October 15 2021

Today might be just another Friday to most people. For me, today is the day I get to return to my apartment. I’m anxiously looking forward to eating my own cooking and sleeping in my own bed once more. I’ve been sleeping a lot these last three weeks. Of course I haven’t had much for caffeine since I went to the hospital. As it is, I’m on a few blood pressure meds and will be for life. But blood pressure issues run in my family.

I’m looking forward to getting back to my old routine. I’m currently at a small facility for physical rehab a couple hours drive from my hometown. Right now I’m just waiting on my ride to arrive. My parents are coming from out of state to help me get back home and get reestablished. They probably won’t be here until early afternoon. But, it’s good to be back. Three weeks ago I wasn’t sure I could even live on my own again. After three weeks of intense treatments and rehab, I’m ready to live alone again. I’ll still have my cleaning lady arrive every week. My neighbors will still help with laundry. And I still have at least a few places in my town that will do same day grocery delivery. It’s going alright.

Feb 4 2021

Woke up to at two more inches of snow this morning. Supposed to get real cold starting in a day or two. Thankful I have some extra food and blankets in case I can’t get out. Sounds like it’s supposed to be the worst cold spell of the winter so far.

Still keep in contact with my family several times a week. My dad had a birthday a few days ago. Didn’t get out to celebrate as his back is really hurting now. He has an appointment with the VA soon to see what his options are. Mom is doing alright. She picks up their grandkids from school a couple times per week. My brother and his wife have been working longer than usual hours lately at their jobs. My parents had their first round of vaccines two weeks ago. They’ll try to get the second round within a week or two. As I’m neither senior citizen or front line worker it could be summer before I’m eligible for mine. I’m still amazed at how fast several vaccines were developed. And not just by only one or two nations. A lady my parents bought some land from several years ago died from the pandemic. I’ve had three friends who’ve gotten sick. All three made recoveries. After a year of pandemic, hopefully we are getting close to this thing burning out. My former neighbors said they are going to host a major cook out once this thing gets under control and most people get vaccinated. I’m starting to save my money for some really good stuff. He said he’d do all the cooking if a few of his friends supplied the meat, vegetables, and desserts. I won’t argue with that.

Been doing more cooking regularly. My personal favorite is cheese and potato soup. I kind of cheat and use a mix that requires only boiling water. But I can make turn out well, especially when I add a bag of vegetables or even some Ramen noodles. It can be kind of messy but it tastes real good. My cleaning lady joked she can tell a good cook from how messy their kitchen is. When I was in college and working as a cook for a pizza restaurant, I was told you could always trust a fat cook.

Keep in contact with some old friends regularly. My friend in Denver is saving up to buy a few acres near a small town. She said she wants to eventually have several streams of income besides her regular full time job. She and her sisters were astute business people even as kids.

Back to lifting weights again. Had some bad pain in my elbow for several days to where I couldn’t lift much without pain. Took over a week to clear up. But it’s back to normal now.

I still drop in on my neighbors a few times a week. We check in on each other. My closest neighbor and my cleaning lady are the only guests I have on a regular basis anymore. I haven’t even had a chance to meet my new landlady. I’ve talked to her over the phone a couple times but haven’t met her in person. I’ll have to see her to get my lease renewed sometime this spring. But that’s usually only fifteen minutes of paper work. It’s almost routine now. Barring anything major, I will have been in my current place fifteen years this summer.

It’s been almost a year since I had my floors replaced. I have the vinyl floor instead of carpet now. It’s much easier to keep clean. The only drawback is that it is slippery when wet. But if I stay off the floor for an hour after the mopping is done it is safe to walk on. Almost slipped in the bathroom a couple times after sloshing water out during my showers. Solved that problem by covering the entire bathroom floor with towels before I shower.

Don’t know if I’m losing weight, but I am more flexible now than even three months ago. My stamina is slowly coming back. My muscles are as strong as ever but I don’t have the steam I did even three years ago. Thankful my mind is still sharp and the ups and downs of schizophrenia are easier to manage.

I still sleep quite a bit. But if I stretch for a minute or two before getting out of bed every morning I am better off. Usually take over the counter pain reliever once a day, usually with breakfast. I now limit myself to only one cup of coffee per day. Too much coffee makes me irritable. I don’t eat much sugar anymore. The only times I have soda pop is when I order delivery pizza. I don’t even keep bread in my house.

Overall I’m weathering the winter and pandemic well. Have been watching where I go and avoiding large crowds for a year now. This has to be brutal on most people, especially kids and front line workers. I can imagine people that are kids and teenagers today talking about these days like their great grandparents talked about the Depression and World War 2 to their own kids and grandkids long after I am gone. Sure it does get lonely sometimes. Thankful this didn’t hit before the age of internet and free long distance calls. My dad was telling me that when he was in the Air Force in the 1970s, a long distance call from Japan to the USA was four dollars per minute. That’s mind boggling to even me and I didn’t regularly use internet until I was a junior in high school in 1997. Makes me wonder what else is going to happen within the next couple decades. I can’t even begin to imagine the world my nine year old nephew will inhabit when he’s forty in 2051.

Mid Winter 2021

I’m still staying close to home most of the time. I still spend a good chunk of my time listening to audiobooks. Saw the first two seasons of Black Mirror over the last week. Quite chilling about how bad people can abuse some of these newer techs.

I have been more aches and pains the last couple weeks. But they are usually worse in cold weather anyway. We’re supposed to get a real bad cold spell in a couple days that could last a week. So I won’t be going anywhere unless I have to.

Mentally been having minor flare ups again. Fortunately they don’t last long. I can weather them better when I am alone. Sometimes takes several minutes to get through them. But I make a point to avoid people during these episodes. I won’t even answer the phone or the door if they are bad enough.

I still keep in contact with friends and family several times a week. They are ready for this pandemic to be over too. My friend in Denver is planning on moving out of the city as soon as she can afford some rural property. Says things have gotten real bad in the cities, especially in the last year.

Mid Winter and Mental Illness

Bend spending most of my time at home. I still drop in on a few neighbors every two or three days. We check in on each other. Been damp and cold the last several days. We’ve avoided the major snows some places got this week. Just been good days to curl up on my recliner, make some potato soup, and listen to audiobooks. Currently four hours into The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I’ve found that I’m now able to absorb information better if I hear it than if I read it. But if I can both read and hear it, it’s almost permanent now.

I admit I don’t write as often as I used to. But as I don’t go out nearly as much, I have less to report. Between the pandemic taking it’s toll and people being upset about many other things, it’s probably best I limit my social interactions for the time being.

As far as I know, I don’t have any neighbors in my complex with covid right now. One of my friends in here had to have a stress test for her heart issues the day I’m writing this. I hope they find out exactly what is going on. I’ve had a couple cousins and at least three friends who’ve already had it. I hope I can avoid it. I’m afraid it would really mess with my mental illness. And the fact I’m overweight would make it only worse.

Right now as I look out my window it’s overcast with light snow. No wind so it’s one of those almost Christmas card type of scenes. It’s quite beautiful. Helps take my mind off the pandemic, social problems, and my own issues.

Doing Well

Doing much better the last several days than normal.  Getting quite regular sleep, my aches and pains aren’t nearly as intense, I’m getting more mobile, at least within my own apartment, I don’t have as many issues with anxiety or paranoia, and I’m not even bothered by guests to my apartment.  It’s amazing how much of a difference a couple months can make.

I try to talk to family and friends at least once a day.  Even if I don’t leave my apartment every day I still attempt to socialize.  I still hear from my neighbors once a day on average.  After spending an entire day out of my apartment last week, I was able to touch basis with several of my friends here in the complex.  One friend I talked to for almost two hours.

I’m reading more too.  I’m now a third of the way through Wealth of Nations.  It will probably be one of those all winter projects.  I try to read at least one hour a day.

I don’t participate on social media much outside of close friends and family.  I am inactive on my groups.  I usually just read posted articles and don’t comment.  I no longer have the time, patience, or energy for online discussions and disagreements.

I still watch movies every so often.  Been catching up on some of the newer movies I didn’t see in the theatre.  In fact, I haven’t been to the theatre in over five years.  I haven’t even been inside a fast food restaurant in almost two years.  The only time when I eat fast food is if one of my guests brings in food.  Fast food doesn’t agree with me much anymore.  I prefer my own cooking or my neighbors’ cooking.  At this point, I would rather host guests and make a home cooked meal as opposed to going to a restaurant.  Besides, far more places deliver than even five years ago.

I haven’t driven a car in a few months.  I sold mine back in the fall to a friend of my dad’s.  My car wasn’t doing any good with me not driving anymore.  I just got to where I was too scared to go on the road.  I actually got a panic attack one day while driving.  I’m glad my old car went to a good home.

Don’t have much planned for the next few days.  Probably will watch the Super Bowl.  I have several friends who are Chiefs fans and a few family members who are 49ers fans.  I guess it makes no difference to me who wins.  I would just like to see an exciting game.  Even when I did watch lots of pro football, I watched the Super Bowl more for the game than the commercials or half time shows.  I used to go to Super Bowl parties when a few of my friends hosted them in their apartments.  Those were fun times.

It’s been quite amazing in that I haven’t had any bad flare ups for over a week now.  Even the few I had were quick hitters that were over within a minute or two.  Right now I’m doing quite well, far better than my usual for the last year or two.  I think it definitely helps that I am in more contact with my neighbors, family, and friends.  Going to the doctor for my annual checkup in December let me know where I stand and what I’m doing right and what needs adjusting.  I’m currently on a winning streak.  I hope I can keep this going for awhile.  It feels like things are going back into some kind of normal and more relaxed.

Beginning of Recovery

Signed up for home health services the last time I was at the doctor’s office.  Yesterday, I saw the nurse who will be managing my case.  This morning I visited with my physical therapist.  She says my physical strength is good.  Unfortunately my endurance is not near what is once was.  As part of my baseline, I was able to walk only 3.5 minutes before I needed a break.  She says my walking pace is good but the endurance is in need of increasing.  I can stand up and sit down all right without aide as long as the chair is high enough off the ground.  I do need to use my hands when sitting in my recliner as it sits lower than my office chair and couch.  My rehab lady is a self described compassionate hard case, but that is the type I probably need.

After my car accident four years ago, I spent much time in depression and anxiety.  As a result I stayed home most of the time and got almost no physical activity.  So my endurance went down and I got more and more paranoid. The paranoia and bad health just fed on each other.  I am lacking endurance because of my paranoia and I am paranoid because of my lack of endurance.

My sleep pattern has returned to normal.  I usually go to bed around 9 or 10pm and wake up for good right at sunrise.  I guess I’ve become a morning person since the weather turned colder.  I don’t mind.  I can socialize with my parents in the afternoon or late mornings as they are retired and I can socialize with my friends in the evenings after their work days.

I think today went alright, at least as far as first day of rehab goes.  I have another aide coming in this afternoon.  I’ll see where we go from there.

Thoughts on Mental Illness Treatment Side Effects

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.

Rebirth of Spring and Readjusting Accordingly

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.

Chronic Back Pain with Schizophrenia

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.

New Beginnings and New Routines

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.