August 4 2020

Had an appointment with my psych doctor this morning.  We did a conference with an app similar to Zoom.  While my hometown has gotten it easy (so far) as far as the pandemic goes, my doctor offers this service to his patients.  We didn’t make any changes and I’m supposed to see him again in two months.

Been reading much more lately.  I not only read on my e-reader, but I am also reading some of my old hardback books.  Reading some of my old poetry books for the first time in several years.  I usually read in bed as it’s more comfortable for me.

Found out my neighbors are moving out.  I’m sorry to see them go.  We’ve had lots of people come and go this year.  I recently celebrated my 14th anniversary in this complex.  I’m now becoming one of the longest tenured residents in here.  I admit I usually don’t pay much attention to the comings and goings of people unless they’ve been here for a few months.

Been staying up later lately.  I usually stay awake until midnight and wake for good at 8am.  I still wake up at least once in the middle of the night most nights.  My aches and pains are less than usual lately.  Even my morning aches and pains are more bearable.  I usually take some advil in the mornings and that’s all I need.

Mentally I’ve been stable.  I avoid most news channels and social media these days.  I avoid the drama in my complex too.  I no longer have the patience for drama and nonsense.  I can’t remember the last time I watched cable news.  Almost no one I know does anymore.

I’m now almost five months into weathering this pandemic.  I can stay isolated for a long time if necessary.  Able to do this with some planning and buying extra food and supplies every time I get paid.

We Knew The Problems, We Didn’t Act Accordingly

Haven’t left my apartment since last weekend.  Been sleeping more too.  2020 has been an insane year, to say the least.  Pandemics.  Protests.  Quarantines.  Broken supply chains.  Private space flight takes astronauts to the space station.  Yes, 2020 will be a year for the history books.

While all these things are overwhelming for me, I try to stay grounded and positive.  I try to tell people around what’s actually going right.  I tell people that I am hopeful that all of our current troubles are hopefully the birth pains of a more humane and balanced way of living and interacting with the world.  We were foolish to base so much of our manufacturing overseas, especially essential medicines and protective gear.  Militarizing the police was not a good idea.  The uncomfortable conversations about bigotry have been put off for far too long.  Our governments spending too much money and passing the debts off to future generations have gone on for too long.  The gaps between the wealthy and the poor have gotten unmanageable.  The middle class, a key ingredient in any stable and free society, has been under siege financially for too long.  Many people in their twenties and thirties don’t see how they can ever afford a house or children when they already have a small fortune in  student loans.  They were told, like I was, a college degree was necessary to get any jobs beyond frying chicken or pumping gas.  Then they get out of college and the good paying jobs their parents and grandparents had aren’t there.  And now automation is probably going to take over a significant portion of jobs in most industries.  Any wonder most people are scared and angry?

Most of this has been building for at least a couple decades now.  Workers in my parents’ generation knew that social security wasn’t going to be enough to cover their retirements.  Yet, too many of them didn’t save and invest enough to make up the difference.  Now they can’t afford to retire and creating a log jam of millions of younger people overqualified for the entry level jobs they have available.  We knew that too many police officers weren’t being held accountable for using excessive and deadly force, primarily in black and brown neighborhoods, yet we wouldn’t hold them or corrupted local politicians and judges accountable.  Doctors and scientists have been warning us for decades a major pandemic was extremely likely in our lifetimes.  We knew, but we refused to prepare.  We knew about the potential dangers of climate change since at least the 1960s.  Sure, rivers are less polluted in many countries, electric cars are becoming reliable, solar and wind power becoming cheaper than coal in many countries, power storage is becoming more feasible, and nuclear fusion is in development.  But we are starting to see the effects of what scientists have been warning for decades.  We knew a major stock market crash was due once my parents’ generation started retiring and selling off their retirement funds.  We didn’t do enough to prepare, either as nations or individuals.  Wages for most workers haven’t budged in terms of inflation since at least the early 80s, even though workers have gotten more productive and are demanded more from employers.  We treated customer service workers like garbage for decades.  I saw it everyday I worked.  I even received enough abuse from customers, bosses, and coworkers alike I will never work in customer service again.  I don’t care if my disability does get cut off, I’d rather starve to death than be treated worse than an animal.

2020 is indeed a very stressful year for most people.  It was made worse because problems we’ve known about for decades were either never addressed or addressed inadequately.  Hopefully 2020 will be a year when we start to make right the wrongs and bad decisions of previous decades and eras.  I don’t know what it’s like to be black or any other racial minority.  And I never will.  I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman either.  And I never will.  I don’t understand their problems.  But I do want be empathic and be part of making right the wrongs of the past and present.

April 1 2020 Social Distancing

Got my social security payment this morning.  I ordered a few groceries and supplies.  Mostly meat and cleaning agents.  I should have those delivered this afternoon.  I have to drop off my rent check and do laundry today.  I do my laundry at least once a week.

Still doing well mentally.  I haven’t had a breakdown in over a month now.  I’m pleasantly surprised that I’m holding it together in spite the stressful time we’re in.  I think it helped that I got prepared earlier than most people.  I haven’t even had to leave my apartment complex in over two weeks.  I sleep a lot now.  I usually sleep at least ten hours a day.  I’ve heard sleep helps boost immune defenses and, for me, reduces stress.  I was doing breathing exercises in bed yesterday and was relaxed enough I fell asleep for over three hours.

I actually don’t have much problems with aches and pains except for when I wake up in the mornings.  I make a point of standing up at least once an hour no matter what I’m doing.  I haven’t read much other than online articles this week.  I still watch some youtube videos.  Much of what I watch are videos on the line of what positives will come from this pandemic and what tech will advance faster because of covid 19.  One thing I do see happening is that more companies will allow more work from home options.  Another is that grocery and medication home delivery services will become real popular.  I also see that fewer people will harass others via social media interactions.  I was starting to see this already.  It isn’t as bad now as it was three to five years ago.

I started lifting weights every day.  I just don’t work the same muscles two days in a row.  When I was seriously lifting in high school and college, I usually lifted five to six days a week but worked individual muscles no more than three times a week.

The days are starting to go quicker now.  For the first week of the self quarantine, the days felt like weeks.  It wasn’t so much that I wasn’t leaving my apartment complex, it was that even that option went away.  But, like many things, I adapted within several days.  I do still have some minor maintenance issues in my place that could be taken care of quickly.  But, for now, only vitally necessary maintenance is getting done.  So glad I got my new floor and paint before all this mess hit.

Pain and Depression

Haven’t been writing much the last few days.  Starting to sleep more again. Been fighting a cold for several days too.  Been waking up with unexplainable aches and pains the last several mornings.  This morning, my ankle hurt so much I could barely walk.  Pretty much spent the day sitting down or in bed just from the pain.  I couldn’t even answer the door or get to the phone because my ankle hurts so bad.  Oddly, pain pills and even ice don’t seem to do much for it.  It’s been a frustrating last few days.

Haven’t been having much anxiety lately.  But I have been having problems with depression and irritability.  I sometimes get irritated when I’m physically sick.  I’m not usually very good company when I’m sick or hurting.  I’m sorry for that.

Been discouraged and depressed more lately.  I make efforts to find what is going right out there.  Sometimes that can tough to find.  I haven’t had much for conversation the last few days.  Just haven’t been in the mood.  I feel lonely yet I don’t enjoy socializing, at least I haven’t lately.

My Social Activity and Dietary Habits

Another month is off to a decent start.  Got the bills and rent paid, my fridge and pantry is restocked, and I’m now set for awhile.  I don’t have much planned for this week.  I probably won’t be having guests until my cleaning person arrives in a few days.  Since my parents and most of my friends now live out of state, I don’t get much for company anymore.  But then, most of my friends are married and have families of their own.  They have families and careers.  Whereas with a mental illness, I was forced into early retirement I guess.  But even though I don’t have a paying job, I still try to stay busy.

I usually do this blog an average of twice a week.  It has been a regular thing for over five years now.  While I have no delusion I will ever earn enough to get off disability from my writing, I still write.  At this point I don’t really care if I do get discovered and make money.  I enjoy having creative freedom and having a niche audience.  I suppose I write this, in part, as cheap therapy and as a public journal.  It probably isn’t much more than the day to day struggles and victories of a rather ordinary man with schizophrenia.  Even after living with this illness since my late teens, I still don’t have it all figured out.  Some things change over the years.  I don’t do much driving or going out in public as I used to.  But I have less desire to wander and am less restless.  I find it easier to concentrate on mental tasks than even a few years ago.  I have also found I have lost some of my physical strength and endurance now I am almost forty.  But I don’t get sick as often anymore.  It’s been something like four years since I had a cold.  Haven’t had to take anti biotic medication in at least ten years.  Haven’t been to a mental hospital in six years.  Haven’t been an overnight patient in the hospital in almost ten years.  So I must be doing some things right.  As I have lost some strengths and abilities, I have also picked up others.

I guess I’m not bothered by the fact I am entering middle age as much as I thought I would be.  When I was in college, I found it easier to imagine myself as a seventy year old than a forty year old.  I guess the only thing about getting older that bothers me is how aches and pains can come up for no apparent reason.  I am now planning my days and activities with pains in mind.  Sometimes certain foods can make pain worse.  I have found too much caffeine can make my muscles tight and sore.  I found that eating too much grain based food can leave me lethargic and weighed down.  Too much sugar can make me jittery.  Lots of leafy green vegetables make me feel pretty decent as do most fresh vegetables and less sugary fruits.  Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese are about the only dairy products I like anymore.  And I don’t eat much for salty foods.  I occasionally get a craving for Doritos chips, but after a bag or two that craving will be satisfied for weeks.

 

Chronic Back Pain with Schizophrenia

In my part of the country, the weather is warming up enough to get rid of the ice and snow we’ve had since before Christmas.  It is a welcome relief that I can leave my complex without too many problems.  Got out and about a few times this weekend.  I ran a few errands, so I am set for the next couple weeks.  I still don’t socialize as much as I would like because the paranoia still remains.  Sometimes it was strong enough I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  Physically, I’m having back problems again.  I can’t stand for more than ten minutes at a time without lower back and upper leg pain.  I can still get around if I walk for ten minutes, take ten minutes to sit, and repeat.  But this isn’t practical when navigating out in public.  I’ll have to go back to the chiropractor or some other doctor to see what I can do about my failing back.  I’ve been fighting back problems on and off since my car accident in 2015.  I imagine I’ll be fighting it for the rest of my life from now one.  It’s a pity that I start falling apart physically right at the time when I start figuring things out mentally.  At this point I wouldn’t mind just being a head in a jar attached to a machine body, like in Futurama 🙂

With my back being messed up, I am more house bound than I would like.  I miss the things I was able to do even just a few years ago that, due to my bad back, I can’t do anymore.  I miss walks in the park, I miss going swimming, I especially miss not worrying if sitting on a hard chair will mess me up.  I even have a hard time getting in and out of my car anymore because of back pains.  So I don’t drive unless it’s necessary now. I am now starting to see what I get to look forward as a senior citizen.  Golden years, yeah right.

The positive side to having such limiting back pain is mentally I am still stable.  I have remained stable for months.  In the past, physical pain and illnesses have made my mental health worse.  It doesn’t seem to anymore.  Maybe as I become an old man I have learned to cope with the hangups and stresses of mental illness better.  I do miss having a good strong back.

Changes in My Mental Illness

Started to restock my winter supplies and emergency food.  I am now set to the point that  I don’t have to venture out for several days if needed.  Lately I have been content to stay close to the complex besides running errands.  Mentally I have been stable even if I am staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.  Maybe that is why I am so stable.

I have gotten to where in my illness that socializing makes me paranoid and irritable.  I no longer enjoy socializing with my neighbors.  I no longer enjoy driving, not even across town.  I’m pretty much content to just keep to myself anymore.  Anymore I am my own favorite company.  I hope this is mainly paranoia and the illness, but I really can’t stand to be around most people anymore.  I would rather socialize over the phone or online than in person anymore.  With the holidays coming in a few weeks, I may be forced out of this isolation routine that has worked so well for me.  I’m not looking forward to losing my routines.  I am definitely not looking forward to the holidays.  I really don’t feel like celebrating much of anything anymore.  And I certainly no longer care to celebrate merely because the calendar and society as a whole tells me I have to.  Maybe schizophrenia really does get worse with age in some aspects.  I don’t have much for hallucinations or angry outbursts anymore.  But I do still have paranoia, delusions, and just prefer to be left alone almost all the time.  I hope it’s my illness messing with my mind, but I just can’t stand to socialize in person anymore.  I definitely can no longer hold a job.  I can barely venture out into my hometown without problems anymore.  I can only hope this illness stops getting worse as I age.  It has definitely screwed with every aspect of my life.

Feeling Better

I’ve been on this new medication routines for two weeks.  I’m noticing improvements.  I don’t feel very depressed or paranoid anymore.  In addition to a new medication routine, I’m also taking multivitamins and probiotics.  I’m noticing that I have less unexplainable aches and pains.  I am sleeping less than I was previously.  I now average 8 to 9 hours a night whereas during the winter and spring I got almost 12 hours a night.  Mentally I’m feeling more stable.  Physically I’m feeling more energetic and getting a little more active with each passing day.  I get out and socialize a little every day, even if it’s just when I go check my mail or go to the vending machine.  Overall I’m feeling better than my usual summer fare.

Summer came a little early this year as it got real hot in early June and stayed that way for two weeks.  Unfortunately my air conditioner broke down on me.  So I’ve been using lots of fans and a window air conditioner unit for two weeks now.  The repair man said I needed a new unit as the old one was over thirty years old.  That’s supposed to be getting done within the next day or two.

Have dined out only once in the last week.  For awhile when I was really depressed and paranoid, I didn’t do much grocery shopping and ate fast food at least once a day.  It’s no wonder I was feeling sluggish and lethargic.    Since I quit eating out every day, I’ve noticed I don’t have nearly as many aches and pains and I have more energy and actually want to be active.  I’m also severely cutting back on sugar.  I no longer drink sugared soda pop and I haven’t had candy bars or ice cream in months.  I may not be losing weight as fast I would like, but I definitely feel better overall.  And it’s all because of a few minor changes in medication routine and diet.

Hope and New Routines

I’m now a week into the changed medications routines.  I’m starting to notice a difference already.  I’m starting to wake up earlier.  I’m sleeping less.  I don’t want to sleep as much.  I’m starting to get a little more active.  I’m starting to have fewer aches and pains.  I’m more stable mentally.  I just don’t have the ups and downs like I used to.  I recover quicker from down times.  I’m beginning to get more active.  And I’m socializing more.

I managed to slog through another winter.  Spring is going on now.  We’ve had rain every day for almost the last week.  Things are really greening up now.  It still gets kind of chilly at night.  But I’m not running my heat during the days.  I’m still not as active as I would care to be as I still have flare ups of pain every now and then.  But even that is not as bad as it was a week ago.

I am hopeful that things are returning to normal again.  I haven’t had a sense of normal for a long time until a few weeks ago.  But things are looking better with each passing day.

Normalcy Is Within Reach

My back is now all but completely healed.  I think I’ll sleep in the recliner another two or three nights before I try to sleep on my back again.  Cleaned my apartment over the last two days.  The place needed it as I hadn’t been able to do much for two weeks.

My mental health has remained stable for the most part during this back injury.  Other then a few bouts of irritability and a couple bouts of depression I was able to stay mentally healthy.  I have kept positive especially the last several days.  I attribute my stability and positivity to keeping in contact with friends and family.  Over the last week I spent an average of two hours a day on the phone talking with friends and family.  It’s important to stay in touch when things are rough.  Fortunately this back injury should be completely healed within a couple days.