Thoughts on Winter and Blogging While Mentally Ill

Been awhile since I wrote.  Haven’t really had too much to report lately.  It’s been too cold and too much snow to really go anywhere or do much of anything.  I’m getting burned out on reading, messing with my computers, and just staying home.  I’m glad to hear it’s supposed to start warming up again, at least by early March standards within a couple days.  I don’t think my town has been above freezing point in three weeks.  It’s one of the toughest cold spells I can recall.  There are times I have gone a few days in a row without even going outside it’s been so cold.  I don’t even know how much snow we still have on the ground except that it’s at least twelve inches.  Looking out my window, I can see one of the parking lots across the street from my house has piles of shoveled snow at least ten feet tall.  I used to go sledding on piles like that growing up.  It’s been one of the snowiest winters I can recall.  I haven’t seen even dried up grass since Christmas.

I write about the weather because I don’t have much else to report.  Been fairly stable overall.  I sleep maybe eight hours a day, but not all at once.  I usually sleep five hours in the night and take a couple naps during the day.  My days normally start around four a.m.   I usually nap for a couple hours in the afternoon, usually for an hour in the evening after dinner, and then I usually take my medications and call the day done around ten p.m.  I like this routine actually more than the all nighters I was pulling as recently as a year ago.  It allows me to do some things in the quiet and dark hours of early morning.  But I can still leave my apartment easily and run errands at four or five a.m. before the crowds get too bad just like I could at midnight or one a.m.  Usually by four a.m. about the only people on the streets are people reporting in for early morning work and city employees.  In the middle of the night it’s mostly eccentrics even odder then myself and the police.  And if I want to get some restaurant food without fighting the crowds, the middle of the afternoon suits me as well as the middle of the night did even as recent as three years ago.

I have settled and stabled more in my late thirties than at any time in my life.  And this blog is starting to attract better than ever audiences, at least on the days I write.  I’ve had at least four days since January 1st when I drew over one hundred visitors for one day.  My first such one hundred plus visitor day was I think last year.  I don’t know if the search engines are starting to pick me up more, more people are interested in mental health issues, or if the persistence is starting to pay off, etc.  But I am getting pretty decent visits now, at least decent for my standards.  When May arrives I will have been doing this blog on a regular basis for six years.  I still have most of my posts from these six years online and on this site.  I should go through them one of these days and see what I can discard and what I should keep so to make my blog more easy to navigate.  I should also take some time to compare and contrast my writings and moods now to those early years.

I have done blogging for six years now.  The longest I ever held a “real job” was four years when I worked as a janitor at the courthouse from 2008 to 2012.  This blog is the most satisfying work I have done in my entire life even if it is the worst paying.  With what I have spent to promote the blog and register my website, I still haven’t made a profit even after six years.  Yet I really don’t care if I do.  Yes, it would be cool to make some more money from my writing.  I wouldn’t refuse it.  But this is more a community service or labor of love than anything.  Being a parent pays nothing but it’s the most influential and important job any person can have.  Just because work doesn’t make money doesn’t mean someone isn’t getting something of value from it.  I may never turn a profit or get bigger audiences than I am now.  But that is alright with me.  I just hope to keep these postings online and in public access for years to come.  Maybe someone can get some benefit from these posts even after I am dead and forgotten.  Of course, if a cure for schizophrenia was discovered at some point in the future, then that would be a major blessing for myself and millions with similar problems.  It would mean I would have to go back to work probably.  But it would be a cool problem to have being cured of schizophrenia and having to find work again.  I wonder if people will still be hiring experienced writers and bloggers by then.

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Hosting Christmas and Weathering Blizzards

Hosted Christmas for myself and my parents again this year.  Even though they live out of state now, they had to be back in Nebraska for a couple days to close up some business issues and visit some family.  I did get to face time with my nephews and niece, granted it was on my dad’s smart phone and not my computer.  I do miss those kids.  Makes me hope that I can spend Christmas 2019 at their place.

Right now I am house bound for the next couple days at least.  We had massive amounts of rain before changing over to snow.  I don’t know how much snow we have as my windows are so iced over I can’t see out.  Our city did declare a snow emergency and told everyone besides critical workers to stay home today.  Fortunately I have enough groceries I can stay home for a long time if need be, and I even have a lot of non perishables that don’t need to be cooked or refrigerated.  I haven’t gone as far and picked up any of those Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) popularized by the military and back woods campers.  But I should be alright.  I keep everything charged in case we do lose power.  With as much ice and wind and snow as we have, that is a possibility.

I got some picture frames for Christmas.  I bought several prints of art work done by a long time friend of mine.  I finally got some frames to go with them.  My apartment doesn’t look so much like a monk’s chamber now.  I guess I don’t mind the kind of starkness of white walls with few decorations.  But some paintings on the walls do make the place seem warmer and less sterile.

Been going to bed around 9pm and waking up for good around 5am lately.  I feel more stable now that I have a regular sleep pattern.  I still sometimes nap in the afternoons for an hour or two at a time.  I sleep much deeper than usual now.  But I’m getting better sleep too.  I think that only helps with my issues of paranoia and delusions.  I tend to be less distressed after a few days of good sleep.  I also get deeper sleep on days I don’t have as much caffeine.  Feel less irritable on those days too.

Been feeling pretty good the last few days.  I enjoyed Christmas with my parents.  And now I am ready to face the rest of the winter.

Late January and Winter Routine

I weathered yet another snow storm this winter.  Fortunately this one is starting to melt off already after only a couple days.  If I wait long enough, maybe I won’t have to shovel the snow off my car 🙂  Been staying close to home and generally getting less than I would like accomplished.  If I haven’t written as much the last month it’s only because I have less to report than usual.  We’ve had a couple new people move into our complex.  So far they seem to be working out.  I haven’t been outside of my hometown since before Christmas and I haven’t had house guests since our family’s Christmas party.

My back seems to be doing better.  I can walk further distances but not as far as I would like.  I’m still lifting arm weights to make up the difference.  I’ve been sleeping more.  I am convinced this is due to cutting out caffeine for the last few days.  I haven’t gotten jittery and irritable from withdraw, at least not yet.  I’m probably going to get out and buy some coffee within the next day or two once all the ice is melted.  We’ve had snow cover for over a month now.  And usually here in Nebraska winters are bitterly cold but dry.

One month of winter has come and gone.  And I really don’t feel like I got much accomplished from all of my indoor time.  I do go see my psych doctor early in February. I guess I really don’t have much to report to him besides being more or less stable though a little paranoid around people.  But even that paranoia has been lessening within the last few days.  I don’t foresee any medication changes coming in the near future.

It’s been a quiet and uneventful winter for me so far.  But I am beginning to look forward to spring.  Just another two months to go.

Being Home Bound During A Cold Snap

Bought groceries and cleaned in my apartment this morning.  I was running low on food supplies as it’s been too cold, snowy, and icy to go much of anywhere for most of the last week.  I’m currently taking a break from my cleaning to give an update as to what I’ve been up to for the last several days when I was home bound.

The weather started turning real cold around Tuesday of last week.  It had rained much of Monday so it was in icy mess.  We had a few inches of snow on Wednesday so that gave me even more incentive to stay home.  It was bitterly cold Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  I stayed home, read a lot, played some computer games, and at sparingly for most of last week.  I walked the halls a few minutes at a time every few hours just so I wouldn’t spend all day sitting or laying down.  I remained in good mental health even if I was sleeping more mainly out of boredom.  I washed several loads of laundry early in the week just to break up the norm for a couple hours.  For the most part I was content to wrap up in my bed and sleep in until late morning most of last week.  It was too cold to go anywhere and I didn’t have much else going on.

I’ve been spending most of this day so far cleaning in my apartment and buying groceries.  I still have some cleaning left but as long as I get it finished today I’m in no real hurry.  I had been kind of lazy about cleaning during the recent cold snap.  But now that it’s starting to warm up I see being more active and not just staying inside all the time.  So far this has been one of the coldest winters I can remember in the last several years.  We have missed out on most of the snow but not on the cold and wind.  But we have another two and a half months of winter left.  And mentally I haven’t been this stable for prolonged periods of time since my grandmother died in August 2015.

Adapting To The Holidays

Aurora lights up sky over log cabin
Alaska. The Aurora Borealis lights up the northern sky with a log cabin in winter. PR

The weather is turning colder and the days are really short now.  As a result I haven’t been leaving my apartment complex much the last several days.  And I don’t feel guilty at all about it.  I never did well around the crowds of shoppers during the holidays.  I just don’t like fighting crowds and waiting in long lines just so I can buy a few items.  I think one of these days I’m going to do most of my shopping online and see if I can just get things delivered to my door.

As a result of my quasi hibernation for the last week and a half, I am spending more time reading.  I have plenty of books I bought months ago that I’m only now getting into.  I have found that I am eating much less too.  Most days anymore I eat two meals a day and that’s really about it.  I also rarely drink coffee and I used to have a solid four to six cup a day habit.  When I do drink soda pop it’s mostly diet anymore and only with meals.  I find that in spite the longer nights I’m staying up later and waking up later.  I usually experience only a few hours of sunlight a day.  It doesn’t really bother me.  I really don’t like getting out and fighting traffic and crowds during Christmas.

Christmas really doesn’t mean that much to me as I don’t have kids.  I rarely go to Christmas programs and I haven’t decorated for years.  I just usually go spend a couple days at my parents’ place and that’s about it anymore.  My brother and his kids have  their own traditions so they rarely come to Nebraska for the holiday.  But Christmas really hasn’t meant much to me other than a few days of vacation and weeks of faux cheery music, too many lights, and too many bells.  Now I do like a few Christmas movies like ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’  I can’t imagine how tough Christmas is for autistic children who have problems with sensory overload problems.  It’s tough for me as an adult with schizophrenia who can voluntarily withdraw when needed.

I really don’t send out Christmas cards as I keep in regular contact with most of my old friends via Facebook.  I won’t go to the complex Christmas party again this year.  Seems like most people have been in a more foul mood than usual this year.  And I just don’t want to experience that during the holidays.  Sure it’s tough essentially spending the holidays in self imposed exile because of sensory overload and fear of crowds.  But I just don’t see any other options.  2016 has been a more rough than usual year and I’m sure the holidays this year will be worse than normal.  I’m just ready for things to go back to some sense of normal.  I haven’t experienced normal and prolonged periods of calm for a long time.

Long, Drawn Out Winter Days and Mental Illness

log-cabin-with-northern-lights_549.jpg

 

No we don’t usually get to see the Northern Lights in Nebraska, but this is a cool picture anyway. Where I live we are in the middle of winter.  Been a typical cold winter.  Haven’t had any major snow storms but have had several small snows.  Haven’t gone anywhere for the last few days because of the ice and cold.  It gets dark by 6pm and doesn’t get light out until around 8am this time of year.  So I have long, drawn out nights to just sit and be anxious.  To try to ward this off I usually walk in the hallways for about 15 to 20 minutes every night, usually around 10 or 11 pm.  If I go too early, I’ll be dodging too many people to get a good walk in.  It’s too bad my apartment complex doesn’t have a small exercise room or even a treadmill in the community room.  Stuff like this would run a high risk of being vandalized in here.  I’ve seen just about everything come up missing in this complex.  People have stolen even house plants and door mats.  I’d have tenants trying to pirate my wireless internet if it wasn’t a private, password protected network.

If I sound a bit irritable it’s only because I’ve been home bound for a few days.  I admit to drinking too much coffee on cold days to warm myself up.  Not only am I on a caffeine crash, I’m also a little bored by being inside.  In America we have a slang term called “cabin fever.”  This merely means that a person is getting irritable and anxious from being forced to be inside most of the time, usually during the winter.  I imagine it was an old pioneer and homesteader term.  While we have only a few inches of snow on the ground, the ice is still pretty bad.  I saw two tenants slip in the parking lot just today.

But I did get to spend a little time outdoors just last night.  We had a good snow last night with almost no wind (a rarity in Nebraska where we usually have wind almost all the time in winter).  Just sat outside and watched the snow for an hour.  May not sound like much but with a mental illness even the little things can bring a sense of peace and calm.

Not much going on during the winter months but short days, long nights, trying to squeeze in a few minutes of walking whenever I can, arm weights three nights a week, some youtube, and computer games.  It’s nights like this that make me look forward to the spring months of April, May, and June, my favorite times of the year.