I’ve been sleeping more than I would prefer lately. But I have found over the years if I want to sleep more than normal, there is usually a good reason for it. I’ve learned to listen to my body and give it what is says it needs more often. Learning to live with mental illness is mainly a trial and error kind of thing. It wasn’t learned immediately. Sadly mental illness is one of those tests that is impossible to study for. I had no idea what having schizophrenia meant when I was first diagnosed almost twenty years ago. But then, there is no way I could have known just by reading some books and going to a psychiatrist. Mental illness effects everything about a life it inflicts just by the nature of the illness. And since the human brain is the most complex piece of biological machinery we have seen (at least unless we discover alien intelligences superior to our own), it is one of those we still don’t know much about.
One of the things that gives me hope, maybe not for myself so much as future generations afflicted with mental illness problems, is that we are learning more about the human brain every day. I don’t know if I’ll live to see the fruition of much of this research, but I am encouraged that there is now a push to learn this and see if we can design better treatments with fewer side effects. As much as I am appreciative of what my anti psych treatment has done for my mental state, there has been a price I had and am still having to pay for this stability.
One of the side effects of my psych treatments is that I gained a lot of weight over the years. I won’t go into exact numbers but I will say I weigh at least one hundred pounds more than I did when I was first diagnosed. Yet, I was for all purposes not functioning when I was diagnosed. I was having mental breakdowns two to three times a week, I could sleep only a couple hours a night, I wanted to spend all my time alone and just avoid people, and I couldn’t concentrate long enough to even read a single page of a book. I guess my options were I could keep my physical health but be completely dysfunctional mentally or I could regain my mental stability but have a weakened body because of it. Not optimal choices by any means. But I’m glad I opted for the better mental health. Otherwise I’d probably be dead or in prison.
Even though my physical health has declined over the years, in part because of the treatment’s side effects and the nature of the illness itself, I consider the price to be worth it. At least for me the price of losing much of my physical vitality was worth the price of keeping myself together mentally. I have also lost most interest in sex and socializing in person because of the illness. I haven’t dated in at least ten years and I don’t like going to social functions much anymore. But I guess there are always trade offs. I’m actually glad that I was not as ruled by my hormones as most younger men. It saved me much headache and heartache, especially in my late twenties and early thirties when it became obvious to me that I would never have a wife or children through no fault of my own.
I am not anti marriage or anti family. I’m quite the opposite actually. I see my brother and his wife and children as well as my cousins with their spouses and children and I see that, if done properly, family is the best thing that can happen to a person. I think it really does have a calming effect on people, young men especially, and forces people to be more long term thinkers than they normally would. I would have loved to had a wife and a couple kids with the picket fence and apple pie kind of life. But with the mental illness and the hangups involved, I know I would make a lousy husband and father. As it was I couldn’t manage a minimum wage job with my mental illness even though I was an honors graduate in high school. So the next best thing is to write about my experiences with mental illness as my purpose for my work and be a good son to my parents and a good uncle to my brother’s kids. I’m interested to see where this all leads.
Now that spring has started and the days are longer than the nights, I’m going to attempt to readjust my sleep schedule. I’m in the second day of this so I think it will be kind of a bumpy ride for the next few days. I just woke up and got out of the bath tub and it’s right at 3 am as I write this. I went to bed around 12 am but decided to get up once I could no longer sleep. Usually taking my medications earlier in the night helps me to fall asleep sooner. I did fall asleep at midnight instead of the usual 6 am. But of course I didn’t sleep the night through. But I have always had problems sleeping an entire night even as a child. So my mom gave me a reading light so I could read and stay quiet while everyone else in the house slept. By the time I got to high school I didn’t have a traditional bed time, I just had to be up by 7 am every morning so I didn’t miss school. But I am starting to adjust to sleeping at night rather than in the day.
Yesterday I spent much of the day with unexplainable aches and pains, namely in my back. First time in weeks I had such problems. But after a couple hot baths and a few advil pills I was back to normal. I have also noticed I feel fewer aches and pains on days when I don’t eat sugar or lots of processed foods. Usually if I stick to water, vegetables, and fresh cooked meat I can do quite alright.
I am so looking forward to the warm weather and long days of spring. Baseball starts in a week so I’ll have games on in the background when I’m doing my evening activities. My Rockies had a decent season last year and bigger things are expected this year. I hope they don’t disappoint.
Now the weather is getting better, I usually keep my windows open during daylight hours. Since I’m awake in the day light hours more than I was this winter, I had forgotten how much I enjoy the smell of fresh air and the feel of a light breeze. There are a lot of trees on my property and in my hometown and they are starting to bud again. I’m sure we will have at least one quick hitting April blizzard like we usually do. But I am glad winter has passed. It was a tough winter for me, at least in terms of socializing and moving around. It was tough that I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment. Hopefully that nonsense is over. I’m ready for warmer weather, flowers in the park, and the occasional sun burn. No season is perfect but at least I won’t be seeing nothing but ice, snow, and gray sky for weeks on end anymore.
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.
Been getting more regular sleep the last few days. So I’m returning to some of my old routines. Started lifting weights again. No doubt it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the routine of lifting weights three times a week. I’m eating healthier again. I used to eat fast food about once a day. Haven’t had the stuff for two weeks now. Been getting up around eight a.m. the last several days. Still napping for a couple hours in the afternoons. But I am no longer staying awake most of the nights.
Been going outside a couple times a day for the last few days. Starting to socialize again too. Found out that some of our more problematic residents have moved out. One of the reasons I isolated so much over the last year or so was to avoid these people. I can freely socialize again without fear of running into negative and angry people all the time. Too bad this didn’t happen a few months ago. Some of these individuals were really taxing my sanity and well being.
Had some changes in my medications. So far they seem to be working. As it is I have a several week supply of meds built up in case of emergencies. I think that after several months of less than optimal times, things are starting to look good again.
Since I’m starting to sleep less and more regular hours again, I’m finding myself with more free time. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this new found freedom and energy. I have pretty much been withdrawn and homebound for awhile. I imagine I need to start contacting friends and family again. I haven’t been a regular on Facebook for over a month. I want to get back in touch with people again. I’m even starting to look forward to the holidays for the first time in a long time. I’m glad to be back on the mend and more active again.
I want to start losing weight again. I’ve been real lazy about diet and exercise since my car accident two years ago. As a result I gained back all the weight I had lost previously. I haven’t been drinking sugared sodas for a couple weeks and I’m cutting back in other places too. I’m eating more vegetables too. Started lifting weights again. Been lazy about that for a long time. So glad I kept my old hand weights during my minimalist purges. Overall things are looking better than usual. Even during my exiles I stayed positive for the most part. But now I am more social and outgoing, it can get even better.
Even though it’s been a little more winter like the last few days, I can tell that spring is on the way. I’m starting to sleep less and even wake up earlier. I haven’t pulled an all nighter in over a week. I’m starting to do grocery shopping at night like I did in the past instead of at like 3 am. I’m chatting with friends more and starting to sort out my apartment. I had gotten lazy about cleaning since Christmas, so that was needing to change.
Mentally I’m as stable as I have been in a long time. I still don’t socialize much in person even if I make it a point to leave my apartment several times a day. Sometimes I leave for something as simple as getting soda pop at the convenience store just to get out of my apartment. I haven’t had any real bad flare ups for weeks. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t socialize that much or if I’m settling into a calm period. Late winters and springs are usually the most stable times of year for me. Late summers and early falls are always tough.
In other news, my niece and three nephews are coming to Nebraska for a few days over spring break. I haven’t seen those kids since last summer. It’ll be fun to touch base with them. I don’t get to see them very often. I do wish I lived closer to my brother and his family. Even though my brother and I weren’t close when we were growing up, I still think it’s important to keep touch with family members. Besides my parents are in their late 60s and they aren’t getting any younger. After a friend of mine told me her mom had cancer, it made me realize that easily could be my parents struggling with their health. And it got me thinking about my own health. Working against a chronic mental illness for twenty years has taken a toll on my physical health. I don’t get sick with viruses or infections very often, but I can tell I don’t have the physical strength I had even ten years ago. And people with schizophrenia tend to have shorter life spans to begin with. I can tell the stress of the mental illness is starting to wear me down. There is a connection between mental health and physical health I am convinced.
The winter is essentially over. We will probably have a couple more snows but they won’t be the type that stay around for weeks. I’m already starting to make plans for spring. And I’ll probably start spring cleaning and maintenance next week. I have a couple projects I need to get done that I’ve been putting off for weeks. It’s time to come out of my hibernation and winter exile.
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.
Twisted my knee the other day. It hurt bad enough I couldn’t even walk on it. Had to take an ambulance to the emergency room because I couldn’t drive myself because of the pain. I got my knee x-rayed and there was no breaks in the knee or bones. There was a lot of swelling. So I got my knee wrapped and some pain pills. I received a prescription for a walker. So I’m renting a walker for now until my knee clears up. I’m also taking over the counter pain pills every few hours. I hope this clears up soon.
Mentally I have managed to stay in high spirits. I am still doing well mentally in spite the pain. I won’t be able to go home for Christmas because of my limited mobility. So I’m spending Christmas at my apartment by myself. My parents have talked about coming to my place in a day or two so we could have a mini celebration. But I’m glad to be back home and on the mend.