Random Thoughts on Colder Weather and Socializing

Been quiet on my end the last few days.  I’m glad the weather is starting to turn cool.  Summers have been my toughest time of year for me for many years.  I guess I just don’t like day after day of sunny and hot weather.  I’m not a lizard and I can wear sweaters, get under fleece blankets, and make hot soup and coffee.  I’m usually my happiest in winter and spring.  Winter usually puts me in a philosophical and reflective mood.  And I’m usually happiest and most active in the spring.  Even as a middle aged man looking at the second half of my life and seeing many people my age the parents of teenagers, I still feel as giddy as a child when it snows.  I like Christmas, but I enjoy the socializing with family more than I do getting gifts now.  As far as gifts go, as a middle aged man I really appreciate things like tools, clothing, and money or gift cards.  Now that I’m a grown man, I understand why my dad always liked getting tools or clothing for Christmas.

As far as getting ready for colder weather, I broke down and bought a jar of instant coffee for the first time in over a month several days ago.  It takes the chill out of my bones and helps me concentrate my thoughts.  But too much can make me jittery and easily irritated.  So it’s more of a balancing act than it was even five years ago.  Caffeine just effects me more in middle age than it did when I was in my twenties.  I also decided to regrow my beard and let my hair get longer.  I more of less shaved myself bald and got rid of my beard for the summer.  Yes, I cut my own hair.  As good as my barber is, I just can’t justify paying her increased prices.  Especially since I usually do most of my work and receiving guests at home and don’t have to be super presentable every day.

Been watching more movies lately.  Watched a few science fiction movies from the late 90s and early 2000s over the last few days.  As far as movies go, I always liked science fiction and historical drama.  I don’t usually watch a lot of westerns, but Tombstone was one of my favorite movies from my teenage years.  I do like some superhero movies, especially the Batman trilogy with Christian Bale.  Haven’t watched much for comedies lately.

Still haven’t had much for socializing lately, at least not in person.  But I’m at the age when most of my friends are busy with careers and family.  All my friends except for my college friend who’s a school teacher in Netherlands are married or divorced.  I don’t hear from my brother much as he’s quite busy with his career and family.  I try to stay in contact with my best friends from high school and college at least a few times a month in spite how busy they are.  I imagine we can eventually pick up on the long drawn out conversations once the careers slow down and their children grow up.  Thanks to social media, my dad has reestablished contact with some of his old college and Air Force friends.

As popular as facebook has become I imagine there are millions of retirees in my parents’ age bracket reestablishing contact with old school friends and military buddies.  Before facebook got really big, my parents told me they were proud of how many people in my age bracket and younger were making more effort to stay in contact with friends from high school, college, and the military.  It wasn’t always easy, and sometimes it still isn’t.  But the efforts were worth while.

Some of my friends I’ve seen only a few times in the last fifteen years, but we can easily stay in contact.  It’s one of the reasons I stay on social media in spite how much negative vibes can thrive in some cases.  I have gotten to where I don’t post much, at least not around people I don’t know very well.  I usually save my best material for friends and family I know will appreciate, or at least tolerate, my eccentric humor and thoughts.

Don’t have much to rant about.  I still occasionally have flare ups.  But in most cases I can ride those out with a few minutes of ranting to myself.  I guess I don’t feel much guilt for the flare ups, at least as long as I don’t take my illness out on other people.  If a flare up occurs, I can usually deal with with after a few minutes of deep breathing, ranting to myself in a normal voice, or just stepping back and disconnecting from socializing for several minutes.

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August 13 2019

Haven’t had a great deal to report the last several days.  Pretty much been staying home and avoiding the weather.  When it isn’t really hot, it is raining it seems.  Been catching up on my reading physical books though.  Currently working on The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly.  It’s about science and tech trends that will probably be continuing, if not accelerating, over the next thirty years.  Still reading a lot of online tech and science articles.  Haven’t watched much for tv lately.  That will probably change in a couple weeks once football gets going again.

Still lifting arm weights three times a week and doing the exercise bike.  I don’t know if I’m losing much weight, but I do notice improvements in my stamina and ability to recover from aches and pains faster.  When I do get out of breath, I can get it back quicker than even two weeks ago.  I have changed my diet some.  I limit myself to coffee only once a day and usually with breakfast.  Caffeine usually makes me jittery in large doses.  But coffee and water is pretty much all I drink most days.  My sleep patterns have changed some.  I still sleep the same amount of time, but I usually stay up a couple hours later and wake up a couple hours later.  For months I had usually been waking up at sunrise.  Now I’m usually not up until 8am at the earliest.

I keep in contact with friends more.  I make it a point to chat with at least one friend even online once a day, if only for a couple minutes.  I usually call my parents only once a week anymore but talk for a long time when I do.  They have gotten quite busy with grandkids and new friends since they moved to the suburbs of Oklahoma City.  School starts in a few days so they will probably get to go to grandkids activities more often.  I don’t participate as much in my online groups, usually just reading the articles and not commenting much.  And when I do comment I make attempts to keep things civil and upbeat.  I just don’t feel like making other people’s online experiences worse.

I been doing some maintenance on some of my electronics over the last several days.  Recently dusted out my PS3, deleted all my unused files, and reset the system.  It had been running quite slow for awhile because I had been neglecting to clean out the files.  Even computer software can become cluttered and sluggish without proper maintenance.  Did the same for my two laptop computers.  I recently changed my music streaming service from a pay service to a free service.  I still get my music even if I have to listen to ads every couple songs.  Not much different from old style radio, granted with much more for variety.  I’m also probably going to cancel other pay services I’m not using much.  Most of what I need anymore I can get on youtube for free or with cheap Netflix.

That’s about all for now.  I’ll keep everyone posted.  Usually August is the toughest time of year for me with the mental illness.  I just do better in the cold than I do the heat.  Haven’t had any major flare ups lately, and I hope whatever ones I do happen to have will be short lived.

Middle of Summer Stretch

Been quite hot here the last several days.  We had some flooding in my town a couple weeks ago.  It caused a few evacuations in the areas of town near the river.  Fortunately I missed the worst of it as I live on high ground. But it was kind of scary getting flood warnings on my phone every few hours.  My cleaning lady said one of her client’s entire basement flooded.  I’m glad we got it easy in my part of town.

Our complex had a major inspection last week.  We have those every few years, in part to make sure everything is up to speed.  As far as I know we did well.  We usually do.  Even though I live in low income housing, our managers have traditionally been on top of things and made points of dealing with issues before they became problems.  I had maintenance men in here doing some minor work a couple weeks ago.  I have been staying close to home for a couple weeks when we heard inspections were coming up.  Naturally, some people were a little more on edge than normal.  But since things have come and gone, it’s starting to calm down here.

Overall I think people in here, and people in general, are starting to calm down some.  Or maybe I’m able to deal with people easier than earlier.  I still don’t leave my house for long but I can when needed.  I noticed that people seem to be more civil to each other on social media than usual.  Or maybe it’s just my friends and family giving each other more slack.  I do love social media.  It is an easy way for someone who has issues with socializing to connect to old friends and make new ones.  I have a few new friends in my discussion groups, but I haven’t given out my phone number or email address.  I don’t give those out to people I don’t meet in person.

Summer is in full effect.  But it won’t be long before school starts again.  Our schools in town usually start about the third week in August.  My nephews and niece will be starting school in Oklahoma about the same time.  My eldest nephew will be starting high school this autumn.  I still remember the day he was born.  It was the summer after I graduated from college.  The days go slow but the years go fast.

Overall feeling decent most of the time.  I still occasionally have minor flare ups that don’t last very long.  Sometimes just stepping back and taking a few minutes to myself is enough to clear things.  Summers are usually a tough time for me.  But so far it’s been alright.

 

Diet and Exercise Routines Rebooted and The Art of Online Socializing

Spring is here finally.  Mentally feeling good for the most part.  I sometimes have flare ups of paranoia and irritability, but fortunately those quickly pass.  I have noticed that as I have made changes to my diet and sleep patterns, the bouts of paranoia and irritability get less severe and easier to deal with.

Been lifting weights and eating healthier for three weeks.  I’m starting to notice some positive changes.  I find myself eating less overall.  I lost most of my cravings for sugar and carbs.  Some days, like today, I don’t eat meat (big change for me).  On days like this I get my protein from things like peanuts and beans.  I haven’t eaten fast food in months even though I live within walking distance of at least six restaurants.  And I used to eat fast food three times per week.  It just doesn’t do it for me anymore.  It just leaves me feeling weighed down and lethargic.  I feel the same way about soda pop.  I have cut back on my caffeine to where I usually have only one or two cups of coffee in the morning and that is it.

Anymore I try not to spend much time on social media except to chat with people.  I almost never look at other people’s profiles, preferring to chat via groups or personal messaging.  It has helped lower my anxiety and irritability.  Besides, I have no need to know everything even my best friends and family do on a minute to minute basis.  It seems like many people I know aren’t as active on social media as previously.  But, I have always preferred quality to quantity in terms of conversations.  Just because I can know something about even friends doesn’t mean I want to.  Some things I am just not interested in.  I just don’t have enough time or energy to respond to things I like, let alone everything else.  I don’t get mad over every piece of advertisements I get in my mail box (and most of what I get in the mail anymore is junk mail), so I feel the same way anymore about when my friends or family post things that I am not interested in.  I rarely post comments on youtube or twitter anymore, let alone read comment sections.  I just don’t have time to.  I’m too busy finding things I enjoy and doing things I like to engage with people I’ll probably never meet.  When I do engage with people I’ll never meet, it’s over shared interests and I try to act as if I’m talking to these people over a cup of coffee in person rather than just behind a computer screen and keyboard.  My online interactions have become more enjoyable and civil once I tricked myself into believing I have having these conversations with someone sitting in the same room with me.  It doesn’t always work, but my online interactions are less contentious and stressful than even three years ago.

How Facebook Saved My Social Life

 

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.

 

Finding The Positives of Social Media With A Mental Illness

Been staying close to home for the last few days.  I still really don’t want to socialize much in person.  Yet I still socialize online via facebook and youtube comments all the time.  I have found that I’m having more pleasant and enriching conversations with people that have common interests than even people I see on a day to day basis.  I’m beginning to think that connecting people from all over the world with similar interests but will never meet face to face is probably social media’s greatest contribution to humanity.  I guess I find myself alienated from many people I’ve known for years, including some of my own family, simply because we don’t share similar interests.  Kind of sad but at the same time I’m grateful that I can connect with people who share my enthusiasm for science, tech, and living overall.  I can’t imagine how bad it must have been for future thinkers and optimists in previous eras or even when my grandparents were teenagers.  I know that had I lived in Medieval times, I’d probably be under house arrest, burned at the stake, or just a serf farming someone else’s land.  None of those seem worthy of my nostalgia.

I suppose as it is I will be happy that I have a means to connect with similar minded people even if they are on the other side of the world.  I doubt I’ll live old enough to see a Virtual Reality setup where people with similar interests can form their own virtual towns or even virtual nations.  But I guess I am honored to see in platforms like facebook, twitter, snap chat, etc. the crude beginnings of such virtual communities.  Of course some will abuse it and get trapped in echo chambers.  But if I’m going to be in an echo chamber, I just as well be in an optimistic one that either attempts to solve problems or even just serve as cheerleaders for those solving problems in the physical world.  I never had the math scores to be an engineer nor the science scores to be a doctor, but I guess since I can’t be among those making the positives a reality, I’ll be among the ones who appreciate what they do and cheer them on.

Thoughts on Preventing Relapse and End of Summer

After a few days of preventative maintenance and taking more note of my mental well being, I think the feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression are starting to dissipate.  Sure I had to isolate for a couple days and I did sleep more than usual, but it seems to have worked.  Overall I’m feeling more stable and I did leave my complex a couple times yesterday just to get some sunshine and make sure my car still runs properly.  I don’t drive as much as I used to.  But then I can do most of my socializing at home via phone calls, social media, and my blog.  I don’t deal with nearly as much negativity as I once did.  Two years ago, it was almost unbearable.  But I have since learned who and what to avoid and I don’t closely follow anyone besides family, close friends, and discussion groups I’m interested in.  Thank goodness for the unfollow buttons.  I lost a few friends before I discovered what useful and tactful tools they could be.  Even though the tempers have cooled some since the darkest days, I’m still kind of afraid to reestablish contact with people I’ve cut out or have cut me out.  Hopefully it’s just the paranoia talking and not hard reality.

As it is anymore I rather enjoy staying home.  I sometimes don’t even mind hosting guests.  I’ve hosted college friends several times over the years.  And I even hosted the previous two Foster family Christmas celebrations.  The only real request I have is give me at bare minimum a few days notice.  I am self conscious about my place and have come to accept that no matter how much I do with it, it isn’t going to please anyone but me.  I never did just subjective crap like that when the goal line wasn’t universal but different for everyone.  Even in high school speech and one act plays, I didn’t care about the awards and trophies.  I mainly wanted to hear the audience laugh and think because of my performances.

I’m glad that summer is all but over.  We have had some cooler and cloudy days lately mixed in the excessive heat typical of a Nebraska August.  Makes me think that fall and winter are on the way.  And I’ve always done my best writing and creative work during the cold weather.  I also like some of the not so over the top Christmas decorations, New Year’s Day college football games, and being able to buy discounted chocolate after Valentine’s Day.  I think that winter and spring are my favorite times of year.  That is one thing I like about living in Nebraska; we get to experience all the seasons.  Sure we don’t have the beautiful foliage of New England, the massive snows of Minnesota, or summer in it’s full hot and humid glory like the Southern states, but we get a little of everything here.  And yes, the conditions of my mental illness do change with the seasons.  But I usually have my worst times in late summer and my best times in late winter and spring.  I do love the changes of the seasons.