Caring For Physical Health During Quarantine and Hope For The Future

Had a short lived breakdown a few days ago.  I think weeks of isolation finally got to me.  It was intense, but short lived.  In this case, I was able to vent over the phone to my family.  After I had vented for a half hour, I took a long nap.  I was grateful to have not had this breakdown in public.  I fear if I have a breakdown in public I’ll end up in jail.  It seems that in too many cases, people don’t understand mental illness.  I am convinced most people, even with the internet, may not realize just how prevalent mental illnesses really are.

I have some cool neighbors that, while they may not share many of my interests in science and literature, are excellent and understanding people.  They may not share my interests, but at least they don’t condemn me for having different interests.  I sometimes buy them groceries and keep them company while they help with my laundry and cook for me at least a couple times a week.  Even during a pandemic and bad recession, I still have cool neighbors and we help each other out.  It’s helped my physical health to have more home cooked meals and more variety then I normally get.

It’s been several weeks of self quarantine during this outbreak so far. It’s more manageable than it would be otherwise because I stay in contact with my neighbors, friends, and family.  I try to call my parents a few times a week.  I have a friend and some cousins I keep in contact with via Facebook.  I have cool neighbors who have helped me immensely over the last several months.  I just hope I can pay it back and/or forward someday.

Because of my bad back and knee, my mobility is not what it was even a few years ago.  Most jobs I ever had, like factory worker or janitor, I was on my feet for several hours at a time.  If there is anything from my twenties and early thirties I dearly miss, it’s how easy mobility was in those days.  There were many days in those years I would walk all over the neighborhood, the old downtown, and the parks in my town just to break up my days.  While I am happy with the experiences I’ve had in the past and the wisdom I now have as I’m only a few weeks away from my 40th birthday, I do miss my mobility.  I hurt my back in a car accident a few years ago and it was never the same even after rehab.  Granted, being overweight only made my problems worse.  At least I haven’t gained weight for over a year and a half.

While I don’t think I’ve lost weight lately, I don’t think I’ve gained either.  My clothes still fit the same as they did eighteen months ago even with less walking and standing.  I have made changes to my diet and routine that my be keeping me from really tacking on the weight.  I rarely eat carbs or sugars.  I lift weights most days.  I sleep probably nine to ten hours a night most days.  I avoid stressful situations and people as much as possible.  I meditate usually an hour a day.  For this I usually just lie in bed and do breathing exercises.  I turn on my CPAP machine and just do the rhythmic breathing.  I imagine people can get the same benefits through just focusing on their breathing with their eyes closed or through prayer.  It also helps that I eat more vegetables.  Even though most my vegetables are canned or in soups, it’s better than nothing.  I take a multivitamin every morning.  I take a vitamin C pill too.  I’ve heard it can help boost immune system.  While I still get colds, they are usually mild and last only a day or two at most.  Sometimes I will wake up with a bad running nose and sneezing.  After a vitamin C pill and extra fluids with breakfast, I’ll be fine within a few hours.  And my fluids are usually nothing more than just tap water or cold tea.

I still have aches and pains, usually in the mornings.  Sometimes actions as simple as getting up and moving around for a couple minutes can be enough to clear this up.  It can be cleared up with something as simple as getting out of bed, using the bathroom, and doing my morning wash up routines.  Warm baths can help with sore joints too.  My dad always said soaking his hands in warm water every morning helps with the pain in his fingers and thumbs.  Now that I’m starting to have sore knees, I understand why he does this every morning.  Many times the best thing I can do for sore joints is to force myself to move around.  Even when I’m working on a blog or watching a movie, I force myself to stand up usually once every hour no matter how busy I am.  I do the same thing when I’m reading a book in bed.  My joints thank me when I move around more regularly.  Maybe it was a good thing that I rarely had desk jobs in my younger years.

Even during a quarantine and major recession I try to stay optimistic and positive.  I usually make myself watch at least one encouraging video per day on Youtube.  I have been watching videos on positives that are coming due to the pandemic.  One positive for me is that I am forced to watch my physical well being more closely and I have more of a sense of urgency to stay in contact with family and friends.  In the past, I was sometimes guilty of being annoyed if a friend or family member called my phone when I was preoccupied.  I’m not nearly this bad anymore.  I don’t even really get that annoyed when someone calls and I’m in the bathroom or sleeping.  I’ve even found myself telling my friends when they found out I was asleep, “I needed to be woke up anyway.  Don’t feel bad.”

We are now several weeks into this crisis.  While I’m not naïve enough to believe we will have major sporting events even this fall, I am hopeful that we can weather this crisis.  To quote Matt Damon from ‘The Martian’, we will “have to science the **** out of this” but we are already doing this.  I am hopeful we can have a vaccine and or effective treatments for this corona virus by this time next year.  My mother remembers the polio crisis in the 1950s and getting vaccinated when she was a child. I imagine the generation that are children right now will be talking about the corona quarantines of 2020 even when they are old men and women.  Hopefully, a few of them can be talking about while living in colonies on the moon and Mars.  As bad as the job losses and conflicting information has been in 2020, I can’t imagine how tough this pandemic would have been had it happened back even in the 1980s before easy access to internet and the medical testing we have now.

November 1 2019

Saw my parents over last weekend.  Picked up some supplies I was needing and had a good visit with them.  Also decided to sell my car.  I wasn’t using enough to justify having it.  Besides my town now has Uber service in addition to a shuttle bus service.  And I can still get my groceries and medications delivered to my place.

I’m spending more time with my neighbors.  One of them volunteered to help me out with laundry once a week for a small monthly charge.  After having them over a few times I now realize how much I was missing from not socializing much.  I still don’t leave my apartment very often but I do make a point of standing up and walking around at least once an hour.  It seems to help keep the back and knee pain at bay.  I took a few days off from lifting weights but am starting back on that today.

Decided to shave my beard and trim my hair.  I buzzed my hair quite short.  Any shorter I’d look bald.  Haven’t had my hair this short in a few years.  I also haven’t gone clean shaven for a few years too.  But I figure if some people can update their look a few times a week, I can update mine every couple years.

Overall things are looking alright as we press closer to winter.  We got our first snow a couple days ago.  We had patches of snow still during Halloween.  I didn’t do much for Halloween besides play some background music via youtube for much of the morning.  I was going to watch Dracula (the Francis Ford Coppola version) as I own that on my amazon account but didn’t get to it.  Chatted with a couple old friends last night on facebook.  I’m still going to bed earlier and waking up for a few hours in the middle of the night.  I get my sleep and I’m still able to enjoy the quiet hours.  Best of both worlds for me.  Haven’t had any bad flare ups for a week now.  For awhile I was having them pretty bad for a couple days.  But I changed my routines some, changed my diet some, and got more consistent sleep.  So far it’s working.

Thoughts on Aging With A Mental Illness

Stayed home this weekend and cleaned in my apartment.  I had to take more frequent breaks than I used to in years past.  I’m just not as energetic as I was even two years ago.  I guess this is what I get to look forward to as I continue to age.  I decided I’m hiring a cleaning service to give my place a complete going over as soon as possible and then have them come back regularly.  I haven’t decided if I’m going to have them do it weekly or every two weeks.  It depends on prices.

I wish I didn’t have to go this route.  But then, I wish I wasn’t schizophrenic either.  There are things that I’m not going to be able to do alone, especially as I get older.  The idea that I can’t be as independent in my late 30s as I was even in my mid 30s is the hardest part of aging that I have had to come to accept. I always had an independent streak in me that didn’t want the help of others and wanted to be my own boss.  I think it runs in my family.  My father, my grandfathers, and I think most of my great grandfathers were self employed small business owners or farmers. I am starting to understand that there are things now that I can’t do alone anymore. I now understand why almost all of my friends got married or partnered up by this point in their lives.  Even the people I know in their forties that never married are closer to their extended family then they were in their twenties and thirties.  I suppose that seeing my limitations and losing some of my old physical abilities are a part of myself having to accept my own mortality.

I have heard from older men in my social circles that when they hit their mid to late 30s, that was about when their physical strength and interest in sex started to wane and decline.  That is also about the time when their careers started to take off, they assumed leadership roles in their jobs, social organizations, churches, and communities too.  This is when their careers, family lives, and leadership skills started to show.  Some men also had their ‘mid life crisis’ and life changing events like divorce and or death of parents occur during their thirties.  I guess this is when many people start realizing they are going to lose their physical strength and eventually die.  Traditionally forty represented the middle point of life even in ancient times, barring deaths from accidents, disease, or war.  At about age forty, that is when people traditionally go from rank and file members of society and start assuming more leadership roles.

In my case, I have found myself a home as a mental illness blogger.  It certainly wasn’t my dream job nor what I thought I would be doing when I was twenty one.  Back then, I had changed my college major from pre medicine to business management.  At the time I was really interested in personal finance and investing, so I thought I wanted to be a financial advisor and help people plan for their retirements, etc.  I interviewed at a few of these types of firms my senior year of college, but was never offered any job.  I had to accept that I wouldn’t be using my business training in a traditional job.  I have accepted that and made my peace with it.  I couldn’t say that ten years ago.  As it is, the blog is reaching more people than I thought it would when I started five years ago.  It certainly took me further than traditional publishing would have taken me.  And this means of work didn’t even exist when I was in grade school.  It makes me wonder what new jobs will be springing up in the next twenty to thirty years.

I am starting to come to the acceptance that I am losing my physical strength.  I probably will never be able to do things quite like I did in my early twenties unless some miracle of modern science and medicine comes along, which as much as I love science, I won’t bet my life savings on 🙂  I’m starting to come to the acceptance that I’m not going to as spry as I once was.  I have to be more careful about what I eat and activities I involve myself.  I guess I’m moving into middle age.  Hopefully I can avoid the whole mid life crisis deal as I’ve had to come to accept many hard truths about myself and life in general years ago when the schizophrenia really started.