Take biology and psychology that developed over many thousands of years in the Stone Age, throw in Bronze Age spirituality and religions, mix in legal, finance, and government institutions developed in the Renaissance, toss in jobs, consumerism, work ethic, and education developed in the Industrial Revolution, add mass media and instant communications of the early 21st century, and possibly add machine automation that will make the work force far smaller and resources far easier to get as icing on the cake. Stand back and watch mayhem and chaos ensue or work toward bringing about the Star Trek future.
I had been stable overall for weeks until a couple days ago. Just a bunch of things went wrong all at once this week and now I’m having problems with irritability and anger again. And the fact it’s been too frigid to get out and do much lately isn’t helping. It started earlier this week when, for whatever reason, my pharmacy decided it wasn’t going to deliver one of my new medications. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I told my psych doctor specifically to tell my pharmacy to send this med to my house. They send all my other meds to me via mail. But, something must have gotten lost in translation. I would rather not venture across town to get my meds because I’ve been having bouts when I’m afraid to leave my apartment complex some days, especially in cold and icy weather. And of course, since I live in a smaller city, public transit is a sick and sad joke in this place. I wouldn’t even own a stupid car if it wasn’t for garbage like this. I really wouldn’t. I mean, the thing just sits in a parking space looking dumb the 99 percent of the time I’m not driving it. And it still has to have insurance and license plates whether I drive the thing two miles per day or two hundred. I am so ready for the car sharing services to become available. But even those will probably get needlessly delayed, just like every other advance that has benefited humanity. Needless to say, I can’t stand Luddites. If I didn’t want science and tech, I could move to an Amish village. Even rural Africa has smart phones now.
Another thing that has chapped my hide raw this week is that my bank has been experiencing difficulties with their internet access banking. I check my online balance every morning just to see where I stand. Since the website had been sporadic the last few days I have essentially been flying in the dark all week. To make matters even better, they often hold my checks for days at a time and cash them whenever they see fit. The only thing I write a check for any more is my rent. And I have timed my bank, and there have been months they have held my check for ten days before cashing the thing. Now if I actually had money, this wouldn’t be a problem. But, when checks bounce, banks tend to penalize their poorer customers by fining them (let’s call it what it really is) for the sin of not having money. I sent off my rent check on Monday this week. As of Friday night, it still hasn’t been cashed. And this is irritating me. It burns me that we have instant communication to anywhere on God’s green Earth via internet and cell phones that didn’t exist even thirty years ago, yet in some cases, we are still forced to rely on Industrial era tech that hasn’t changed a bit in over two hundred years. This is 2019, the 21st century is near a fifth over. Yet we still have institutions and people who still operate with an 1800 mentality. It’s like I’m expecting them to renounce electricity and go back to divine right of monarchs before too terribly long.
Another thing I can’t stand is coin operated laundry machines? Seriously? In 2019, this nonsense is still a thing? We had card operated laundry machines when I was in college where you could put folding money on in 1999. I’m sure the tech has come a long way since then to where you could use even credit cards on washing machines and even vending machines if businesses would just enact them. With inflation being what it is anymore, the metal in the coins cost more than the stupid coins are designated worth. If I was suddenly president, the first thing I would do is issue an executive order demanding that all non gold and silver coins be no longer made. Now gold and silver still have worth, primarily as collectibles, industrial metals, value storage, and they just look cool. As far as worrying about the card readers at laundromats being hacked, well like ATMs at banks and card readers at gas stations get hacked all the time. It’s just that we have better cyber security than we did in years past. I bet for every successful hack, like what happened to Target a year ago, there are thousands that fail. So, seriously, ditch the needless fear mongering and fantasizing for the past that sucked more than we care to admit, and join the modern era all ready.
As much as I hate stereotyping, maybe Max Planck new more than he realized when he said, “Science progress is made only one funeral at a time.” Sadly, he could have said the same thing about social progress too it seems to me. I dread to see what hang ups I have in 2019 the younger generations in 2049 will despise. At this point I just hope to make it to 50 without having a stroke from the stress and frustration of dealing with one foot in the Star Trek possibilities and the other being stuck in the Gilded Age of the late 1800s.
Spending Thanksgiving week by myself. I had my celebration a week ago as kind of a going away party for my parents. I guess I don’t mind spending the week alone as I’ve spent much of my adult life alone. I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 when I graduated college. I would actually feel kind of strange having to share a roof and four walls with someone, especially if that someone and I got on each others nerves.
This isn’t the first major holiday I spent alone. Several years ago I stayed home when my parents were hosting it because I felt a major breakdown coming on. I wasn’t going to have a break in front of my niece and nephews, especially when they were still too young to go to school. It was a sad deal in that it was also my grandfather’s last Thanksgiving. He was diagnosed with cancer a few days later and died a couple months after. I was fortunate to been able to host the last couple Christmas celebrations with my parents at my apartment. Not sure what I’m doing this year as all my family is now living out of state. But I have a few weeks to figure that out. It could be I get snowed in and not able to go anywhere. This time a year the weather is always a factor where I live.
Starting to sleep less again. But I’m not staying up all night either. I usually go to sleep around 10pm and am up usually around 2 am. I prattle around for a couple hours and then go back to sleep for another couple hours. I’m usually awake for good by 8:30 am. I have been feeling quite stable lately too. I’ve now gone a full year without a major breakdown. First time I can claim that ever since I was in high school.
In spite feeling better overall, I really have no desire to go anywhere or socialize much. I’m content to pretty much stay at home much of the time. Home is where I feel comfortable and accepted, even if I am alone. I don’t like socializing in person much anymore. I’m almost scared of other people now, especially people I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new aspect of my mental illness. I don’t have the volatile mood swings but just have no motivation to see anyone or try anything new.
Perhaps I really am depressed and not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone is the way it’s being manifest. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of despondency or sadness, but I probably do have both. I feel no need to socialize because, in my diseased mind, I already know the outcome of said socializing: We will talk about dumb and mundane things and not much will be accomplished from the meeting. I guess I’m used to not much being accomplished. I’m used to people outside of family not coming through on what they say they’ll deliver. It’s like I expect things to not work anymore. I’m probably suffering from apathy too. I’m just too tired to fight against it anymore. I’m used to things not working like they should. I’ve seen it my entire life I guess. That’s one of the reasons I don’t understand the average person’s obsession with politics or working; people talk all the time yet nothing really changes and certainly not for the better.
I would almost swear that people are intentionally screwing up and doing what they know won’t work. I can’t believe that people are so stupid as to do what they know won’t work over and over and yet be duped by every charlatan and con artist who comes along offering the same tripe with different packaging and names. I guess that’s why I don’t socialize anymore. I’ve seen it all before and I’ve heard it all before. But nothing changes for the better. The only real positive changes I’ve seen, at least in my life time, have come via science, technology advances, and humanitarian efforts. Yet no one wants to talk about these. But it is science, tech, and humanitarians that are making up for the gridlock in politics and the loss of trust in education, law, and religion. I guess that people don’t pay attention to what really makes a positive difference.
For generations we have heard old men on their death beds lamenting how they spent too much time at work and not enough time with their spouses and children or grandchildren. Maybe it’s finally starting to get through to the younger workers who seek a work life balance more than my generation or my parents and grandparents did. I think I’ll say something like “Too bad I didn’t get the corner office or the company car when I was working” or “Why did I take the day off to take my nephews to the museum? There was money to be made, dang it” just to break up the somber mood and my way of saying kiss off the old style Puritan work ethic that seems to believe that those who don’t work themselves into an early grave are going to hell.
I don’t regret not having a regular job anymore. Most people I know who got rich didn’t do so by working forty hours a week for someone else. They got that way by working for themselves and starting their own businesses. But even as rich as some people I knew were, I still didn’t see them take with them to the afterlife. Even the Pharaohs had their graves robbed over the centuries. Get a large pile of gold and jewels only to have marauders run off with it or have it collect dust in some museum half a world away thousands of years later. Hard work may have never killed anyone, but neither did enjoying the small things of life that money, power, and prestige can’t acquire.
I have changed in many ways over the years. I’ve noticed changes in my friends and classmates too. I’ve even seen changes in the people I knew in my parents’ age bracket over the years.
One of the changes I’ve noticed in myself with age is that I prefer to spend most of my time at home. When I was a teenager I was rarely at home except to sleep or do homework. When I wasn’t at school or school activities, I was at friends’ houses. I preferred going to friends’ houses as my brother usually had his friends over all the time. I imagine it concerned my parents as I rarely had friends over at the house. I wasn’t anti social, far from it. I just liked spending time at places where I wouldn’t be bothered by my older brother and his friends. When I was in college, I usually spent time in my friends’ dorm rooms or in the student union when I wasn’t at the library or studying for classes. I was on good terms with everyone at my small college, but had only a handful of confidants I felt I could tell anything. Looking back on this years later, I know that most of my socializing and trust issues are because of the mental illness. I probably could have had a larger social network than I did. Yet I’m happy that I managed to stay on good terms with most people even if I was in emotional turmoil much of the time. Just goes to show how powerful our minds are in shaping our reality.
Now that I’m my late 30s I prefer to stay at home most of the time. I would rather host guests now than I would visit them it seems. Granted, I do like to have at least a couple days notice before I’m hosting anyone. I’m still self conscious about my place and what people think of me. Sure, most of the negative vibes I get from others are manufactured by the diseased aspects of my mind. But I guess I haven’t mastered my mind well enough to easily shake these negative vibes just yet. I truly believe our minds are powerful enough to make or break our outward reality.
In my friends’ cases, most of my school mates are now in our late 30s or early 40s. And many of them are having stressful times in recent years. Some have careers not progressing like they had hoped. Some have had failed marriages. Some have had money problems. Some of them have dealt with the deaths of their parents. Some have dealt with serious life changing illnesses of their own. Some of them are dealing with the highs and lows of raising children. Stress and concern seems to dominate many of my friends’ lives. Yet no so much for myself. I guess I had many of my mental illness crisis situations happen to me in my twenties. It stunk that I never had a career get off the ground because of schizophrenia. But it did make me resilient and realize there is more to life than working and paying bills.
Sadly, many people don’t realize this until they are retired or get laid off from a job. As a result of my friends having stress in their lives, many of them are more pessimistic about life in general than I am. I remember how pessimistic my parents and their friends were when they were in their thirties and early forties when I was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. I guess it’s my generation’s turn to be pessimists and overworked parents. No wonder some jokers suggest that life doesn’t truly start until age forty. Well, I’m about there 🙂 And as much as my twenties stunk, I managed to enjoy my thirties enough to make up for it. Maybe it’s because being on disability pension I don’t have to worry about working a regular job as long as I stay out of debt and live within my means. I can only hope my friends in my age bracket can someday find the joy and peace in their lives that I have experienced for myself in recent years.
I’ve also noticed changes in my parents and people in their age bracket. Seems to me that many people tend to either become more calm in their senior years or more grouchy. Fortunately for me, my grandparents were quite calm in their senior years. In many ways, they were more accepting of my eccentric qualities and questions than even my parents. But, after my parents became grandparents, they started mellowing too. I almost don’t recognize the my parents in their senior years when I compare them to what I grew up with as a kid in the 1980s and 1990s. They are more patient with their grandkids then they ever were my brother and I and our cohorts. But I guess grandkids are nature’s reward for not killing your children when they were teenagers. Many of the people I knew in my parents age bracket when I was a kid are now more calm in their sixties and seventies then they were in their thirties or forties. Of course, there are few who are more sour than ever. Fortunately they aren’t very common.
And the kids with their iPads and smart phones? Well, they’ll eventually turn into productive members of civilization themselves. People complained about my cohorts in the 1990s playing our Nintendo games and listening to our Tupac and Marilyn Manson music. We turned out alright. Back in the 1960s, people complained about the kids watching too much television and listening to The Doors and Elvis. Even my grandparents generation were unloaded on for listening to radio programs, jazz music, and reading comic books. And now we call them ‘The Greatest Generation.’ All young people do stupid things and the parents fear the end of civilization because of their tastes and tech. The best thing that happens to kids is they get out in the world in their twenties and work a few lousy jobs and date a few losers before they find their calling (or at least career) and their spouse or soul mates. And then they have kids of their own and fret over them. Makes me wonder what the teenagers of 2018 will fret about concerning their own kids come 2040 or so. Maybe brain boosting implants will be their iPads or Ninetendo games or radio. Stay tuned, my friends. It is always interesting.
Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me. I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it. I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work. I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego. As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension. It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.
I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body. Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life. It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures. It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing. That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels. I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there. I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu. Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people. I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library. But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story. And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.
Haven’t been writing much lately but that is mainly because I haven’t had much to report. I have been quite stable for weeks. Haven’t had any real bouts of delusion or paranoia. The excessive anger doesn’t come up very often. The hallucinations have subsided for the most part. The ones I do have are more annoying than fear or anger inducing.
I don’t leave my apartment as much as I would like, mainly from the holiday crowds all over the place. It doesn’t help any that many people I know seem to be in perpetual foul moods all the time. It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for irritable people. At this point, there is no way I could go back into working in customer service. I can no longer stomach rude and angry people, even if I get paid for it. Money is poor compensation for having to deal with uncivilized behavior all the time.
Even though I spend most of my time alone and at home, I still keep occupied. Been reading a lot of science journals online and watching science programs on youtube and curiosity stream. It’s too bad that more people aren’t interested in science and tech. Both fields are fascinating, especially the last few years with as fast as these fields have been advancing. The sad thing is I wouldn’t know about any of these advances if I didn’t specifically make a point of seeking this information out. The media, at least easily accessible media, really does a poor job informing people to the current state of science and technology. As much as people use these things, I would think people would be interested in hearing about these things. I get that people are naturally drawn to bad news, it’s how we are wired. I must be weird in that I just got tired of hearing about bad news and tragedy all the time and started seeking out what was going right and well. I get enough bad news and negativity just from being mentally ill, I just don’t need outside sources adding to this.
In other news, Christmas is only two weeks away. I readily admit to being tough to shop for as I am a practicing minimalist. I really don’t require that much to keep me occupied and entertained. I’m sure my family doesn’t find it very thrilling that I ask for things like clothes and home decorations. I like electronics, but there are only so many I need as my computers do most of what I need. I don’t need music CDs as I get most of my music through youtube and spotify anymore. I don’t need movie DVDs as I can get everything through amazon and netflix. I have got to say, having a high speed wireless internet connection has really decluttered much of my life. Besides spending money on food, I just don’t spend as much money on miscellaneous things anymore. Maybe the Star Trek economy where money doesn’t really matter that much isn’t three hundred years away. We could be witnessing the early stages of it already.
I may not make much money but I still live what I consider a fulfilled life. I know that many people of my generation and younger lament that many of us don’t have as much money or material possessions as our parents’ generations, but with much of living being digitalized, do we really need the whole four bedroom house with the picket fence and two automobiles in the garage? What my computer and smart phone can do would have been worth millions back in the 1970s. I probably wouldn’t even own a car except for occasional road trips. As it is, I may not have a lot (not by American standards anyway), but I don’t feel lacking or poor. It was just a matter of realizing what’s really important and adjusting accordingly. It’s a pity that it took for myself becoming mentally ill and losing a career to realize all of this.
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.