College Years and How I Became a Blogger

Blogging has turned into a dream come true for me.  I can write about my problems as a mentally ill man, tell what works for me and what doesn’t, and now I’m even making a few dollars a month at it.  I never expected any money from this blog or really any of my writing work.  I enjoy what money can do as much as anyone, but I really don’t need a large bank account or stock portfolio to stroke my ego.  As long as I can keep the rent current, have food in my pantry, my medications stocked up, and stay out of debt, I am fine with what I make just off disability pension.  It may seem kinda boring and dreary life for some as I really can’t afford to travel much anymore or that I don’t have any family of my own.

I travelled a lot in my younger years and I went to a small college with a larger than usual foreign student body.  Since there were less than 600 students in our entire college, we were forced to interact with people of many different backgrounds if we wanted to have any kind of social life.  It was a good college for someone like from rural Nebraska who wasn’t personally exposed to many different cultures.  It was in college that I found that I had some talent for writing.  That’s where I started writing poetry and drafts for novels.  I also read many of the classics of American and European literature while there.  I also dabbled in some Eastern philosophy like Sun Tzu and Lao Tzu.  Granted this was in the early 2000s before youtube and most of social media really connnected people.  I imagine I could learn the same things now on my computer as opposed to spending entire days in the campus library.  But being exposed to different ideas from different eras of time and different nations inspired me to tell my own story.  And apparantly my story of my life with mental illness is resonating with some people.

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Forcing Myself Out of My Comfort

Been forcing myself out of my comfort zones more the last few days.  I’ve been leaving my apartment more often and forcing myself to socialize.  Ran many errands I had been neglecting during the winter.  Getting stocked up on house supplies and cleaning agents so I can do my spring cleaning more properly.  Going to get that started in a few days.  After a few warmer than usual days we are back into winter.  While I knew this was going to happen, I’m still a little disappointed in myself for not taking more advantage of the warmer weekend.  But in terms of supplies and things I’ve been putting off for the last few weeks I’m pretty much caught up.

Been feeling a little less at ease as I’ve been forcing myself to expand my horizons.  That’s probably why I’m a little more irritable than usual.  That and I’m attempting to readjust my sleep patterns so I don’t sleep all day while being awake all night.  I could tell this routine was starting to take a toll on me.  I don’t understand how people who work night shifts for years do it without losing their sanity.  I used to work night shifts at a factory.  While the work was simple enough and the pay good, I just couldn’t adapt to sleeping all day and working all night five nights a week.  After several weeks my work started to suffer and I had to leave the job once my request for a different shift was denied.  I could tell a breakdown was coming if I stayed there.

While I’ve been socializing more I have found I really haven’t lost my social skills in spite spending weeks essentially alone.  I still prefer to spend most of my time alone, but sometimes things like this come and go in phases.  Sometimes I’ll want to sleep all the time and sometimes I won’t want to sleep at all.  Sometimes I’ll want to socialize every day and sometimes I’ll want to go entire days where I talk to no one.  But at least at this point in my life with mental illness I can recognize this and plan accordingly.

Why I Isolate and Don’t Socialize

Even though winter is all but over and the weather is warming up, I’m still spending most of my time alone and isolated.  Just been more irritable and short tempered lately.  Even hearing my neighbors walk down the hallway can irritate me anymore.  And since my neighbors are prone to argue among themselves and make lots of noise during the day, I have intentionally been sleeping during the days and staying up until sunrise for most of the last two weeks.  Why shouldn’t I?  It’s not like I have much of social life anyway.  At least I haven’t had much of a social life for the last few years once even social media stopped being fun.  I mean, do normal people enjoy being angry and argumentative all the time?  It seems to be that way to me.  It didn’t use to be this bad.  In fact, most people used to be pretty cool about petty disagreements.

I can’t imagine what’s going to happen to my nation and my friends over the next few years.  I used to believe that if we made it though these tough times, we’d have a real cool future.  But every time I try to be encouraging or bring up something cool science has done recently, I’m met with either stone cold indifference or fear.  My countrymen didn’t used to fear change nearly as much as we do now.  Hell, we used to force change sometimes out of boredom.  When I look at my elders, leaders, and even people my own age in my hometown and my country in general, I find it hard to believe that these peoples’ parents and grandparents landed on the moon, built personal computers, won major world wars, or even had the courage to immigrate to a new land where they knew no one and had only their dreams and work ethic to keep them going in the dark times.  Whatever pioneer spirit and love of innovation my people once had is dead.  And it’s quite sad.  But no one cares anymore, at least not enough to embrace change.  I know some really cool things are coming within the next ten to twenty years for the people of this world, at least those who are willing to push through their fears of change and adapt accordingly.

But I look around me in my hometown and my family and friends, and I don’t see any adapting.  I see nothing but fear and hate.  In some ways I’m glad I’m not well adjusted to my current reality.  The only people who seem to be are those who are nostalgic for a past that never really existed in the first place.  I no longer see the courage and original thinking that made my nation and it’s people the envy of the world.  And I won’t let us slip away without putting up a fight.

End of Winter and Desires for Travel

Today was the first day in weeks we had warm weather.  I had to get outside to enjoy it.  This has been a tougher than usual winter.  I spent a lot of time indoors and hibernating because of the bad cold spells and snow storms.  Now that it’s almost March I can see the beginning of the end of winter.  And I am not sorry at all to see winter on it’s way out.

Been spending too much time indoors and isolating.  There were times I would go entire days without leaving my apartment.  With as bad as the weather was, it seemed pointless to just wander the halls.  There were days I would sleep sometimes as much as twelve hours a day just out of boredom.  Unfortunately I didn’t get as much reading done as I would have liked this winter.  And I was lazy about writing for the last few weeks.  While I have been stable mentally this winter, this was probably because I wasn’t doing much to invite troubles.  I lost some of my social contacts from isolating and staying home so much this winter.  Hopefully I can get those reestablished soon.

I still hear from old friends and family a couple times a week.  Not as often as I would like, but I get that most people don’t have as much free time as I do.  Mental illness essentially sent me into early retirement right about when my friends’ careers were taking off.  Most of my friends now are married and have kids.  I have as much freedom as anyone I know and yet I don’t get to share it very often.  It’s a shame that most of my best friends from the past live out of state.  I do have online friends from my discussion groups, but many of them live in other countries.  I’ll probably never get to meet them in person even though I have far more in common with these friends than I do most people in my own hometown.

I would love to travel more but I absolutely can’t stand driving anymore.  And flying airlines anymore is about as enjoyable as going to the dentist for root canal work.  I have friends scattered to the four winds I haven’t seen since college graduation that I would give almost anything to see even for a few days.  Since some of the old friends live in foreign countries I’d have to get a passport.  I don’t know what Social Security’s rules are for disabled people traveling overseas and collecting disability pension.  But I guess those dreams of travel and seeing old friends will stay in the realm of pipe dreams probably forever.  I’ll just have to do the next best thing and socialize online I suppose.

Thoughts on Isolation

Been isolating a lot lately.  I sometimes have entire days when I don’t even leave my apartment anymore.  I’m just burned out on people in general.  Even though I sleep at night I find myself wanting to sleep almost all the time anymore.  Seems like the only time I don’t feel anxious or depressed is when I’m asleep.  I have gotten to where I am anxious every time I even hear people talking out in my hallway or even when I hear footsteps in my hall.  My neighbors had an argument this morning I could hear through my wall.  Made me definitely not want to leave my apartment today.

I know that eventually I’ll just have to gather my courage and force myself to leave my apartment just to do laundry and check my mail.  But I really have gotten to where I no longer trust anyone it seems.  I’m afraid of people more or less.  Seems that everyone I meet is in a foul mood all the time.  Of course going online to look my friends up doesn’t help any as foul moods and arguments are the rule online anymore.  A friend of mine once suggested I start a youtube channel and just do voice over videos.  Not a chance.  YouTube comment sections are even nastier than twitter or facebook.  We have near god like capabilities with our current state of tech yet we act completely uncivilized online.  If I acted a fraction that rude in public, I’d expect to get a beating or a jail cell.  Though knowing my countrymen’s attitudes about guns, I’d probably get shot rather quickly.

At this point I don’t feel sorry for isolating or having all my groceries delivered to my apartment.  I don’t regret that it’s been two months since I had guests in my apartment. I don’t regret rarely leaving my apartment.  I don’t regret being lonely.  I’d much rather be lonely than made miserable by other miserable people.  In some ways I am glad I am an outcast and an outsider on mainstream civilization. I’m burned out on all the fighting and negativity I see every hour of every day.  I’m tired of people being ugly and evil to each other all the time.  I’ll interact with some people via phone or online chat.  The rest of humanity is welcome to keep it’s distance until they come back to their senses and act like civilized people again.

New Beginnings and New Routines

Been getting more regular sleep the last few days.  So I’m returning to some of my old routines.  Started lifting weights again.  No doubt it’ll take a few weeks to get back into the routine of lifting weights three times a week.  I’m eating healthier again.  I used to eat fast food about once a day.  Haven’t had the stuff for two weeks now.  Been getting up around eight a.m. the last several days.  Still napping for a couple hours in the afternoons.  But I am no longer staying awake most of the nights.

Been going outside a couple times a day for the last few days.  Starting to socialize again too.  Found out that some of our more problematic residents have moved out.  One of the reasons I isolated so much over the last year or so was to avoid these people.  I can freely socialize again without fear of running into negative and angry people all the time.  Too bad this didn’t happen a few months ago.  Some of these individuals were really taxing my sanity and well being.

Had some changes in my medications.  So far they seem to be working.  As it is I have a several week supply of meds built up in case of emergencies.  I think that after several months of less than optimal times, things are starting to look good again.

Since I’m starting to sleep less and more regular hours again, I’m finding myself with more free time.  I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with this new found freedom and energy.  I have pretty much been withdrawn and homebound for awhile.  I imagine I need to start contacting friends and family again.  I haven’t been a regular on Facebook for over a month.  I want to get back in touch with people again.  I’m even starting to look forward to the holidays for the first time in a long time.  I’m glad to be back on the mend and more active again.

I want to start losing weight again.  I’ve been real lazy about diet and exercise since my car accident two years ago.  As a result I gained back all the weight I had lost previously.  I haven’t been drinking sugared sodas for a couple weeks and I’m cutting back in other places too.  I’m eating more vegetables too.  Started lifting weights again.  Been lazy about that for a long time.  So glad I kept my old hand weights during my minimalist purges.  Overall things are looking better than usual.  Even during my exiles I stayed positive for the most part.  But now I am more social and outgoing, it can get even better.

Changes in My Mental Illness

Started to restock my winter supplies and emergency food.  I am now set to the point that  I don’t have to venture out for several days if needed.  Lately I have been content to stay close to the complex besides running errands.  Mentally I have been stable even if I am staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.  Maybe that is why I am so stable.

I have gotten to where in my illness that socializing makes me paranoid and irritable.  I no longer enjoy socializing with my neighbors.  I no longer enjoy driving, not even across town.  I’m pretty much content to just keep to myself anymore.  Anymore I am my own favorite company.  I hope this is mainly paranoia and the illness, but I really can’t stand to be around most people anymore.  I would rather socialize over the phone or online than in person anymore.  With the holidays coming in a few weeks, I may be forced out of this isolation routine that has worked so well for me.  I’m not looking forward to losing my routines.  I am definitely not looking forward to the holidays.  I really don’t feel like celebrating much of anything anymore.  And I certainly no longer care to celebrate merely because the calendar and society as a whole tells me I have to.  Maybe schizophrenia really does get worse with age in some aspects.  I don’t have much for hallucinations or angry outbursts anymore.  But I do still have paranoia, delusions, and just prefer to be left alone almost all the time.  I hope it’s my illness messing with my mind, but I just can’t stand to socialize in person anymore.  I definitely can no longer hold a job.  I can barely venture out into my hometown without problems anymore.  I can only hope this illness stops getting worse as I age.  It has definitely screwed with every aspect of my life.

September 5, 2017

Been several days since I last wrote.  An update is in order.  I’m still sleeping more than I would like.  To see if I can change this around, I’m starting to sleep in a recliner.  When I slept in my recliner because of back pains, I would usually be awake shortly after sunrise and sleep only 6 to 7 hours per night.  As it is now, I have been sleeping 10 to 14 hours a night for much of the summer.  Something has to change.  Mentally I have been feeling well for months.  Since late summers are usually the toughest time of year for me, I have been reluctant to change much this summer.  As good as I have been feeling lately I haven’t wanted to change my meds or routines.  But this sleeping twelve hours a day and being up most of the night can’t be kept up.  My social life is hurting because of it and I haven’t been outside of my hometown all summer.  I have to make some changes.

I think some of my neighbors may be worried about me considering how little I socialize in my complex and how I often sleep during the days.  I try to keep out of peoples’ ways and keep to myself most days lately.  This is a change as I used to be more social than I am now.  I think I don’t socialize much mainly because of the paranoia I still sense when I’m around large groups of people or out in public.  Even though I have much of the depression and hallucinations of schizophrenia taken care of, I still deal with some paranoia and social anxiety.  I haven’t dealt with this level of social anxiety in several years like what I’m dealing with now.  Sometimes I’m even too anxious to run regular errands like buying groceries until I absolutely need to.  Needless to say, this isn’t healthy.  And with winter coming up, I’m just going to have to break out of this anxiety somehow and start buying more than a few days worth of food at a time.  Some winters we can get big blizzards that will shut things down for a couple days.  And of course ice storms also make traveling during the winter tough.  So I think I have no choice but to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and just start stocking up for when the weather turns cold in a couple months.  Fortunately I tend to be more stable in the winter and spring than summer and early autumn.

I haven’t had a regular counselor for several months.  Not because I was upset with my counselor or anything like that.  It’s just that I got stable enough I didn’t think I really needed it.  Mentally I’m stable and have been for months.  I still face some social anxiety and do feel anxious about driving somedays.  That’s the big reason I haven’t left my hometown all summer.

One of the good things about living as an adult with mental illness that I didn’t have in my late teens when this mental illness was just getting started is that I can still keep in contact with people real easy as opposed to twenty years ago.  I may sometimes rant about the abuses that people do with their Facebook and twitter accounts, but they are still good ways to keep in touch with people from my high school, college, and extended family.  I definitely regretted not going to my family reunion this summer, especially since my mother and father were the main hosts.  But the anxiety was that strong.  I know the anxiety exists in my brain and mind but the mind is strong enough that it can make anxiety real enough to be crippling in some cases.  I have friends who have problems with anxiety and depression too.  It breaks my heart that I often can’t do much to help them out other than being a sounding board and listen to them.  I tend to be a problem solver by nature, but sometimes things like depression, anxiety, and mental illness simply don’t have immediate solutions.

Keeping My Mind Occupied

It’s been a few days since I wrote so an update is in order.  I haven’t left my apartment much the last few days.  We’re in the middle of a heat wave and it’s really too hot to be out if you don’t need to be.  I still have some groceries from when I went shopping a week ago, so there’s no need to go out yet.

Even though I’m stuck at home, I have been keeping occupied.  I found a free gaming site online that carries many of the old Apple games I grew up with in the late 80s and early 90s.  So I have spent quite a bit of time there the last few days.  I’m still working on some old computer games as well as having bought a couple cheap games a few days ago.  I’m still calling my family and friends at least once a day.  So I have intelligent and fulfilling conversations even without leaving my couch.  Been playing enough computer games lately that it’s keeping me occupied.  I usually play games while listening to audio books or science lectures on youtube.  Plowed through a few audiobooks already this month.  I got through the first book of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  It’s a good read.  If you are into any kind of science fiction, I highly recommend it.

I’m also watching old Star Trek reruns on Netflix.  So I’m keeping occupied, entertained, and getting my science fiction fix at the same time.  It’s a shame I didn’t discover my love for good science fiction until I was in my thirties.  I think I would have enjoyed those kinds of things as a teenager.

I haven’t had any bouts of depression or anxiety for weeks.  I’m also no longer hallucinating.  Most of my hallucinations were auditory ones that were doing commentary on everything I was doing, kind of like play by play of a ball game on the radio.  I sometimes felt things on my skin, feeling like bugs crawling on my skin.  When I’d go to look, there would be nothing there.  Other hallucinations I’d have involved hearing foot steps outside my door, hearing my phone vibrate when no one was calling me, and sometimes I’d even hear knocking at my door that was so soft that I could barely hear it.  About the only hallucination set I still have is the feeling of bugs crawling on my skin.  I still get that a couple times a day.

Overall I really don’t have a lot to report.  Been mentally stable for weeks and I really haven’t gone anywhere besides to the convenience store to buy soda pops a few times a week.  I’m now sleeping only eight hours a night.  I’ll usually sleep five hours in the middle of the night, wake up at sunrise, stay up a couple hours, then sleep another two to four hours until late morning.  So  far it’s working out to be a good summer routine.  Fortunately have been able to avoid stressful situations and aggravating people.  Hope I can keep this up for the rest of the summer.

Seasonal Aspects of Mental Illness and My Working History With Mental Illness

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I’m adjusting nicely to the summer.  Traditionally summers have been my roughest times of year.  I would usually be more paranoid and irritable than usual this time of year.  I could usually count on at least one psychotic breakdown every summer, usually in late August or early September.  Both times I went to the mental hospital were in early September.  So there is a seasonal aspect to my schizophrenia.  Having dealt with this illness for close to twenty years I have figured out that there are times of year that are worse than others.  July and August are always tough.  The holidays season can be tough unless I avoid crowds and lots of stimulation.  Winters and springs are always pleasant and productive times for me.  I do a great deal of writing and reading in the winters and springs.  Spring has always been a favorite time of year for me.

But this summer so far I’m doing well.  I think it helps that I usually spend a lot of time out of the heat and avoid stressful situations and people.  Granted this means a pretty lonely stretch of the year where I don’t socialize much in person.  Yet, I still keep in contact with family and friends via phone calls and internet.  Facebook is a large means of promotion for this blog.

As it is, I don’t have a regular job.  Haven’t for five years.  Before I decided to devote myself to this blog and being an advocate for the mentally ill who couldn’t speak for themselves, I worked a variety of jobs.  Over the years I have worked as a salesman, a teachers’ aide at a small university, a factory worker, a janitor, a loading dock employee, a fast food cook, a waiter, and a tutor.  Even though this blog doesn’t even break even, I consider it the most rewarding job I ever had.  I have gotten many dozens of comments that have stated that I am helping them or helping them understand loved ones with mental illness problems.  I have been doing this blog for over four years, which is as long as I held my longest job.  Used to be I’d get serious anxiety attacks before I went to work and even while I was at work.  Many of these would be bad enough that I would vomit before I went into work.  After years of fighting these anxiety issues, I decided that working a traditional job wasn’t in my future.  I thought I needed to change course because I was making myself miserable over minimum wage jobs and dealing with rude and unreasonable people.  I have a few horror stories from my time working in retail and fast food.  I’m sure most working in these industries have far more.  As it was, I came to the conclusion that regular work wasn’t worth it anymore.  It it wasn’t for Disability Insurance, I would either be homeless, in prison, or dead.  So it bothers me anytime someone talks about wanting to eliminate these programs.  What kind of “advanced” civilization doesn’t care about the weakest and most vulnerable among their citizens?

I did not end up on disability by my own doing or choice.  I originally went to college with the idea of going to medical school and becoming a medical research scientist.  But my problems with mental illness got so severe in college that I had to change paths and even take a semester long break.  I finally graduated with a business degree.  The reason I chose business was that I wanted to be employable as soon as I left college.  Even though I love writing and reading, I had heard horror stories about liberal arts majors working minimum wage jobs because they couldn’t find work in their fields.

It turned out that I’m grateful I didn’t succeed in sales or find a banking job like I thought I would after graduation.  I know now that I would be miserable wearing a suit and dealing with people day after day.  At least with a blog I don’t even have to leave my living room.  No shirt, no shoes, no problems I suppose in my chosen field.

In closing I’m doing well despite it being a traditionally rough time of year for me.  I think the medications changes I undertook a few weeks ago are working.  And after twenty years of mental illness, I have figured out that there are some things that can make even tough situations much more bearable.