Feeling Decent and Keeping Occupied

Been feeling decent overall the last few days.  Still sleeping a lot but too much sleep is better than having breakdowns.  Even though I don’t leave my apartment for long periods of time, I still make it a point to stay active.  I have an exercise bike I ride a little bit every day.  And I have done arm weights three times a week for two months.  I’m starting to notice improvements even if they aren’t coming as fast as I would like.  But my health didn’t fall apart right away so it’s foolish to think I can gain it back immediately.  It’s going to be a long process and it’s one I’m glad I began.

Been listening to more music lately.  I renewed my subscription to Spotify a few months ago and I use it a little every day.  My PC got fixed a couple weeks ago.  I now have my primary gaming computer/backup to my Mac again.  As much as I enjoy my computers, I was feeling like I was naked in public while running my blogs and online interactions with no backups.  My PC took only a few days to fix.  But my depression and anxiety has been strong enough I couldn’t bring myself to go across town to get it fixed.  I finally had to sweet talk my dad into taking the computer to the shop when he was in town a few weeks ago.  And to get it picked up, I sweet talked my cleaning lady/personal assistant into picking it up.  It is tough for me to ask for help and admit weaknesses.

For most of my life I was the one who helped others out and voluntarily ran errands for family and friends.  I was kind of a taxi service for friends and family in high school and college.  I don’t remember how many times I ran friends across town or took them to restaurants when they wanted a break from the campus mess hall.  Many of my friends didn’t have cars when we were in high school and college.  And now I’m the one who asks for rides and delivery service because of the changing nature of my mental illness as I age.

I am convince people’s psychology does change with age.  Mine certainly has.  I look to avoid arguments and conflicts more now in my late 30s than I did even five years ago. I really no longer feel shame for wanting to be alone for long periods of time.  And I know sometimes I can step away from friends and family for several days and pick up where I left off.  A compliant of my romantic interests was that I was often too clingy and always wanted to be around my romance interests.  I understand why. I wasn’t being attentive, I was being smothering. No one was meant to be all things to anyone.  There are things I can talk with around family I won’t discuss with even close friends and vice versa.  It took me awhile to learn that I don’t have to ask any one person to be everything for me.  Mental illness stunted my social development in some ways.

In other ways it forced me to grow faster than most people.  And it certainly made me question my core beliefs and who I really was and what I really liked doing.  I am convinced had I never become mentally ill I would have never developed my ability as a writer and story teller.  I am probably better at communication with a mental illness than I would be without one.  I probably would be at a job I can’t stand because I would be too stubborn to quit and find something else.

I doubt I would have as wide a variety of interests had I remained mentally well.  I know I wouldn’t have spent so many years learning different subjects at the university of Youtube videos.  I have spent a shameful amount of time watching educational videos, science lectures, TED talks, and audiobooks on youtube over the last six years.  And the thing is, I could spend the rest of my life learning things and I wouldn’t feel like I learned enough and don’t need to learn anymore.  The more I learn, the more I realize there is even more out there.  Einstein once said to the effect that the universe is far more strange than we can imagine.  I’m learning that truth more and more with each passing day.

Overall I’m doing quite well.  Starting to settle into summer routines even though it feels like early spring outside.  I still have my bad moments, but at least they aren’t bad days now.  Even my flare ups aren’t as intense as they were in recent years.  My flare ups now involve more depression and less anger now.  But things are looking better with each passing day.

Early Thanksgiving and Changes

Hosted my parents for an early Thanksgiving celebration last Sunday.  They brought the food and I provided the place.  They spent most of the day here.  I also received a stationary exercise bike from them.  Since they are moving to a suburb and are getting rid of some of the things they have no need for now, I got an exercise bike and a couple desk chairs from them.  Used the exercise bike a few times already.  It’s good to be exercising regularly again.  I had fallen out of the daily exercise habit after my back started flaring up a few months ago.  I was pleasantly surprised that peddling on a stationary bike doesn’t hurt my back like walking does.  Used to be most of my exercise was walking in the park or old downtown.  I would usually walk the hallways in my apartment complex when it was too icy or cold to walk outside.  But I’m starting to feel more decent after only a few days of regular exercise again.

While I enjoyed hosting my parents for Thanksgiving, it was also a bittersweet gathering.  That was the last time I get to see them when they are living nearby.  Even as much as I don’t like driving, I could still get in my car and be at their house in less than two hours.  But now that they are moving I won’t be getting to see them on a whim.  At least until I find a low income place that’s not in a tough neighborhood.  I may have to find a place in a small town nearby if the places in the city and the suburbs are too questionable.  I have been lucky to have had the good luck with low income housing that I have experienced in the last twelve years.  I’ve been fortunate to have good managers who will quickly and decisively deal with people who don’t pay the rent or are troublemakers.  I don’t have any true complaints about my complex.  I can be left alone when I want to be.  I can socialize when I want to.  And most people don’t give me problems and I try to avoid being a problem for others.  It’s seemed to work or I wouldn’t still be here after twelve years.  The only place I’ve lived in longer than my current apartment is my childhood home.

I haven’t bee out much for the last few days.  I guess I’m still adapting to my parents moving to be near my brother and his family.  I hope to be joining them eventually.  But right now I probably won’t be making any moves, at least not until the end of winter.

July 25, 2018

It’s been pretty quiet and uneventful the last few days.  I’ve been on my new medication routine for almost a month now.  I think things are working out quite well.  I’ve been getting out of my apartment and socializing in person more, so I haven’t been online as much for the last week or so.  I’m now usually going to bed by midnight and waking up by 8 am.  I’m apparently back to normal hours.  I think the weather being cooler than usual the last two weeks has helped.  It hasn’t been an unbareably hot July in my town this year.  I can tell the days are getting dark sooner.  Won’t be too long and school will be starting again.  Haven’t been watching as much baseball this summer.  I guess I got hooked on World Cup soccer this year.

I think I’m starting to lose weight again.  Changed my diet and started lifting weights three weeks ago.  I eat mostly high protein foods, keep carbs to a minimum, and have cut out most sugar.  I even need less sleep too.

Summers are usually a tough time of year for me.  But I have been able to avoid real problems this summer so far.  I guess we have about another five to six weeks of warm weather before things start cooling off.  And the foliage will start turning as well.  Summer is winding down.  I can hardly wait for cooler weather and longer nights.

Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Since the weather has been so hot the last several days, I’ve been running most of my errands at night.  Picked up some new medication that supposed to help with binge eating problems.  I am a binge eater.  I’ll go hours without eating and then gorge all at once when the hunger pains take over.  And that’s probably worse than snacking throughout the day.  Been on this new med for a few days and I think it’s starting to work.  I have eaten much less than normal and I even need less sleep too.

I still stay awake until dawn and usually sleep until noon, at least unless I have doctors’ appointments.  I’ve also been socializing more often.  Made friends with a new neighbor last night.  I went to take my trash out, sat down as she was coming out for a smoke, and the next thing I knew I had talked to her for over an hour.  I guess I didn’t realize how many new people moved into my complex this year alone.  I really haven’t been socializing because, until recently, I was too depressed and paranoid to.  I was happy to spend much of my days attending Youtube University and learning for my own personal vanity.  It’s amazing what one can learn in several months of intense study.  And I was able to pick up the social skills like I always had them.  It also helps that a few of our problem residents have moved out over the last several months.  Until recently I was too wrapped up in my own depression and paranoia to notice.

I socialize more on facebook too with old friends and extended family.  I had pretty much dropped off facebook for a year or so because of all the arguing and fighting during the last election cycle.  Hopefully these bad experiences have cooled many peoples’ passions and made us more tactful as a species.  But I definitely make it a point to avoid politics, child rearing, and money as these can divide friends and family even in good times.  I think I’m not the only one who wants to make social media fun again.

Change of Season, Change of Mood, Change With Age

The weather is cooling off, especially over the last few days.  The nights are almost as long as the days now, some farmers are beginning the harvest, farmers’ markets are open all over the place, and I’m getting outside more.  I’ve had my windows open the last few days and I’ve pretty much stopped using my air conditioner.  Yes the change of seasons is upon us.

I for one am glad that summer is over.  Mentally I’m just not very stable during the summers.  And I never could figure out why.  I didn’t experience any true tragedies or trauma as a child.  I was bullied in school but I know kids who got it worse than I did.  I’m thinking many of my problems during the summers stem from dealing with the heat and humidity.  I never did like hot weather.  I like spring in the fact that there are still cool days but not weeks on end of hot weather.  And I like fall because of the cooling weather, the fall leaves, and I’ve always enjoyed fall activities more than summer.  I’m sure that being overweight doesn’t help in dealing with hot summers, let alone dealing with a mental illness.

Mentally I was more stable this summer than most previous summers.  Even though I couldn’t do much with a bad back I was still pretty stable for the most part.  Now that I’m healed from my back I am getting outside more.  I am also eating less too.  I can tell my stamina is coming back, more slowly than I would like but it’s still coming back.  I think that I have made it through the roughest part of the year already.  I hope that things keep getting better.

I have noticed a few changes with my mental illness over the last few years.  I can tell that things that used to bother me real bad don’t bother me as much.  If I had dealt with a problem a few years ago, I’d be angry for an hour or two.  Now I’m over such things in only a couple minutes.  I’ve become more accepting of the illness now.  I’ve accepted that I’ll never have a great career or a family of my own.  This used to bother me real bad as recently as five years ago.  Now I’ve just accepted it and planned accordingly.  Since I see that many of my friends are having problems at their jobs and marriages, I’m actually thankful in some regards that I never got to go that route.  I have the problems of a mental illness but I don’t have the problems of a stressful job and hectic married life.  I have a mental illness but I don’t have as much stress and pointless drama as my friends.  And I love it.  I don’t have much money or prestige but I do have peace of mind.  I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Visiting Family and Finding Normal

Saw my nephews and niece yesterday.  We had a picnic lunch and we went to a museum.  It was an pioneer trails museum as most of the old pioneer trails like the Oregon and Mormon trails ran through what is now my hometown.  It was also were the first transcontinental railroad and first Atlantic to Pacific highway ran through.  It was a good way to spend an afternoon and I got to keep the leftovers from the picnic.  It was a good way to break the boredom  that had been my life for the previous two months.

I talked to my best friend from college this afternoon.  He has a few more weeks before he has to be back at teacher inservice for the fall term.  I was invited to his place in the Black Hills of South Dakota for a few days during the middle of the month.  Ideally I’d like to go after the motorcycle rally in Sturgis is over as I really don’t look forward to dodging thousands of motorcyclists.  But this is probably the only time I get to see him again until at least next year.  So I’m thinking I may have to go really cheap for the next two months or break into my savings and make that trip a reality.  My back is fully healed so I won’t have to sleep in a recliner anymore.  I haven’t slept in a recliner for over a week now.  I’m still slower than I would like to be in the morning from stiffness in my lower back.  But it clears up after a couple minutes in a hot bath.  I suppose I am now in my mid 30s, so maybe things are starting to fall apart on my body.  I’m no longer growing a beard as I have found some grays.  It just didn’t look good with a few grays.  I have a friend who’s the same age I am and she already has arthritis.  I’ll probably get arthritis as my grandmother had it bad and my dad now has it bad.  But as bad as chronic aches and being slower to recover from injuries is, I prefer being an adult to begin a teenager.  I especially like the fact that I’m old enough now that I’m not as ruled by my hormones and emotions anymore.  I’d have skipped my teens and twenties had I known my thirties were going to be more settled.

Overall things are looking much better now than they were a month or two ago.  I’m feeling better mentally and physically.  I’m getting more activity.  And I’m getting more socializing.  Things are looking better all the time.

 

Optimism, Delusional Thinking, and Schizophrenia

Optimism and schizophrenia are two things that normally wouldn’t go together.  Few who suffer from this mental illness would tell anyone that their hallucinations and delusional thoughts are conducive to optimism.  Most of my personal hallucinations are voices telling me all the things I’m doing wrong or how I’m angering the people in my life.  Fortunately for me my hallucinations aren’t usually loud or overbearing.  They are often whispers or low volume, much like the play by play commentary of a ballgame on television.  My hallucinations have never told me to hurt anyone or myself.  So for that alone I can be optimistic that my schizophrenia is manageable.  It does cause me irritation and anxiety that the voices are almost always there.  But, in my case, the paranoia has to be the worst.

I have had issues with paranoia even before I was diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I didn’t keep journals or do any writing on my own when I was growing up because I saw my brother reading the journal I kept one summer while in junior high.  I was afraid to record my thoughts as I didn’t have a lock on my bedroom door and my parents often entered my bedroom when I wasn’t there.  Once when I was in junior high I lost over $60 in birthday money.  For years I was convinced my brother stole it.  I never confronted him about it because I was paranoid the problems it would cause would be even worse than suffering in silence.  I was paranoid enough to believe my parents wouldn’t take my side in the argument and I still wouldn’t get my money back.  To this day I never found that money nor have I ever confronted my brother to see if he took that money.  I don’t know if he did or not and probably doesn’t remember it anyway.  My paranoias involve fearing people are going through my trash, people are listening in on my phone conversations, that I’m being watched every time I step out in public, etc.

I could have worse delusions.  I met some schizophrenic when I was a guest speaker at the state mental hospital that was convinced people were trying to poison his food.  I met another mentally ill man one time when I was in hospital that was convinced he was going to prison for a minor offense and wanted to hang himself.  He was on suicide watch and that was scary seeing someone that distressed.  I have met people who had great careers and families and lost them both once their mental illness took full effect later in life than mine started.  In my case my problems started in my late teens and for years I was under the delusion that I would overcome my illness and still go on to have the career and family I had dreamed about since I was five years old.

I realized I was having problems that weren’t going away on their own when I was a junior in high school.  I didn’t think much of my problems at first because most teenagers I knew were often moody and mean. It was when it was constant and interfering with my school work and activities that I decided to self medicate.  I didn’t turn to marijuana or alcohol, I turned to herbal remedies.  A friend of mine who had a rather unhealthy distrust of modern medicine recommend I try things like St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, multivitamins, and fish oil pills.  I try numerous combinations of these for two years with no noticeable effect.  Non modern medicines may work for some cases but my case wasn’t one of those.  I may have been delusional enough to believe I could treat my mysterious problems on my own.  But I have to be optimistic that I wasn’t delusional enough to believe that modern medicine was ineffective and some elaborate conspiracy.  Some people I know are delusional enough to believe that even without schizophrenia.

Some people I met were religious people who believed that I needed to pray more and be more faithful to God.  I was already the most knowledgeable student in my Sunday school classes since I was four years old.  I read the Bible almost daily to where I had read the entire book at least a few times.  I was more faithful to the teachings of the Bible than most people three to five times my age as a teenager.  For a short while in junior high I even thought about the ministry as a career.  But none of the prayers eased my anguish or calmed my delusions and fears.  Even though I went to a Christian college I was attending church maybe only two to three times a month.  I got to where I was aggravated watching people I knew who didn’t take religion as seriously as I did just seemingly coast through college and life.  I was thinking, ‘Alright God, what are they doing that I’m not.’

Finally a couple years after college I stopped going to church entirely.  It wasn’t because I was mad at any one person, but because it no longer made sense to invest that much into something that had no results.  None of the prayers or Bible studies did anything to alleviate my delusions or allow me to cope with my paranoias.  It just got to where it seemed senseless, unproductive, and even delusional.  I don’t know if God exits or not.  But I do know if the only thing keeping someone from hurting and abusing others is fearing God, than that person is indeed a sorry excuse for a human being.  I do find it just lucky that of all the thousands of beliefs that existed all over the world and throughout history that I happened to be born into the one that was most approved by God.  If I was born in India I would have been a devout Hindu.  If I was born in ancient Egypt, I would have been all for Osiris and Horus and regarded the Pharaoh as a god.  So it just gradually came to me the idea of burning in hell for all eternity just for the crime of being born into the wrong religion, wrong time, and wrong culture was delusional.  Most of my friends won’t agree with me but let them.  I won’t convince them that if there is a God that God is indifferent (that’s what the evidence I’ve seen so far convinces me).  And they won’t convince me that God will send someone to hell for losing the guessing game of picking the right religion.

As far as delusional thought goes, I am open to the possibility I could be wrong on anything.  I never got the memo that said I had to form my philosophy on life by my early twenties.  I am also not delusional enough to defend an idea I have that is being proven wrong.  Even though I am schizophrenic I have to be thankful that I don’t have the delusions of defending an idea I know to be off base.

 

Pushing To Get Better Physically and Mentally

I’ve been actively working for the last two weeks to get my back into good health.  Been icing my back most of the time when I sit down and taking ibuprofen every six hours.  Last night I slept in my bed for the first time in over a week.  It doesn’t sound like much but it was nice after several days of not being able to lay down at all.  I slept for five hours last night but it apparently was all I needed.  Woke up with a little back pain but I am back to almost good after a little ice.  I’m glad to be back on the mend.

I’m also pushing myself to get back to losing weight.  I’m now on day three of tracking everything I eat.  Sure it is draconian and anal retentive but it’s the best thing that worked for me in the past.  I know I have lost weight in the past by tracking my diet and I can do it again.  In fact it may be the only way I can lose weight.  Granted that won’t make me much fun when dining out with friends but it’s the best thing I have working.  It’s looking like the old habits of tracking what I eat are starting to come back.

I’m also pushing myself to better my mental health.  I’m avoiding toxic people, toxic places, toxic ideas, and learning better coping skills for my mental illness.  I’m slowly but surely learning how to stop negative thoughts about others and myself before they become obsessions.  I’ve also started listening to inspiring videos and podcasts on youtube.  Youtube is a treasure trove of both positive and negative ideas.  You have to actively search out the positive to find it.  But that is why there are the search bars and search engines.  Use them to find positive and uplifting materials.  Anymore you can find whatever you want with a couple search engines.  I have no excuse in 2016 to not find uplifting and reenforcing information.  It’s just a matter of typing in the right information.

 

 

Socializing and Decreased Hallucinations

Now that I have my medication situation under control I’ve been easing back into more of a normal type of life.  At least it’s as normal as a life of mental illness is going to get.  One of the aspects of my life that is starting to resemble normal is my social life.  Just last week I spent two hours outdoors chatting with two of my neighbors. Three days ago I chatted with a third neighbor for over an hour. Today I chatted one on one with another neighbor for almost two hours.  Those are the three longest conversations I’ve had with someone who wasn’t family in months.  I still make a point of calling my parents at least twice a week.  It’s not just Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day I talk to my parents.  I still go to counseling twice a month with the same counselor I’ve had for the last year and a half.  We have a pretty good thing going.  I also have a good deal going with my psych doctor.  I do kind of worry because both of these men are getting close to retirement age.  So I’ll be in the market for new therapists and doctors within a few years.  I’m so glad the subject of DNA testing came up with my psych doctor.  The medication I changed to was one my DNA tests said would work really well for me.  So the DNA testing has already paid off.  We might make another change within a few weeks.  But things seem to be working well enough now we might not even need to make a second change.

I’m also noticing I can now go entire days without feeling irritable.  I don’t even really get irritable while driving.  Since I usually drive a little slower than speed limit, especially in town, I usually get passed and sometimes cut off.  But neither really bothers me that much anymore.  And I’m beginning to drive more again.  For several months I drove only when I had to run errands or to visit my family.  I rarely made spontaneous trips.  And being in an auto accident several months ago didn’t help any.  Even though I wasn’t at fault in that accident I lost some confidence in my driving ability.  It’s now coming back.  I haven’t set out on a long road trip yet but I probably will this summer.  I try to take at least one several hour road trip every summer.

I’m also having fewer auditory hallucinations.  For me, my hallucinations were almost always voices. Occasionally I hear foot steps and doors closing that no one else does, which can be quite creepy. Voices and foot steps are the two biggest hallucinations I have.  If one were to watch me closely when I’m alone, you could see my lips move and I would be speaking under my breath. That’s how the hallucinations make themselves manifest. It no doubt looks very odd but hopefully it’s not as painfully obvious as some schizophrenic hallucinations.  I can have entire conversations with the voices and not even speak loud enough to be heard.  But since most of the voices are quite nasty and critical it’s not like the conversations are enriching or enjoyable.  But I’m getting to where I now have much more conversation with real flesh and blood people than just isolating and arguing with my hallucinations.

Weight Loss And Mental Illness Revisited

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Winter is normally not a time people think about diet and exercise outside of a New Year’s Resolution.  These well intended resolutions to strive for better health usually don’t make it past the second week of January before old habits come back.  I think this is because few people don’t give enough time for positive change to take effect.  Far too many people think that adopting good habits are merely a matter of making a decision and acting on that decision.  The fact that highs and lows, wins and losses, up days and down days are not taken into consideration.  This is why so many people give up on good intentions after a couple rough days.  Very few people make allowances for setbacks and screw ups.

For my diet and exercise routine, the second half of 2015 was one setback after another.  I didn’t exercise enough, I was under too much stress, I ate too much, I got out of the habit of keeping track of what I ate, I quit lifting weights, and I wasn’t getting consistent sleep. Consistent sleep helps with weight loss and mental stability.  Without consistent sleep, hormones can become out of balance and that alone can mess with weight loss.  I gained at least 30 pounds from early July to New Year’s Eve precisely because things like exercise, sleep, stress levels, and eating were not consistent.  For most of the summer and fall of 2015 I was pulling two all nighters per week on average.  I’d try to sleep during the days but it just wasn’t the same.  I didn’t have enough sleep and I also didn’t have the quality of sleep I needed for weight loss or mental stability.  I didn’t get the consistent good nutrition I needed either.  Looking back on July to December of last year, it’s no wonder I went in reverse.  I’m also not surprised that I had two nervous breakdowns.  Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the hospital either time.

But since the first of January I have consciously made choices for better health.  I don’t pull all nighters any more.  I don’t skip taking my medications.  I take more time to relax and not feel guilty for having a small amount of time every day to clear my mind.  I exercise for at least 10 minutes every day rather than go hard for two days and take a day off like I was in the fall.  I’m back to lifting weights three times a week and I’m noticing improvements after only a few weeks.  I eat when I’m hungry and never just because the clock tells me it’s breakfast or dinner time.  Somedays I’ll have my last meal of the day by 5pm.  And others I won’t eat “breakfast” until 11 am.  I also make far more mental notes on what I’m eating.  I don’t track as strictly now because I know how many calories most foods have just by looking at the serving sizes and the labels.  But it took over a year and half of hard tracking to get that level of knowledge.

As a result of my efforts, I’ve lost seven pounds since January 1.  I want to eventually lose 150 more pounds.  But this is a life long commitment to a lifestyle change, not just a diet to be followed and endured for six months and then discarded once a goal has been met.  Overall since I started this lifestyle overhaul I’m down 35 pounds since March 2014.  The road has had detours and potholes along the way.  But I never gave up the dream of a healthier body and a more stable mind even when it seemed nothing was going right.