Been quite rainy and overcast the last few days. I do enjoy this kind of weather, especially as a break from the dry heat that is typical of late August and early September. This kind of weather seems to a good excuse to pull up a blanket while sitting in my recliner and reading a book.
Still sleeping more than usual. But this time it’s not that I’m awake all night and then I sleep all day like I had in the past. As it is now, I’ll usually sleep five hours in the night, wake at sunrise, fall asleep after being awake for a couple hours and sleep until noon, be awake for a few hours, nap a little in the late afternoon, and then start the cycle all over again. It does make it tougher to accomplish errands and daytime tasks, but I still feel pretty good over all.
Not only have I been sleeping more, I’ve been sleeping deeper. I sometimes wake up disoriented and not even aware I fell asleep. I dream more too. Fortunately most of my dreams are either halfway pleasant or just make no sense but aren’t scary. I used to get real bad nightmares in my early and twenties where I’d wake up in a startled panic. Haven’t had one of those in years. It’s a gradual process enacting positive changes. But I’m glad that problems can changes and that we can adapt. I used to consider naps a punishment, but sometimes a good nap can be the highlight of my afternoon.
Things are starting to return to normal for me. Got my lease renewed, so I get to stay for another year. The weather is turning warmer and things are really greening up outside. Spring was slow in getting started but it is certainly here.
And yet my sleep patterns are changing once again. I’m back to wanting to sleep much of the day now. I still fight it as I don’t sleep as much as I did during the winter. But I feel tired more often now and I just want to spend as much time asleep as possible. I’m still fighting against it by forcing myself to stay awake. I have found myself falling asleep in front of my computer a couple times as a result. Maybe I just wasn’t getting quality sleep for the last few weeks when I was sleeping only 6 hours a night. I do know that getting good sleep can make my mental illness problems less severe. Maybe I should just sleep as much as I can for the next few days as kind of a reset. I traditionally have problems with depression, anxiety, and irritability from July until September. My best and most stable months are usually January to June. I just don’t do well mentally in hot weather.
Spring is pretty much here in my part of the country. The days are getting longer and warmer. Been spending more time outside, mainly at night as I’m still a little paranoid around large groups of people. Still staying up late but I don’t sleep most of the day like I had been for the previous couple weeks. Most days I’m awake at noon after going to bed around 4 or 5 am. I just prefer the quiet solitude of the overnight hours anymore. Hopefully this will change as the weather warms and spring advances. Spring has always been one of my happiest times of year. April, May, and June are usually my most stable months. I’ve often had my biggest problems in August and September. There is a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia. I don’t know how many others with this diagnosis have similar problems. I’m also usually stable in the winter months. Winter and Spring seem to be my best times of year. From what I’ve heard, usually winters are toughest for those with seasonal aspects of mental illness. But for me it’s always been the opposite times of year that were the most stressful. Never could figure out why. But like many people I do have better times of year than others.
July has faded into August. In a few weeks school will be starting again in many places. Seems that school starts earlier every year. But now that we are into August it does seem like autumn isn’t too far away. Another four to six weeks of hot weather and we should be done for the year.
Since it has been hotter than usual and for longer stretches this summer, I have spent more time inside. Haven’t been getting as much exercise as I would like. So I have been eating less. I’m back to having usually only two meals a day. But I think I have lost a few pounds despite my lowered activity because I am eating less. Mentally I have been quite stable, especially for my summer standards. I think I’m doing well just by avoiding stressful situations and people. These certainly make my life more pleasant and quiet. I’m even getting fewer aches and pains too. Even though I don’t exercise as much as I would like, I still get out and walk around for a few minutes every day.
I really haven’t talked to anyone lately outside of family. But I can do alright alone for long periods of time. Loneliness doesn’t really bother me that much. Loneliness is easier than dealing with rude and stupid people all the time. I just enjoy my quiet and alone times.
I have so far made it through half of summer with no issues. Hopefully the second half can also go well. Once things cool off for good I am usually alright. I have usually done better in winters and springs than summers and early autumns.
It’s been a rough last several days for me. Spent most of the weekend at home and dealing with bouts of intense depression. Finally had a break down on Sunday night. Got into serious arguments with two of my best friends. Sent one of them a really nasty message over Facebook and another I yelled at over the phone and hung up before he could say anything. Summers are traditionally a tough time for me. And I think the bad seasonal aspects of my mental illness are beginning again.
It also doesn’t help that most people I know are in foul moods already. A week’s worth of nothing but news of shootings and violence would put anyone who pays attention in a pessimist view point. I have spent the last several months trying to get people to be happy about the good things that are going on in the world and in their own lives. But I don’t think I’m making any difference. If anything I think telling people the good news going on in science and technology advances and humanitarian endeavors only make people irritable. I don’t get any encouragement for trying to encourage people. That’s probably what led to my last meltdown. I wish I could just shut up from trying to encourage people. But that is not my personality. Never has been. Seeking and sharing knowledge is what I do. It has also gotten me in lots of trouble over the years.
The reason I spend so much time trying to tell people good news is because I heard nothing but bad news the entire time I was growing up. My teachers told me that acid rain was going to kill all the forests and poison the oceans. But that never materialized because as some adults were weeping and gnashing teeth over problems, other adults (namely scientists) were actually doing something to solve those problems. We developed better pollution controls. The ozone layer depletion was a big deal in the late 1980s. We got rid of chemicals that were causing said depletion and now the hole in the ozone layer is starting to heal.
The problems that people project into the future too often assume that people aren’t going to adapt. In the 1960s it was overpopulation and famines that would end civilization. Now the birth rates in most developed countries are not even replacement rate. I also saw a report that said there are now 2.1 billion people in the world who are overweight. That’s almost one out of three people who are eating too much. The United States isn’t even the most obese country in the world anymore (at least not by percentage). Then there were the concerns of nuclear war and communist scares. The first movie I remember watching from start to finish was ‘Red Dawn’ as a five year old. I was expecting the Russians to invade any day for weeks afterward. The scare the whole world was going to go communist was at the forefront of my childhood in the 1980s. Didn’t happen. People are now worried about terrorist groups abusing their religion and that the world will be completely radicalized in term of religion. If anything, as the internet continues to spread, people will become less dogmatic about religion. It happened in Europe, North America, and is happening in East Asia. I certainly became less dogmatic in my religious, political, and spiritual views since I got easy access to the internet. And I am not the only one. This is a trend that isn’t likely to reverse. The internet is one of those game changers, like the printing press or gunpowder. We still have only scratched the surface of what this easy access to information can do. It is one of the reasons I stay optimistic even with schizophrenia. In fact, except for the flare ups, I am hopeful overall. It’s that one percent of the time that causes me probably ninety five percent of my problems. And last night for a few hours was one of those times. I’m sorry I took out my psychotic break on my friends. I would prefer if I could just break down and sob uncontrollably. But that’s not how I’m wired. I lash out when I’m in pain, sadly at those that care about me the most.
It’s been a month since I went to the ER and the doctor found an ulcer forming in my stomach. On Tuesday I go back to the hospital to get my stomach scoped again to see just exactly what is going on. Between going to the chiropractor three times a week, going to my psych doctor once a month, my therapist every two weeks, it seems like I’m going to appointments every time I look up. My routine for the last month has been go to appointments during the day and watch science and history programs on netflix and youtube for much of the night.
One change to my routine coming up is my car is fixed and ready to be claimed. Had been driving a borrowed car for almost three weeks. I actually got used to driving a different car. Might be a bit of a change adapting back to my old car. But it’ll be great getting back to some resemblance of routine.
I’m also getting into my late fall and winter diet and exercise routines. I’m tracking everything I eat far more diligently. I’m starting to exercise indoors. The weather is still nice enough I only need a light jacket most days but it gets below freezing most nights. Won’t be too long and we’ll be shoveling snow. In Nebraska we usually get our first snow around Thanksgiving. But we can also get several days of almost summer like warmth in mid to late November before winter finally takes over. But with the warmest days behind us I have to exercise indoors most days until at least late March or early April. I have struggled with my weight loss and health improvement routines this year. Didn’t have nearly as much success in 2015 as I did in 2014. But I’m not giving up on my health improvement routine. I’m going to learn from this year’s mistakes and shortcomings and adapting.
This summer has not been a typical summer for me. I served as a groomsman in a friend’s wedding. I lost a grandmother who influenced my life for nothing but the better. I also got kind of lazy about watching what I ate and gained 15 of the almost 70 pounds I had lost overall. But I also went through the entire summer with only one flare up of the schizophrenia. This happened back in early July.
Summers are usually tough times for me. This is when I feel my most irritable and easily agitated. Some of my worst flare ups occur in July and August every year like clockwork. I’ve seen research suggesting that a good portion of people have more problems with mental illness during certain times of year. I think my problems in summer are made worse by the heat of summer. It’s a dry heat most of the time in my home state of Nebraska. When it does rain the humidity can be rough.
Things have been settling down and getting back to more typical for the last three weeks. I’ve gotten serious about dieting and exercise again and have lost 10 pounds since my grandma’s funeral. My problems with irritability, anger, and anxiety are subsiding again. We also had a week when it was unseasonably cool in the middle of August. It was an early preview of the fall that will be starting in a few weeks. We haven’t had an unbearably hot summer this year but it was hot enough for several weeks just enough to limit outdoor activity more than I would have liked.
Winters are usually a time stability but boredom for me. This is the third winter when I wasn’t working some kind of paid employment. So I’ve gotten used to the idea that winter is a time of forced inactivity.
I usually do most of my physical activity, socializing, and at my happiness in spring and early summer. Most activities I enjoy like walking, fishing, working outdoors, going to barbecues, watching baseball games, going to the park are almost impossible in winter in the part of the country I live in. January and February are times I’m usually mentally stable but because of the weather of winter, it is also when I’m least active. I tend to be one of these people that can’t sit still and force myself to be inactive. If I’m not out walking, I have to read a book, play some strategy computer game, or watch something that’ll make me sharper on youtube. I just hate having to force myself into physical and mental inactivity. Monks that teach meditation would hate students like me 🙂
One blessing of my mental illness, if you can call it that, is the seasonal aspect of mine is late summer instead of winter. Even while the weather is lousy and travel is questionable, I can usually feel well even if I have to be inside for long periods. Many mentally ill people I know have a seasonal aspect and it’s often in the winters.
Luckily, as I am a writer/blogger, I can fulfill my mental activity needs even if I can’t get out and walk or go fishing. A significant chunk of what I have written has been in the winter months. That helps quite a bit filling the voids while I’m waiting for spring. As a baseball fan I am glad to see that spring training will be starting in less than two weeks. I prefer the laid back nature of baseball to a lot of other games and I like how if a team loses, it can’t be dwelt on since they have to play again tomorrow.
I’m already over half way through winter. Only six more weeks of bitter cold and probably eight weeks until the last snows. We’re getting there as we always do.
In this life with schizophrenia, I have had my ups and I have my downs. Lately, actually for the last three months at least, I have been more inactive than I should be. I haven’t been exercising every day like I should be. Usually I go for short walks everyday and lift hand weights two to three times a week. Haven’t been doing that as often lately. And I can tell it’s starting to take it’s toll. I don’t have as much energy to accomplish everyday tasks as I once did. I also have been lacking the motivation to work on my writings, unlike a few months ago. In addition to these blog posts, I also write poetry, journals, and am working on a novel. I currently have two books of poetry self published through lulu.com. I figured if I don’t have a regular job, I need to find some way to keep myself occupied and somewhat productive.
As a result of my inactivity I can tell my physical health has suffered. I have more aches and pains than someone in their early 30s should. I attribute this to way too much inactivity. I am convinced my inactivity was initially brought on by a bought of depression that was bad enough that I checked myself into a mental health hospital for four days back in September. After I got out of the hospital I would sometimes sleep twelve to fourteen hours a day. Some days I would sleep just out of depression, while others I would sleep out of boredom. It became a nasty cycle. I would sleep out of depression and I would be depressed that I was missing out on what was going on around me. I would be too tired and or depressed to do my exercise and my socializing. And I would be tired and depressed because I wasn’t exercising or keeping up with friends and family.
Even though I have been depressed and inactive for a long while, I feel like I’m starting to pull out of it. Maybe it’s the change of the seasons or the hope of the upcoming new year that’s helping me out of my current depression. Or it could be one of the phases of my individual illness. This isn’t the first time I have gone through a period of inactivity and depression. I went through one similar to this about six years ago, back in the fall of 2007.
One of the positives about having had a mental illness for over half of my life is that I can recognize many of the patterns of the illness. Not only can I recognize the triggers and know what places, types of situations, and people to avoid, I know a lot of the short term and even some of the long term patterns. Many people with mental illness have a seasonal component that goes along, where they do worse during some periods than others. For me, I have always done bad in late summer, usually August and early September. For others it’s during the winter.
I always have had to remind myself during these days of depression during the last three months that I’ve been through these times before. I’ve come through these times before. And I will come through them again. Better times will be ahead.