Having a decent weekend overall. Other than feeling a little restless and lonely at the same time, I am doing well. I haven’t felt restless for weeks so this is kind of a different feeling for me. I do occasionally get lonely, but usually a few phone calls or chats with friends online will cure me of that. I’m also noticing the days are getting shorter. I’m ready for cooler weather and watching football again. I have done well this summer even if I haven’t gotten out as much as previous summers. I still keep active with indoor exercise. I am fortunate in that when my cleaning lady comes to my apartment every week, she will chat with me while she works. I get some socializing that way. I also chat up the delivery men when they bring my groceries. I now know why senior citizens get lonely and love it when friends and family drop by for even a few minutes. I may not be physically as active as years past because of my back and weight problems. But I am slowly losing weight and regaining some stamina. I didn’t get out of shape overnight so I can’t expect to remedy this problem quickly either.
Another month is off to a decent start. Got the bills and rent paid, my fridge and pantry is restocked, and I’m now set for awhile. I don’t have much planned for this week. I probably won’t be having guests until my cleaning person arrives in a few days. Since my parents and most of my friends now live out of state, I don’t get much for company anymore. But then, most of my friends are married and have families of their own. They have families and careers. Whereas with a mental illness, I was forced into early retirement I guess. But even though I don’t have a paying job, I still try to stay busy.
I usually do this blog an average of twice a week. It has been a regular thing for over five years now. While I have no delusion I will ever earn enough to get off disability from my writing, I still write. At this point I don’t really care if I do get discovered and make money. I enjoy having creative freedom and having a niche audience. I suppose I write this, in part, as cheap therapy and as a public journal. It probably isn’t much more than the day to day struggles and victories of a rather ordinary man with schizophrenia. Even after living with this illness since my late teens, I still don’t have it all figured out. Some things change over the years. I don’t do much driving or going out in public as I used to. But I have less desire to wander and am less restless. I find it easier to concentrate on mental tasks than even a few years ago. I have also found I have lost some of my physical strength and endurance now I am almost forty. But I don’t get sick as often anymore. It’s been something like four years since I had a cold. Haven’t had to take anti biotic medication in at least ten years. Haven’t been to a mental hospital in six years. Haven’t been an overnight patient in the hospital in almost ten years. So I must be doing some things right. As I have lost some strengths and abilities, I have also picked up others.
I guess I’m not bothered by the fact I am entering middle age as much as I thought I would be. When I was in college, I found it easier to imagine myself as a seventy year old than a forty year old. I guess the only thing about getting older that bothers me is how aches and pains can come up for no apparent reason. I am now planning my days and activities with pains in mind. Sometimes certain foods can make pain worse. I have found too much caffeine can make my muscles tight and sore. I found that eating too much grain based food can leave me lethargic and weighed down. Too much sugar can make me jittery. Lots of leafy green vegetables make me feel pretty decent as do most fresh vegetables and less sugary fruits. Greek yogurt and cheddar cheese are about the only dairy products I like anymore. And I don’t eat much for salty foods. I occasionally get a craving for Doritos chips, but after a bag or two that craving will be satisfied for weeks.
I must confess that I never was Mr. Popularity, not as a kid or an adult. I may have not had legions of acquaintances I considered friends, but I am fortunate to have had a few I felt I could tell anything and not be condemned for my confessions or thoughts. It was tough for me to make friends as a kid because I had different interests than most people in my town. I loved reading about science, history, and foreign cultures even as a little child. This didn’t endear me to the neighbor kids much as I didn’t really like tossing around the football, playing basketball, or any other games grade school kids are supposed to like. I was usually one of the slowest runners and least coordinated children in my grade school. Of course this singled me out for some ridicule from school mates. Being the really smart kid who wasn’t going to hide his smarts didn’t help my social life either.
As a result of not having much for friends as a child in a town that was lacking for choices of friends compared to most places, I spent a lot of time alone. I would often wander in the back yard or the allies and make up stories in my head. I often continued these stories and characters for weeks and even months at a time. I wish I would have written some of these down. But I was afraid I’d be ridiculed for being creative by my school mates and family members. Every time I brought home a piece of work from my art class I was proud of, my older brother and even some of my cousins would critique it and tell me how awful it was. I kept a diary one summer in junior high but my brother found it. After that I kept my creative streaks to myself.
My saving grace came from two really cool friends I met as a pre teen. One was an artistic guy who introduced me to some really cool music like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Metallica, AC/DC, etc. that I still listen to occasionally even twenty five years later. He also introduced me to cool artwork. We admired everything from the Renaissance masters to Andy Warhol. He taught himself how to play guitar just by listening to rock albums. He became quite good and even played in a band for awhile. Like myself, he too had problems fitting in during our school years. When we were in sixth grade in 1992, he and I would be talking about the news from the presidential election. While many of our classmates were discussing the latest Denver Broncos game or Michael Jordan commercials, he and I would be critiquing old Ross Perot’s latest television specials with his graphs and pie charts. Naturally, our school mates thought us kind of odd.
The other really cool friend I had growing up was another artist type. She and I thought alike. We liked each other right away. As she was home schooled until high school, we didn’t have the shared misery that was middle school. Like myself and my other close friend, she wasn’t really interested in sports or popular culture. Even in our early teens we spent time discussing art, philosophy, politics, literature, and science. Her family and mine were among the first to get in home internet back in the mid 1990s. She also taught me how to get free songs online. I never did this because the internet was very slow and costly in those years. And since it was old dial up, it tied up the house phone line whenever I wanted to go online. Kind of tough to download the latest Green Day or Ice Cube songs when dad was telling me to get off the computer because he was expecting business calls.
I also had some other cool friends in my church youth group. But since most of them lived in different towns and went to different schools, I didn’t get to spend as much time with them as I would have liked. We did spend time together at summer camp for a couple weeks every summer. But it just wasn’t the same as seeing them everyday in the halls of school.
After I graduated from high school I moved onto college. Even though I have more friends from college I stay in contact with than high school, the friendships just aren’t quite the same as the ones I managed to save from my middle and high school years. I loved college. Even though I was going through the trials of adapting to life with a mental illness, I had some amazing times. Dated some more in college than I did high school. But, looking back on high school, I think that my best friend being a girl was what killed my dating life more than anything. Yet, I wouldn’t trade those experiences at all. Besides, high school dating is pointless nonsense and too much drama anyway.
My social life dried up once I got into the adult world and many of my friends moved away and got married and had families of their own. Fortunately, thanks to facebook and easy communications, I can keep in contact with my college friends and high school acquaintances pretty easily. Even though I wasn’t Mr. Social Life in high school, I made an honest attempt to be polite and considerate to my classmates. Sure I butted heads with a few kids in my school, but what teenagers don’t experience social drama and strife? It’s all part of learning how to socialize and be an honorable human being. And, unfortunately, the only way to learn this is to go through the trials yourself. It’s not like you can have that knowledge uploaded to your mind, like in The Matrix movies.
Even though I don’t socialize much in person anymore, I still occasionally make new acquaintances online. Most of these people have similar interests and participate in the same online forums and discussion groups. Once I figured out how to sort through the various trolls and trouble makers, socializing and making friendships online became a pleasant experience. Granted, it’s not the same as making friends in middle school, high school, or college. But, seriously, how many people make their best friends when they are adults? My biggest regret about my friendships is that I haven’t heard from one of my two best friends (the guitar playing guy) since 2005. And, sadly, he’s not the type of man to spend time on facebook or going to class reunions. Haven’t seen him in years but I still miss our conversations. I don’t know if anyone makes the same kind of friends as adults that they made as teenagers.
I have to admit that I am grateful for social media outlets like facebook and even twitter. Made some new friends through these even if I will never meet these people in person. For the first few years of being active on social media, I felt some sadness in finding out that there were lots of people scattered all over the world who shared my passions, interests, and mental pursuits but none of them lived within driving distance of me. My closest friends to me now live in Omaha. Most of my really good confidants live out of state. And many of my newer friends live in other countries. It is bittersweet in knowing that I am not as abnormal or damaged as I feared in my younger years. Besides the few years I was in college, I have never fit in with the people I lived near. There’s nothing bad or good in that either way, it just is a fact. It has caused me much grief over the years knowing that I would never have the same interests or pursuits as most people nearing in my hometown or even my own family. I didn’t have many friends as a kid, but that forced me to develop my own interests and ways of keeping myself occupied. Had I been Mr. Popular in my teenage years, I may have never developed my mental muscles to the extent that I did. I certainly wouldn’t be as self reliant or resourceful or resilient. All of these attributes have helped me immensely in my life as a mentally ill man.
As an adult, I have been able to expand my social circles even though I don’t have a regular job. This is because of facebook and twitter. Sure I have had to deal with jerks and irritable people online. But at least online, I have the unfollow and block buttons. I don’t have such near God like powers in person. If I have nosy neighbors or annoying people I see everyday, I just have to deal with it and smile. If someone is giving me static online, I send them to the unfollow and block list. It’s my personal version of digital purgatory I suppose. Facebook has actually made me more social than I was as a child before internet. It has also shown me that I am not the only person out there who feels isolated and alone because he/she doesn’t conform to the norms of his location. And now that I have filtered out the garbage that can come through social media, it is a social bonanza for me that I have never experienced in the real world. It’s rather amazing.
Spending Thanksgiving week by myself. I had my celebration a week ago as kind of a going away party for my parents. I guess I don’t mind spending the week alone as I’ve spent much of my adult life alone. I haven’t had a roommate since 2004 when I graduated college. I would actually feel kind of strange having to share a roof and four walls with someone, especially if that someone and I got on each others nerves.
This isn’t the first major holiday I spent alone. Several years ago I stayed home when my parents were hosting it because I felt a major breakdown coming on. I wasn’t going to have a break in front of my niece and nephews, especially when they were still too young to go to school. It was a sad deal in that it was also my grandfather’s last Thanksgiving. He was diagnosed with cancer a few days later and died a couple months after. I was fortunate to been able to host the last couple Christmas celebrations with my parents at my apartment. Not sure what I’m doing this year as all my family is now living out of state. But I have a few weeks to figure that out. It could be I get snowed in and not able to go anywhere. This time a year the weather is always a factor where I live.
Starting to sleep less again. But I’m not staying up all night either. I usually go to sleep around 10pm and am up usually around 2 am. I prattle around for a couple hours and then go back to sleep for another couple hours. I’m usually awake for good by 8:30 am. I have been feeling quite stable lately too. I’ve now gone a full year without a major breakdown. First time I can claim that ever since I was in high school.
In spite feeling better overall, I really have no desire to go anywhere or socialize much. I’m content to pretty much stay at home much of the time. Home is where I feel comfortable and accepted, even if I am alone. I don’t like socializing in person much anymore. I’m almost scared of other people now, especially people I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new aspect of my mental illness. I don’t have the volatile mood swings but just have no motivation to see anyone or try anything new.
Perhaps I really am depressed and not wanting to go anywhere or see anyone is the way it’s being manifest. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of despondency or sadness, but I probably do have both. I feel no need to socialize because, in my diseased mind, I already know the outcome of said socializing: We will talk about dumb and mundane things and not much will be accomplished from the meeting. I guess I’m used to not much being accomplished. I’m used to people outside of family not coming through on what they say they’ll deliver. It’s like I expect things to not work anymore. I’m probably suffering from apathy too. I’m just too tired to fight against it anymore. I’m used to things not working like they should. I’ve seen it my entire life I guess. That’s one of the reasons I don’t understand the average person’s obsession with politics or working; people talk all the time yet nothing really changes and certainly not for the better.
I would almost swear that people are intentionally screwing up and doing what they know won’t work. I can’t believe that people are so stupid as to do what they know won’t work over and over and yet be duped by every charlatan and con artist who comes along offering the same tripe with different packaging and names. I guess that’s why I don’t socialize anymore. I’ve seen it all before and I’ve heard it all before. But nothing changes for the better. The only real positive changes I’ve seen, at least in my life time, have come via science, technology advances, and humanitarian efforts. Yet no one wants to talk about these. But it is science, tech, and humanitarians that are making up for the gridlock in politics and the loss of trust in education, law, and religion. I guess that people don’t pay attention to what really makes a positive difference.
For generations we have heard old men on their death beds lamenting how they spent too much time at work and not enough time with their spouses and children or grandchildren. Maybe it’s finally starting to get through to the younger workers who seek a work life balance more than my generation or my parents and grandparents did. I think I’ll say something like “Too bad I didn’t get the corner office or the company car when I was working” or “Why did I take the day off to take my nephews to the museum? There was money to be made, dang it” just to break up the somber mood and my way of saying kiss off the old style Puritan work ethic that seems to believe that those who don’t work themselves into an early grave are going to hell.
I don’t regret not having a regular job anymore. Most people I know who got rich didn’t do so by working forty hours a week for someone else. They got that way by working for themselves and starting their own businesses. But even as rich as some people I knew were, I still didn’t see them take with them to the afterlife. Even the Pharaohs had their graves robbed over the centuries. Get a large pile of gold and jewels only to have marauders run off with it or have it collect dust in some museum half a world away thousands of years later. Hard work may have never killed anyone, but neither did enjoying the small things of life that money, power, and prestige can’t acquire.
Another month is all but over as summer fades into autumn. The weather is turning cooler and the nights are now longer than the days. I get outside some everyday to enjoy the cooler weather but I still don’t socialize much, at least not in person. It just seems that everyone I come into contact with anymore is in such a foul and angry mood all the time. I hope it’s just the paranoia of my illness talking. But it seems I can’t have any kind of conversation without the other person going off on someone or something or just being irritable. I hate it. It makes me so glad I live alone and just hole up for days if need be. I have enough problems of my own. But I try not to dwell on them. I won’t have anyone else trying to drag me down when I feel decent. I have even resorted to not talking to even close friends sometimes because even they are in foul moods. It’s getting old and I don’t want to put up with it anymore.
Been trying my hand at being more social in person and online the last couple weeks. Turns out it’s causing me more frustrations than anything. I try to talk to people in my complex, all they want to do is complain. I try to talk to my friends and family online, all the want to do is complain about anything and everything. And I’m burned out on socializing after only a couple weeks. I’m going back to hiding out with my books and computers. At this point I don’t want visitors in my apartment at all. I don’t want to socialize in person anymore, at least until normal people stop complaining about anything and everything. Socializing is supposed to be fun, remember? Does anyone just take a night off from their troubles and have a few laughs? Certainly doesn’t seem like from my friends and family and friends of friends anymore. I have better conversations with several of the members of my science and futurism groups than I do with most people I’ve known my entire life anymore. And I’m never going to meet any of these people in person. It’s quite sad, at least I think it is. I’m not delusional enough to believe if I moved to a larger city that my social prospects would ever change. It’s not that I fear stupid and rude people in themselves. I am scared that eventually I will become stupid, rude, and jaded myself. I don’t want that to happen. I don’t want my heart and soul to die because most people around me allowed theirs to die long ago. If isolating from other people is going to keep me humane, than so be it. It has been said that men go insane in herds and only come to their senses one at a time. True, too painfully true. Too bad pessimism is the spirit of our age, at least it is for most people I deal with on a regular basis.