Holiday Routines

Spent a few days in my childhood home over Thanksgiving weekend.  It went better than expected.  I was worried that things wouldn’t go well with so many people in one house.  Fortunately things went with no problems and I got to see my brother’s family for the first time in months.  I had been avoiding socializing in person for months just because it seemed that most people were always in foul moods.  That is all I had seen on social media for the previous two years at least.  Finally I quit checking my facebook and twitter accounts.  I don’t use either one except to promote my blog now.  It saddens me that I had to lose contact with some of my oldest and dearest friends because some people insist on being blowhards and jerks to other people online.  I always wondered what people like that were like in person.  It would be an interesting experiment.

Returned home over the weekend.  I have pretty much avoided going shopping or even on the roads to avoid the holiday crowds.  I never did enjoy crowds, even before I became mentally ill.  I pretty much do most of my shopping online anymore.  I found out that there is a grocery store in my town that will allow online orders and home deliveries.  I have used that a few times lately.  And I’ll be using it even more now that the holidays are here.

As far as celebrating Christmas is concerned, I’m not as excited about getting gifts as I was when I was growing up.  Anymore I just care about spending time with family, having good food, and watching my brother’s kids have a good time.  I also enjoy going around my town and looking at the decorations, especially after dark.  And since we usually have snow on Christmas were I live, it adds even more beauty to the season.

All and all I am ready for winter.  Summer was hotter than usual and autumn seemed to last longer than usual.  I am not as worried about being in closed quarters with my neighbors as I was in years past as several of my problem neighbors moved out this autumn.  It has been quiet and peaceful ever since.  I leave my apartment more often and I’m more apt to make a point of socializing with neighbors.  Used to be I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment.  But those problems are over.  It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for rude people and stupidity.  And I am noticing my friends in my age bracket are becoming the same way.  Thank God I haven’t gotten to the point were I’m complaining about the “lousy kids” yet.  If I get to that point, I hope somebody knocks some sense into me.  I spent my entire childhood and my twenties listening to my elders gripe and moan about people in my age bracket.  Going through that, I promised I would never do that to anyone.

Overall my life is rather no thrills.  I spend a lot of my days playing computer games, reading online articles, talking to friends and family over the phone or online, and chatting up my neighbors.  I am still slogging through the Star Trek spinoffs on Netflix.  I would eventually love to have watched every episode of Star Trek.  I still have a long way to go.  It will probably take a few years.  On the bright side, I’m no longer sleeping twelve hours a day anymore.  And the hallucinations I have now are no longer frightening, they are just annoying.  Maybe mental illness does get less severe as a patient ages.  I think it has in my case.

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Odd Sleep Patterns and Changes in Diet

Been having weird sleep patterns the last couple weeks.  Most nights I’m up really late, sometimes until sunrise.  Then I’ll often sleep until noon and then again nap a couple hours in the late afternoons.  Even though this odd sleep pattern is hurting my social life, I still feel mentally stable.  It could be these sleep pattern changes are helping me cope with a traditionally tough time of year for myself.  As it is I now usually do my grocery shopping and errands after sunset but no longer in the overnight hours like I used to.  I prefer to stay home most nights and weekends anymore.  I do most of my socializing by phone or Facebook.  But I still feel like some things are missing by not meeting people in person.

Watched some baseball and opening weekend college football this weekend.  Found out that my old high school live streams it’s football games on it’s Twitter account.  So I got to see my old team play and I didn’t even have to leave my house.  I wonder how many other high schools do that.  So this was my first decent sports fix after weeks of living mainly off baseball.

I sleep well, but it’s when I sleep well that’s a problem.  Anymore I tend to be my most awake when the rest of my apartment complex is asleep.  I stay quiet, so much so that sometimes my neighbors never know when I’m home.  But mentally I’m still stable.  Physically I think I’ve lost a few pounds.  This is a pleasant surprise because I haven’t been as physically active as previous summers.  So I just cut back on what I eat.  I usually eat two large meals a day that are rich in proteins and green vegetables like peas or green beans.  I drink lots of water too.  Sometimes if I’m feeling hungry I’ll have a large glass of water and wait.  If I’m still hungry after about thirty minutes I’ll find a snack.  But I don’t eat much sugar or bread.  I do eat rice occasionally as it’s cheap, goes good with almost anything, and easy to make.

It’s been a long summer for me, but at least not a bad one.  Fall is only a few weeks away and school is starting again.  I’ve been feeling well this summer even if I have been real careful about what I do and who I interact with.  Only a few more weeks and the nights will be longer and the weather will be cooling.  I can hardly wait.

How The Internet Made My Mental Illness More Manageable

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Even though I haven’t gotten out of my hometown all winter I have still managed to keep in contact with friends and family.  Thanks to the internet I keep in contact with my old friends via Facebook.  And I’ve made several new acquaintances that would be friends if only we lived in the same town through the forums and groups I participate in.  I’m involved in a few futurists’ pages as well as some science pages.  I guess I really don’t interact much with other writers or bloggers, not as much as I should.  I used to belong to the Nebraska Writers’ Guild but I let that membership lapse as there weren’t many guild members living near me and few of the guild members were my age or younger.  I guess even mentally ill people like to spend time with people similar to them.

With my Wal Mart special smart phone I keep in contact with family members a couple times a week.  If my dad happens to be in town, he will send me a text message asking if I want to have lunch with him or mom will ask me if I want her to pick up something from Wal Mart.

Speaking of shopping, I don’t really buy that much in traditional stores.  I still go to the all night supermarket to get groceries every couple weeks.  But even there I find out about their sales and specials through the store’s web page.  I still get my psychiatric meds through a traditional pharmacy.  But even there I get automated reminders that tell me when I’m due for refills.  The only time I actually deal with another person is when I go to the pharmacy to physically retrieve my refills.  Even that may become a thing of the past in a few years if automated pharmacies and delivery drones pick up traction.

Most of what I buy anymore outside of groceries, fuel for my car, and basic home items, I now buy online.  When I buy books, it’s online.  When I buy computer games, it’s online.  When I buy movies or tv shows, it’s through amazon’s digital service.  I get all my music online through spotify.  Most of my tv watching is done via youtube or netflix.  Many of my computer games now have online support and updates.  I now buy most of my clothes online as I do have rare sizes.  Sure it is a little more expensive, but I can find exactly what I want as long as I’m willing to look.  As much as I appreciate second hand stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army, even they can be a roll of the dice in terms of finding what I need.

Comparing what I spend now to what I spent several years ago on my living expenses, I’m now actually spending less than I was ten years ago.  With my social security disability pension being what it is, I make less than fifteen thousand dollars per year.  Even though that puts me below the poverty line, at least by American standards, I don’t feel poor.  I have access to treasure troves of music that would put any music collection of twenty years ago to shame.  Thanks to wikipedia I’ll never have to buy an encyclopedia set.  Thanks to online clothing stores, I don’t need to settle for clothing that doesn’t really fit or doesn’t look good on me as long as I keep my measurements up to date.  Thanks to online news and entertainment, I really don’t need cable tv.  The only thing I use cable tv for anymore is live sporting events.  Even at that I watched some college football games online last year.  So I really don’t need to buy a ticket, navigate a crowded stadium, and sit in the freezing cold to watch Nebraska Huskers football anymore.  I can sit on my own couch, grill my own meats, and not worry about anyone blocking my view or having to go down several flights of stairs to get to the restroom.  I’ll keep watching sporting events online even if I really have little interest of seeing them in person.  Unless, of course, the Colorado Rockies ever got back to the World Series or if the U.S. ever hosted the World Cup soccer tournament again.

I can get even medical advice online anymore, thanks to services like WebMD.  I can type in my symptoms and see if what ails me is serious enough to go to the doctor or not.  So I don’t usually have to go to the doctor unless I’m really sick or my mental illness problems are really out of line.  I haven’t had to go to the psych hospital in over three years but it is good that the option is still there.  Since I spend so much time online, I have developed some friendships with people I’ll no doubt never meet.  And I get to post about mental illness and it’s ups and downs in a forum that didn’t exist even twenty years ago.  Twenty years ago I would have had the same thoughts, but no means of recording them for a public audience.  I would have had to suffer in silence if I had these problems as recently as the 1980s instead of the 2000s and 2010s.  We are living in a totally different world than the one I grew up in during the 1980s and early 1990s.  And I’m completely glad for it.  I can hardly wait to see what other cool stuff and finding come out in the next twenty five years.  Thanks to the internet, I can watch this new world unfold and take root from the comfort of my own living room and not even leave my small home town.

Christmas and Mental Health

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I was originally going to do only one article today.  But consider this my two for the price of one sale. Christmas and the other end of year holidays will be upon us soon.  I didn’t put up any decorations and skipped out on the apartment’s Christmas party.  I don’t even do any shopping besides grocery shopping this time of year.  All the lights, bell ringing, too loud music, and too over the top decorations really give me bad cases of sensory overload.  Sometimes I can get sensory overload even driving in rush hour traffic.  Just everything moving too fast, too many sites, and too many noises I suppose.  So you can imagine how bad Christmas can be for me.

I’ll probably go to my parents’ house for a couple days but I doubt I’ll do anything with the extended family.  Once again too much sensory overload and no means to tactfully excuse myself from such overload.  I’m looking forward to the end of the holidays and the end of 2016 in general.  I really haven’t watched that much football this year as it has lost much of it’s appeal for me.  I just no longer enjoy watching it.  I did watch playoff baseball but really haven’t watched any tv outside of netflix and youtube since the end of October.

I enjoy the colder weather.  I’m happy for the longer nights and the decreased expectation that I always have to be going somewhere and spending time with someone outside of my apartment.  I enjoy spending time in my apartment with my books, my internet, my music, and my computer games.  When I want to talk to friends and family I can always call them over the phone or chat online and not have to be embarrassed or shamed if I want to end the conversation in a hurry.  I really have no stomach for small talk or gossip.  I guess I never have.  Sometimes I am my own best company.  I guess I adapted too well to spending most of my life alone.  Anymore I prefer to be alone almost all the time.  I haven’t had a roommate in over twelve years and I don’t see ever having a roommate again.  Whoever invented the rules for human socializing never took mentally ill people into consideration.

Yet, I couldn’t be happier with my current living conditions, especially considering I have to fight a mental illness everyday.  I guess that’s why holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas cause me some sadness in that I’m expected to socialize and engage in small talk against my will.  I really don’t like going to Christmas parties, especially with people who I see in foul moods most of the year.  I don’t like listening to Christmas carols, those songs don’t articulate my memories of Christmas from childhood or my feelings right now.  I don’t like going to the mall and fighting crowds just so I can buy a couple items for myself.  I don’t like being told to be jolly or of good cheer.  I hated being told how to think as a kid and I hate being told how to think even more as an adult.  I’ll feel however I like and just not talk about how I feel or think.

I’ll enjoy the holidays regardless if I do it in traditional ways.  I can socialize, but I can do it for hours on end if I have some intelligent conversation.  If small talk comes up I’ll be ready to leave after twenty minutes.  It can be kind of tricky being mentally ill around the holidays.  It can take a few years to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  It certainly took me several years to figure out what to avoid and what to do to ensure a smooth holiday season.

Shopping With Mental Illness

I got out and did some shopping this morning.  Bought some clothes and household supplies I was needing.  Now I don’t really enjoy shopping that much.  And I think it’s as much my mental illness making me hate crowds as anything.  I tend to get anxious when I have to deal with large crowds and if I feel rushed.  That’s why I typically do my shopping in the middle of the week when crowds are smaller.  I can quickly drop in and pick up whatever I need without fighting crowds or standing in lines.  And it’s easier to get help if there aren’t a lot of people competing for help.  Even my grocery shopping is done in the early mornings so I don’t have to deal with crowds.

I tend to shop in the same stores.  That way it’s easier to find what I need without wandering all over the store.  I am a creature of habit.  It is kind of stressful adapting to new stores, at least at first.  When I find some item I like I tend to stick with it for a long time.  I am especially this way with clothing. The thing I look for in clothing is how it feels on my skin rather than how it looks on me.  If I am not comfortable in my clothing it does effect my mental health.  I usually wear just t-shirts and pants and sneakers.  I’m not one who enjoys dressing up.  I am really not concerned with how my clothing makes me look as long as it’s functional and feels good wearing it.  I don’t spend a lot of money on clothing or just stuff in general.  I usually buy things when I need them without a lot of agonizing or shopping around.  I really don’t like shopping that much.  I am not a shopaholic.  Shopping is not one of my hobbies.