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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I enjoy the spring season more than any other. The weather is turning warm, the trees are blooming, the grass is turning lush green, and everything is brimming over with new life and new possibility. I even enjoy the rain and occasional storms. Spring is the annual rebirth of nature.
I live in a small town with several parks and lots of hiking trails. I have visited a few of these parks on almost a daily basis for the last month. The trees, bushes, flowers, lakes, and wildlife in these parks offer the added benefit of being able to relax and enjoy a little of the natural world while exercising.
Speaking of exercise, I’ve been doing that for longer times on an almost daily basis. Walked in the light rain and humidity this morning for twenty minutes. I was unhappy at first that I had to stop after a short time before the aches and pains came on. What I didn’t take into account was I had been walking forty to sixty minutes four days a week for the last six weeks. On the other days I was still doing at least twenty to thirty minutes a day. I track all my exercise and eating on webmd.com in addition to keeping written logs. When I reviewed these logs, I didn’t realize just how few days off I had. I think I’ve had only two or three days of no exercise since April 1st. Last year I made it a point to take at least one day off per week. My aches and pains are no doubt from pushing myself harder and taking fewer breaks.
Fortunately my mental health hasn’t suffered. I probably should go back to the take one day off per week to stay fresh. When I started exercising and losing weight, I wanted the project to be sustainable weight loss and small changes enacted every so often as my physical well being increased. I never intended for this to be temporary or drudge work. Last spring I started tracking everything I ate. Last summer, I started keeping tabs on how much I exercised. Other changes I made included decreasing my carbs intake. I rarely buy or eat bread anymore because I feel sluggish after eating more than a couple slices. I love things like bread, rice with Chinese food, and spaghetti. So this was a large transition. It got easier because I felt better mentally and physically on days I kept the carbs low.
A big change I made starting on New Year’s was light weight lifting. I did this for three times a week for four months. I gradually increased the weight involved as well as the repetitions. Gone easy for the last week as I was beginning to over do it. My muscles let me know I was going too hard. But it really helped me keep exercising and eating right during the winter. Some days the weights would be my only exercise. In spite of the decreased activity of winter, I still lost an average of one pound a week.
Been going pretty hard on the exercise since the first warm up in early March. I haven’t had many days off from exercise. I’m starting to feel it physically. A couple days off from the grind are in order. Need to reset and take a little time to reflect on how much has already been accomplished during the previous year.