May 3 2020

Got some groceries this weekend.  I was able to get the frozen meat I needed.  I picked up some more cleaning supplies.  I have an order of facemasks coming in a few days.  Those have been tough getting.

Still spending all of my time at home.  It’s starting to get to me a little.  I find myself easily irritated and a little paranoid occasionally.  Glad it doesn’t last long.  I still sleep a great deal.  I usually sleep ten hours a day now.  I have started taking naps in the afternoon again.

Mornings are my toughest time for aches and pains.  I don’t move as quickly as I used to.  My aches are primarily in my knees.  A few minutes of moving around seem to help as much as anything.

Haven’t been to a doctor since December.  I imagine most doctors aren’t seeing anyone for anything unless it’s an emergency.  I can’t imagine how tough this pandemic has been on mentally ill people without regular treatment.  It’s tough enough for me and I take meds every day.

I Care, That’s Why I Don’t Stay Silent

People are often told to speak up if they are having struggles or problems.  But what is the point of opening up to others if you are met with the whole others have it worse trope.  But, for me, what is even worse than being told others have it worse, or I’m lucky, or that I should quit complaining, is being met with complete silence and indifference.  Being met with silence is by far the worst for me.  I’ve experienced it many times in my life, even from my own family.

I don’t know how to read someone going silent on me when I tell them something.  Do you think I am a liar?  Are you too heartless to say even “I’m sorry you’re hurting”?  Are you too dumb to know how to react?  Do you just not care?  Do you think I am stupid? Or do you not know how to communicate?  Or are you just being rude?  Do you think I’m overblowing the problem?  All of this is going through my head all at the same time when I confess my problems to people and I’m met with a stone wall of silence.  I already suffer in silence for a lot of the struggles with my mental illness.  Have since my teenage years.  When I open up to you, I often do so because I crave feedback.

I know I appear weak in many people’s eyes just for talking about my problems.  But, I have probably appeared weak, odd, eccentric and weird to everyone I have ever met since childhood.  “I am the weirdo” to quote Fairuza Balk from “The Craft.”  Some probably thought I was weird for having emotions other than anger or lust as a man.  Many have thought it weird that I take pride in being well read and active in seeking knowledge.  I never understood why it was cool to be stupid and immature.

Others think I’m weird for caring about others and humanity as a whole.  I cringe every time I see one of these “the importance of not giving a ####” articles, videos, and books.  Apparently it hasn’t occurred to most people that the reason they live mediocre lives, are stuck in dead end jobs, with dead end relationships, have mediocre leaders in government, have mediocre bosses, live paycheck to paycheck, and never getting better is because they don’t care enough, certainly they don’t care enough to attempt to change things.

I’ve tried many times to change myself for the better.  Sure I have failed at most of those attempts, but at least I have gleaned some bits of wisdom and some interesting experiences from those endeavors.  I may still be mentally ill, but I can manage it pretty well, better than the majority of people.  I may not be in good physical health, but at least I’m still fighting to keep some maintenance and stability.  I will probably never be rich, unless by some act of God this blog and my writings get picked up by some group who wants to pay me for work I’ve done, sometimes at great personal expense, for years.  I refuse to give up.  I refuse to stop caring about humanity, nature, my friends, my family, my neighbors, etc.  Asking me to stop caring is the same as asking a fish to stop swimming.  Caring about others and trying to provide insight and assistance through my own personal experiences living as a man with mental illness is what I do.  It’s who I am.  It’s my Definite Chief Aim, according to Napoleon Hill.  Or my Massively Transformative Purpose, according to Peter Diamandis.

Even if by some miracle of medical science I do get cured of mental illness, or at least get the symptoms knocked down enough they no longer affect my lifestyle, I’m still going to find ways to use my mind, my knowledge, and my compassion for others to make life more bearable and meaningful to others.

Return To Normal

Had maintenance come to my apartment yesterday.  Had to spend a few hours out of my place.  I just spent the afternoon in my complex’s library.  I met a couple of my newer neighbors.  I think both of them were younger than I.  I suppose after living in the same place for over thirteen years it was only a matter of time when I would be older than some residents.  I was twenty six when I moved to my current place.  I was one of the youngest renters here.  Now I’m beginning middle age and one of the longer tenured residents in here.  I admit I am guilty of not noticing new tenants in here until they’ve been here for a few weeks.  I don’t get out as much as I used to as I tend to keep to myself and a few of my immediate neighbors.  My neighbor made some chili and French fries yesterday and brought me a plate.  Chili and potatoes are among my favorite cold weather foods.

I am now staying up later and sleeping less.  Most days I am not in bed until 11pm or midnight.  But I am usually awake for good right before sunrise.  I still nap for an hour in the afternoon, but usually only three times a week instead of every day.  I still have moments of anxiety and irritability, but those usually last only a few minutes.  I can usually do well if I can just take a step back and just let it pass.  Mornings are usually the toughest for me.  I still have a cup of coffee, usually at noon instead of first thing in the morning now.  I usually eat one large meal a day, usually lunch, and have something small for dinner.

I don’t have much planned for the next few days.  My cleaner is scheduled to arrive this afternoon and I’m expecting a package over the weekend.  It’s a late Christmas gift to myself I bought with my Christmas money.  I got a few cheap games for my PlayStation.  They should be here either Saturday or Monday as most places don’t make Sunday deliveries, at least not here in USA.  There are some playoff football games this weekend I may drop in on.  And I have my books on my e-reader I’m working on.  I’m now a few hundred pages into ‘Wealth of Nations’ by Adam Smith.  I’m also working on Plato’s ‘Republic’ and Machivelli’s ‘The Prince.’  I read all three in my twenties.  I figure after about fifteen years I could stand rereads.

Overall things are going alright.  I feel like I’ve returned to normal after the holidays.

Day After Christmas 2019

It is December 26, 2019 as I write this posting.  I had a rough go a few days right before Christmas.  I had to postpone my holiday plans as I was having some flare ups with the illness.  Even though I spent Christmas Day at home by myself, I made a point of calling my family and getting in touch with friends via phone and social media.  Got to chat with my brother and his kids and find out what they got for Christmas.  I rescheduled my family Christmas for this weekend.  But we’re supposed to have winter storms this weekend, so it may be getting postponed a second time, perhaps until New Year’s Day.  Fortunately there are lots of college football games this weekend.  So even if we do get the several inches of snow and ice and bad winds, I can stay home and watch football.  I just hope the power doesn’t go out.

I don’t have much planned for the next few days other than get ready for the storm and watch some ball games.  In addition to watching a few games already, I have been thinking over the last twelve months.  2019 hasn’t been as eventful as some years, at least not for me.  I did sell my car, I have employed a cleaning lady who has dropped in once a week, and now one of my neighbors is helping with my laundry.  My neighbors drop in a couple times per week and we just check in on each other.  I had my annual physical checkup in early December.  I didn’t lose weight (like I had hoped), yet I didn’t gain weight either.  I don’t know if I stayed steady because of the change of diet and regular weight lifting or what.  I did start on a blood pressure medication.  After a few weeks on it, I notice I feel less tense and am starting to become more active again.

Mentally I kept largely to myself even though I have felt less paranoid and anxious than previous years.  I have had a few flare ups over the last twelve months, but they seem less intense than in previous years.  I still sometimes call my parents and just blow off steam.  I feel guilty for it even though my parents seem to be understanding.  I admit, I have an amazing family for support.  Even the extended family of cousins and aunts are very understanding.  I’ve been doing this blog on a regular basis for six years now.  I’m more comfortable talking about my issues now than I was even when I started this blog.  I certainly didn’t feel comfortable about talking about my problems twenty years ago, not even really to family.  I started having problems when I was seventeen and a junior in high school.  At first I was hoping it was merely teenage angst and anxiety.  Turns out I was wrong.  After using regular medical treatment and therapy for almost twenty years, it is easier to talk about my problems.  I have moved past the acceptance part and now advocating for others besides myself.  I don’t know how long I will get to live, but I plan on talking about these issues for a long as I can.  For awhile I was thinking about starting a youtube channel where I do voice overs just talking about mental illness.  I am still a little leery about broadcasting myself, but not so much my voice.  I hope that mostly paranoia talking.  A friend of mine has a youtube channel featuring her art work and she’s tried to convince me to put some of my thoughts to video instead of just print.  I didn’t get around to it in the 2010s, but who knows what opportunities the 2020s will present.

November 26 2019

Today is the first major snow storm of the season in my town.  I’m enjoying staying at home, listening to the wind howl, and watching the snow fall.  I’m glad I’m not traveling in this mess.  It’s a good night to just stay home and stay bunkered down.

Even though I still spend most of my time at home, I get more visitors.  My neighbors visit usually once a day.  They were over here all afternoon on Sunday.  After a few weeks of having more regular company, I’m less paranoid about people in general.  I still spend most of my time at home, but it’s not as a defense mechanism. I usually stay home because I want to.  And I have plenty of books to read and things to keep me occupied in my apartment.  I am enjoying the longer nights.  I usually go to bed about 9 or 10 pm and wake about 4 am anymore.  I sometimes nap in the afternoons too.

I don’t have much planned for Thanksgiving.  I’m spending it with my neighbors.  My parents are coming to my place a few days later.  I haven’t decided what I’m doing for Christmas. I guess I really don’t want to go anywhere, but I’m up for hosting a few family members.  I just don’t like to travel much anymore.  I imagine much of this is due to the illness.  I am glad I got to travel in my younger years.

My illness has changed over the last few years.  Some things really upset me now that didn’t used to.  I am more prone to want to be left alone.  I am less tolerant of being treated poorly by others.  I have zero patience for gossip and drama.  But I am more likely to seek help before things become crisis.  I’m more honest with myself and others.  I’m more accepting of my quirks and hangups.  And I no longer feel I have to hide my mental illness.  And I feel more hopeful overall.  While I’m not delusional enough to believe I will get cured, I have learned how to adapt to the illness and plan accordingly.  I guess I don’t know how I would adapt to life without a mental illness.

I don’t know what I would do if I ever was cured.  It would probably mean I’d have to get off social security disability and find work again. Because of the illness, my work skills have deteriorated to almost nothing.  Few jobs are available anymore that don’t require college degrees or moving to an urban area.  I don’t want to go into debt to get a degree that will probably be obsolete before I pay it off.  I certainly don’t want to get married at this point.  I’m almost 40 years old.  I don’t want kids at this point.  I didn’t have kids or get married because I feared I would be a lousy father and husband.  I just knew myself too well.  I don’t really care about become rich.  I certainly don’t want to become famous. I’ve seen too many high achievers get built up only to get torn down later.  I always thought that it was stupid how we praise high achievers only to condemn them later for making mistakes and being human.  I don’t want to be famous, at least not in my lifetime.  Right now I’m content to be an independent scholar, write my blogs, write my journals, and have a few close friends and some family.  I really don’t want much more than that.

Sometimes I don’t even really mind living in a large apartment complex, especially as long as I can stay out of sight and out of the way of drama.  I don’t want to hear gossip anymore.  I don’t care about who did or said what to whom anymore.  The easiest way to make me happy is to not harass me and even just leave me alone unless you have good news.  I’m happy to see my neighbors because they are almost always in good moods.  I’m happy to see my cleaning lady every week because she doesn’t mind the conversation while she works.  And I’m usually happy to chat with my friends and family, at least as long as they aren’t knit picking me.

September 4 2019

Haven’t had much to report lately.  Been pretty quiet as far as the illness goes.  The rest of my life has been pretty quiet too.  Sleeping more than usual lately.  I sleep a few hours in the overnight and then usually nap in the afternoons.

Feeling pretty stable overall.  Haven’t had much for even minor flare ups.  I think it helps that I’m avoiding negative people and news.  I have also been two weeks without coffee, which is probably the longest I have gone since my college years.  I am convinced caffeine was effecting me more than even a few years ago.  Now that I’m in my late 30s I find there are some things that effect me more than previously.  I think caffeine is one of them.  I also no longer like sugar or carbs as much.  I pretty much crave meat and vegetables anymore.

I just don’t have a lot to report.  I’m happy it’s football season and cooler weather is near. I also look forward to the baseball playoffs in October. Fall is my favorite time of year for sports and spring is probably my favorite time of year overall.

Learning From Regrets and Mistakes of Others

I was only twelve years old when I heard someone just casually mention something to the effect, a wise man learns from his mistakes but the wisest learn from the mistakes of others.  And those few seconds changed my life for the better.  I then decided I want to live such a life that I would have as few regrets as possible when I came to the end of life’s journey.

I spent my teenage years listening to my elders complain about how much they hated their jobs or how unruly their kids were or how much they and their spouses fought.  Yet I saw almost no one do anything to change these bad circumstances.  I saw almost no one change jobs unless they got laid off or had health problems that prevented them from working.  I saw parents and their kids argue and fight over every little thing to the point the kids abandoned their parents after high school graduation and never looked back.  And the spouses almost never tried to solve their problems and often wound up divorced and bitter.  I looked out at all of this and thought that all of that was stupid. And all I heard from my elders when I asked about this was “Wait until you’re an adult” or “Wait until you have bills to pay”, etc.  All the while I was making notes and planning on how I wouldn’t fall into those traps.

I saw people have bad marriages.  That is why early on I decided I wouldn’t compromise on the woman I would marry.  I admit I was picky about the women I wanted to date.  Granted, not many of them wanted to date me.  Looking back on it, this upfront rejection saved me a lot of heartache down the road.  Why should I spend time with people who don’t want to spend time with me?  I am now thirty nine years old and have never been married.  I don’t have many friends that can say that.  But, I would make a bad husband and father with my mental illness and personality being what they are.  I try not to look back and wonder ‘what if.’  I am not anti marriage or anti family.  I just don’t think either one is right for me.  It is just part of knowing myself.

I have also left dead end jobs.  Everyone probably has worked one of those, especially in their twenties.  My first couple jobs out of college were dead end.  I left my first job out of college when my hours were being cut.  Looking back on it, I was probably being phased out.  So I moved to my current town and found another job within a couple weeks.  That too turned out to be a dead end job in the same industry.  I left after six months to go work at the local university.  I enjoyed the university job, but it was dependent on being a graduate student at the same time.  As it was, I didn’t make good enough grades to keep the job.  And since I didn’t want to go into debt to get a masters’ degree and not be guaranteed a job, I left the program.  Turned out to be a wise move.  My mental illness got worse to the point I couldn’t hold a regular full time job.  I applied for disability in January 2006 and it took almost two years to get approved.  I don’t know how anyone survives while waiting for disability to kick in without family support.  But I went on disability without any student loans.  And while I was working fifteen hours a week as a janitor at the courthouse, I was living quite well.

After a few years at the courthouse, I decided another change was in order.  I left that job and devoted myself to my blog, my writings, and my self directed scholarship.  It was a good decision, at least for me.  I have learned to live on little money and appreciate the simple things.  I have studied  several different topics over the years, all just either by going to the library or watching educational videos and audiobooks via youtube.  And it didn’t cost me anything other than internet service fees (which are only a dollar per day for my needs).  For the price of two cans of Coca Cola out of a vending machine, I have access to the knowledge of the ages.  That by itself tells me that right now, in 2019, is a very cool time to live in.  Sure we have our problems and issues, but it used to be much worse for most of history.

In short, I have tried to live my life with few regrets.  I have made decisions, while not popular with my friends, family, coworkers, etc., that made a great deal of positive difference for me.  I don’t know how long I will get to live this life.  But whenever my last days come, I don’t want to be wondering ‘what if’ or ‘should have or could have.’  For the most part, I don’t have a lot of regrets.  At least, not many I could have done much different.

Being Ignored While Reaching Out

Saw my parents a couple times over the last few days.  It was good to have visitors for an extended time.  I hardly get any visitors anymore.  I guess I have hit the age where most of my friends are busy with their careers and families.  Other than a few friends who are divorcees, I have only one close friend right who has never been married.  Unfortunately he is quite busy with work and lives in another country.

I feel like I miss out on a great deal because I don’t have a family and can’t work.  Most of my friends conversations revolve around work, spouses, and children.  And sadly, many of my friends are also depressed and anxious.  I guess with most of my friends being in their late 30s and early 40s, I imagine many are experiencing mid life crisis type things.  That and pretty much everyone is more stressed now anyway.  There are times I am quite stressed too even though I have no job or wife or kids.  I spent most of this spring in a deep depression where I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Some days I slept twelve to fifteen hours a day because sleep was the only time I didn’t feel anxious or depressed or irritable.  I was isolating from neighbors and avoiding people because I was depressed and anxious and I was depressed and anxious because I was lonely all the time.  And on it went in a vicious cycle.

I miss my friends and family.  I miss having in depth and meandering conversations that cover many different topics.  About the only person I have those with anymore are my mother.  Everyone else seems to be hung up on work, debts, family, etc.  They have become too busy earning a living that they forgot why they stay alive.  Naturally I can’t talk to any of my friend about this.  Because they are too stressed living paycheck to paycheck to engage in anything besides work and sleep it seems.  And I have been having a great deal of paranoia lately that my friends really don’t like me that much.

This paranoia might spring from that most of my friends don’t reach out to me, at least not lately.  Anytime I try to reach out to friends, I usually get no response.  When I do get responses, they are usually short answers or complaints about how bad their lives are and how lucky I am.  It’s really discouraging and sad.  We tell people in distress to reach out for help all the time.  Yet, what is the point of reaching out when most of time we are ignored or made fun of?  And people wonder why, in spite of our prosperity and having all but conquered absolute poverty, we are unhappy and depressed.  We are unhappy and depressed precisely because we don’t make efforts to connect to people or answer those who are lonely.  We bought into the whole rugged individualism to where we believe we have to just bear it if we can’t solve our own problems.  This is really heartless and stupid.  In our age, we are far more interdependent than any of us as individuals or nations realize.  And until we acknowledge this and adapt accordingly on an individual, civilizational, and species level, we will only see our issues of anxiety, depression, and loneliness become far worse.  We are already seeing epidemic levels of stress related illnesses.  If mental health problems got even a fraction of the attention that physical illnesses like cancer got, we would be well on our way to alleviating these problems.  Yet, we as a society and individuals choose to make them worse in those around us and in ourselves.

Graduation and Optimism During Times of Great Change

It is that time of year again, graduations and the end of the school year.  As it’s been chillier and damper then usual this spring, it doesn’t feel like early May yet.  It still feels like early April to me.  This year will mark twenty years since I graduated high school and fifteen since I graduated from college.  My class is having their twenty year reunion this summer.  As I have a family reunion out of state during the same weekend, I won’t be able to do both.  Haven’t decided which one I’m going to yet.  I haven’t been to any of my class reunions besides the five year.

I guess I just don’t have much in common with some of my old classmates or people in my childhood hometown.  Sure I had cool friends and enjoyed school activities like playing football and doing speech.  Yet I never felt like I really fit in back during my younger days.  Could have had problems with paranoia even as a child.  It also didn’t help that I spent the last two years of high school with a developing mental illness and not seeking help for it.  But we didn’t know back then.  We didn’t have the information easily available to us twenty years ago, certainly not like now.  I definately loved college, in part because I was seeking help and getting regular treatments.

I am trying to get out of the habit of offering recent graduates advice other than “stay flexible.”  I don’t tell anyone what career fields to look into anymore.  For beginners, we don’t know what jobs will be in demand in ten years anymore.  Many people can’t afford even going to state university without going into heavy debt anymore.  I’m glad I had good scholarships in college and got help from home.  I graduated debt free and that has saved my hide more than once.

It’s sad that so many people have crushing debts from school before they even begin a career.  I have far too many friends struggling with student debts even in their thirties.  And it’s absolutely asinine and unforgivable that student loans can’t be discharged in bankruptcy.  I don’t think college is viable for most kids anymore simply because of how out of control the costs have become.  An eighteen year old right out of high school would be better off doing an apprenticeship, going to trade school, or joining the military in most cases it seems.  Some kids might be better off moving overseas and looking for work in East Asia or Europe anymore.  A college friend of mine teaches high school in Netherlands and absolutely loves it as far as I can tell.  A cousin of mine lived in Japan for three years while her husband was stationed over there in the military.  It might not be such a bad idea.  National borders mean less now than they did even twenty years ago.

I try not to offer advice, not because I don’t care.  It’s because we no longer know what the future holds, at least not in terms of in demand careers.  I blog on a regular basis yet that was in it’s early days when I was in high school and college.  Youtube or social media didn’t exist when I was in high school.  Amazon was just getting started in the 1990s.  And of course smart phones didn’t exist and AI was nowhere near as good as it is now.  Renewable energy tech like wind and solar are becoming more affordable and in many cases now competitive with old style fossil fuels.  That wasn’t the case even fifteen years ago.  While many older jobs are definitely going away or getting drastically reduced, there are likely going to be others taking their place.  What if instead of economic Armageddon we were actually heading for one of the biggest industrial and economic booms in history?  What if instead of ecological collapse we solved the problems of air and water pollution?  We have people working on those problems, and many others as I write this.  I once read that in America during the Great Depression of the 1930s, more self made millionaires were made in that decade than in any other before that.  Yet we often think it was a hellish time.  For many people, it was. Yet for others, it was a time of opportunity as well.

It seems to me that during times of distress and upheaval (like we are living now) there are also opportunities as well.  I may be mentally ill, but I also have an outlet to talk about it and hopefully offer help others that I didn’t have in my younger years.  I have pretty decent treatments when had I grown up in my grandmother’s generation I would have spent the rest of my life in an institution or prison.  Sure I have gained a lot of weight over the course of this illness and my physical health has declined, yet I still have a sharp mind and am stable in spite the illness.  Overall I’m pretty happy.  Maybe not all the time, but then no one is continually blissful at all times anymore than people are always physically healthy.  I doubt I would have ever become a blogger if I didn’t become mentally ill.

 

Random Thought on an idle Friday afternoon

With it being a Friday, I am reminded of posts by friends of how much they love weekends and how much they hate their jobs. Maybe I got lucky by having a severe mental illness and being on disability. Perhaps I did, especially with how much I read about how people hate their jobs and their spouses. I also probably got lucky in that becoming disabled made me not marriage material. Yet, as it were, losing everything civilization told me to value made me fearless and optimistic. Once you lose everything, you are free to do anything it seems.