August 7, 2018

Been uneventful for a few days.  I’m no longer staying awake all night and sleeping most of the day.  Most of my waking time anymore is during daylight hours.  Mentally I feel stable.  I am starting to get a few more aches and pains I can’t really explain.  But I have been more active than usual.  I’m reading more books again.  For awhile most of what I was reading was online articles and audio books.  I’m currently reading ‘The Inevitable’ by Kevin Kelly.  It’s a future tech trends book.

I watch more live tv now, mostly baseball and soccer.  I still don’t watch most news as most of it is just bad news meant to catch our attention.  All the news that fit to be print, right?  I don’t have any regular shows I watch besides some Star Trek reruns on Netflix.  I do watch a lot of history shows on youtube.  I recently watched Crash Course’s entire world history series.  I always did get a kick out of John Green.

While I do get out more often, I still don’t stray too far from my neighborhood.  Haven’t really been outside of my hometown for almost six weeks.  But I am just comfortable and content to stay close to home and did most of my business here.

I think I’m losing weight again.  I notice my clothes fit looser and I can walk a little farther than I could even a few weeks ago.  I think my aches and pains are from more physical activity than usual.  I can also lift more weight than usual.  Weight lifting does make a difference even after a month.

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Rant on “Quit Whining and Man Up” and observations about socializing

Been kind of depressed and irritable for the last several days.  Haven’t been sleeping well either.  About the only thing going really well for me is my renewed diet.  I am eating less than I normally do and getting more activity.  I get my activity in the afternoons even though I’m in the habit of sleeping until noon again.

I also no longer want to socialize.  And this time I don’t feel guilty for it.  I am tired of people who are in foul and angry moods trying to drag me down into their own mindlessness and petty vendettas.  Unfortunately, anymore, if it weren’t for negativity and fighting, there would be few conversations and certainly no social media.  I hate how I just can’t have a civilized conversation with even people I partly agree with anymore.  And good luck trying to talk to anyone who doesn’t view the world the same way you do.  I’m beginning to think that many people have mental health problems just because of the way we treat each other and the stress of modern living.  Granted, a person doesn’t have to be chronic like those of us on disability to have problems.  I have had a mental illness for almost twenty years now.  And only recently are people starting to talk about the effects of stress, anxiety, and chronic mental illnesses.  For the first several years of my diagnosis I didn’t talk about my mental health to anybody.  And I think I lost several good friendships because my friends didn’t understand that my depression and anger were nothing personal, they were manifestations of the sickness.

For the first several years of my illness I just didn’t talk about it, not even to friends or employers.  Back in those days mental illness was shrouded in more mystery and ridicule than even now.  I have no idea how many times I was told to ‘suck it up’ or ‘man up’ in those early years.  ‘Man up’. Now there is a stupid phrase I can’t figure out.  What does it even mean?  Is there really only one type of manliness?  And why is it the only type of virtues in a man we appreciate are those that involve the John Wayne frontier mentality that violence is the only way to solve all problems?  I think this is stupid, very stupid.  A mentality like that will make our species extinct.  And quite honestly, I enjoy living too much to sit idle while this type of barbarian behavior is honored and encouraged.  I would rather not go back to the Stone Age.  I hated all the ‘Mad Max’ movies and I definately don’t want to experience them in real life.

Another thing, we don’t females to ‘woman up’ and we don’t tell senior citizens to ‘young down’ nor do we tell terminally ill people to ‘hurry up and die.’  It’s little things that normal people just take for granted that I don’t understand and that I often see the dumbness and hypocracy in.  But most people seem pretty cool with dumb things and hypocracy anyway, at least when it comes from sources they like.  Unfortunately I never understood this line of thinking.  It’s probably why I have problems socializing with the public at large.  And of course having a chronic mental illness that people are still ignorant about doesn’t help either.

In closing, as a thought experiment, I was wondering what would happen if someone (or a group of individuals) just went about their daily lives being as rude and condescending to physical people as we are to people in our online interactions.  I would love to see some psychiatrist conduct this experiment.  I think the results would be either very interesting or very disturbing.

Altered Sleep Patterns and Mental Illness

Things are starting to return to normal for me.  Got my lease renewed, so I get to stay for another year.  The weather is turning warmer and things are really greening up outside.  Spring was slow in getting started but it is certainly here.

And yet my sleep patterns are changing once again.  I’m back to wanting to sleep much of the day now.  I still fight it as I don’t sleep as much as I did during the winter.  But I feel tired more often now and I just want to spend as much time asleep as possible.  I’m still fighting against it by forcing myself to stay awake.  I have found myself falling asleep in front of my computer a couple times as a result.  Maybe I just wasn’t getting quality sleep for the last few weeks when I was sleeping only 6 hours a night.  I do know that getting good sleep can make my mental illness problems less severe.  Maybe I should just sleep as much as I can for the next few days as kind of a reset.  I traditionally have problems with depression, anxiety, and irritability from July until September.  My best and most stable months are usually January to June.  I just don’t do well mentally in hot weather.

Forcing Myself Out of My Comfort

Been forcing myself out of my comfort zones more the last few days.  I’ve been leaving my apartment more often and forcing myself to socialize.  Ran many errands I had been neglecting during the winter.  Getting stocked up on house supplies and cleaning agents so I can do my spring cleaning more properly.  Going to get that started in a few days.  After a few warmer than usual days we are back into winter.  While I knew this was going to happen, I’m still a little disappointed in myself for not taking more advantage of the warmer weekend.  But in terms of supplies and things I’ve been putting off for the last few weeks I’m pretty much caught up.

Been feeling a little less at ease as I’ve been forcing myself to expand my horizons.  That’s probably why I’m a little more irritable than usual.  That and I’m attempting to readjust my sleep patterns so I don’t sleep all day while being awake all night.  I could tell this routine was starting to take a toll on me.  I don’t understand how people who work night shifts for years do it without losing their sanity.  I used to work night shifts at a factory.  While the work was simple enough and the pay good, I just couldn’t adapt to sleeping all day and working all night five nights a week.  After several weeks my work started to suffer and I had to leave the job once my request for a different shift was denied.  I could tell a breakdown was coming if I stayed there.

While I’ve been socializing more I have found I really haven’t lost my social skills in spite spending weeks essentially alone.  I still prefer to spend most of my time alone, but sometimes things like this come and go in phases.  Sometimes I’ll want to sleep all the time and sometimes I won’t want to sleep at all.  Sometimes I’ll want to socialize every day and sometimes I’ll want to go entire days where I talk to no one.  But at least at this point in my life with mental illness I can recognize this and plan accordingly.

Letting Go

It has been said, I think it was in the movie ‘Forrest Gump’, that “in order to move forward, you have to leave the past behind” or something along the same idea.  I admit to having problems with letting go of what happened in my younger years, especially during times when my mental illness flares up especially bad.  During such times I have a very hard time coming to accept that my life did not turn out how I remotely imagined it would when I was sixteen and looking ahead to the vast expanse of years that was ahead.  At that age, I pictured that I would be doing something in medical research and married with at least a couple of children and living in some large metroplex by the time I turned 35.  Like many intelligent kids that could be classified as somewhat ‘nerdy’, I dreamed of the day I would move out of my hometown of less than 500 people and onto bigger and better things.  Like most of the few close friends I had, I so desperately wanted out of Nebraska.  I figured there was nothing here for me in the science and medicine fields and I would be wasting my life if I stayed behind.  Well, time has a way of making fools of even the smartest of us.

I never left Nebraska while all the friends from high school I stayed in contact with did.  In fact, none of the friends I made in college stayed in state either.  I didn’t end up working in any scientific or medical field for even one day of my life.  I certainly never got married or had kids.  I never even worked in a job that would require me to graduate high school for any real length of time, and I essentially failed at those jobs.  In spite of my illness, I retained almost all of my natural intelligence even though now my ability to work under stress and read anyone ‘between the lines’ was completely gone.  Any of these instances, let alone all of these put together, were serious blows to my pride and ego.

For the first several years of my mental illness, I agonized over where I went wrong.  I retained my natural intelligence yet I couldn’t do well in even minimum wage work.  It was baffling to my caseworkers at Vocational Rehab that I was so smart yet couldn’t handle any real stress.  For a long time, I thought I just wasn’t working hard enough and that work was supposed to suck.  I had spent my entire life hearing adults complain about their jobs as if their misery was something they took pride in.  So I just tried harder and attempted to abandon any idea that I was supposed to enjoy work or even life for that matter.  In time I came to believe I was doomed to be a failure at working a regular job.

For the next couple of years, I threw myself into my writing.  I was working part time at the courthouse as a janitor by this time.  I came to believe that the only way I could ‘make something of myself’ was to write a decent selling book.  I knew that the odds were against me as less than one percent of even published writers would make above poverty level if they relied solely on their writing work.  Well, that didn’t work either.  I self published a couple books of poetry, a book about my experiences as a mentally ill person in a ‘chronically sane world’, and even wrote rough drafts for two novels.  Found out the hard way that I have almost no talent for writing fiction.  I don’t even like reading fiction, especially modern fiction.  Even though I sold a few dozen copies of my mental illness book, the others didn’t sell at all.  So for a few years after that, I felt like a failure as a writer.

Now that the traditional writer door had been rudely slammed in my face, I became very depressed and angry.  I couldn’t understand what was the point of retaining my intelligence and not being able to use my abilities to even support myself, let alone help others.  I couldn’t figure any of this out.  I just couldn’t let go of what this illness cost me.  Occasionally I still find myself angry over what I lost.  I had the example of what I could have, and should have, been in the person of my older brother.  He is currently working as an electrical engineer for a defense contractor, making more money per year in his mid 30s than my parents ever made at any point in their careers, living in a excellent neighborhood in a metroplex outside of our home state, married to an intelligent woman (who also is an engineer), and has four children that he’s absolutely devoted to.

I suppose it’s wrong to be envious of him, though a part of me sometimes is.  I know as kids, I actually got better grades in school and read more books than he did.  When I’m in the grips of my mental illness, I often find myself thinking our lives could have been similar.  When I’m seriously in the grips of the illness and feeling nothing but anger and hostility, I find myself thinking our lives could have been easily reversed with me doing the work of my dreams and him being mentally ill.  Fortunately that doesn’t happen often.

When I’m not caught in the grasp of the illness, I find it very easy to let go of my past and move forward.  I have found an outlet of sorts though blogging.  Sure I don’t have thousands of visitors every day like some blogs here on wordpress.  No I’m not known outside of my family, my current hometown, my handful of friends, and people who follow and/or happen to stumble on these writings.  No, I haven’t made even one cent off these writings on this blog.  Sure, I’m dependent on the government for my medications and even my living.  Yet, when I am doing well, I have completely accepted all the aspects of my mental illness and have moved forward.  It is now only the small minority of times when I’m in the grips of the illness that I have to worry about stumbling and dwelling on everything that has happened over the last twenty years.

Measuring Up

Not much has happened in the last few days.  We’re bracing for a snow storm to come in over the next couple days.  I’m still sleeping in my recliner as I’m still nursing my bad back.  Mentally I guess I have been okay even with fighting off the occasional bouts of boredom and anxiety.  I still feel kind of paranoid about people in general.  Since I have pretty good hearing, I can hear everything that goes on in the hallway outside of my apartment.  I don’t like unanticipated visitors as I have always been paranoid about that. I enjoy visiting people, but I can’t stand someone coming over unannounced when I am already self conscious about myself and my place.  My entire life I have had a fear that I don’t measure up in anything and that nothing I do will be good enough.  And since I’ve been fired from a few jobs in the past for things I didn’t know I was doing wrong and have lost friendships over people being annoyed with me being eccentric, many of my paranoias have been confirmed.  At least they are confirmed in my diseased mind but probably not in anyone else’s.  And since I don’t have the ability to read people very well, socializing has become a nightmare I would rather avoid.

End of 2017

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.

September 7, 2017

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.

Working From Home For Free and Thoughts on Tech Advances

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.

Improvements

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.