Well, our civilization survived another trip around the mother star. It was an interesting year to say the least, at least news wise. For me, it was kind of a quiet year. Other than one breakdown in the early fall, I have been very stable. After twenty years of working with schizophrenia, some of the things I have to do to keep stable have become routine. I have to be more careful than most people about who I associate with and what conversations I take part in. I have been fortunate to have not had psychotic breakdowns in public. I’m scared that if I ever did, I’d at very least end up in jail. So I find myself isolating for much of the time. It has to be a special occasion before I have guests in my apartment and even then it has to be a small and informal gathering. Otherwise I couldn’t handle it.
It’s been very cold for the last week and a half. I haven’t gone out much during this span. So I have been content to stay home, watch some football, play some computer games, etc. I have no plans for New Year’s Eve as it’s going to be too cold to go anywhere. I am starting to get a little tired of always staying home because of the weather. But it’s supposed to warm up some by the end of this week.
One problem I have faced the last several days is a lack of enthusiasm for much of anything. It’s not that I am bored, it’s that I really don’t want to do much of anything. I also now have the problem of not needing much sleep. I’ve needed only five to six hours of sleep a day for the last two weeks. I usually sleep from one a.m. to seven a.m. anymore. But I have been stable enough for the last several months I’ve had some of my medications’ doses reduced. Maybe that is why I don’t need as much sleep. But I still can’t explain my lack of enthusiasm or lack of engagement. I’m feeling unenthusiastic enough that I’m not doing a science and tech year in review post this year. Besides, it isn’t like I got much of a response from those posts anyway.
I’m ending 2017 alone in my apartment simply because of the weather. I just don’t want to go anywhere when it’s this cold. It’s a good day to stay home and stay under the blankets with a cup of hot coffee.
Haven’t been up to much lately. Still sleeping mostly during the days and spending most of my nights wide awake. So far it seems to be working. I’ll have to make a point to be up earlier as the exterminator is coming to spray apartments tomorrow morning. So I have been spending much of this evening cleaning up my place. Even though I have been stable mental health wise, I did allow some clutter like dirty clothes and books pile up around the house. Still have a little more to do. But I’ll be up much of the night and it’s things I can do without waking the neighbors.
Haven’t been reading as much as I would like to lately. Maybe the mind needs some time to absorb and process all the new information I’ve been taking in the last several months. I haven’t even read that many online articles the last few weeks. But I have always done my best reading in the winters.
I can tell the days are starting to get shorter and cooler. And I enjoy it. Won’t be too long until winter is here. From Christmas until it gets really hot in early July have always been my favorite times of year. Spring is usually my favorite season. I even like winter, especially since it’s more socially acceptable to spend a lot of time at home and sleep more during the cold weather. If I ever leave Nebraska, one thing I will miss is the distinct changes in the seasons.
Haven’t watched that much for TV this week. I still try to avoid cable news channels as they usually report only bad news and nothing on what’s going well. But good news doesn’t sell like bad news and mass media certainly isn’t a public service. I guess what news and TV I do get is mostly internet based anymore. Like many people I’d feel naked without good internet connections. Maybe avoiding bad news and rude people are making me more stable than usual. Sure it kills my social life, but if a person is going to be in a foul mood most of the time then I’m going to avoid that person as much as possible. I’ve quit jobs in the past because of coworkers and bosses always being negative and angry. I mean, we’re stuck doing a job together, make the most of it already.
Haven’t heard much from friends either. But I have been largely avoiding Facebook for over two weeks now. And I feel quite a bit more calm and relaxed because of it. It just makes me sad and irritated both to see my friends and family in foul moods in things they really can’t do anything about. Yes, it is possible to feel sad for someone and irritated with them at the same time.
It’s just been really quiet on my end for the last several weeks. The insect spray man coming tomorrow is essentially the highlight of my day tomorrow and he’ll be here for only a minute or two. But I should get the rest of my cleaning finished. So long.
I’ve been doing this blog about living with schizophrenia for a little over four years at this point. Even though I haven’t turned a profit from it, I consider it the best and most meaningful job I ever held. It doesn’t compare. The only other job I ever held that was even close to being a mental health blogger/advocate was when I was working as an instructors’ aide as a graduate assistant years ago. I enjoyed substitute teaching classes, grading papers, proctoring exams, answering students’ questions, and doing academic research. It’s too bad I lost that job because of my grades in the masters’ courses. I didn’t really care to be some business hotshot; I really wanted to get my masters’ in economics so I could teach economics and personal finance classes at a junior college or small state university. This was before I found out that the majority of junior college teachers are part timers or adjuncts. But then, many non management employees are part timers. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is so the employers don’t have to pay benefits. I never got benefits at any job I ever held. That’s why I’m on disability insurance through Social Security. If I were to go back to work, it would have to be where I was completely cured of schizophrenia. Many insurance companies won’t cover preexisting conditions and the suggestion of single payer universal healthcare in the USA is very unpopular. So here I am on disability and wanting to contribute. But if I got even a 30 hour a week job at McDonald’s, that would be enough for the feds to toss me out of the program.
Since I am unable to work for money because of the current system, I have had to find other ways to contribute that doesn’t involve me making money. That is why I blog about life with a mental illness. Many may dismiss my work as I don’t make money from it and I don’t have a large audience. But many people do volunteer work and don’t see any money from it. There are people who deliver meals to elderly and disabled people, people who hand out blankets and bedding at homeless shelters, people who coach Little League baseball, people who teach Sunday school, among numerous others. A person doesn’t have to make a lot of money (or any money) to make a difference in other people’s lives. My brother works as an engineer and makes six figures, but I doubt he has thousands of people in over 100 different nations that have seen his work. My parents have done medical missionary work in Panama and had a reach that way. And they made no money from their several trips. Sometimes a person has to do something just because it’s the right and beneficial thing to do regardless if money changes hands.
One of highest paid professions in the world is as hedge fund manager on Wall Street. And yet do they really build anything or create anything besides moving money (most of it digits on a computer) around? I’m not anti business but I think there are better measures of someone’s worth to a nation or civilization than how big their net worth is. I understand if someone produces a service, an idea, or an item that many people want, then yes that person should probably make something in return for the years of thankless hard work and hard times. The “overnight successes” often came to be that way through years of quiet hard work, having good mentors and studying their fields. If this blog ever became something like a best selling book or a well watched youtube channel or lead to a career as a writer for an online journal, I wouldn’t refuse the money. I just hope I wouldn’t forget that telling the truth about mental illness and it’s related problems should be what my work is all about.
Ideally, I would love to be cured of schizophrenia and be able to work again and not worry about having to take medications every night. As many advances as medical science is making anymore, that might not be the fantasy it was even ten years ago. If I did become cured, sure I would have to find a job and likely update my education. But that would be a good headache to have. With my blogging skills, maybe I could get a job as a technical writer. Or maybe by then machines will have taken most of the jobs and made living so inexpensive that money doesn’t matter very much. Just in my life in the last ten years, with so much being digitized and put for free or near free access online, I can live cheaper now than I could ten years ago. And if things like 3D printing takes off like most technicians and scientists think it will, money will matter even less to me ten years from now than it does now. A farmer in rural Africa with a micro financed smart phone has more computing power and access to civilization’s information than did NASA in the 1960s when they were sending astronauts to the moon and back. We are living in some cool and interesting times. And right now much of this can be enjoyed by even lower class people (at least lower class by modern standards) for not much money. And I think as tech advances, money may matter less and less with each passing decade. Maybe when I’m an old man unpaid work will be the norm because machines do most of the manufacturing or farming. It is some cool times were in even if the ride is bumpy and rough at times. Stay tuned.
Been feeling better physically the last few days. I’m getting out of the apartment several times a day, I spend a little time outside everyday, I’m walking more again, and I’m eating less junk food too. As a result I’m feeling fewer aches and pains and sleeping better. I still sleep in my recliner as my back still acts up if I sleep in a bed more than a few hours at a time. I’ll probably spend the rest of the summer in my recliner and just let my back heal.
I’ve been feeling well mentally all summer. That’s a welcome relief as summers have traditionally been a rough time of year for me. My best times tend to be springs and winters. I do feel better in autumn than summer usually but I have had problems in autumn in the past. So far this summer has gone along rather uneventful. It has been quite hot this month so I usually won’t go outside in the middle of the day. I do my shopping usually in the evenings or early mornings. I don’t go out in the overnight like I used to but I am still an incurable night person.
Haven’t had any problems with depression for weeks. Haven’t had issues with anxiety or delusions either. The only real hallucinations I have experienced this summer are occasionally hearing footsteps in the hallway when no one is there and I’ll still have unexplainable itching on my arms like ants walking but nothing is there. Overall I’m doing alright. I think I have even managed to lose a few pounds in the last couple weeks.
Don’t really have much to report. Mentally I’ve been feeling stable. Physically I’m feeling better with each passing day and getting more and more active all the time. Sometimes no news is good news.
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.
Got a few things done over the weekend. I renewed my lease on my apartment. I did this because my lease was going to expire in May and if I do move it won’t be until late summer at the earliest. Also got new license plates for my car. My state changes the designs every few years. And for the first time in years Nebraska has plates that aren’t sensory overload 🙂 Simple is good sometimes.
I’m still feeling quite stable mentally. I think I finally cured my problems of sleeping too much. I usually sleep only six hours a night now and nap for an hour in the afternoons. Haven’t felt any real depression or anxiety for a few weeks now. I go sometimes get lonely as I don’t have much for intelligent conversation in my apartment complex. Outside of my landlady, I don’t get much for interesting conversation. Most people in my complex seem to be content to complain about how they don’t get enough in social security or about the antics of fellow tenants. Well, it’s not my fault some of these people spend so much money on cigarettes and lottery tickets. And it’s also not my fault that some people allow themselves to worry themselves sick over things that don’t matter. It just gets old after awhile having the same conversations about the weather or who did what to whom.
I admit to isolating more than is healthy. At least more than is healthy for most people. But I never really have enjoyed socializing. Let me take that back, I enjoy socializing with certain types of people. I enjoy socializing with intellectuals, avid readers, and people with a wide range of interests. I just don’t get that very often. I have never gotten that very often, especially when growing up. I did get to socialize a great deal with interesting, intelligent, and well read people when I was in college. College was the happiest five years of my life. Unfortunately it was also a temporary environment. I have never met the range of people and intelligences I met in college since. It’s not even close.
The older I get the less chances I have to socialize. Many of my well read college friends now have careers and families, so I don’t get to see them very often. Even my friends without children I don’t get to talk to as often as I would like. Right now the big thing saving my sanity and keeping my social life alive is participating in group forums on Facebook. Sure I’ll never get to meet those people as we are spread all over the world, but I still get to have some kind of socializing with people I can relate to.
I don’t enjoy going to bars on Saturday nights. I don’t enjoy talking about sports or politics for hours on end. I never cared for people who complained about their jobs or spouses. I guess I am ultimately not someone you would want as a dinner guest. I just have little use for small talk about mundane nonsense. I imagine that makes me look like a show off to most normal people. But I’m really not showing off that much of what I know and can remember. I actually have to dumb down around most people. And I can’t stand it. That’s why I love the internet so much. I can much, much easier meet with people with similar interests than I could ever have imagined twenty years ago. The internet is a social God send for me. I don’t think I’d be as stable without the interactions I get from others through it.
Optimism and mental illness are two things that probably don’t normally go together. Yet after fighting through a mental illness for almost twenty years and still being in one piece and still functional, I think I’ve more than earned the right to be an optimist. And I think being an optimist is a right that too few people take advantage of.
Why shouldn’t I be an optimist? I have access to a world wide audience through the technological achievement that is the internet. Fifteen years ago when I started writing poetry in my spare time, I had never even heard of a blog. Youtube didn’t exist and neither did Facebook. Even though I don’t make much money from my writings, I have a much bigger audience now than I could have imagined ten years ago. From the numerous messages I get from readers, I know I’m making a difference. That’s more than I thought would happen in 2006 after I lost my job at the university and applied for disability. Back then I thought I was going to be condemned to a life of poverty and quiet desperation. I also thought I lost most purpose for my life as it became painfully obvious I could never hold a regular job and support myself. Yet here I am in 2017 with a decent blog, relatively stable mental state, and I’m still here. Sure I may die earlier than most people without mental illness, but thanks to the internet, modern medicine, advanced counseling techniques, and social safety nets, I have been able to tell my story about living with a mental illness. Hopefully I’ve been able to dispel some myths about mental illness and break down some barriers. I just hope that the conversation about mental illness will continue. As far as I can tell, the mentally ill are among the last people that it’s socially acceptable to discriminate against. I hope to be part of changing that nonsense.
After surviving with mental illness for twenty years and still being functional and able to live on my own, I have become more optimistic now at age 36 than I was at age 16. I have gotten optimistic enough that I have found myself less and less tolerant of pessimist, naysayers, and those who spew doom and gloom. I have left friendships with people who were incurable pessimists. Though you wouldn’t know it from the news sites, but we are actually living in some of the most prosperous and peaceful times in history. Of course you aren’t going to hear this from politicians and news casts because news casts and politicians depend on attention and we humans are naturally more likely to notice bad news and threats. It served us well when we were ice age hunter gatherers but it’s causing us in the more settled and civilized world undue stress and anxiety. I can tell you from personal experience that most of what people worry about either never happens or turns out to be more manageable than previously thought. One of the reasons I refuse to watch the news is that it’s nothing but bad news all the time. You hear nothing about science advances, humanitarian efforts, or any kind of good news. But good news isn’t fit to print, now is it? And I for one am tired of always hearing bad news and doom. If one were to listen to the “experts”, the world has always been heading for tragedy. The sky is not falling. We’ve had problems in the past but we solved them. We’ll continue to solve our current and future problems. Mark my words.
After surviving the worst of what schizophrenia has to offer, I have no patience for pessimists and doom sayers. Sell that snake oil to someone else. While you worry about problems and do nothing to solve said problems, there are far more people than you will ever know working on solving the world’s problems. Quit worrying already.