Rants About Trying To Socialize With “Normal” People

Haven’t been out much this spring.  It seems like when I feel decent enough to go out it’s cold and raining.  When I feel too depressed or anxious, that’s when the weather is good. I pretty much just stay at home most of the time.  I fear that I’m developing a phobia of being out in public.  I want to stay home, read, use my computer, write, and sleep.  And that is about it anymore.  I don’t even want to socialize with anyone in person anymore.  My landlady came to my apartment a few days ago and chewed me out.  I won’t go into details except that it scared me real bad.  I don’t want to go into details, so please don’t ask.

I have just been having a rough go with people in general this spring.  One day when I left my apartment, I stepped into the hallway only to see and hear several of my neighbors arguing and screaming at each other.  It was bad enough I would have called the police except I was too scared to.  Several of the people involved live near me and I know they would have made my life miserable had I reported them.  I often hear my neighbors argue and fight.  I occasionally smell pot smoke so thick I get slightly buzzed off it.  And it isn’t the good type of buzz, it’s the kind I am noxious and want to vomit type buzz coupled with migraines.

When I do get past my hallway, I get into the main assembly hall where there are vending machines and occasionally coffee left over from the morning social hour.  I don’t go there much because it seems the only people that want to talk are in bad moods.  It wears on me.  I certainly don’t go outside much nor do I drive much anymore.  I do all my shopping from online now.  I’m scared to go out in public anymore.  I always get people looking at me like I’m going to assault them or try to steal from their stores.  You act like you never saw a fat single man before who can read and converse beyond a fifth grade level.  I fear that some of these people may read me wrong, confront me and that will start a nervous breakdown and I’ll either wind up in prison or dead.  Just because of some scaredy cats reading a stranger wrong.

The whole “stranger danger” movement created an entire civilization of fear mongers and dysfunctional neurotics who are afraid of anyone but themselves.  It’s a mountain made out of an ant hill as far as I’m concerned.  Statistically speaking, you and your children are far, far more likely to be murdered, assaulted, raped, robbed, swindled, or molested by people you know then don’t.  Far more children are hurt by religious leaders, teachers, and even parents than hard core street gangs or Hell’s Angels types.  But it doesn’t make for good headlines or made for TV movies.  I hate it that most people can’t even do basic math or even understand basic statistics.  It’s really messing up our civilization and causing people to make terrible decisions.  And it’s making us miserable and lonely.

I actually want to socialize. But I am no longer willing to tolerate being treated guilty until proven innocent every time I enter public life.  I am no longer willing to tolerate being surrounded by rude and angry people all the time.  Many people are also just flat out act dumb too.  I once read in article and saw a TED talk that said that people’s IQ and overall intelligence are higher than our grandparents’ generation.  I don’t believe it, at least not in my elders or my peers.  I don’t see it in person or online. Everybody is just mean to each other all the time from what I seen just in my small midwest hometown and online interactions.  I hear all this talk about how we got to physically discipline our kids or their turn out to be worthless.  Spare the rod and spoil the child they say.  Fine with me.  But most adults could stand to the exact same type of physical discipline as far as I can tell.  But if I do that, then that’s assault and I’ll go to prison.  The USA already has more people in prison than the old USSR ever did at any point.  Look this up.

It isn’t just the “lousy kids” causing trouble.  The elders just love to rant and rave about how bad the teenagers and twenty somethings suck.  Even people my age are starting in on the kids.  Never mind it’s the “lousy kids” who are fighting and getting killed in your endless wars, paying far more for college educations than their grandparents did yet facing far worse job markets, can’t afford most houses or even cars even with multiple incomes, etc.  And these kids are supposed to be grateful for cheap electronics and communications?  Why, providing the internet and raising these kids who will end up being heroes eventually are the best thing my generation and my parents’ generation will ever do.  Let these kids work their mojo and get out of their way.  I see many parallels between the millenial people and the kids in my nephews’ generations and the generations that produced the World War II and World War I veterans.

Granted it’s socially acceptable to hate these kids.  I swear they are getting it even worse than what I did back in the 1980s and 1990s.  Why do we as a civilization and a species hate those with youth, vigor, and in their prime breeding years?  That has to be something unique to our species.  At least animals that don’t want their offspring will kill them when they are infants.  Civilized humans will just emotionally and mentally cripple them for life.  People tried to crush my spirit and my friends’ spirits when we were teenagers and young adults.  Get what, you failed.  You only made us stronger and more capable.    I actually encounter far more verbal abuse online and in person from my elders than anyone in my age bracket or younger.  Wisdom comes age, no it doesn’t.

People worry that science fiction dystopia could become reality.  For some of us, dystopia has been our reality for years.  It’s just neurotypical people are only recently starting to deal with things that the mentally ill, the disabled, racial and religious minorities, sexual minorities, etc. have had to deal with for thousands of years.  It stinks being treated like a  potential criminal because what have you, doesn’t it?  Many neurotypicals are losing their minds and blowing their tops primarily, I think, simply because they aren’t used to being viewed with suspicion and fear.  I have been viewed with fear and suspicion my entire life, mainly because of my size, mental capacity, physical strength, mental illness, and I just don’t desire to socialize with large numbers of people.  I love socializing, but only with intelligent and empathic people.  I can’t stand social mixers, cocktail parties, bar scenes, or even church dinners.  I never have been able to adapt to these situations.

I was far more at home in my class discussion groups in college than I ever was anywhere else.  I think had I never gotten mentally ill I would have been content to work at a large university or think tank.  I would have fell in love with that kind of work.  Maybe spend my mornings teaching classes, go have my lunch while having conversations with other faculty members, maybe lift weights with the football coaches after work, and then spend my evenings working in the lab or libraries.  People say that those who can’t teach.  As if teaching is a dishonorable career field.  Whatever idiot came up with the stupid phrase “those who can’t teach” was probably an American. At least I would have loved working in academia before the whole speech codes, safe spaces, and no freedom for those we don’t agree with social justice thugs came along.  Maybe I am still alive at this point precisely because I became mentally ill and had a reasonably acceptable excuse to drop out of my society.  I was hated and despised at every job I ever held.  Not because I was bad at my job, but because I was good and could often think of better ways of doing things than even my bosses.

People are scared senseless of any kind of ability and intelligence it seems, at least that’s my experience.  But if hating achievement, progress, risk taking, and standing out in anyway not deemed socially acceptable is the spirit of this place and age, then being alone and on disability pension is the best I will be able to do for the time being.  The only way I, and people like me, could ever have even a remotely normal life is for a massive paradigm shift that values creativity and high achievers.  But I don’t see this happening anytime soon, at least not here in USA.  I wonder how free thinkers, odd fellows, weirdos, and eccentrics are condemned and marginalized in other parts of the world.  I’d love to hear this.  I keep telling myself and my friends “this isn’t normal.”  But even I am starting to lose hope that people will come to their senses ever again.

 

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Washing Out of Graduate School, Having Mental Health Issues, and Chains of Events (Or The Story of My Adult Life)

If I were to meet anyone who has been diagnosed with mental health problems and he/she were looking for advice as to what to do from the diagnosis onward, it would be 1) Don’t Give Up,  2) Look for what you are naturally good at despite your problems, and 3) Get Really Creative. 

In this entry, I’m going to tell some of my personal story from the last several years. It’s a short autobiography of sorts. In February of 2006, after having washed out of the MBA program at a small state university, I decided to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance.  I had recently lost my graduate assistantship due to my grades.  It wasn’t that I didn’t like my classes or hate my work with the university.  Far from it.  I absolutely loved the work of being a research assistant, tutor, seminar presenter, and occasional substitute teacher.  Yet my mental health issues were flaring up during this time.  I would have been allowed to stay in school in hopes that I could raise my grades and get back on track.  But the prospect of going to school without a job and no way but loans to pay for it while taking on my mental health issues just didn’t appeal to me.  I was able to get through undergraduate college without any debt thanks to academic scholarships, working full time during the summers, and the much appreciated assistance of my family.  I was afraid that taking on the burden of continuing graduate school with no guarantee of getting my grades back up, having to go deep into debt to continue said studies, all the while combating mental health problems and being a financial drag on my family (who were already paying through the nose for the high risk health insurance I was on for meds that otherwise would have cost almost $2,000 monthly); all of it would have been major problems that simply were not worth it.

Looking back on it, I believe I could have completed the MBA program had it not been for the mental health burdens.  But, like almost everyone, I simply didn’t have the unlimited funds to cover medications, health insurance, and retaking the two classes I didn’t do well at all in.  Yet, knowing myself better now at age 33 than I did at age 25, I know I would have been unhappy with being another cubicle bum jockeying for dollars.  Even though I appreciate money as much as anyone I know, I also know it isn’t my only motivator or even one of my primary motivators.  I have found, over the last several years of experience and looking for tendencies in my life going back to before I even started elementary school, that I really enjoyed sharing what I learned with others and giving advice.  If I did complete the MBA program and then become something like a financial analyst, I wouldn’t have been meeting my need to share what I learn to others and helping others avoid problems.  I love explaining things to people, assisting people, and looking up things I don’t know.  I always have.   Had I been able to stay on the ‘traditional’ path, I would be miserable at a cubicle job but would still have my personality slants I mentioned above.  I would have probably then gone on to attempt to get a PhD just so I could teach at even a junior college. I probably would have been doing what I loved, but would have had a rough road to get there.  But to quote Eric Church, “Thank God I ain’t what I almost was.”

Instead, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to become competent in areas besides business and economics.  While I am not an expert on treating mental health problems and issues in others, I have over the years become quite knowledgeable on how to survive with mental health problems and issues.  In the process, I was able to work a part time job for over four years.  I have, thanks to being on Social Security and having the earnings limitations that come with being on Social Security, become knowledgeable on how to survive on what most people in the Western world would consider below poverty level existence.  I have learned how to ‘stretch a dollar’ far further than one could learn in any business school.  Thanks to following my natural love of telling stories, explaining things to people, and reading, I am also a self taught writer.  I have been writing seriously for only ten years as it wasn’t something I acted on until I was almost out of undergraduate college.  Because of my mental health issues, my natural empathy for other people, and my natural desire to share what I learned, I eventually came to write about my experiences with mental health problems and issues.  Many of these writings have found their way onto this blog, The Writing of Life.  I may not have a string of letters behind my last name that ‘qualifies’ me as a trusted expert, at least not in the traditional academic sense.  But with my experiences with my own mental health problems combined with my writing skills and the power of the internet in the Information Age, I can fulfill my natural talents and perhaps help some people in the process.

I have no idea where my life’s journey will go from here.  But this blog will be part of it regardless.  In only seven months of having a definite focus in my blog, I have had over 1,500 visits already.  Though there are bloggers that get that even on a bad day, this is already more than I would have expected when I started. And that’s with sometimes infrequent posts.  Being somewhat risk adverse by nature, I never would have started the process of becoming a mental health advice blogger had I never been forced to change directions.  Yet “Thank God I ain’t what I almost was.”