The Pains of Socializing While Mentally Ill

I don’t leave my apartment complex very often these days. Sure it is painful to be constantly lonely. But the pain of being around arrogant, angry, and rude people is even worse. I’m actually scared of socializing with people I don’t know. I literally do not have the ability to read people. Never have. I don’t know how to pick up on social cues, don’t know when people are angry with me without them yelling at me, don’t know when people are happy with me unless they specifically say so, and I certainly have no ability to pick up on things like power dynamics. It makes socializing with most people almost impossible. The pandemic and deepening divisions within society over the last several years have made it even worse.

I haven’t had a day without paranoia for several years. I get paranoid when I hear footsteps in the hallway. I get paranoid having to interact with my neighbors and landlady. I get paranoid even hearing people call my name. For the vast majority of my life, the only time people wanted to see me was to condemn me or point out what I was doing wrong. Most of this was quite nasty. I don’t enjoy socializing. It’s a nightmare for me.

Naturally I hate talking about my problems. First of all, seems like no one cares. Second, nothing ever changes when I do complain. I’ve had maintenance issues in my apartment that have taken over five years to solve. They got solved only when my family got involved. I don’t understand that. Why is it my complaints are ignored but when multiple people, namely my family, get involved, suddenly it’s like things start getting done. Even my doctors have never listened to me. It’s why I don’t go to doctors unless it’s an emergency. It’s just a waste of time if they aren’t going to listen to you and nothing ever changes.

I feel the same way about politics. I can’t understand why people are so rabid about their political beliefs when politicians are notorious for not getting things done or making effective change. The politicians themselves don’t decrease my quality of life, it’s the people who have a religious like fervor for their political beliefs that do. Sadly, that is most of my family and many of my friends. I’ve lost most of my friends over the last several years because of how serious they took politics. They care about it more then they care about their own children it seems.

I am tired of constantly feeling lonely. I don’t isolate because I am anti social, even though even my own parents accused me of this all the time while growing up. I am not anti social, I just have different interests than most people. Always have. Always will. I can’t even watch a football game anymore without hearing friends and family complain about the players, the coaches, the officiating, the strategy, etc. Most of this complaining comes from people who haven’t played even junior high sports. I don’t know anything about quantum physics or engineering, but I am not going to criticize those who spend their entire careers to such fields. My brother is an electrical engineer by trade. He has probably forgotten more about computers and electronics than I could learn in five lifetimes. I refuse to comment on his work. Yet people, who’s only experience with competition was playing dodgeball in grade school PE, feel they have a God given duty to complain about star athletes and coaches. Is it because we as a species value physical strength more than we do wisdom and knowledge? Probably.

As far as feeling lonely, it’s not because I hate people. When I find someone with similar interests, I can talk to them for hours. But if all people want to do is talk about how much they hate their jobs, how disrespectful the kids are, or the weather, I’ll be looking to end the conversation within a few minutes.

Having Schizophrenia During Covid

We’re having apartment inspections next week. These always make me anxious. It’s always been my experience that someone can always find something wrong. I once joked that maybe I should move everything out of my apartment (furniture, clothing, dishes, utensils, even food) just to see what they would find wrong with my place. I think it would be a good practical joke except that very few people have a sense of humor anymore. But I simply no longer have the health or the patience to pull it off.

Weather has been chilly and overcast. I’m enjoying it. I enjoy the chilly days and the long nights. I’ve come to appreciate fall more in my middle age. Spring has always been my favorite season but fall is definately working it’s way up.

I see that covid cases are starting to pick up again. My friend in Denver told me that hospitals there were resorting to deciding who to and who not to admit because they were having so many sicknesses. I’ve heard that Germany is getting slammed again. So much for covid being gone with a few weeks of lockdowns. Thank God this thing isn’t worse than it already is and that it didn’t hit back in the 1980s.

I very rarely leave my apartment anymore. Dealing with people, for the most part, is too stressful. Several tenants I knew have moved out lately. One died shortly after going to assisted living. I no longer know most of my neighbors. I still hear from a couple of my friends who used to live here. One is now at a homeless shelter. Even rural America has homeless people now.

My grocery bills are going up, like everyone else’s. I can keep the damage to a minimum because I had some stored up in case something like this happened. So glad I built up a small supply when things were cheaper. Have been needing some new shirts and pants. Those are tough to find even on Amazon.

Haven’t been sleeping well lately. I usually wake up in the middle of the night and take a couple hours to get back to sleep. My best sleep is now between 5 am and 9am. Don’t usually nap during the afternoon most days anymore. My knees still give me problems, especially in the mornings. I’m finding myself eating less most days. But I still have a lot of weight I want to lose anyway.

Mentally I’m feeling stable most of the time. I still have a couple flare ups of paranoia and anxiety every day. But they don’t last long. I usually do better when I don’t read the news or spend much time dwelling on my physical health. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get out of bed, mainly because of the knee pains. I’m finding myself more sensitive to cold now. I’ve been sensitive to heat for years.

Hallucinations And Paranoia With Schizophrenia

One of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations. In my case I have auditory hallucinations. I often hear people walking and talking in the hallways who aren’t there. I often hear my phone ring when it isn’t. It’s especially bad when I’m away from my phone in the bathroom or in the bedroom trying to take a nap. I often hear my Facebook Messenger ap chime only to find it was only hallucinations. I often have voices criticizing me when I’m trying to do even mundane tasks like cooking supper, doing laundry, getting dressed, and even when playing computer games and watching Amazon Prime. And it’s always the voices of people I know and they are always very critical and nasty.

As far as paranoia goes, it’s often bad. I always feel like I’m being watched when I am in public. I always feel like when something goes wrong when I have company (things like my internet going down, my computer being slower than usual, neighbors knocking on my door, having too much clutter on my desk and bedroom floor, or even having to get up to go to the bathroom) I’m being silently condemned and criticized. I’ve called my family out on this a few times. Even though they try their best to tell me that they mean no harm, I usually think they are lying and just get even more paranoid. I’m also paranoid that my call box that opens the security door to let delivery men isn’t going to work. I’m usually ready to go to my neighbor’s and have them open the security door. This has been especially bad for over two years as I’m completely reliant on grocery and UPS delivery.

I rarely leave my apartment for I fear that I’m being watched and condemned. I often lose my breath after walking long distances. And people making comments about me breathing hard makes me not want to leave my home. Then I get people telling me I wouldn’t be so short of breath if I got out of the house more often. I catch hell either way anymore.

I’m also really self conscious about my appearance. But, I’m also paranoid enough to think that no matter how good I am dressed up and presentable, it won’t be good enough for anybody. What’s the point of doing anything beyond minimum if it’s never going to be good enough for anyone? People were really critical of my appearance even back in grade school no matter how dressed up and cleaned up I was. I had one general practice doctor who wanted to take me off all of my psych meds because he thought the psych meds were preventing me from losing weight and that I’d be doing so much better mentally if I lost weight. Never mind that I’ve had mental health issues since high school and was physically strong well into my late 30s. Until my car accident in 2015 I’d walk three miles a day, five days a week. Can’t do that anymore. Another doctor flat out told me, and I quote, “Lose the damn weight.” First, last, and only time I saw him.

The whole, get tough, man up, scream in my face, Alpha Male, Marine Corp, hell fire and brimstone, cowboy nonsense never worked with me. It also never impressed me. I guess that makes me less manly, depending on who you ask. I suppose that after twenty plus years of schizophrenia I just no longer want to be bothered with it. Some days I feel a lot older than 41. I have no clue how I made it even this far. I really no longer care if I impress anyone, even friends and family. I’ll do the minimum to keep my neighbors, my landlord, social security, etc. happy and off my case. But I’m no longer going out of my way to impress anyone. It’s not like I was impressing anyone when I was in my teens and twenties anyway. I’m glad I’m not young anymore and can more or less do my own thing as long as I’m not being a jerk to my neighbors or breaking the law. I’m enjoying my 40s far more than I did my teens. As bad as the hallucinations and paranoias are now, they were far worse in my twenties. There are far worse things in life than being on disability and living in low income housing in rural America. Even the last couple years with the pandemic, I have a legit excuse to not leave my house and not get hassled.

Quarantine Journal: August 24 2020

When it rains, it pours it seems. My two neighbors who moved out a few weeks ago are now under quarantine for the next two weeks because someone they were helping out is showing classic covid symptoms. And these neighbors helped me out a great deal over the last couple years as I’ve lost my mobility. My cleaning lady recently came back to work but she is still slowed from her surgery. Had a breakdown over the weekend. Sometimes the only thing I can do for those is to just vent to someone until it blows over. I feel bad that I take this out on family, but who else can I talk to? I’m too paranoid and scared of my fellow tenants to ask for help. I don’t qualify for any extra aid from the state. My family and friends live too far away to offer assistance at a moment’s notice. I originally moved out of my home village for better healthcare and job opportunities and better social connections. Now that I have no car (I’m too scared and paranoid to be safe behind the wheel), my help is gone, and we are now in the middle of both a pandemic and economic depression, I’m essentially on my own with no immediate back up. I can’t ask for help from my other neighbors as they are irritable and hateful on even good days. I’m limited mobility because of chronic pains. I guess that twenty plus years of schizophrenia is taking even a physical toll. I’m even scared to answer my door.

Self Quarantine: May 16 2020

Had my parents and my brother as guests the last couple days.  Got a new recliner and my home was redecorated.  My new chair feels so good.  I think I could sleep in it if I wanted.  It feels good to have my paintings and flags rehung.  The walls looked barren the last several weeks with nothing up.

Been getting lots of rain the last few days.  I have my blinds open all the time to let sunshine in, at least whatever we can get.  The weather has turned warmer.  I’m glad winter is over.

Sleeping better the last few nights.  Been napping more too.  Spent much of today sleeping as I was awake late last night.  I get lots of sleep even if it is at odd hours.  And I don’t feel as stiff and sore when I wake up now.

Was feeling more paranoid and depressed until a few days ago.  Since the middle of the week, things have been more bearable.  The last two days with my family went excellent.

Got some groceries yesterday.  About the only thing I have problems getting now is ground beef.  Things are slowly starting to open back up.  The restaurants and bars in my town are reopening on the 18th of May.  I hope that those who lost jobs during the pandemic either get them back or find something better.

 

Paranoia and Fear With Mental Illness

I’ve now spent two months in self quarantine.  While things are opening back up, I’m still staying home.  I’m still paranoid about leaving my apartment.  And I sometimes have anxiety problems.  At least they don’t last very long.  I’ve had only one breakdown since self quarantine started.  That was about a month ago.

I find myself wanting to sleep more.  Sometimes I sleep just out of depression.  Sometimes I’ll just lay in bed for a couple hours in the afternoon just to let my mind wander.  I occasionally have hallucinations, especially as I try to fall asleep.  I often hear footsteps of people that aren’t there.  I sometimes hear knocks on my door when no one is there.  I sometimes hear doors open and close.  And I’m beginning to get paranoid around some of my neighbors.  I sometimes fear they secretly don’t like me and want to get me evicted.  I sometimes fear people will try to break into my place and rob me, sometimes even during daylight hours.  I’m scared my neighbors will try to pick arguments and fights with me sometimes.  It just seems that people are more angry and quicker to fight lately.

I no longer find socializing enjoyable.  I spend most of my time at home.  I’ll sweet talk my neighbors into picking up my mail once a week just so I don’t have to be forced to socialize.  I’m scared I’ll get into a heated conversation that I wanted nothing to do with in the first place.  I don’t even find socializing over the phone very enjoyable anymore.  I fear people will think I’m rude if I don’t want to talk.  So I sometimes lie and say I have another call or someone knocking on my door if I need to end a conversation quickly.  I just don’t want to socialize anymore.  Some days I want to spend all day in bed.  But I don’t simply because I’m paranoid that someone will knock on my door or call my phone and I’ll be expected to answer at a moment’s notice.  I fear people get angry with me if I have to make them wait at all.  I’ve had this fear for most of my life.

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.

Dealing With Loss, Isolation, and Declining Health

Haven’t written for a few days.  I’m only now recovered from the holidays.  I still have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it’s 2020.  I am understanding why my grandmother said that time only goes faster the older you get.  I’m going to be 40 this summer.  Mentally I don’t feel any decline.  If anything, I feel mentally sharper and stronger than ever.  Physically, my body can no longer keep up with my mind.  It’s been this way for a couple years now.  I would love to be able to road trip and visit friends in person and go to concerts and ballgames at a moment’s notice like I did in my late 20s and early 30s.  But the body can no longer keep up.  I don’t know how much of it is aging, how much of it is the toll of two decades fighting a severe mental illness, how much of it is being overweight, etc.  At this point I guess it doesn’t matter either way.  I am pretty much content to stay home, chat with my old friends online, read my books, mess with my computers, and watch the events of our time and place unfold from my apartment.

Found out right before Christmas one of my college classmates died.  He was only 40.  He worked at a mental health hospital and was a compassionate man.  I hadn’t talked to him much since graduation.  I’m glad we found each other on facebook and were able to reestablish contact shortly before he died.  And then just yesterday I found out another college friend’s cancer has come back.  This time it’s terminal.  The doctors told her she has two to five years at most.  Starting to lose my own friends now.

Seeing most of my friends struggle financially has taken a toll on me.  And now that most of them are in declining physical and mental health and even starting to die is making this only worse.  It has gotten me to think about my own mortality far more than ever.  At my last doctor’s appointment, I was relieved to find I was not diabetic.  The only real problem they found was high blood pressure.  I no longer have much for stamina.  That’s one of the reasons I stay home so much.  Going out in public is now enough of an ordeal that I no longer enjoy it.  Add to this that most people I know are more stressed and short tempered than ever, I have no want to leave my apartment.  I have enough problems of my own to catch an ear full from my neighbors and landlord.  Sometimes I get in trouble even just staying at home.  Most people in my complex think I’m moving out or getting evicted because I never go out in public anymore.  Naturally, lots of rumors are going around.  No I’m not moving.  As far as I know, I’m not in danger of being evicted.  Though for the last few years I’ve lived in near constant paranoia that I was.  It’s mainly because most people are just so angry and short tempered constantly.  It didn’t used to be this way.  I actually used to enjoy socializing.  Then three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other in 2014 and 2015.  From there my social life fell apart.  Other than a few neighbors, I literally have no friends within a fifty mile radius.  I don’t think most people know or care how tough socializing is for a middle aged man with a disability and no immediate family nearby.  I just keep to myself anymore.  I would rather be alone than have to fight with neighbors, coworkers, and complete strangers all the time.

Avoiding Pessimists and Overcoming Paranoia

Been feeling decent overall the last several days.  I haven’t had much for flare ups lately.  I think it helps I cut back on caffeine and sugar.  Too much of either can make me irritable and sluggish.  One of my neighbors recently moved out so it’s been quieter than usual lately in my complex.  I signed another lease last week, so that’s finally taken care of.  I guess I was delaying and worrying over nothing.  Since I emailed my bank and social security disability information to my landlady a couple weeks earlier, all I had to do was sign a bunch of papers.  It took maybe fifteen minutes overall.  I was fretting and worrying over something that turned out to be far easier than I thought.  As I had been fighting excessive paranoia and anxiety this winter and spring I was worried about the whole process.  I was even worried I might get evicted.

I guess I have experienced too much negativity in my life that I pretty much expect the worst anymore.  I have lost jobs and friends for some very petty reasons.  After going through that several times, I became convinced anyone in authority can mess me over for whatever reason they see fit and there isn’t anything I can do about it.  It didn’t help any that, in the past, when I asked for help, I was too often denied help and even condemned for asking for help.  It came to where I had zero trust of authority figures for anything.  Anymore I just try to stay low and out of sight.  I can’t stop authority from messing me over, I can only lower the chances that they do.  I never understood why it makes some people feel important when they screw over someone who can’t fight back.  And I never will.

Overall I try to stay out of sight, out of mind with almost everyone who isn’t friend or family anymore.  I am tired of putting up with irritable and angry people.  And I especially hate sarcasm and snark.  Neither are original anymore.  I think empathy and compassion is the new edgy and rebellion.  It sickens me how most people I know and hear from every day have no empathy for others.  And it spills into all aspects of life.  I’m tired of dealing with it.  I’m going hermit until people come to their senses.  If you have nothing decent to say or are just going to be a pessimist all the time, don’t waste my time.  I lost years of my life being a pessimist and believing everything sucked and was only getting worse.  I hate pessimists.  They just drain the life and joy out of everything they encounter.  And they certainly never propose solutions.  And I no longer want to hear it.  I have dealt with schizophrenia for over twenty years, yet I am more optimistic than most neurotypical people I know.

Beginning of Spring

Looks like spring has finally sprung after a couple false starts.  As long and tough as this winter has been, it feels almost surreal that it is finally over.  I had been so used to such bitter cold and snow for a long time.  It’s actually odd that I can now go somewhere without having to worry about the weather.  Haven’t been able to do this for a very long time.  I became used to spending entire days indoors and sleeping sometimes over 10 hours a day just to pass the time.  Of course such long periods without sunlight or travel or face to face human interaction took its toll on me.

I think I developed some cabin fever during the long days and weeks when I was homebound.  I had some bouts of depression, paranoia, anxiety, and even some hallucinations creeping back in.  Sometimes I’d hear footsteps in the hallway that weren’t there.  Sometimes I’d hear knocking at my door when no one was there.  I’d sometimes hear people talking in the hallway when no one was there.  And these were always at their worst when I was really tired and about to go to sleep.

Fortunately things are improving.  I can’t say exactly when things starting turning around.  Changes have always come gradually for me, too gradual for most people it seems.  For years it seems like most people got frustrated with me because I have a hard time making changes at a moment’s notice.  I also have a bad habit of wanting to know why such changes are being made.  Needless to say, that didn’t make me a model student or employee.  I just have to know the ‘why’ behind things.  I’ve always been that way.

Looks like spring is finally here.  And I plan on enjoying it.