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.

Trying to Maintain Hope Around Negative People

 

I just don’t talk to anyone much anymore.  But then it seems like people have been avoiding me too lately.  I hope this is just my paranoia creeping in.  But it does seem like almost no one has time or energy to just chat lately.  I fear that I’m becoming this way too.  I try to stay optimistic overall but it is tough.  First, I’m not an optimist by nature as I wasn’t raised to be one.  I was almost never told anything positive about the world or life in general from my elders as a kid.  Made me wonder why anyone had kids if the world was falling apart as much as my parents, teachers, and church elders told me it was.  But that was before I got out on my own and came to the realization that most people are more ruled by short term emotion than by long term logic.  As someone who is part artist and part science enthusiast, I find my emotion and logical sides at conflict quite often.  I have spent the better part of the last five years training up the logical part of my mind.  It isn’t easy and it’s often frustrating.  Bill Gates once stated that people tend to overestimate change in the short term but underestimate it in the long term.  Getting to see what cool stuff happens next is one of the things that keeps me going.  It’s the scientist, the engineer, the doctor, the humanitarian that gives me as much hope as most of my friends get out of their political parties.  I try to explain to my friends that politicians can pass budgets, pass favorable laws, and then get out of the way.  That’s about all they can do.  I have never seen a politician build a power plant or figure out how to grow more crops with fewer chemicals.  Many problems of modern civilization are science and engineering issues, not political or even social ones.

I just as well be speaking ancient Sanskrit to my friends in that they’re not coming around and probably never will.  I would love to live in a world where the scientists and doctors were as well known and respected as pro athletes and big shot Hollywood stars.  But I suppose that’s a pipe dream that won’t come true in my lifetime, if ever.  As it is I am a mentally ill unemployed man trying to make sense of the madness in the people around me.  At this point I’m glad I don’t have a regular job in that it would probably drive me to complete break down.  I’m glad for the safety nets I have.  It saddens and sickens me that there are people who want to remove even these.  We live in a post industrial civilization where we can feed everyone, not some Stone Age Darwinian survival of the fittest setup our ancestors already overcame.  Yet, it seems like some people are bent on bringing back the Stone Age.  I hope it’s just my paranoia creeping in but it does seem like there’s too many people losing hope and giving up right before things get real interesting.  As far as any politicians of any country go, they are merely “momentary masters of a fraction of a dot” to quote Carl Sagan.  We would be wise to regain such perspective in our own lives.

Last Days of Summer

Spent some time outdoors enjoying one of the last few days of summer.  Also doing some cleaning in my apartment and rearranging furniture.  It’s now a little easier to maneuver around, especially in the living room.  Previously I had my computer desk in the middle of the room so I could watch ballgames and work on my computers at the same time.  I now have a better setup as I won’t be tripping over power cords and wires as much now that I’ve moved my desk to a corner.  I have my computers set up so I can watch them like a television from my recliner.  I moved my couch so I watch tv from the couch.  Previously I had used my recliner for everything.  I use my regular tv mainly for play station games and live ballgames.  Playoff baseball starts in a couple weeks and my Rockies have a shot of making the playoffs again this fall.  We lost out in the first round last year.

After three months of changed eating patterns I think I’m seeing some positive differences.  I am actually wanting to be active now rather than just spend entire days reading online articles or books.  I socialize more often.  I make it a point to now chat with other tenants at least three times a week.  I rarely stay awake all night anymore.  I am not as paranoid and anxious about my neighbors as I was this spring.  I have fewer aches and pains.  I still get winded sometimes when moving heavy furniture but I recover faster now.  I still sometimes get stiff after sleeping, but it usually takes only a couple minutes of sitting up to be back to normal.  And my clothing fits better.

Previously, from spring 2014 to summer 2015 I had lost slightly over 70 pounds in that time.  I stagnated for a few months and then I had my car accident in fall 2015.  After that I gained it all back.  Oddly it took over two years to gain it all back, so it took longer to gain it than it did to lose it in the first place.  I don’t really have any set goals as of right now.

I still sleep more than I would like.  But so far it has helped me from having relapses.  This has been a more pleasant than usual summer.  Now the leaves are beginning to change and the weather will start cooling off any day.  In Nebraska we usually get our first frost in mid October, so in three to four weeks if the averages hold out.  I really don’t want to change much of my routine as it seems to be working.  Sure I would like to travel more, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Thoughts on Preventing Relapse and End of Summer

After a few days of preventative maintenance and taking more note of my mental well being, I think the feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression are starting to dissipate.  Sure I had to isolate for a couple days and I did sleep more than usual, but it seems to have worked.  Overall I’m feeling more stable and I did leave my complex a couple times yesterday just to get some sunshine and make sure my car still runs properly.  I don’t drive as much as I used to.  But then I can do most of my socializing at home via phone calls, social media, and my blog.  I don’t deal with nearly as much negativity as I once did.  Two years ago, it was almost unbearable.  But I have since learned who and what to avoid and I don’t closely follow anyone besides family, close friends, and discussion groups I’m interested in.  Thank goodness for the unfollow buttons.  I lost a few friends before I discovered what useful and tactful tools they could be.  Even though the tempers have cooled some since the darkest days, I’m still kind of afraid to reestablish contact with people I’ve cut out or have cut me out.  Hopefully it’s just the paranoia talking and not hard reality.

As it is anymore I rather enjoy staying home.  I sometimes don’t even mind hosting guests.  I’ve hosted college friends several times over the years.  And I even hosted the previous two Foster family Christmas celebrations.  The only real request I have is give me at bare minimum a few days notice.  I am self conscious about my place and have come to accept that no matter how much I do with it, it isn’t going to please anyone but me.  I never did just subjective crap like that when the goal line wasn’t universal but different for everyone.  Even in high school speech and one act plays, I didn’t care about the awards and trophies.  I mainly wanted to hear the audience laugh and think because of my performances.

I’m glad that summer is all but over.  We have had some cooler and cloudy days lately mixed in the excessive heat typical of a Nebraska August.  Makes me think that fall and winter are on the way.  And I’ve always done my best writing and creative work during the cold weather.  I also like some of the not so over the top Christmas decorations, New Year’s Day college football games, and being able to buy discounted chocolate after Valentine’s Day.  I think that winter and spring are my favorite times of year.  That is one thing I like about living in Nebraska; we get to experience all the seasons.  Sure we don’t have the beautiful foliage of New England, the massive snows of Minnesota, or summer in it’s full hot and humid glory like the Southern states, but we get a little of everything here.  And yes, the conditions of my mental illness do change with the seasons.  But I usually have my worst times in late summer and my best times in late winter and spring.  I do love the changes of the seasons.