Christmas and Mental Health

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I was originally going to do only one article today.  But consider this my two for the price of one sale. Christmas and the other end of year holidays will be upon us soon.  I didn’t put up any decorations and skipped out on the apartment’s Christmas party.  I don’t even do any shopping besides grocery shopping this time of year.  All the lights, bell ringing, too loud music, and too over the top decorations really give me bad cases of sensory overload.  Sometimes I can get sensory overload even driving in rush hour traffic.  Just everything moving too fast, too many sites, and too many noises I suppose.  So you can imagine how bad Christmas can be for me.

I’ll probably go to my parents’ house for a couple days but I doubt I’ll do anything with the extended family.  Once again too much sensory overload and no means to tactfully excuse myself from such overload.  I’m looking forward to the end of the holidays and the end of 2016 in general.  I really haven’t watched that much football this year as it has lost much of it’s appeal for me.  I just no longer enjoy watching it.  I did watch playoff baseball but really haven’t watched any tv outside of netflix and youtube since the end of October.

I enjoy the colder weather.  I’m happy for the longer nights and the decreased expectation that I always have to be going somewhere and spending time with someone outside of my apartment.  I enjoy spending time in my apartment with my books, my internet, my music, and my computer games.  When I want to talk to friends and family I can always call them over the phone or chat online and not have to be embarrassed or shamed if I want to end the conversation in a hurry.  I really have no stomach for small talk or gossip.  I guess I never have.  Sometimes I am my own best company.  I guess I adapted too well to spending most of my life alone.  Anymore I prefer to be alone almost all the time.  I haven’t had a roommate in over twelve years and I don’t see ever having a roommate again.  Whoever invented the rules for human socializing never took mentally ill people into consideration.

Yet, I couldn’t be happier with my current living conditions, especially considering I have to fight a mental illness everyday.  I guess that’s why holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas cause me some sadness in that I’m expected to socialize and engage in small talk against my will.  I really don’t like going to Christmas parties, especially with people who I see in foul moods most of the year.  I don’t like listening to Christmas carols, those songs don’t articulate my memories of Christmas from childhood or my feelings right now.  I don’t like going to the mall and fighting crowds just so I can buy a couple items for myself.  I don’t like being told to be jolly or of good cheer.  I hated being told how to think as a kid and I hate being told how to think even more as an adult.  I’ll feel however I like and just not talk about how I feel or think.

I’ll enjoy the holidays regardless if I do it in traditional ways.  I can socialize, but I can do it for hours on end if I have some intelligent conversation.  If small talk comes up I’ll be ready to leave after twenty minutes.  It can be kind of tricky being mentally ill around the holidays.  It can take a few years to figure out what works and what doesn’t.  It certainly took me several years to figure out what to avoid and what to do to ensure a smooth holiday season.

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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.

Being A Sports Fan With Mental Illness

I confess to spending a shameful portion of my free time watching sporting events on tv.  I had the Olympics on every night they were on.  I often have a baseball game going on in the background when I’m doing internet research.  I have been a member of a fantasy baseball league for the last several years as well as participating in college football bowl game picks.  Money doesn’t change hands as most of my friends and I just do it to make the games more interesting.

The college football season starts this weekend.  The state’s university football team, the Nebraska Huskers, is practically a state religion.  I like watching the games even though the older I get the more I feel guilty about watching young men injure themselves for my entertainment.  Plus many people in my home state take winning and losing too serious for my tastes.  That’s why I avoid fan forums and online discussions, especially during years the team doesn’t do well.  Last year was one of those years when the team had a losing record with a new coach.  When the whole state follows something like that it’s impossible to avoid discussing it in conversations.  Sometimes this causes me undo stress and anxiety, much like people discussing politics.  Politics and sports fanaticism are two things I really hate because people just aren’t rational about either one.  While I like watching football and baseball, I do think most fans have messed up priorities when it comes to supporting their teams.  I know this isn’t unique to America as I’ve heard stories about soccer riots in England and South America.  And just today I saw a news article stating a school district in Texas is going to spend over $60 million to build a high school football stadium.  Seriously, how many high school players go on to play even in college, let alone the pros?  I can’t imagine any school district spending that kind of money to improve their academics.

In short I do like watching sports as a diversion but I don’t take them so serious that it messes up my priorities.

 

Dog Days of Summer and Mental Illness

Been feeling pretty decent mentally for the last several weeks.  I haven’t really felt much anxiety or aggravation this month.  I am back exercising again.  Still have a long way to go to build up my stamina.  But it is better than even two weeks ago.  I am starting to get out of my apartment complex more often.  I haven’t been to the park much this summer but I am beginning to get over my fear of driving.  It’s been quite hot in my town this summer, especially this month.  So far the heat isn’t effecting my mood.  I usually do better in colder weather than hot weather.  Winter and spring are usually my best times of year.

Heard back on my insurance claim from my auto accident last October.  They’re offering to cover my medical expenses and give a little extra for my troubles.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the money as I already live debt free and really wasn’t planning on getting anything extra.  I’ll probably put the money into my savings.  When my car was wrecked, the auto shop had to do a few thousand dollars worth of work on the car.  It was almost as much as the resale value of the car.  If the airbags would have deployed or the damage much worse, the car would have been scrapped.  It’s a good car with only 42,000 miles and only one previous owner.  It was a commuter car for a nurse who took good care of it.  It’s a good car and hopefully I can hold onto it for the next ten years.

It won’t be too long before the weather starts cooling off and school starts again.  School starts in 3 1/2 weeks in my town.  Since I live in a college town, this town really comes to life again in the autumn.  I went to the community open house at the local state university last year.  Had enough fun I might go again this year.  I haven’t done much for socializing or fun this summer.  My nephews and niece are visiting their grandparents next week so we’re talking about taking the kids to a museum and for a picnic lunch in my town when they are here.  It’s their last fling before school starts.  The oldest is starting middle school this year.  And the youngest will probably start pre kindergarten this year as well.

The Olympics start next week too.  I always enjoy those.  I especially like watching the track and field events.  I hope it goes off without any problems.  I really haven’t watched much for tv or sporting events since the end of the Copa America and Euro tournaments.  I especially had to watch when Team USA played.  Other than getting blown out by Argentina the US team put up a better showing than I thought they would.  It would go a long way to popularizing soccer in the US if they put up a good showing at the World Cup in a couple years.  I follow soccer some, especially if Team USA is playing, because I have a niece and a nephew who are big soccer players already.  And I have to keep reminding myself that unlike football or baseball, soccer doesn’t have tv timeouts every fifteen minutes.  More than once I have had to visit the restroom while watching a game only to miss a goal.

The weather will start turning cooler within four to six weeks.  The leaves will start turning by late September and the corn harvest will begin in late September and be in full speed by October.  This has been a long summer for me but it is almost over.  I’m pretty happy that I have gotten through much of the summer without any prolonged problems.