Getting Back Into Better Physical Health After A Few Years Of Setbacks

Happy Monday to everyone out there.  It’s the first Monday of December, or Cyber Monday for those of us who prefer to shop online.  I didn’t brave the crowds on Black Friday this year.  I did that with my dad one year when I was in college.  It was a headache.  I’m glad I did it once just to say I did, but I don’t want to make it a regular thing.  I just stayed home and watched football this last weekend.  My cleaning lady was kind enough to bring me some traditional Thanksgiving cuisine.

I have my annual physical checkup tomorrow morning.  I hadn’t been looking forward to it until just yesterday.  My last physical was July 2018.  I think I’ve lost some weight but I’m not exactly sure.  I know my clothes fit so much better and I can easily move around my apartment, certainly much easier than I could a year ago.  I started lifting arm weights back at the beginning of spring.  I do those three to four times a week.  I usually do only 10 and 15 pound weights but I try to lots of reps.  I doubt with my body build (barrel chested, short limbs for as tall as I am) I’ll ever look like Mr. Universe.  But that’s not the point.  The point is to improve at least a little with each passing day.

I have made changes to my diet over the last couple years.  I haven’t even eaten at McDonalds or Taco Bell this year.  When I do dine out, it’s almost always a sit down place like a pizzeria or Chinese place.  I’ve eaten fried food only once since the end of summer, and that was because my neighbors made fried chicken and offered me a couple pieces.  I don’t regularly drink soda pop anymore, only when I order delivery pizza and Chinese anymore.  Sugared soda makes me feel bloated and sluggish anymore. When I was on my high school’s football team the coach didn’t want us drinking soda pop or anything with carbonation during the season, believing it made it tougher to breathe and could cause muscle cramps.  Maybe there was some truth to that.  I know I feel better on days when I don’t eat much for sugar or carbs as opposed to days I do.  Most of the meat I eat anymore is grilled pork or chicken.  I also try to eat mixed vegetables at least once a day.  I found it’s so much easier for me to eat veggies if I have them in soup or stew.  I know it’s probably high in salt but it’s vegetables I probably wouldn’t get otherwise.  As far as fluids go, it’s always water, coffee, or black tea if I’m not dining out or getting delivery.  Fortunately my town has pretty good drinking water, so I don’t have to buy bottled water.

Overall I’m slowly regaining my stamina and losing my paranoia about other people.  While I still don’t venture out into public very much, I do leave my apartment door unlocked except for when I’m asleep or taking a bath.  I answer my phone all the time unless I’m in bed or in the bath tub.  I refuse to talk on the phone when taking a bath or using the toilet, even with family.   I also sleep better too.  I usually sleep for about six hours straight at night, wake up for a couple hours in the middle of the night, and go back to sleep and wake up for good at sunrise.  Most nights anymore I’m in bed around 8pm only to wake at 2am.  This is a major change for me as in my younger years I used to stay up all night at least once a week.  A couple years ago I did most of my sleeping in the day and ran all my errands at night.  I guess people do change over the years.  Sometimes it’s so gradual it isn’t really noticed until after the fact.

About the only negative effect of going to bed early is that most of my friends are night owls.  When I am awake and fully going, they are usually at work.  So I have to catch them on weekends or holidays.  And even listening to their gripes about work doesn’t bother me very much anymore, certainly not like it did even six months ago.  I don’t know what prompted this change, but I’ll take it.

Just this morning I found a couple sweaters in my closet I hadn’t worn for a couple years because they didn’t fit.  I held onto them because I wanted to lose weight and winters in Nebraska can be quite cold.  Found out they both fit okay.  One fits well even though it’s still an inch or two short on my torso.  Another was an extra tall that was too tight to wear for the last couple years.  It now fits.  But I have always preferred not wearing tight clothes and for years I have preferred wearing short sleeves, even on dress shirts.  I also have a dress shirt that now fits well that I hadn’t worn in two years until I tried it on this morning.  I’m now beginning to wonder how well my winter coats now fit.  I have a heavy duty winter coat and a nice dress coat that both were tight at the end of last winter.  I have to try them on today.  I have a really nice black leather jacket I haven’t worn in several years that I just hung onto because it was the nicest coat I ever worn, was a Christmas gift years ago, and offered more incentive to get back into shape.  I am sure I still can’t fit into it, hopefully by Christmas 2020.

I think I’ve lost weight, but I know I feel better overall than I did this time last year.  We hired my cleaning lady right before Christmas last year.  And it has made a difference in just one year of even once a week cleaning, and not in just the appearance of my home.  I am regaining my confidence around other people, I don’t get as easily irritated or annoyed, I leave my door unlocked except for when I go to bed.  Used to be I kept the door locked at all times.  I’m not paranoid about my landlord anymore even though I still don’t talk to her very often.  I am regaining my stamina, granted slowly.  And I don’t tolerate rude behavior from people as much.  Rather than make a scene about it, I usually just make a point of avoiding those people, whether online or in person.  I still have aches and pains at times, usually when I wake up in the mornings.  But even those clear up more quickly than even six months ago.  I make a point to stand up every hour or two for a few minutes.  Used to be I sat for hours on end, especially if I was working on research for the blog or engrossed in a computer game.  I don’t even play computer games as much anymore.  I still do almost every day, but it’s no longer playing for hours on end.  Sheesh, I even find myself more restless and wanting to fidget quite often.  I have always craved mental exercise.  But now I’m beginning to crave physical activity more with each passing week.

Several years ago I set a goal of being at my old college weight by the end of the decade.  And I was well on my way to goal until my car accident four years ago.  That set me back.    I went into a deep depression and was often experiencing back pain.  I got depressed, stopped being active, went though about two or three years where I ate very unhealthy, and gained a lot of weight.  It was also a set back when three of my best friends in my apartment complex died within six months of each other.  It was also a time when most people I knew were depressed, anxious, and short tempered too.  It was one of those things that just built on itself.  I still have the goal of being back at my old college weight, it’s just that the timeline changed.  Sure I had a few down years, 2016 and 2017 were the toughest.  Even though I’m still a long way from were I ultimately want to be, I am definitely back in the right track again.

My Online Confessions

I’m going off subject for this article.  It has been too long since I wrote a just for fun piece.  For this one, I’m going to disclose some facts about myself.  Some will be funny, some may be unpopular, but all of them are true.  So here goes:

  1. My three favorite hobbies are computer games, writing, and weight lifting.
  2. I love nonfiction science books.
  3. I can’t stand dystopic novels or movies (which, unfortunately, is most of tv in recent years).
  4. My favorite pizza toppings are pepperoni and Italian sausage
  5. I can’t stand most fast food.  I haven’t even had a Big Mac in over two years
  6. I get very irritated when people ask me “when are you getting married?”  Sometimes I want to retort to them, especially if they are older than I am, “when are you going to die?”
  7. I don’t like watching sports as much now as I did when I was in my teens and twenties.  But I do mainly so I can have something to talk about with family and friends.
  8. I can’t stand most cable news channels.  I like some business news channels, namely Bloomberg, because they report on things like science and tech breakthroughs more than politics and disaster.
  9. I don’t tolerate rudeness from others in my online interactions.  And I never give second chances to people I don’t personally know.  No exceptions.
  10. I often go out of my way to defend younger people, especially college age and those just starting out in adulthood.  I remember how bad it hurt being stereotyped as a “damn kid” even when I was in grade school.  When I was a teenager I promised myself I would never put anyone else through what I was forced to endure.  Certainly makes me unpopular with my elders and even people my own age.
  11. I don’t understand why it’s popular to be dumb.  Never have and never will.
  12. I don’t understand why it’s evil to be smart.  Never have and never will.
  13. When I write, I find writing in the first person point of view far easier than third person.  Always have.  My best material has always been with myself serving as the narrator.  Even most of my early poems and novel rough drafts were in the first person.
  14. I once had an outline for a science fiction series of novels.  It was mainly about humanity several thousand years with various human settlements declaring independence from an interstellar empire.  Pretty much think Star Trek, Dune, and a touch of the American Civil War.  Sadly I no longer have those notes.
  15. I once had the goal of becoming a best selling writer where half of all my writing and speaking profits would go to philanthropy, namely mental illness research and to the college I graduated from.
  16. High school was some of the toughest years of my life.
  17. College was one of the few places I felt that I wasn’t a complete outcast.  It was one of the only places I met people more eccentric than I am.  I loved college.  Kind of too bad I can’t live in a communal type setting with other researchers, academics, and eccentrics.
  18. One of the few parts I don’t like about being an adult is how tough it is just to spend time with friends.
  19. One thing I absolutely love about being an adult is that I don’t have to act like I care what other people think about me, at least as long as I’m not breaking the law.
  20. I don’t understand the whole ‘Oh God It’s Monday’ and the ‘Thank God It’s Friday’ nonsense.  I never thought it was funny.  Never will.
  21. I don’t understand why it’s funny to hate your in laws or argue with your spouse.  My two best friends I’ve known both for over twenty years.  I can count the number of major arguments I’ve had with the two combined on less than five fingers.  And it certainly doesn’t make our friendships sterile or lifeless or meaningless.  The only time I argue with my parents is during psychotic breakdowns, usually only a couple times per year.
  22. I absolutely despise the phrase “man up.”  I think it’s possibly the stupidest phrase in the English language.  I have never heard anyone tell a woman to “woman up” or an old grandfather to “young down.”  I don’t even hear adults tell kids to “grow up” very often.
  23. I get irritated when I present facts and statistics in a discussion only to be blown off or told I am a lair.
  24. My favorite ice cream is vanilla, simply because it goes good with most toppings and favorings.  It mixes with almost anything.
  25. I like poetry, particularly poems about war, struggle, and overcoming challenges.
  26. I don’t understand why many people can’t see that mental health problems are real.  I mean, the human brain is the most intricate and complex piece of machinery we know about.  Yet, too many people act like nothing can go wrong with it.  Shows a lack of critical thinking on many people’s part.
  27. I am extremely distressed by most education systems not teaching kids how to critically think or be adaptable.  We have known our schools weren’t adapting to the challenges kids would face as adults as far back as the 1980s (at least).  Yet we still teach our kids in 2019 like it was 1919.  I am convinced that is why so many people are anxious and depressed about their lives as adults, simply because they weren’t taught how to adapt to the current realities.  In short, we train kids and teenagers for a local and stable world only to dump them out in a global and rapidly changing world in their early twenties.  And then we have the gall to wonder why they are anxious and struggling in their lives.  We trained them for a world that no longer exists, often to the tune of many thousands of dollars in student debts that will take most of a career to pay off.  If that isn’t child abuse, then nothing is.
  28. I am sometimes lonely.  But I don’t socialize because I don’t want to hear my family and friends endlessly complain.  About the only people in my life who don’t unload their problems on me are my two best friends and my mother.  And it weighs on me and can cause me to be resentful.
  29. I hate being told I’m lucky.  I hate it almost as much as I do being told to “man up.”
  30. I don’t understand why the only manliness most people respect comes out things like war and violence.  Personally, I think Einstein and Newton were every bit as manly as George Patton and Napoleon.  Why is being a thinker considered a sign of weakness?  Hell, if it weren’t for thinkers, there would be no civilization and humanity would probably be extinct.  Think about that the next time you condemn someone for resorting to their brains before their fists or guns.
  31. I don’t understand zero sum thinking.  The idea that someone has to lose for me to gain a benefit is a load of crap.
  32. Don’t discuss politics with me.  Ever.
  33. I have never thought having lots of sex makes a man manly or a woman immoral.  Some people just like sex more than others.
  34. I have lost more jobs and friendships than I can remember because I never gave up on trying to think for myself.  Found out the hard way the world doesn’t respect original thinkers, at least not before they make major breakthroughs.
  35. I am convinced societies love their living tyrants but condemn their living benefactors only to reverse it once their children become the leaders of society.  So maybe there is a sense of justice, even if it’s only in history books and the minds of future generations.
  36. I don’t believe in most conspiracy theories. But I do believe that just enough of them have just enough truth to them to make the entire subject a dark, addictive, and dangerous one.
  37. I believe we live in one of the coolest times in human history, at least as long as you don’t watch the news channels.  News channels report only negative news precisely because that is what we are hard wired to pay attention to.  Good news sites fail, not because they are “fake news”, but because no one pays attention.
  38. I believe we as a human society can solve our problems (or at least adapt so to minimize the impact) and have a really cool future that we, even in 2019, will be jealous of.

Learning From Regrets and Mistakes of Others

I was only twelve years old when I heard someone just casually mention something to the effect, a wise man learns from his mistakes but the wisest learn from the mistakes of others.  And those few seconds changed my life for the better.  I then decided I want to live such a life that I would have as few regrets as possible when I came to the end of life’s journey.

I spent my teenage years listening to my elders complain about how much they hated their jobs or how unruly their kids were or how much they and their spouses fought.  Yet I saw almost no one do anything to change these bad circumstances.  I saw almost no one change jobs unless they got laid off or had health problems that prevented them from working.  I saw parents and their kids argue and fight over every little thing to the point the kids abandoned their parents after high school graduation and never looked back.  And the spouses almost never tried to solve their problems and often wound up divorced and bitter.  I looked out at all of this and thought that all of that was stupid. And all I heard from my elders when I asked about this was “Wait until you’re an adult” or “Wait until you have bills to pay”, etc.  All the while I was making notes and planning on how I wouldn’t fall into those traps.

I saw people have bad marriages.  That is why early on I decided I wouldn’t compromise on the woman I would marry.  I admit I was picky about the women I wanted to date.  Granted, not many of them wanted to date me.  Looking back on it, this upfront rejection saved me a lot of heartache down the road.  Why should I spend time with people who don’t want to spend time with me?  I am now thirty nine years old and have never been married.  I don’t have many friends that can say that.  But, I would make a bad husband and father with my mental illness and personality being what they are.  I try not to look back and wonder ‘what if.’  I am not anti marriage or anti family.  I just don’t think either one is right for me.  It is just part of knowing myself.

I have also left dead end jobs.  Everyone probably has worked one of those, especially in their twenties.  My first couple jobs out of college were dead end.  I left my first job out of college when my hours were being cut.  Looking back on it, I was probably being phased out.  So I moved to my current town and found another job within a couple weeks.  That too turned out to be a dead end job in the same industry.  I left after six months to go work at the local university.  I enjoyed the university job, but it was dependent on being a graduate student at the same time.  As it was, I didn’t make good enough grades to keep the job.  And since I didn’t want to go into debt to get a masters’ degree and not be guaranteed a job, I left the program.  Turned out to be a wise move.  My mental illness got worse to the point I couldn’t hold a regular full time job.  I applied for disability in January 2006 and it took almost two years to get approved.  I don’t know how anyone survives while waiting for disability to kick in without family support.  But I went on disability without any student loans.  And while I was working fifteen hours a week as a janitor at the courthouse, I was living quite well.

After a few years at the courthouse, I decided another change was in order.  I left that job and devoted myself to my blog, my writings, and my self directed scholarship.  It was a good decision, at least for me.  I have learned to live on little money and appreciate the simple things.  I have studied  several different topics over the years, all just either by going to the library or watching educational videos and audiobooks via youtube.  And it didn’t cost me anything other than internet service fees (which are only a dollar per day for my needs).  For the price of two cans of Coca Cola out of a vending machine, I have access to the knowledge of the ages.  That by itself tells me that right now, in 2019, is a very cool time to live in.  Sure we have our problems and issues, but it used to be much worse for most of history.

In short, I have tried to live my life with few regrets.  I have made decisions, while not popular with my friends, family, coworkers, etc., that made a great deal of positive difference for me.  I don’t know how long I will get to live this life.  But whenever my last days come, I don’t want to be wondering ‘what if’ or ‘should have or could have.’  For the most part, I don’t have a lot of regrets.  At least, not many I could have done much different.

Stop Telling Me How Lucky I Am

Kind of burned out on people lately, including friends and family.  But the strange thing is I’m also burned out on loneliness too.  Spent more or less months trying to avoid angry, rude, and irritable people.  And when I do make an effort to socialize, most people just want to complain and moan.  Being that I am actually making an effort to find out what is going right in my life and the world in general, this doesn’t give me much to talk about with even close friends.  And lately it seems EVERYONE has been having bouts of anger and depression.  Even my close friends are so negative it just sucks the life out of me.  My moments when I’m the most happy is when I’m isolated and just not hearing from anyone.  It’s been this way for a long time.

I don’t know what happened to people, at least my friends.  It seems like everyone just got irritable and angry all at the same time.  And it doesn’t matter what my friends’ circumstances, married friends are angry, divorced friends are angry, elderly friends are angry, family members are angry, etc.  About the only halfway content people I talk to are single facebook friends and my own mother.  Seriously,, what is bothering everyone?  I really truly want to know.  What is it?  And oddly, when I have bouts of irritability and depression, my friends and family get scared senseless thinking I’m about to have a psychotic breakdown.

I never understood why I, with a mental illness, am held to higher standards than everyone else.  If I get angry, I’m having a breakdown and not just a lousy day.  If I’m overly happy, it’s a mental quirk and not just a winning streak.  If I want to be alone, I’m being anti social and not just needing to recharge.  And my personal biggest pet peeve by far, since I don’t have to work being on disability pension and I have a supportive family, then I am freaking lucky.  Seriously?  I mean, seriously?  I lost almost everything and people tell me I am lucky.  What gives people?  I lost my chance at a career before I could even begin fulfilling my potential, I lost my shot at getting married, I lost my shot at having children, I lost any shot at any kind of prestige, I lost my honor, I lost most of my friends, I have a college degree I will never use in any kind of job or anything else, I have a phobia of leaving my apartment complex, I lost my ability to read people, I lost my ability to trust people, I often have flashbacks to bad experiences in my past, I’ll be in poverty for the rest of my life, I lost my physical health because of my mental illness, and I’m probably going to die younger than most of my friends, peers, and family.  Tell me exactly where the lucky part comes?  I seriously want to hear it.

I’m told I’m lucky because I get several hundred dollars a month from the government because I can’t work.  Yet, in the next breath I’m told I’m unmanly, a freeloader, and a drain on humanity because I receive disability.  Which is it?  As far as everyone who is defined by their job and takes pride in how much their work sucks, millions of jobs will be taken over by machines within the next fifteen years.  We are set up to see more science, tech, and social change in the 2020s than we saw in the previous forty years.  If I wasn’t so worried about social problems and potential civil war in my country, I would actually hope and pray that people who tell homeless and disabled people “get a job you bums” end up losing their jobs and everything they worked for.  People like that don’t have empathy or compassion.  And getting kicked in the gut by forces beyond their control is the only way stubborn fools like this are going to learn.  You too may find out you are more subject to the whims of chance than you could have ever imagined.  I certainly had to.

The worst part of being told how lucky I am is when my friends tell me this.  I’m lucky because I’m not divorced or have kids I can’t afford.  No, I was smart in not marrying someone I wasn’t compatible with because I wanted to look good to self righteous jerks who don’t have to live with my decisions.  I was smart in not having promiscuous and unprotected sex that resulted in years of child support payments for kids I rarely get to see.  I was smart for ending dead end relationships and not chasing women I had nothing in common with just because they were attractive.  I was smart to not take on student loans once my scholarships fell through.  Yet people tell me I’m lucky because I don’t have a small fortune in student loans.  People tell me I’m lucky my parents helped me out in college.  Yet, these same people won’t acknowledge how hard I worked in high school and college to get the grades I did (not like they care anyway).  No one knows how many weekends I spent at home doing homework and getting ahead in my classes, while many of my classmates, peers, and rivals were spending their weekends getting drunk, getting stoned, getting laid, and generally partying themselves senseless.  Spent most of my weekends doing homework and trying to make myself a better human being in my teenage years.  The only break from that routine was spending a few hours in church every Sunday.  I didn’t get to enjoy my teenage years as much as most people, but I also didn’t make many of the bad decisions either.  And for this I’m passed off as being lucky.  What my friends call being lucky I choose to call being smart.

And I especially love how people tell me I’m lucky my parents helped me with college.  Sure, my parents made decent money.  But they made that money because they were smart, worked their hands and minds to the bone, didn’t have any kind of social life during their working years outside of church, etc.  And we are condemned as lucky.  No, what most fools call being lucky is really more accurately called not being stupid.  My family knew many years ago the days of massive amounts of high paying blue collar jobs requiring only a high school degree were going to end, as they did.  My father knew even in grade school there was no future in the share cropping my grandfather did.  Even my grandfather, who never even went to high school knew this clear back in the 1950s.  Some may think my grandfather a hypocrite in pushing my father and his sisters so hard in school when he himself never went to high school.  No, grandfather was being smart and didn’t want my father or my aunts to fall into the same trap he did.  He wanted a better life for his kids.  Most parents used to not only want this but actually try to make this happen.  In my family it was enough to push my family from generations of dirt farmers and shop keepers most my family was to the medical professions of my parents to the engineering professions of my brother and his wife in only a few generations.  It was enough to ground me and make me smart enough to manage a serious mental illness and look almost normal to anyone who doesn’t really know me.  So, tell me I’m lucky if you wish.  But you will never know how smart and hard I and generations of my family had to work for you to damn me as “lucky.”