I Am Not Anti Social

For years my family have been on my case trying to get me to socialize more.  Even as a child I preferred to stay home and read my books as opposed to go to the big social activities in my farming village, namely high school sports games and county fairs in the summers.  I never did enjoy such activities as much as most people.  I mean, I enjoyed playing football and running track in high school far more than I did watching them.  And anything I could see at a county fair or Fourth of July parade, I could see any day of the year just by looking around my town.  No, I would have rather spent my time reading about far off places I would probably never get to see, read about a past that most people will never learn, and read about future possibilities (both good and bad) that I would probably not live long enough to see.

And because of my “different” set of interests, I was condemned by my parents, town elders, and even my classmates as being “anti social.”  Yet, this was an absolutely unfair accusation.  I love socializing, I just had different interests than most people I knew growing up.  I was 11 years old before I made a friend who had the same interests in music, history, geopolitics, science, etc. that I did.  And he too was an outcast among my people.  When I was 13, I met the girl who later became the best friend I ever had.  See still is my best friend even 25 years later.  She was even more interested in tech and geopolitics than even I was.  She was also the first person my age I ever met who loved reading even more than I did.  So we wound up spending a great deal of our teenage years at each other’s house.

Naturally, most people in my school thought we were romantically involved even before high school.  No we weren’t.  She was among the handful of people in my hometown who shared my interests and I shared hers.  As a result of being so different from my peers, I always thought there was something defective with myself all the way through my junior high and high school years.

It wasn’t until I spent a little time at college did I realize that I wasn’t defective.  I did much better socially in college than I did as a kid in my hometown.  I made lots of acquaintances, several really cool friends I still hear from via facebook, and for the first time in my life I wasn’t condemned for having nerdy interests or loving to read.  When I was a kid, my classmates would often yank a book I was reading right out of my hands.  They would often steal my textbooks and sheet music in band.  About the only book I never had stolen from me as a teenager was my football playbook and my Bible.  Even though I am almost 40 years old, I still don’t get why people that don’t read much hate those of us that do.  I mean, is wanting knowledge and wisdom such an evil thing?  Why, if it weren’t for acquired knowledge and wisdom being passed down from elders to children, we would have never even survived the Stone Age.  I can’t stand people who are proud of being unread and unknowing and ignorant.  The Dunning – Kruger effect is alive and well in those types.

I guess if there is a point to this post it is this, I am not nearly as anti social as my family and neighbors fear I am.  I can go for hours on end on things that interest me.  About the only things I don’t like talking about are my neighbors, office politics, popular culture, tv shows, stupid stunts going viral on youtube, or engaging in endless and pointless debates on facebook and twitter trying to get points across to people.  Proving people wrong isn’t going to make them like you.  I found this out the hard way.  Now if I am able to win someone to my line of thinking, it is an ongoing and gradual process where there really isn’t one ‘eureka’ moment.  It does get frustrating repeating the same ideas over, and over, and over only to feel like you are not making any difference.  I understand why good teachers burn out before their prime.  Sometimes I feel like I am not making any positive difference.  But we are local and linear thinkers, our species.  And for most of our existence that has served us extremely well.  That’s why it’s so hard to see the large picture or imagine what the future could be, it’s not natural to us.  It is also why visionaries are ridiculed, condemned, and sometimes even killed only for the children of the people that condemned these visionaries to see that the visionary was right all along and it was conventional wisdom that had it wrong.

I am not anti social.  Never have been.  Never will be.  I just have broader range of interests than most people I know.  And talking about neighbors, politics, office going ons, gossip, popular culture, etc. gets old and stale for me real quick.  After about five minutes of such gutter tripe I have gotten the idea and am ready to move onto other topics.

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August 7, 2018

Been uneventful for a few days.  I’m no longer staying awake all night and sleeping most of the day.  Most of my waking time anymore is during daylight hours.  Mentally I feel stable.  I am starting to get a few more aches and pains I can’t really explain.  But I have been more active than usual.  I’m reading more books again.  For awhile most of what I was reading was online articles and audio books.  I’m currently reading ‘The Inevitable’ by Kevin Kelly.  It’s a future tech trends book.

I watch more live tv now, mostly baseball and soccer.  I still don’t watch most news as most of it is just bad news meant to catch our attention.  All the news that fit to be print, right?  I don’t have any regular shows I watch besides some Star Trek reruns on Netflix.  I do watch a lot of history shows on youtube.  I recently watched Crash Course’s entire world history series.  I always did get a kick out of John Green.

While I do get out more often, I still don’t stray too far from my neighborhood.  Haven’t really been outside of my hometown for almost six weeks.  But I am just comfortable and content to stay close to home and did most of my business here.

I think I’m losing weight again.  I notice my clothes fit looser and I can walk a little farther than I could even a few weeks ago.  I think my aches and pains are from more physical activity than usual.  I can also lift more weight than usual.  Weight lifting does make a difference even after a month.

Discouragement and Socializing With Mental Illness

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Been spending much of the last several days watching the World Series and football games.  As far as my hopeless addiction to watching sports on tv is concerned, October is traditionally the happiest time of year for me.  But all in all it’s been an uneventful fall.  The weather is starting to cool and I haven’t run my air conditioner in almost three weeks. Some nights I even run the heater.  We’ve already had a few freezes but no snow yet.  In my hometown we usually don’t get our first snow until mid to late November.  I still have to winterize my car and restock my emergency winter supplies.  It won’t take too much other than a couple trips to the store.  It’s just a matter of getting it done.

I didn’t do anything special this Halloween.  Some times I like to go to the all night diners to see people in their costumes after the bars close.  Some years I help hand out candy to the kids that come to our complex.  Didn’t do any of that.  I’m still kind of afraid of socializing.  If it wasn’t for cell phones and Facebook, I probably wouldn’t have much of a social life.  But then again, years ago the only option for someone like me was long term hospitalization.

During the last two weeks I was on higher than usual doses of some of my anti psych medications.  They helped take the tension off and knocked down the hallucinations but I did end up less motivated than usual and slept more.  I haven’t posted anything to Facebook for almost two weeks.  I’m trying to avoid a lot of nastiness and negativity that’s going on lately.  I haven’t watched the news in months because I’m tired of the wall to wall election coverage.  Even my parents who are hopeless news junkies have been boycotting all news channels just to avoid it all.  I thought we were electing representatives and not gods.  I have grown to hate politics and I would love to live to see scientists, engineers, doctors, teachers, etc. get the kind of press we seem to have only for politicians and entertainers.  It’s probably a pipe dream, but I can hope can’t I?

As it’s been I’ve been depressed and discouraged for weeks.  I can’t stand normal conversation and small talk anymore.  It’s just reruns as far as I’m concerned.  That’s probably why I isolate so much.  I just don’t want to rehash politics or sports or the weather anymore.  Perhaps I’m too tough on my fellow man because most of what I see is people doing the same stupid things and talking about the same stupid stuff all the time.  I might feel different if I lived in a large city with more diversity of thought and culture.  I probably would feel different if I didn’t live in low income housing.  But it’s not like there’s ever going to be low income housing for smart but eccentric people.

Some people got the idea because I live in low income housing and am on disability that I’m stupid.  I’m not.  But I will say it has been pretty tough living in low income housing ever since my pastor friend and brilliant but eccentric photographer friend died two years ago.  Their deaths have been tough to bear.  The intellectual life of my complex took a nosedive since they passed on.  Now I pretty much hear people complain about how they don’t get enough in social security money when they buy mostly lottery tickets, cigarettes,  and booze with their money.  It’s discouraging seeing people do the same dumb things over and over again but never getting the idea.  Anyone who ever said there virtue in poverty has never lived in HUD housing.  We have the same mix of crooks, losers, cranks, and jerks as every other class of society.

It’s discouraging dealing with dumb and rude people everyday.  After awhile I might get jaded and just think that dumb and rude people are all there is.  I hope it never comes to that.  I wouldn’t be happy as a nihilist.  I see the potential in people.  I see that my species is making positive changes and scientific breakthroughs on an almost daily basis anymore.  I know we can be better than we currently are.  I know we can make ourselves more ethical and wiser.  I would love to someday live in world where wisdom is as valued as ignorance is now.  It just gets discouraging during the day to day grind when it seems like no progress is being made around you.  But I guess low income housing is probably going to be the last place in the US that sees any kind of technological progress.  We still have people who don’t own computers or have email accounts. I just try to keep reminding myself that progress is happening even when it’s not evenly spread out.

Positive Vibes and Mental Illness

My exercise times are gradually increasing.  My stamina is slowing coming back.  I can now sleep in a bed every night with no problems.  Went to the park yesterday to exercise.  I exercised indoors today because of the heat and humidity.  I am still tracking everything I eat and I think that is helping.  I can tell I’m already eating less.  I get to see my nephews and niece tomorrow.  So I will get to do some socializing after weeks of primarily isolation. I feel like things are starting to get better after months of stagnation and problems.  I think it’s starting to look good for the first time in a real long time.

Thoughts on Socializing While At Work

I wanted to originally do this in one post.  But I had to break it into two smaller posts.  Consider this my buy one, get one free promotion. I do enjoy having good conversations one on one or with small groups.  But far too often we are kept apart from people on an individual basis.  We seldom have in depth conversations with our coworkers because there isn’t enough time during the work day to just sit down and chat with your coworkers.  And most people are usually too tired to spend time with coworkers at the end of a shift or they have family obligations.  We work with these people every day, sometimes for years at a time, yet we rarely get to really know them.  The irony about most jobs is that much of what is done during an eight hour work day is redundant busy work, especially in most office jobs.  Most of what is done in an office, from my experience any way, seems could be done in half the time the work shift demands people be at their cubicles and acting busy.  I found the same thing in high school and college.  Some of those classes could have been only half as long and almost all of them could have been more stimulating.  I had a couple friends who were homeschooled for part of their academic careers and they said they usually had only four hours of classes a day while I had at least seven.  And they still did better on tests, and later their careers, than many kids I went to regular school with.  Unless you are working in the trades, working in the medical field, or working in a factory, most jobs could probably easily be done from home via telecommuting or with only four to six hour work days.  Even store clerks have to always look busy.

During the years I worked in retail I was told it was bad and tactless to chat with my coworkers while we were on the clock.  Who decided this?  I wasn’t asked for my opinion. Can’t have coworkers knowing each other and getting along well, now can we?  That might make things awkward when a coworker gets fired or reprimanded for arbitrary reasons. As long as we’re not insulting the bosses, the company, the customers, etc., than screw you.  As long as we are still helping the customers and getting our work done, it shouldn’t matter that coworkers would spend a few minutes talking to each other during slow times.  The same people we sell to in the large chain stores chat with their coworkers in their offices but manage to get their work done, let’s not kid ourselves.  Why should we have to look busy when we have a few free moments?  Why shouldn’t we be allowed to get to know our coworkers?  My coworkers and I didn’t complain when our bosses took half hour cigarette breaks, hid out in their offices for hours at a time claiming they were doing ‘paperwork’, taking longer than allowed lunches, or talked with their friends and family on company time.  And some people wonder why fast food workers are demanding $15 an hour.  I don’t think it’s the money that’s as large of a deal as the lack of respect and accountability that front line workers get from their managers and their companies.

Yes, the money matters.  The money from fast food and service jobs matters more than twenty to thirty years ago simply because there aren’t that many manufacturing jobs left, at least not in America.  We are running out of jobs that people with less than average intelligence can hold.  Those jobs are being outsourced and even those outsourced jobs are being taken over by machines. A buddy of mine works at a caller center for a bank and is sometimes concerned about his bank outsourcing his job to India.  Yet, the man and woman in India may soon be worried about their jobs being taken over by automated programs.  I get my prescription medications refilled by an automated program that calls me when I’m running low already.  The only time I actually deal with a human is when I pick my medications up at the pharmacy.  And in several years when delivery drones get real good, I may not even have to do that.  Dominos Pizza is already experimenting with delivery drones that take your order right to your door in some countries. Sheesh, my five year old nephew might not even need a driver’s license when he turns sixteen in eleven years.

No longer can a kid not smart enough for college move into a factory, farming, or mining job for the next fifty years of his life.  These twenty to thirty somethings working at McDonald’s or Wal-Mart would have been doing factory work if they came of age in the 1950s instead of the 1990s or 2000s. They are not lazy and unmotivated like most of the popular culture and elder generations think they are.  People thought the World War II generation were drunkards and fornicators when they were in their teens and twenties during the Roaring Twenties.  The clean shaven 18 year old GI who grew up dirt poor in the 1930s that was a private in World War II probably had a 35 year old commanding officer who drank copious amounts of bootlegged alcohol and had lots promiscuous sex with flapper girls and suffragettes during Prohibition.  I also doubt the World War II generations of Japan and Germany are held in such reverence; they might even be considered an embarrassment.  The world is a stage, we are the actors, and the history books are almost always written by the winners.

If our elders were born in 1980 instead of 1950 they’d be irritated about having only fast food and retail jobs as easily available jobs too.  Bill Gates once said that my grandparents generation would have called making hamburgers an opportunity.  Smug and hypocritical advice coming from someone who outsourced a lot of his company’s work.  It could be that once wages get to $15 an hour, then front line employees will be replaced by machines.  Yet, I have never seen a computer shop at Home Depot or a robot eat at Subway.  Reminds of a story I heard from a TED talk when the CEO of an auto maker in Detroit and the head of the auto workers’ union were talking.  The company president was talking about putting in robots in the factory and jokingly asked the union boss how he would get robots to pay union dues.  The union man jokingly asked the auto exec how is he going to get robots to buy cars.  Just some things to think about.  Things could get ugly in the next couple decades.  Occupy Wall Street could just be the start.

Ongoing Readjustments

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I’ve now been working through medication changes for over three weeks.  I see my psych doctor again next week to see if there are any other adjustments that need to be made.  With the newer setup I am noticing changes that are requiring adjustments to the life I had carved out for myself over the previous two to three years.

I now don’t need as much sleep.  Most nights I can get by on six to seven hours and I’m more likely to sleep through an entire night.  I used to wake up at least once in the middle of the night every night.  Even before I became mentally ill I didn’t sleep all the way through a night.  While I am a little slower to get going in the morning I have no other problems with my morning routine.

I read much more again.  For over a year the books on my shelf were gathering dust simply because I wasn’t reading.  For me not to read means something isn’t right.  I haven’t ever needed encouragement to read.  Instead I had to be encouraged to put down the book and socialize.  But I ordered three books through amazon this month and read one of them already.  I have read parts of several other books too in the last few weeks.  For months before this current medication change I would do only audiobooks or educational programs on youtube.  But I’m getting to where I want to read again.  I even went to the library today for the first time in almost a year.  Kind of odd being a writer and not spending time in a library, but that was my reality for most of the last year.

I’m even watching more tv but playing fewer computer games.  Normally I wouldn’t celebrate watching tv.  But for months I found most tv mind numbing and stupid.  I found it so annoying I couldn’t stand to have it on even as background noise.  I still find most tv shows dumb but I don’t find them irritating.  I still haven’t brought myself to try to watch cable news.  But the press only presents bad news because that is what we as humans are drawn toward.  I think we pay more attention to bad news or threats because it is hard wired into our genes.  I don’t watch the news, haven’t for years.  If there is anything I really need to know I’m going to find out, cable news or not.  Besides almost no one I know under age 40 gets their news from traditional sources.

I’m to where I actually want to socialize again.  I am finding myself leaving my apartment more often during the day and for longer periods of time.  I have found a writers’ group that meets twice a month at my local library.  I’ll go check that out next week.  I’m even toying with the thoughts of getting involved in my old writers’ group and mental illness support group again.  I haven’t been involved in either one for two years so most of those contacts are rusty and dusty.  But I don’t suppose it would take too much to get back in.

I’m also on the lookout for writers’ conventions in my home state.  I used to belong to the Nebraska Writers’ Guild.  But I let that membership lapse about two years ago.  Looking back on things, it seems like most my socializing and extra activities fell apart around two to three years ago.  I had my last round of medications changes in early 2014.  The meds I went on then may have helped me lose weight but I lost a lot of social skills and mental stability.

I have not worked on a regular basis for a few years.  I’ve done jobs for the family and temporary work but nothing I had to regularly go in for awhile.  At this point in my life my confidence in my ability to do good work and navigate workplace politics is gone.  If I could navigate the workplace I would be open to going back to work fifteen to twenty hours a week.  It is definitely a blow to your pride and ego to know you did extremely well in school only to get mental illness that won’t allow you to hold even a minimum wage job.  I wouldn’t mind going back to work if I thought I could handle it mentally.  It does get boring at times not having a routine and not feeling connected to anything.  That is why I have zero patience for any one who complains about their job.  Not having a job is worse than having a bad one and not being able to support yourself is even worse.

I actually get bored not having anywhere to go and not having many friends nearby.  I didn’t used to get this way for months.  There would be days I was just content to not leave my apartment at all, especially in the winter.  But I actually want to socialize and be out among people again.  I might even have to go to the movies again just to be among large groups of people again.  I have almost forgotten what that was like.

Being more easily bored, wanting to socialize, wanting to join a writers’ group, reading a lot more, and even toying with the thought of finding a part time job are some of the changes I am trying to manage after three weeks of a medications change.  These are adjustments to my previous lifestyle and they are good adjustments to have to make.

 

Adjusting to New Medications

It’s now been two weeks since I started the process of medication changes.  I will go off one med entirely starting tomorrow.  I’ve already noticed positive changes in my moods and mental states.  I don’t get as easily irritated and I seem to deal slightly better with stressors.  I have a stronger want to get out of my apartment and do things other than blog and mess with computers.  I even found myself looking through the job postings of my local newspaper just to see what was out there.  While I don’t believe I’m stable enough to hold employment, I have found myself kind of bored with the life I had carved out for myself over the last two to three years.

I find myself wanting to socialize now outside of close friends and family members now.  To this end I talk more to tenants in my complex and participate more in online discussion forms.  I didn’t realize until the last few days just how bad I had let my socializing fall apart over the last year or so.  I actually feel bad now that I haven’t been socializing.  Yes I have gone from being irritated and annoyed by most people to now actually wanting to be around people more often.  I doubt I’ll ever become Mr. Social Hour as I have been an introvert my entire life.  But I do enjoy people watching at the park and the mall.

I haven’t been as active as I would have liked.  But I hope that’s mainly because of chillier weather the last several days.  I don’t think I eat any more than I did previously with exception to the first few days of the change over.  I don’t crave sugar all the time now.  Hopefully that was a passing thing as I was adapting to different medications.  But I haven’t had much for auditory hallucinations nor have I had much for paranoia the last few days.  I’m not even that bothered by driving any more, at least not as much.  I don’t get overly irritated if someone is driving too slow or not following standard road etiquette.

And there are some things that haven’t changed that much.  I still don’t watch that much traditional tv, especially not the news.  The news I usually get from online sources.  In fact, most of my tv watching besides live sports is online.  I will watch some baseball most days or at least have it on in the background while I’m doing something else.  And I’m involved in the same fantasy baseball league I’ve been with for the last several years.  It’s a free online league of myself, a few college friends, and several friends of friends.  But just because it’s a free league doesn’t mean it’s not competitive.  It makes me watch games almost everyday and pay attention at least ten minutes a day to my team.

I see my psych doctor tomorrow to discuss the next phase of my treatments.  We could be going anywhere from here.  But I know we won’t keep doing what we have been for the last several months.  I can hardly wait to see where we go from here.