of playing pro football.  I wasn’t very good with my hands but was excellent with ideas and scientific concepts.  I decided I wanted to be a scientist even before I started kindergarten.  Unfortunately that dream didn’t come true.  After gutting through almost two years of biology and chemistry classes while fighting a mental illness, it became painfully obvious that I wouldn’t get to pursue the dream any more.

The worst part of coming to this acceptance was knowing that I did everything right in life and I still would never use my ability.  I didn’t drink, I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t have sex, let alone date much, etc.  I spent most of my weekends and evenings studying for my classes while many of my classmates were out partying and screwing around.  And I was well on my way of making something positive out of myself.  But it never happened because of schizophrenia.  It took pretty much everything from me.  And it even messes with your mind, unlike most physical diseases.  Well schizophrenia is the result of brain issues.  It was rough seeing everything I worked for gradually destroyed piece meal.  For a long time I tried to figure out what I did wrong.  Once I came to the conclusion I did nothing wrong, I blamed others for the illness happening.  Once I got past that and accepted it was what it was, I have settled in for the long haul.  Now I’m trying to keep even keel and make the best of a lousy situation.

 

Dealing With A Death In The Family While Having Mental Illness

On Tuesday, August 4th my paternal grandmother died in her sleep a few days after having a major stroke.  She was 97 years old.  Grandma Foster was one of these people who was always looking out for other people almost like they were her own kids.  I can imagine as the oldest of eight siblings growing up on a farm in Nebraska during the Great Depression she would have developed those skills of caring for others and making that a huge part of her life at an early age.

Every summer my brother and I would spend a few days with her in her hometown.  After my Grandpa Foster died of a heart attack at their farmstead in the early 1980s she moved into town.  While I can’t remember the farmstead she, grandpa, and my dad lived on, she and my dad both used to tell us stories about life on their farm.  Grandma was one of these farmers’ wives who could do a little bit of everything.  She said she could have taken a chicken from the henhouse and cooked on the dining room table in about an hour.  She also did quite a bit of the same farm work my grandpa was doing during the first few years of their marriage right alongside him out in the field.  This was back in the late 1930s when  the corn crops where still being harvested by hand well into the winter.

During World War II, after my grandfather couldn’t qualify for the army as in enlisted soldier because of his age, grandma and grandpa went to Wichita, Kansas to work in an aircraft factory.  They both worked in that factory for the duration of the war.  A few years after the war ended the family moved back to Nebraska.  My grandpa farmed for the rest of his life.  It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that grandpa and grandma never owned their own land and instead farmed for others.  In addition to being a farm wife and a worker in a aircraft factory, Grandma Foster worked for a number of years as a payroll clerk in an automotive parts plant.  In the 1960s and 1970s she was filling out those payrolls by hand, doing several hundred of those every two weeks.  She didn’t have much time to enjoy retirement before grandpa had his heart attack but she did enjoy having her grandkids and the kids of her extended family around as much as possible.

Even though I have been fighting a mental illness for my entire adult life I’m not as distraught by her death as I thought I would be.  That might be changing soon as my dad, my brother, and I will be spending the weekend cleaning out her apartment.  I’m also going to be one of the pall bearers.  I was a pall bearer at my maternal grandmother’s funeral too.  But as I have been working with a mental illness for quite some time I know myself well enough that often anticipating some bad event will not only lead me into a downward spiral, the anticipation will be worse than the event itself.

So as of right now I’m not thinking about cleaning out the apartment or the funeral or being a pall bearer or the visitation the night before the funeral.  It helps that we had a small birthday bash for her a couple of months ago and she was as mentally sharp as ever then.  She had been hampered by arthritis for the last several years that made walking without a walker or a cane very tough.  As much of an extrovert as my grandmother was this had to be tough.  But she managed to stay in contact with her many friends and family members through Facebook and phone calls.  She was one of these who wasn’t afraid to use new technologies while not losing the old style compassion and empathy for others.  Grandma used her Facebook account to show her caring and to keep others aware of what went on in their social circles.  A couple years ago she said that she went from being in awe of the Ford Model T to looking at flying drones just in her lifetime.  Who knows what my nephews and niece will see in theirs.

At this moment I’m not completely torn up that this compassionate sweet lady has died and is leaving a void that will have to be filled by others.  In time that void will be filled by others in our family and among her friends as it is natural for others to step into rolls that others filled after a death.  Rather than being distraught about her death, I’m grateful that she and those like her lived and impacted as many people as they did.