Socializing In Person and Online

Even though I haven’t been socializing much in person lately, I still make a point of calling friends and family often.  I visited my parents in person a couple times already this summer.  I saw my nephews and niece on my birthday last month.  I call home at least twice a week.  And I try to contact old college friends a couple times a month.  Even though the last time I saw some of my college friends was three years ago, I still pick up with them like I never left off.  And I’m getting better about dropping in on friends on facebook more often.  I had been avoiding socializing over facebook for a year or two because of how contentious things could get even among friends.  But I think people are starting to adapt and use more caution and tactfulness when online now.  But two or three years ago, it was practically a nasty free for all that I wanted little to do with.  I wound up unfollowing most of my friends and family (and unwisely ended a few friendships too) just because I was tired of all the divisions and fighting.

Originally facebook was a godsend for someone like me who wanted to stay in contact with people but wasn’t exactly sure how to do it.  I readily admit I don’t have great social skills.  I never really have.  But I do get lonely at times, even when I don’t show it.  Sometimes the best thing a person can do with someone who struggles with mental illness and socializing is to make the first move and just ask us how are things going.  I am convinced that much of the stress of modern living is due to us not having as strong as personal social bonds as even our grandparents had.  Life may have been shorter and more physically demanding during the Depression, the World Wars, and definitely during the frontier days, but they were made bearable because people had living and breathing friends they could count on for things as mundane as playing a game of cards or having dinner together after a long day in the fields.  I think if we ever rediscovered the joy of having nearby friends in our neighborhoods and communities, we would see fewer cases of suicide, violent crimes, and drug addictions.  I am convinced that much of these happen because some people don’t have that sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Even though I haven’t been to church services regularly or been part of civic organizations for a few years, I understand why things like church, local sports teams, neighborhood associations, and civic clubs like the Elks Lodge or the Masonic Lodge are popular among those who participate; they give a sense of belonging and community.  I guess I get my sense of community from shared interests in a few of the science groups I’m part of via facebook and through my blog.  I used to be a member of a local writers’ guild.  It’s too bad that group kind of faded away after a few of our members moved away.  A sense of community is important for people.  We are by nature social animals, have been long before recored history.  Even the most introverted humans are more social than many animals in the wild.

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Dealing With Paranoia and Shame

Even though I have been feeling quite stable overall, I have very little desire to leave my apartment complex except when necessary.  I am still a little paranoid about people I meet in public.  And I am somewhat that way about people within my own complex.  It’s sad to say, but I think I have developed a phobia of people in general.  I really don’t interact with anyone in person unless necessary.  Anymore I prefer to communicate by phone or social media rather than in person.  I didn’t used to be like this.  But anymore I am paranoid and scared to venture out in public, sometimes leading me to neglecting to run errands unless absolutely vital.  Anymore when I do leave my apartment complex, it’s usually at night so I don’t have to deal with crowds or strangers.  I’m even starting to become afraid of the people in my complex.  I am scared that many people in my complex don’t like me.  I suspect some of the elderly residents don’t like younger people on disability living in here.  But I hope that’s my paranoia being in high gear and nothing more.

My illness has changed over the course of the years.  I can more easily deal with the delusional thoughts, hallucinations, and anger.  But dealing with the paranoia and problems socializing have gotten slightly worse.  Anymore I desire to be alone most of the time.  Most people I don’t want to socialize with.  And it’s often because I am afraid of them. My fear stems from not being able to read unspoken cues and body language.  I also have no concept of how to deal with office politics and the nonsense social games that many normals seem to fair well under.  I don’t understand office politics. And it has cost me several jobs over the years.  I have no desire to “man up” and go back to a regular job mainly because of office politics.  Personally, I hope that automation takes a lot of these jobs and people will have to find other ways to define themselves besides job titles and money.  I had to once it became painfully obvious that my hopes of a career were killed by my mental illness.  Adaptation is the best strategy in living rather than holding on to a past that isn’t coming back.  I’m not going to regain my ability to work a forty hour a week job and I have accepted that.  And I no longer feel shame when anyone tells me I’m making my problems up or that I’m not worthy of living because I don’t have some remedial and repetitive job that will probably be taken over by machines in not too many years.  I know what I have been thorough and have dealt with.  No one else has.  So these people can condemn all they want, but their condemnations mean nothing to me.

Taking Care of Health and Easing Back into Social Life

Been getting out a little more the last few days in spite the cold.  Saw my psych doctor on a cancelation appointment the other day.  We made some adjustments in the psych medications.  I added a third med.  I also saw a general practice doctor yesterday.  We decided to add a blood pressure medication.  I’m not really surprised as high blood pressure runs in my family.  So it looks like I’m getting out and about more and starting to get back on top of my health.  I let a lot of that slide over the last several months when I was sleeping a lot and had no energy.

I haven’t been reading as much as I would like lately.  I’ve also been kind of lazy about writing.  Mentally I have felt quite stable. Haven’t had any real bouts of depression or anxiety for a long time.  The delusions and hallucinations are at a minimum.  I still don’t socialize much in person, but I just don’t isolate as much anymore either.  I hope I can make more progress with the holidays coming up.  It’s been too long since I last had real good socializing.

Changes and Introversion

Been going through changes the last several days.  I finally broke my habit of staying up all night and then sleeping much of the day.  Took a few months to break that habit.  Now I’m usually up around 6 am and in bed by 10pm.  And yet my routines don’t feel that different.  I’ve been getting out of the apartment more and spending time outdoors.  It helps that the weather has turned cooler.

Even though I leave my apartment several times a day, I still haven’t been outside of my hometown for several weeks.  While I still have a little phobia about driving, I do drive more than I used to.  It’s just that it’s all in town and stop and go driving.  I really don’t have much choice but to overcome my fear of driving as my hometown doesn’t have good public transit.  Fortunately I can everything I need within city limits.  That’s one of the advantages of living in a college town that the farm village I grew up in never had.  As it is, I have to buy fuel for my car only once a month anymore.  Used to be I had to buy every week when I lived with my parents when I was in high school and college.

Didn’t go out for Halloween.  I stayed home and watched a few supernatural thrillers and  listened to the old ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast on youtube.  Spent most of my nights in October watching playoff baseball.  So I guess I have to find a new way to spend my evenings.

Overall I feel pretty calm and content.  I still have auditory hallucinations a couple times a day, usually hearing footsteps that aren’t there or my phone ringing when no one is calling.  The real odd thing is that most of my hallucinations now come shortly after I wake up and before I get out of bed.  I still get enough sleep.  I think the consistent sleep helps keep me stable.  I still avoid rude, obnoxious, and irritable people as much as I can.  That definitely helps keep me stable even if it does hurt my social life.

At this point of my life, I have come to the conclusion that small talk and casual acquaintances are overrated.  Most people simply don’t have deep and connecting conversations with very many people.  I would rather bond to some family members and a few close friends as opposed to have lots of meaningless casual conversations with legions of fair weather friends.  I love being an introvert.  Most of my friends are deep thinking introverts.  Being a people person is something that does not come natural to me.  On top of that, I think it’s overrated.  It doesn’t bother me that I sometimes spend entire days alone without talking to anyone at all.  I rather enjoy my privacy and freedom to think and explore different ideas.  I really don’t enjoy socializing that much.  Most times, people won’t talk about anything beyond the weather, sports, or how much they hate their job.  To me, it gets boring and mind numbing really quick.  I wouldn’t be much fun at a cocktail party.  Even though I’m not sure I could qualify, I think it’s too bad my hometown doesn’t have a MENSA chapter or some social group similar.  I really crave intelligent conversation and mental exercise.  Learning new things actually gives me joy and makes me feel good physically.  Unfortunately I don’t get this much when socializing with most people.  I have painfully found out that many smart people have lousy social lives.  I am no exception.

October 20, 2017

Had some workers do some roofing work at my apartment complex today.  So I didn’t get to sleep as much during the day as I normally do.  But it was a beautiful day for that kind of work.  I’m glad it was done before first snow.  Maybe today will help break me of sleeping in the day and being awake at night.

Still staying awake much of the night.  This has to be effecting me more than I realize.  I still get sleep, it’s just when I get it that’s different from everyone else.  I hope this is a phase that will pass before long.  Mentally I’m still stable.  I don’t have many bad days or flare ups.  I still don’t like venturing out on the streets and driving much.  It’s kind of tough just wanting to stay home all the time.  I didn’t use to be this way.  I was always going somewhere as a kid.  I preferred going to friends’ houses instead of having them come to mine.  Now I have to force myself to leave my apartment every day.  Don’t want to get too house bound.

I’m so glad I’m not having bad hallucinations with this current trend of fearing leaving my apartment.  I sometimes hear footsteps that aren’t there in addition to the phone ringing when it’s not.  At this point it’s more annoying then frightening.  I’m glad I’m not dealing with all my past problems in addition to my new ones.

About the only real positive coming out of me staying home more is that I eat less fast food now.  So I am eating healthier and cheaper too.  I am glad I was taught how to cook when I was growing up.  I guess I can find some positives in my current situation.

Insomnia

Been having troubles sleeping at night lately.  And not much I do seems to help.  I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, I take my medications right before I traditionally go to bed, and I try avoid being on social media right before I go to sleep.  Yet for the last several days I have been up for most of the night and sleep in the mornings.

I’m still getting eight hours of sleep every day.  It’s when I’m getting that sleep that is a problem.  Since I sleep so much in the mornings and sometimes take an afternoon nap, my social life has dwindled to near non existent.  I still get out a little bit in the afternoons and evenings to check my mail and take out my trash.  But I worry that my neighbors might be getting concerned with how little they see me.  Mentally I still feel stable, it’s just that I’m awake when most people are asleep.  Physically I think I’m doing better.  Having fewer unexplainable aches and pains.

Another thing I have noticed this summer is that I don’t have the appetite I used to.  I don’t eat as much as I used to.  Since I have been having back and knee issues for much of this summer, I have been forced into days with less activity and moving around.  It is bothersome being kind of housebound for a good part of the day.  Maybe this what I get to look forward to in my old age.  But the big advantage of not eating as much is that I think I’ve lost some weight.  I notice that my clothes are fitting better.  A few large shirts I bought several months ago are almost too big now.

I still keep in contact with friends and family quite often.  I have a few friends I chat with a little every day via Facebook.  I’m still active in my science and tech enthusiasts groups.  I still call my parents two to three times a week.  I have the old college friend I talk to at least two to three times per month.  I’m still doing fantasy baseball league.  Hard to believe that summer is almost over.  Even though this has been a long summer, it’s hard to believe that autumn and harvest will be here in four to six weeks.  The corn harvest is always in full force by October 1st.  I’ll have to visit the local farmers’ market this fall.  I missed out on that last year.

Even though I’m up at odd hours and I don’t get out as much as I would like, I still keep my social contacts up.  Like many people of my generation and younger, I’d feel naked without my smart phone and social media accounts.  But I haven’t gotten to taking lots of selfies or pictures of my dinners, at least not yet.  I sleep at odd hours but that hasn’t effected my mental health.  It’s probably a good thing I don’t have a traditional job anymore.  My schedules are more unpredictable now than even five years ago even though I am more mentally stable most of the time.  It’s that one to two percent of bad days that give me the most problems still.