Spent a few days in my childhood home over Thanksgiving weekend. It went better than expected. I was worried that things wouldn’t go well with so many people in one house. Fortunately things went with no problems and I got to see my brother’s family for the first time in months. I had been avoiding socializing in person for months just because it seemed that most people were always in foul moods. That is all I had seen on social media for the previous two years at least. Finally I quit checking my facebook and twitter accounts. I don’t use either one except to promote my blog now. It saddens me that I had to lose contact with some of my oldest and dearest friends because some people insist on being blowhards and jerks to other people online. I always wondered what people like that were like in person. It would be an interesting experiment.
Returned home over the weekend. I have pretty much avoided going shopping or even on the roads to avoid the holiday crowds. I never did enjoy crowds, even before I became mentally ill. I pretty much do most of my shopping online anymore. I found out that there is a grocery store in my town that will allow online orders and home deliveries. I have used that a few times lately. And I’ll be using it even more now that the holidays are here.
As far as celebrating Christmas is concerned, I’m not as excited about getting gifts as I was when I was growing up. Anymore I just care about spending time with family, having good food, and watching my brother’s kids have a good time. I also enjoy going around my town and looking at the decorations, especially after dark. And since we usually have snow on Christmas were I live, it adds even more beauty to the season.
All and all I am ready for winter. Summer was hotter than usual and autumn seemed to last longer than usual. I am not as worried about being in closed quarters with my neighbors as I was in years past as several of my problem neighbors moved out this autumn. It has been quiet and peaceful ever since. I leave my apartment more often and I’m more apt to make a point of socializing with neighbors. Used to be I would sometimes go entire days without leaving my apartment. But those problems are over. It seems the older I get, the less tolerance I have for rude people and stupidity. And I am noticing my friends in my age bracket are becoming the same way. Thank God I haven’t gotten to the point were I’m complaining about the “lousy kids” yet. If I get to that point, I hope somebody knocks some sense into me. I spent my entire childhood and my twenties listening to my elders gripe and moan about people in my age bracket. Going through that, I promised I would never do that to anyone.
Overall my life is rather no thrills. I spend a lot of my days playing computer games, reading online articles, talking to friends and family over the phone or online, and chatting up my neighbors. I am still slogging through the Star Trek spinoffs on Netflix. I would eventually love to have watched every episode of Star Trek. I still have a long way to go. It will probably take a few years. On the bright side, I’m no longer sleeping twelve hours a day anymore. And the hallucinations I have now are no longer frightening, they are just annoying. Maybe mental illness does get less severe as a patient ages. I think it has in my case.
I’ve been feeling quite well the last several days. I make it a point a socialize with at least one neighbor per day. I still call my parents twice a week on average. Other than running errands and a couple doctors’ appointments this week, I’ve stayed pretty close to home. It’s been colder than usual the last couple weeks, so I’ve pretty much been going to bed earlier and waking up early. I think I finally broke the habit of staying awake most of the night and sleeping in the mornings.
Been avoiding negative news for months now. And I think it’s given me a more positive outlook overall. Most of what I watch anymore are science shows, comedy, and inspirational materials. I am still largely avoiding social media except to occasionally drop in on friends and promote my blog. I just came to the conclusion that the drama involved in most social media isn’t worth the trouble. It does make the nights kind of lonely as facebook used to be a lot of my socializing. But I am adjusting.
Mentally I am stable. I am not sleeping as much as I did during the summers. And I’m not staying up all night either. I think I have found some balance in the kind of schedules I keep. I have made a point of keeping my apartment cleaner than usual. And I have to think that has positively impacted my mental health. I’ve decided I’m regrowing my beard for the winter. Other projects I have this winter include rereading some of the old philosophy books I read years ago in college. I may watch more classic movies too this winter. I don’t really have any plans for the next couple weeks. I’m going back to my parents’ place for Thanksgiving. I am definitely not doing the Black Friday shopping nonsense. I do all my shopping from my computer anymore. I don’t plan on going out shopping this Christmas but I will probably watch a few Christmas movies. It’s A Wonderful Life and Christmas Story are my two all time favorites.
Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving in my country. I’m currently at my parents house and it’ll be a real small gathering. It’ll be just me, my parents, and maybe an aunt or two. My brother and all my cousins will be at their spouses’ families for the holiday. I spent last Thanksgiving alone as I was having bad flare ups on and off for weeks before. My brother had his four kids at my mom’s house and I didn’t want to risk having problems around the kids. I may have had breakdowns on my parents, doctors, counselors, and friends but I’m not about to take my illness out on children. I know my flare ups wear on my friends and make my parents and extended family sick with worry. But even in the worst flare ups I ever had I never completely cut off family.
The holidays can be rough time for people. In many families past grievances are brought up and cause divisions within. It wasn’t until recent years did I realize just how unique my family was in that we never got to where we stopped talking to people. I think my situation is made easier by both of my parents spending their careers in the medical fields and most people on both sides of my family being above average smarts and pretty accepting of my mental health problems. My father has a cousin with bipolar I believe. He lives on his own but I don’t think he holds a permanent job. It helps that most of my extended family had previous experience working with mental health problems because of my father’s cousin. My family has had it’s disagreements and problems but we never got to where we just cut communication.
I’m not going out shopping on Black Friday. Did that probably twelve years ago. My father and I went to a home improvement warehouse and I was cured of ever wanting to do Black Friday again after about thirty minutes. And that place was quite mild compared to many places. I do most of my shopping online anymore. I wonder how the whole Black Friday madness ever got started. I worked in retail one Christmas and it certainly gave me a renewed appreciation for retail store clerks and what they go through from late October to late December.
As far as my Thanksgiving plans go, I’ll probably enjoy my parents company, maybe help them decorate their house with Christmas lights, and be appreciative that I weathered another year while fighting with schizophrenia. I’ll also be thankful for the science and tech advances made this year, some of which I have outlined in previous blog entries.
Been feeling quite stable the last several days. I still have my flare ups of anxiety and irritability but fortunately they are not as intense as they once were. I’m beginning to reduce some of the doses of my medications as I tend to do well mentally in the late fall and winter months. I’m even not as irritable about Christmas this year. I see people are already putting up their decorations. I haven’t decorated for holidays in years. I just don’t see the need to. I will no doubt continue to avoid the mall and the big box stores during the holidays as I can now do all my shopping online. Thank God for amazon and the postal service.
I did a little Christmas shopping for myself already in the way of a couple new books and a couple computer games. I don’t usually go all out for the holidays being on a limited budget. I don’t buy a lot of gifts for people for Christmas simply because I usually don’t have that much money. But then again, even Jesus hasn’t gotten Christmas gifts in 2000 years. Must be rough that everybody but you gets gifts on your designated birthday. No wonder practitioners of other faiths think Christians are odd 🙂
I have found myself eating less over the last week or so. I usually eat two meals a day and drink lots of water and caffeine between meals. Even though caffeine can make me irritable in large doses, it does act as an appetite reducer for me. It’s not necessarily a bad deal as I haven’t had to buy groceries in three weeks. I’m eating less, sleeping less than usual (but I don’t feel tired or sluggish), getting outside more often in spite the colder weather, and genuinely feeling better than I did this summer and early fall.
As of right now I don’t have any plans for Thanksgiving. My cousins already had theirs and my aunts are going to their kids’ places. It may be just myself this year again. I opted out of Thanksgiving last year as I wasn’t feeling mentally stable and didn’t want to have problems around my brother’s kids. I probably should volunteer at one of the community Thanksgiving dinners that groups like the Knights of Columbus or the local food pantry puts on. One year my entire extended family and I volunteered at a community dinner in my hometown. Found out there were more shut ins and family less people than I thought. But if it is just me I just may go to the KFC and buy one of their large family meals the night before and live off that for a day or two. A friend of mine traditionally has lobster instead of turkey.
Even though I may not be doing anything really special for the holidays I can always call or video conference with family and friends. Thanks to the internet and social media platforms if you don’t stay in contact with friends and family it’s your own doing. I’ve been getting back on Facebook more now that the hoopla of the election has finally died down. Regardless of whether I go to my mother’s place or not I’ll definitely make a point of keeping in touch with my parents. I talk to my parents usually twice a week even though I’m in my mid thirties. I talk to them more now than when I was in my late teens and twenties. I don’t know what it is but they seem more interesting now and less domineering now then when I was in high school. But I suppose since I don’t live in the same town and have proven I can be on my own for a dozen years it’s like they’re more old and wise friends rather than the authority figures they were when they were when I still lived in their house.
I just hope I never catch myself complaining about the younger generations when I get older. I’m seeing my friends in my age bracket complaining about teenagers and college students and I’m thinking “Dude, that was us twenty years ago. We didn’t know anything back then and we still turned out alright. Ease off.” If I ever find myself complaining about the “kids” and/or talking about how much better it was in the past, I hope someone comes along and slaps some sense back into me. I remember what it was like being a kid and listening to the elders complain about me and my cohorts. And back then I promised myself I would never voluntarily put anyone younger than I am through that. It sucks not being taken serious because of your youth. It sucks not being taken serious because of my mental illness. But that is a topic for another place and time.
The end of the year holidays are upon us once again. For some it means going back to the old childhood hometown and gathering with family. Others will go out in the pre dawn hours to fight the hordes in one of the greatest and time honored of American traditions, buying junk. Spent one holiday shopping season working as a retail store clerk years ago. It gave me a renewed appreciation for store clerks working at such a hectic time. We were often understaffed and running out of popular items. Not very fun. I was quite a cynical Scrooge when it came to the holidays for several years afterward. To a degree I still am cynical about the holidays.
The holidays have long been a stressful time for me. I really haven’t enjoyed the holidays since I was ten years old. By the time I got to high school I saw the holidays as little more than a series of senseless rituals and activities attempting to capture an unobtainable ideal of happiness and joy that exists only in fantasy. Part of my stress comes from watching others strive for this fantasy ideal of the perfect Christmas or Thanksgiving and they try to include me in that nonsense. The holidays aren’t going to be perfect and to expect them to be is insane. So is going to any store on Black Friday. I can imagine just observing the mob mentality in any major mall or box store would be a good case study for any psychology class. But maybe in the future the crush of crowds in stores will be replaced with online realtors’ servers getting overloaded during the holidays.
For me going to even the supermarket between Halloween and Christmas is stressful. Too much sensory overload and stimulation from all the decorations, piped in Christmas songs, and Salvation Army bell ringers. Too bad there aren’t any really cool Halloween or Labor Day songs. And the only places I ever heard St. Patrick’s Day Irish songs or Cinco de Mayo Mariachi music were in pubs, Mexican restaurants, and bars. For me, the real fun of the end of the year holidays come after Christmas and watching college football bowl games every night for two weeks. My New Year’s Day ritual is pretty much grilling steaks or brats and watching football all day. So it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge. I’m just selective about being Scrooge.
The sensory overload and overstimulation while working with schizophrenia during the holidays often make the holidays tough for me. Anymore I’m just happy with going to my old hometown for a couple days and enjoying the extended family. Actually the family gatherings aren’t that stressful even though I enjoy the Easter gatherings more because of the better weather. But to all my readers, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanza, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Saturnalia for any student of ancient history, and Happy Birthday Sir Isaac Newton for my scientifically inclined friends.