Stretch Run To The Holidays

It’s been colder than normal December, especially the last several days.  So I’ve pretty much stayed home, caught up on my reading, watched some videos on youtube, and played some computer games.  I’ve even eaten less these last several days but did rediscover my caffeine habit through coffee and diet soda pop.

Mentally I have felt surprisingly stable in spite not being able to get out of my apartment complex.  We haven’t had the bad snow that many places have but it’s just been so cold.  I’m pretty much content to curl up under a blanket and read most evenings.  But I haven’t had problems with anxiety, depression, or hallucinations for a long time.  I think it helps that I have made it a point to avoid the mall and Wal Mart this Christmas season.  I just don’t like crowds, bright lights, and loud music even on a good day.  I can’t imagine how tough sensory overload is for autistics during the holidays.

In spite the cold I still keep in contact with friends and family.  I’m calling someone at least once a day and I drop into Facebook a few times a day to check on friends and family.  I have been on Facebook more since the end of the election.  I’m so glad that people have more or less settled down from that madness.  It was actually quite unbearable for awhile knowing that every time I logged onto Facebook I was going to get a sermon from my friends about how the Republicans or Democrats were going to be the death of us all.  I just got so sick of hearing about it that I let many of my social connections go by the wayside.  I’m only now beginning to socialize again.

Christmas will be here soon.  I’m looking forward to the return to normal.  2016 has been anything but normal for me. Spent the first part of the year in chiropractic treatment.  Got burned out not the election even before the end of spring.  Spent the entire summer out of commission with a bad back.  Spent eh fall depressed and angry about how irritable and angry my friends were about the election.  And now I’m dealing with the stretch run for the end of the holidays.  My life has been unsettled since my car accident last October.  I’m just ready for things to settle down again.  I’m sick of all the needless drama and upheaval.

Stability and Moving Into Summer

It’s been three months since I had my last psychotic breakdown.  I have been on a different medication since.  It is working better than my previous medication.  I am more optimistic, more social, less depressed, less irritable, and I haven’t had hallucinations in three months.  The only true negative of the last several weeks was the back injury that made me inactive for three weeks.  I can lay on my stomach and get up now.  But I won’t sleep on my back in a traditional bed until I no longer have back pain.  I’ve gotten used to sleeping in a recliner.  I’ve gotten used to going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier.  I’m usually up by 6:30 in the morning.  When I was in a bed I usually wasn’t awake until 8:00.  I haven’t pulled any all nighters in a month.  I think part of my stability comes from more consistent sleep.  I know problems are coming when my sleep patterns change, especially when I get less sleep.

Traditionally late summers have always been tough for me.  I usually start feeling more irritable than usual in early July.  Usually it builds until I have a break in late summer, often in late August to early September.  Both times I went to a mental hospital I went in early September.  I have always been anxious, short tempered, and irritable from late July to mid September.  I don’t know if it’s because of the heat or if I subconsciously have bad memories of going back to school.

Last year I had a mini breakdown in early July but got through August without much problem.  The major break last year came in early October.  I also sometimes have a breakdown a few days before Christmas.  The holidays are traditionally an overwhelming and stressful time. I intentionally avoid malls and box stores in November and December.  I can’t stand the sensory overload from the decorations, bell ringers, and piped in Christmas music.  I have had to skip Thanksgiving at least twice in recent years.

I am not sure why traditionally happy times always make me depressed, sad, and irritable.  Maybe because I don’t like being told how to feel or think even on a good day.  I didn’t even like teachers telling me what to think in grade school.  Perhaps I have too strong of an independent streak.  I have never been capable of just gone along to get along. That has caused me a great deal of grief over the years.  It has caused me lots of problems in school and the workplace.  I never understood why people accept things they know to be questionable, senseless, and wrong.  I have never been able to accept something I believe to be senseless or false.  That alone has gotten me labeled a malcontent and having a bad attitude.  But I am simply unable to shut down my mind and just be an obedient sheep.  I’m sure I was quite a headache to some of my teachers, bosses, and parents when I was growing up.  I just had to know why things were done as they were.  I was that precocious child who was always asking ‘why’, even with complete strangers.  But somebody has to keep asking questions and challenging the status quo.  And I guess that I am one of those somebodies.

Thoughts on the Holidays with Mental Illness

The end of the year holidays are upon us once again.  For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family.  Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk.  Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago.  It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time.  We were often understaffed and running out of popular items.  Not very fun.  I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward.  To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.

The holidays have long been a stressful time for me.  I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old.  By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy.  Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense.  The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday.  I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class.  But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.

For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful.  Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers.  Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs.  And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars.  For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks.  My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day.  So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge.  I’m just selective about being Scrooge.

The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me.  Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family.  Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather.  But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.