August 28 2019

Things have been improving with each passing day since my breakdown last week.  My sleeping habits have changed though.  I now usually sleep a few hours in the afternoon, stay awake until the early morning hours, sleep a few more hours, and am awake by 9am.  I think I’m getting back into my being a night owl routine.  I usually get like this in late summer or early fall.  For some odd reason I usually do my best sleeping in the afternoon and early a.m. hours, especially when the weather starts turning cooler.  Some years during the winter, I wouldn’t see the sun much because I usually slept in the daylight hours.

This has been a pretty long and stressful summer for me.  The spring was more stressful than usual too.  I was usually too stressed and paranoid to leave the apartment some days.  So I stayed home, rode my exercise bike, lifted weights, and caught up on sleep.  I think I have lost weight over the last five months.  I’ve also cut back on how much I eat yet I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.  I usually eat one large meal at lunch, always protein rich.  And then I have a small dinner, usually left overs from lunch.  I usually cook only once a day.  I’ve had fast food only a few times in the last year.  Now I have gone a week without coffee, I’m starting to cut down on caffeine.  Next time I shop, I’m buying tea instead of coffee.  Coffee just makes me to jittery and irritable anymore.

I’m still reading quite a bit, granted it’s still mostly online articles in science journals.  When I do read online newspapers, it’s usually something like New York Times, The Guardian, or Wall Street Journal.

As stressed as I was this summer, I wasn’t in much of a mood to watch a lot of baseball.  But with the Rockies having one of the lousiest records in the league, I wouldn’t have had much to cheer about anyway.  I spent much of my summer playing computer games, chatting with friends online and over the phone, and reading online articles.  I broke down and decided to renew my cable so I could get football games and the baseball playoffs.  The Huskers first game is this Saturday. We haven’t had much to celebrate the last few years.  But things are starting to look up.  When they hired Scott Frost to be the coach after 2017, it gave people real reason to hope for the first time in several years.  Hope things do turn around.

For the first time in months I feel really hopeful most of the time.  I spent most of this spring and summer at home, working out, eating healthier, taking vitamin supplements, and trying to get my physical health in order.  For years I had been tending to my mental and psychological health only to let my physical health slide, at least after my car accident back in 2015.  The last few years have been overly lonely and depressing.  And I felt I couldn’t really talk to anyone because of how angry and stressed most people seemed to be, especially online.  This truly bothered me as it is easier for me to socialize online than to just call someone up on the phone or go to their house.  That and most of my friends and family live out of town.  I hope after a few years of upheaval and distress, people by and large are learning how to tactfully interact online.  I lost some friends over the last few years because of everything that has gone on.  Hopefully, the madness is burning itself out.

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End of Winter, Maybe

Getting out of the apartment more than once a day now.  For awhile during the fall and winter, there would be times I’d go entire days without leaving my apartment.  But I guess that spending my days chatting with online friends, reading articles, and messing with computer games and programs gets stale after awhile.  A change was due.  Right now much of my region of the country is getting bad blizzards.  I personally have only a couple inches of snow, some ice, but terrible winds.  Fortunately it isn’t as cold as it could be, otherwise it would be Ice Age revisited.  And this happened right as most of the snow we’ve had since before Christmas was melted.  But, this being a late winter blizzard, should be melted soon.  Then we’ll worry about flooding.  So it goes.

Now that I actually want to leave my apartment and venture out, I can’t because of weather.  I’ve been bound to my town all winter just because it was too risky to travel.  My car doesn’t do well in snow.  So I pretty much stay inside most of the time.  I do force myself outside every few days just to get what little sunshine and fresh air I can.

Been having a few minor flare ups of irritability and depression lately.  Fortunately I’ve been able to constructively deal with these.  I do have to sleep more and severely limit my caffeine.  I haven’t had coffee in over a week.  While I do feel less irritable, I do sleep more and feel more scattered.  Fortunately I don’t get much for back pain anymore.  Maybe I have lost more weight.  I exercise some every day.  And I make it a point to stand up or lay down every couple hours so as to break up the boredom and long days.  Been a tougher than usual winter.  Physically it’s been tough because of the snow, cold, wind, and lack of physical activity.  It hasn’t been too terrible mentally.  The last several days have been the toughest.  But I’ve been socializing more too.  And I admit I get more irritated with rude people than I should.  I almost never respond to rude people except to avoid them at all costs.  I have enough going on already without dealing with unnecessary rudeness.

The unexplainable aches and pains are becoming less common.  I guess I’m taking more preventative measures now.  I no longer sit for more than two hours at a time. I sleep in my recliner half of the night to rest my lower back.  I sleep lying down so not to get leg cramps from sitting too long.  I take hot showers at least twice a day now, mainly to keep my joints warm and loose.  Sometimes a few minutes of hot running water on my knees, lower back, and hands will work more wonders than even a couple Advil.  And making a point to get up every couple hours to do even simple things like walk to the kitchen to get a cup of water or walking to check my mail every evening can keep my joints loose.  I think one of the problems I was having with my back and unexplainable aches was that I didn’t move around enough.  I went through a state of excessive paranoia and anxiety for much of 2017 and all of 2018.  I was scared to drive my car, I was scared to talk to my neighbors, I was scared to leave my apartment after dark, I was scared to walk my neighborhood, and I was even scared to check my mail.  Most of my mail is junk mail now that I do everything online almost.  The 1 percent that wasn’t junk mail was usually from social security or my landlady.  I always felt a tinge of anxiety with those letters, and any time I was called before anyone in authority.  I’ve had too many bad experiences with short sighted, heartless, and irritable people in authority over me.  I just don’t trust authority to not abuse their power and influence anymore.  And, yes, it is unnerving and scary.

Winter is almost over, at least according to the calendar.  And it isn’t happening too soon.  I’m beginning to get cabin fever real bad.  I guess even strong people have their breaking points.  I am convinced I would feel much better when the weather warms up and there are options to how to spend my days.

Plans For The Rest of Winter

 

Weathered the last winter storm alright.  We didn’t get much snow but we had a lot of ice that made travel impossible for over two days.  I spent those days indoors listening to free audiobooks on youtube.  Between audiobooks and my regular books I’ve kept quite occupied this winter.

I decided that I want to get more serious about improving my physical health.  I’m starting to lift arm weights again.  I’m going to get a Fitbit in a couple days.  And I’m going to schedule a checkup soon.  My previous practitioner has retired so I have to find a new doctor.  I haven’t been to a regular doctor for a couple years so I don’t exactly know where I stand physical health wise.  I haven’t been physically sick other than an occasional cold for several years, so I think I might be doing something right on that end.  I know I have gained a bunch of weight since my auto accident.  After my back went out I got real lazy about exercise and dieting.  I have been eating healthier since the weather turned colder.  But I definitely want to get serious about my physical health again.  I think I have the mental health pretty well set, at least for now.  It’s been months since I had a breakdown and weeks since I’ve had any real depression or anxiety.

Right now I’m a third of the way through winter.  I’ve adapted to the shorter days and colder weather pretty well.  I’m not experiencing the crippling bouts of depression and boredom like I have in previous winters.  I still keep odd hours.  I stay up quite late and then sleep in until late morning most days.  I don’t socialize much around my apartment complex.  I don’t really drive much anymore either.  I haven’t been outside of my town for weeks.  But during the winter there really aren’t many places to go and the weather is too unpredictable for much travel.  I keep occupied by online research and keeping in contact with friends and family most days.  I’m looking forward to spring and warmer weather.

Days of Calm and Keeping Busy

My back is essentially healed up by now.  I can walk normal speed again and do my normal errands.  I’m spending more time out of the apartment.  Been to the park a couple times in the last week, chatted with a few neighbors, called a couple old friends, and gotten some sunshine.  This was a far cry from where I was just three weeks ago.  When I first hurt my back I didn’t leave my apartment for three days just from the pain.  Fortunately I managed to keep myself occupied with computer games, reading, youtube videos, phone calls to friends and family, and watching soccer and basketball on tv.

I was following the Copa America tournament over the last several days. Been watching a little of the Euro 2016 tournament too.  I saw all of USA’s games.  I haven’t traditionally made it a point to watch much soccer except when USA is playing.  I may be changing that as  the US put up a decent showing until when they ran into Argentina.  It helps that I have a nine year old nephew and a seven year old niece who are big soccer players.  My brother encourages his four kids to do numerous activities.  He won’t let them play football but I don’t blame him, especially with all the injuries.  I hurt my back in a football game when I was fifteen and I couldn’t sit without pain for months afterward.  Yet I didn’t tell the coaches or even my parents.  I suppose it went with the whole macho mentality that pain is just a part of football.  Plus playing football was the only thing I did in high school that most people considered normal.  The older I get the more I feel guilty about watching football.  It’s essentially people maiming themselves for my amusement.  But I guess it’s not as bad as ancient Romans cheering while lions eat Christians.  It’s just not as entertaining as it was ten to twenty years ago.

I still like baseball though.  Don’t watch it every night like I used to.  Even then I usually had it on in the background while I was doing chores, writing, reading, or doing something on my computer.  I still participate in a fantasy baseball league with some old college friends and friends of friends.  I met most of those guys when I was at Matt’s wedding in the Black Hills last July.  So I finally got to meet some of the guys I’ve only known by their screen names.  It is a competitive league but no money changes hands.  And my Rockies are doing a little better than normal, just slightly below fifty-fifty.

I may have been limited for the last few weeks but I still managed to keep busy.  And now that the back is cleared up I’ll be able to do even more.  Fortunately I haven’t had any flare ups of the mental illness in the last month.  I haven’t had any true flare ups since late March actually.  The one main medication I am on was shown by the DNA test I took to be more effective than most for me.  It certainly has proven that.  I’m reading more again.  I had been lazy about reading for a couple weeks when my back hurt real bad.  I was watching educational videos on youtube and reading blogs instead.  But it does feel good to see things falling back into place after weeks of hard work and rehabilitation.

 

 

Inactivity In Winter

Winters have always been an odd time for me.  Not because my mental illness flares up in winter or I have winter depression.  It is because of forced inactivity and longer nights that cold weather always brings.  I’ve always been one of these people who have a hard time sitting still for long.  As a kid I used to pace in our large backyard for hours at a time, just thinking and dreaming up stories and adventures.  I did this some even in the winter.  Yet I would be counting down the days until spring started and things would warm up.  I hated the forced inactivity and being forced to stay indoors then.  I still don’t like it much.  The only ways I can sit still are by reading a book, writing in a journal, playing an intellectually challenging computer game, watching educational and informative videos on youtube and netflix, or chatting with friends over the phone.  Even in my physical downtime I have to be mentally engaged in some activity.

This is even more so in winter.  While my home state doesn’t have the snow falls some places do, we do have bad cold and really bad north winds.  Even when it’s been dry for several days, it’s tough to go outside because of the cold and the howling winds that are common on the Nebraska plains.  This forced inactivity does force me to be more careful about how much I eat since it’ll be tough to burn it off just by walking inside.  I don’t have a gym membership and, since I lost 60 pounds exercising on my own in 2014, I don’t think I need one.  I’ll probably sign up for one for the end of 2015 if I actually gain weight this winter.

One of the ways I’ve worked against boredom in winter in past years was by reading and writing.  I’ve traditionally done more heavy reading in winter months than other months.  I really don’t like much on cable tv anymore. I’m one of those people who feels like a day is wasted if he doesn’t accomplish something physically or learns something mentally.  So just sitting in front of the tv for hours isn’t an option.  I have gotten to where when I’m reading or writing on my computer, I’ll have youtube with a music program playing in one window while I write on another.  I’m also getting into free audiobooks and podcasts through youtube as well.  I figure if I can’t be outside and doing something, I’ll be inside and learning something.

I admit I often learn things merely to satisfy an intellectual curiosity that demands to be fed on a daily basis.  It doesn’t make me any more money (obviously) but it does scratch an itch that won’t go away on it’s own.  It also makes for interesting conversation.  I don’t really do well with small talk at social gatherings, probably because of my mental illness and natural introverted nature.  I’m not the center of attention at parties, but I am usually in the corner with a few other people tossing ideas back and forth.

My intellectual pursuit probably seems pointless to some and intellectual vanity to others.  But it is a good way for me to pass the time, especially in winter.  If it makes me a little more knowledgeable and better at carrying an intelligent conversation, I will do it.  Maybe in a few years, after I achieve my health and weight goals, I can then be doing more physical things to add to the intellectual strength.  I’d really like to become my own version of ‘The Most Interesting Man’ from the beer commercials.  I never could understand why anyone would voluntary end their learning once they leave school.  I know school was boring for many people, myself included.  For me, my independent study scratches the itch my formal education didn’t.  I do much of this independent study in winter.

We all have twenty four hours in a day.  We all have our times of forced inactivity.  But forced inactivity can be use for our benefit.  Even ancient societies recognized the importance of down time even if it was forced.  I use my winters to really increase my mental activity, reading, and learning.  It’s either that or allow myself to go as stale and bleak as the winter weather outside.