Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me. I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it. I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work. I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego. As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension. It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.
I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body. Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life. It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures. It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing. That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels. I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there. I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu. Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people. I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library. But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story. And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.
Spending a quiet, calm, and uneventful weekend at my apartment. Haven’t talked to anyone this weekend. After several days of forcing myself out of my comfort zones trying to be more social and out going, I am needing a quiet weekend to recharge and regroup. Deciding that I’m spending the weekend binging on computer games and youtube music videos. Been listening to some of the music I listened to in high school and college the last few days. I refuse to go as far as to say music was better twenty years ago because anyone will be nostalgic for what they grew up listening to in the formative years of their teens and early twenties. I imagine in early 1800s Germany there were people complaining about Beethoven. And I’m sure when the 2030s roll around my nephews’ generation will complain about what their kids listen to, watch and read.
As it is, it’s been a calming and relaxing weekend. It was overcast, kind of chilly, and raining on and off all day yesterday. We get those days quite a bit in early spring. I enjoy those type of days. Boil some coffee, find a good book, and just enjoy the day. I also do some of my better writing on days like that. Days like that are one of the reasons spring is my favorite time of year.
Looks like I made it through another winter without having any major setbacks. I did have to readjust my life some as I got to where I didn’t like being around people and preferred to sleep as much as possible. Maybe one of the reasons I stayed stable was I avoided people as much as possible. But with winter ending I suppose I no longer have the excuse of it being too cold or too much snow to leave my complex. I have to renew my lease in a few weeks. So I have to get my paper work together for that. Too bad I couldn’t do this online and submitting e-files. My rent is literally the only thing I even write checks for anymore. I imagine this dream of mine is still a few years away.
After several days of colder than average weather, it finally warmed up a little today. At least it warmed enough for me to run some errands. It feels good to be able to leave my apartment again without worrying about frostbite. I had spent several days staying at home, watching college football, playing computer games, but doing little of anything else. I need to get back into some regular routines. To that end I started lifting weights again today. I had been lazy about lifting this summer and fall. I had been quite lazy about exercise ever since I hurt my back. Sadly I gained back the weight I had lost a few years ago. I’m starting over in this regard. I know I can lose the weight again, it’s just a matter of doing so.
Still not sleeping as much as I used to. Which is alright with me as I used to sleep twelve hours a day during the summer. Now I’m getting like six hours a sleep every night. Yet I still feel quite rested. And I usually try to take an hour nap in the afternoon. Even with my reduced sleep, I rarely stay up all night now. Used to be I stayed up all night three nights per week and then sleep in the mornings. My sleep is returning to more normal patterns.
Been spending a little more time on social media the last few days, mainly to find out about people’s holidays’ plans. I don’t know if I’ll be back on facebook and twitter more from now on. It seems to me that many of my friends have just gotten burnt out on all the drama and fighting that has been so prevalent for the last few years. I wound up unfollowing many people because of the drama, including family members. So much for making people more connected. I think the older I get, the less use I have for drama and nonsense and the more uses I have for logic and intelligence.
Now that the weather is starting to break out of the cold spell and the holidays are over, I am at a crossroads. I realize I now have more freedom than I used to. During the holidays I avoid the stores because of the crowds and loud Christmas music and too bright displays. I’m also at a loss now that I won’t have much going on until spring. January through April has always been a slow but stable time of year for me. Mentally I am usually my most stable during the winters. And I usually get a lot of reading and writing done during the colder parts of year. I admit I love to read for my own enlightenment more than I do my entertainment. I consider learning entertainment. I know I am weird in that regard. But learning new things gives me joy, I don’t care if being an intellectual makes me a social outcast.
Since the holidays are now over, I can get back to some resemblance of normal routines. I plan on doing many audiobooks on youtube this winter. I’m thinking about using my Khan Academy account to learn some subjects I wish I had taken when in school. And I plan on doing more outside my apartment so I can have more material to write about. Overall I plan on making 2018 an excellent year.
Have had my days and nights backwards for the last couple weeks. Been getting most of my sleep in the mornings and staying up most of the night. Yet, it doesn’t seem to be negatively effecting my mental stability. If anything this has been the most stable summer I’ve had in years. Granted this sleeping during the days while being up most of the night is putting a cramp on my social life. But I didn’t have much of a social life to start with. So I spend much of my nights listening to audiobooks on youtube. I listen to mostly non fiction science books and some science fiction. I still don’t watch much tv. I’m not even really that excited about football season this year. But I am looking forward to cooler weather. I am glad I have made it through most of the summer with no real problems.
Perhaps I am having fewer problems because I socialize less than I have in previous months and years. I leave my apartment only to run errands and even then I make it a point to run them in the early mornings or late nights to avoid crowds. I have made a point of avoiding angry, irritable, and rude people in person and online. Of course this does limit how many people I hear from or talk to. I really don’t talk to many people anymore, mainly my family and a few friends. Sure it gets kind of lonely but fortunately the loneliness doesn’t last long. I’m glad I don’t have to rely on other people to keep me entertained. Sometimes I am my own best company.
In spite not socializing much I am still optimistic overall. I haven’t been outside of my hometown much this summer. But anymore with the internet, I can still keep in contact with friends and family. And I can keep myself occupied with free audiobooks, free online courses, and free music online. I would have had to spent thousands of dollars for the things I have read or listened to online just fifteen years ago. And I can get all this for a dollar a day in internet service fees. And I love it. I wouldn’t trade living here and now (unless I could be wisked a couple hundred years into the future and be exploring strange new worlds like Star Trek). And I have some of my family members and a few of my friends to be the same way. My best friend from high school (whom I’m still great friends with) loves speculating on future science and social trends when she’s not discussing Game of Thrones. But I guess she gets tired of me talking about baseball and computer games, so that makes us even. My thirteen year old nephew is going to be working with robotics and 3D printers this year in his junior high. And to think I was impressed with the old Apple II GS when I was growing up. I often joke with my niece and nephews that they might not need drivers’ licenses. Now it’s looking like even I might not need a drivers’ license in ten years. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings that much. Sure we don’t have flying cars like Back To The Future said we would, but even that movie didn’t predict the Internet boom, smart phones, or renewable energy starting to become affordable. I wouldn’t even have cable tv except it comes with my apartment.
What I’m getting at is that right now in 2017, despite the bad news we’re constantly hearing on the news channels and our online news feeds, we’re still living in some pretty cool times. It is, in many ways, a good time to be an average person. Sure I may not be able to ever afford a house like my parents or brother. But I don’t need a large house in an affluent suburb with the picket fence and two car garage. I can currently live quite well just in the apartment in the small college town I’m in. I currently don’t need much to live a decent standard of living that even the kings and industrialists of 1900 couldn’t have imagined. It is not, however, a good time to be a control freak or spiteful hate monger. We’re always probably going to have problems like these but, unlike in past eras, the overwhelming general consensus is that being a dictator or hateful person are bad things. For most of civilization’s history, the idea of the ‘divine right of royalty’ or having hatred of people different from your own little group was pretty much unquestioned by the vast majority of people. We have made progress as a species. And we will continue to make progress even if people take it for granted or don’t pay attention to it. The only reason that we don’t hear about the good going on is simply because good news doesn’t sell. Good news doesn’t sell only because we as a species are not wired to pay much attention to good news.
I readily admit I get frustrated when the people I am around on a regular basis do and say stupid things and then keep repeating these mistakes over the course of months and years. I know I shouldn’t be angry with people just because they aren’t smart. Some people are just dumb and they are never going to become Mensa material no matter what you do for them. That is probably the hardest fact of life that I have ever had to accept. I can handle people not having empathy. I can handle people being greedy. But for some odd reason I have had a very tough time coming to the acceptance that some people are just dumb, have always been dumb, and are never going to be interested in the intellectual things like science, technology, history, philosophy, literature, etc. that I am.
Being smart has always come easy to me. I can’t remember ever not knowing how to read because I pretty much taught myself how to read. I can’t remember ever having to be forced to read because I read so voraciously on my own. I still do. I actually had to be forced to put down my books and go outside with the neighborhood kids against my will. I suppose my parents were afraid that I would be one of these really smart people who had lousy social skills. Well, that happened anyway. Yet I don’t mind having below average social skills. Most of the stuff average people like to talk about, like politics, sports, the weather, farming, work, celebrities, etc., I find quite boring. As much as I enjoy baseball, I wouldn’t have much of a stake in the games if I didn’t have a fantasy league team. As much as I enjoyed the violence of football when I played as a teenager, I wouldn’t watch any games if it didn’t give me anything to talk about with the average person. I don’t personally follow politics much except if politicians make noise about cutting science programs. Cutting science programs will hurt nations long term. Much of what was the computer and information revolutions came about because of the space programs in the 60s and 70s. I am not really happy with my current crop of politicians who are cutting science funding and just want to pull up the draw bridge and isolate from the rest of the world. Who would have thought twenty years ago China and India would be leading the world in developing and implementing nonpolluting technology? When my parents were children, their parents used to tell them “there’s starving kids in China who would love to eat what you complain about.” I wonder if Chinese and Indian parents tell their kids “keep studying and going to school, there’s dumb people in America.”
I never had a tolerance for ignorance. And it’s especially tough having a mental illness and living in low income housing when I am not surrounded by many smart people. I do most of my socializing online anymore because I can at least superficially connect with people who share my interests. For years I have struggled searching for people with the same intellectual pursuits I have. My therapists and I have struggled finding ways for me to find social activities for someone with my interests. I finally came to the painful realization that I am not going to meet many people I can relate to, at least not in traditional senses. Some of my best friends I interact with mainly online. The internet is my social life now. I’m glad I live in an era when it’s available as much as it is. Had I lived in the dark ages, I probably would have had to join a monastery. Even then I’d probably be burned at the stake as a heretic. I am happy that science is really advancing. And it doesn’t bother me as much as it normally would that many of these advances are now not happening in my own country. I really don’t care if it’s an American, a Chinese person, an African, etc. who comes up with the next huge breakthrough. We all share the same planet so we just as well learn to work and think beyond national boundaries. I hope that the anti intellectualism I see so prevalent in my time and place is merely a passing fad. And even if it isn’t, there are plenty of places where intelligence is valued and science will progress. The future is already happening, it’s just not evenly distributed.
My life has been essentially quiet and uneventful since Christmas. We had a pretty cold January and early February so I didn’t really go anywhere except to pick up groceries and house supplies for the last two months. We had our traditional mid winter thaw the last week or so. So I’ve been spending some time outside watching the squirrels and birds. I see the cranes and Canadian geese are starting to migrate back. They are usually quite thick near my town from the last week in February until middle March. I’m going to take a few hours sometime next week and just watch the birds along the Platte River just outside my town like I do every March.
I traditionally love to travel and see new places. But I haven’t been outside of Nebraska since my friend Matt’s wedding almost two years ago. And I can tell that the lack of travel and new experiences are making me stale and itchy. Believe it or not, I really don’t like the sedentary lifestyle. When I still held traditional jobs, I usually did my best at jobs where I was moving a lot and it didn’t matter if I got sweaty or dirty. I admit that since I had the sedentary lifestyle forced on me, first by my car accident and then spending a summer with a messed up back, I have gotten lazy. And by getting lazy I can tell I have lost much of my stamina and enjoyment of just doing simple things like walking around the park or going to the all night deli to pick up some Chinese food. I have recently started going back to the all night deli more often, especially if I’m going to be up late.
I am still not as active as I would like to be, but I can tell that it is beginning to come back. I am traditionally not very active during winters, at least not physically. I usually read a lot and have traditionally done some of my best writing work during the winter. Most of the books I read this winter were about future technology trends and popular science. I also listen to a lot of audiobooks and current events type lectures on youtube. I tend to utilize youtube and my books more in winter than the spring or fall. Traditionally during the summers I do most of my errands in the morning than spend the hottest parts of the afternoon reading and writing. But I still do the bulk of my brain work during the winter.
I can tell that the lack of physical activity and travel is making me easily bored. It is also tough in that I haven’t seen my close friends or family at all since Christmas. I fear that I’m losing my social skills. I don’t socialize much with my neighbors in my complex as I have little in common with them. Most of my neighbors are senior citizens or people with physical disabilities that can’t do much of anything. I don’t know many people in here with mental health issues who are still in reasonably good physical health. It is kind of lonely in here as far as socializing goes. I can also tell that the lack of socializing and physical activity has taken a toll on my physical health. I just hope that once spring sets in a few weeks from now, I’ll be able to get more active again.
Now that the holidays have come and passed, I am settling into my winter routines. I find that I am spending much of my day reading online articles and reading books. I don’t play as many computer games as I used to. I’m finding myself dining out less as I’ve had fast food only once in the last week. I’ve been eating less than normal the last week. I can tell I feel less sluggish because I’m not eating so much unhealthy fast food. I do sleep more than I did during the summer. But it does help pass the time when so much of the day is dark and cold. I don’t just go out and drive my car much anymore. While I have conquered my fear of driving I just see no need to do much of it anymore. I fuel my car probably only once a month now. I just see no need to really go anywhere unless it’s necessary. I can do most of my socializing online and via cell phone now.
I’ve been reading on some of the books I bought over the last couple months. I’m reading a lot of online articles too. Just because I don’t have many guests in my apartment doesn’t mean that I don’t socialize. I’m slowly starting to socialize more over Facebook and even in the hallways of my apartment complex. It has been a slow process getting over my paranoia and fear of socializing. And it’s one that’s not completed by any means.
I haven’t seen any regular tv in the last several weeks besides live sports. For a couple weeks around Christmas there were college football bowl games on every night it seemed. I would have a game on in the background most days while I was working online but I wasn’t really paying attention to the games. I guess I just feel guilty about watching young men maim themselves for my enjoyment the older I get. I probably should watch more soccer or basketball until baseball starts again. I just don’t watch a lot of tv. I avoid the news channels as they are mostly negative news that doesn’t effect me. Bad things have been happening all over the world throughout history, it’s just now that we know about it instantly with our communication tech. The world isn’t more violent than in the past, it’s just better informed.
I’m starting to settle into winter routines. Been reading a lot of online articles, been reading my amazon books, been listening to free podcasts through youtube, and I’m generally feeling stable and content since the weather started turning colder. I’m ready to face the winter.
Some people think I’m strange in that I prefer cold weather to warm weather. Besides spring, winter is usually the best time of year for me. While Christmas might not mean much to me personally anymore, I do enjoy seeing the excitement and joy on my nephews and niece’s faces. I enjoy spending time with family more than I do getting gifts anymore.
The weather has certainly turned quite cold since Thanksgiving. It doesn’t really bother me as I have plenty of books to read, food in my pantry, good internet connection, and I can call up friends and family pretty much anytime. I probably would feel different if I lived in the Old West as a mountain man who had to cut his own firewood and go hunting all the time. Since the weather has turned colder and the nights are getting longer, I have been sleeping more. I’m not sleeping out of depression or sadness but I just like getting under the heavy blanket and semi hibernating.
Been reading quite a bit lately. I’m reading mostly non fiction and science books lately. Reading science and tech books, even ones that are a few years old, made me realize just how fast things are changing. And most people don’t even know these changes are happening. I currently have a several year old Play Station 3 but the next gaming consul I buy will probably have some Virtual Reality setup. I imagine the Oculus Rift is a popular Christmas gift this year. I’m probably going to wait a couple years and let the prices come down before I get one of my own.
Since it looks like it’s supposed to stay cold for the next several days I think I’m pretty much going to stay home. I have a few projects around the apartment that I want to get on top of. Been kind of lazy about some things as I was fighting bouts of depression and anxiety all fall. I’m probably going to rearrange my apartment. As I don’t have a lot of furniture this won’t take more than an hour or two at most.
One advantage to the colder weather is that I’m much less apt to go for fast food. I’ve been eating healthier the last several days and I notice an improvement already in my moods and energy level. Sometimes in the afternoons I’ll walk the hallways of my complex just to break up the routines on these cold days.
I’m back on my normal meds doses. I had to increase all my meds during the fall because of my problems with stress, depression, and anxiety. But as I’ve felt much more stable the last few weeks I was able to come down off the high doses I was on.
All in all I’m beginning to settle into my winter routines. I have plenty of books I want to get read this winter and I’m already off to a good start on those.
Ever since I changed medications back in March I gradually started reading more. For several months before I changed my psych medications I had little interest in reading. I had gotten rid of some of my books. I still had several hundred ebooks and I kept my books I wanted to reread. But I hadn’t been reading much for a long time. I had just lost interest in reading. I was watching a lot of educational videos on youtube and netflix.
Now it was quite unusual for me to lose interest in reading. I have known how to read even from my earliest memories. I didn’t have to be encouraged to read as the village library was a second home to me. While most of the neighborhood kids were playing basketball or throwing around the football during our summer afternoons, I was spending my time at the library. I never really did like fantasy books or get too much into fiction. But I absolutely loved books about different animals, different plants, different nations, and the high achievers of history. Reading so much nonfiction during my summers off from school really helped me in my classes once school started. Sometimes I would read ahead in the textbooks because I wanted to know what would be covered next. I read ahead especially in science and history books. I didn’t have to be encouraged to read. I had to be forced to put down the books and get physical activity with the neighborhood kids from even an early age.
I read because I thought learning something new was entertainment. It actually makes me feel good physically to learn new things. Reading a good book and learning new ideas gives me a high that no booze, money, or woman could possibly give me. I know I’m weird for loving learning, at least I’m weird in my culture. But I certainly wouldn’t want to ever be where I couldn’t read. That’s why I would prefer to go hard of hearing rather than lose my eye site. It’s sad that not very many people continue their education after high school or college. For me that’s when my self education really took off. I’ve learned more history, economics, philosophy, biology, chemistry, and literature since graduating college than I did when I was in school. Being in school laid the foundation but my love of reading took it to levels that not many achieve on their own. I would rather read a book than go to a nightclub. I have always been that way.
I know some people think they were born in the wrong era and would have been happier in medieval times or in the old west. I don’t look to the past like that even though history was one of my best subjects in high school. Part of me wonders at what excellent things my five year old nephew will see in his lifetime should he live to be in his late nineties like my grandmother. I think about some of the changes she saw just in her lifetime. She went from being in awe of Henry Ford’s automobile to having a Facebook account that she used to keep up with friends and family. She didn’t even have indoor plumbing in her house until after she was married. My grandfather used to trade in his car after it had over 50,000 miles because it was wearing out. Now a car can last much longer even with minimal maintenance. My five year old nephew will never know a world before the internet or basic automation. He will never know a world where we didn’t know the human genome. He will probably never own a music CD. If self driving cars gain wide spread acceptance, he might not even need to own a car or even have a driver’s license. I can’t imagine what he will see in his lifetime, let alone his children’s lifetime. For me things have gotten really interesting just in the last twenty five years. I wouldn’t want to live in the past. I would be even more ridiculed in the old west because of my reading. I would have been burned at the stake as a heretic in medieval times. I would have been a terrible hunter in the Ice Ages. My only hope then would have to become the tribal medicine man providing I didn’t kill myself from doing experiments with poisoned plants and mushrooms. In short I love learning and seeing advances. I love seeing the advances I have seen just since I was old enough to pay attention thirty years ago. I can hardly wait to see what advances come by the time even I’m an old man. It’s things like these advances and seeing people becoming less accepting of violence, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty that give me hope for the future of my species.
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.