I did go and do some shopping on Black Friday. That is, if grocery shopping counts. Bought enough food to last several days. I haven’t eaten fast food in a few days as I’m doing my own cooking again. I’ve also had some of my psych meds doses lowered as I’ve been stabilizing for a few weeks. I sleep a little less now. I’m staying up later again but I really don’t drink that much caffeine. I have all but given up coffee and I usually have only one or two soda pops a day. I notice I feel less tense and short tempered since cutting back on the caffeine.
I’m back to eating less too. For several weeks I was practically living off fast food and I have no doubt my health suffered. Now that I’m back to cooking my own meals and eating healthier I am gradually noticing small improvements. My stamina is beginning to come back, I am not as irritable, I am not as short tempered, my flare ups aren’t as bad, and I’m getting better sleep. I think I have also lost a few pounds as my clothes are fitting a little looser.
I’m looking forward to winter even though I missed the summer with back problems and had more stress than usual during the fall. I love the chilly weather, I don’t mind shoveling snow, I love spending time with family over Christmas, I enjoy watching college football games all day on New Year’s, and I like making cold weather food like potato and cheese soup and chili. My Christmas shopping is done as I just did everything online this year.
I didn’t get what I wanted accomplished health wise this year. I gained back much of the weight I had lost in 2014 and 2015. Some of this came after I hurt my back and lost a summer’s worth of exercise. Some of this came as I was more depressed and unstable this year than some of my previous years. But for the last few weeks I’ve been having more of a sense of stability than I have had for months. I’ve actually gotten some of my more healthy routines going again. I still don’t socialize much in my apartment complex as I’m trying to avoid negative and depressing people. I’m gradually getting back on Facebook. I avoided it as much as I could for most of the fall. But now that winter is almost here I’m getting to where I want to socialize to break up some of the colder, slower days.
It’s been a rough last several days for me. I’ve been feeling quite depressed and hopeless for much of the last two weeks. I still don’t cook much as I’ve been eating mostly fast food for the last two weeks. That’s probably part of my problem right there; I just don’t have the motivation and energy to cook lately. I’ve been sleeping probably twelve hours a night for the last two weeks. Anymore I have to force myself to get out of bed and get out of the apartment.
Paranoia has been a problem too. I usually spend most of my days in my apartment doing internet searches or reading books because I’m scared of people anymore. I am afraid of them and my paranoid voices tell me that most people are stupid and not worth dealing with. The voices also tell me that people are violent animals who don’t know how to settle issues without violence. And then I go on Facebook and see violent news stories in my news feeds and people’s posts advocating violence against anyone who doesn’t agree with them. After months of a steady diet of negativity which I didn’t seek out, I’ve become despondent and hopeless. There are times anymore I don’t have any hope for the future of the human race or myself. Sometimes I can’t figure out how we as a species have made it this long. I hope I’m just paranoid and reading too much into news stories and people’s comments. I really hope it’s the paranoia that’s going full power and not the way people really are.
With not cooking for the last couple weeks, I really don’t have a healthy diet. No doubt I’ve gained a bunch of weight in the last few weeks. At this point I really don’t care if I ever do lose weight and get physically healthy. Losing weight isn’t going to cure schizophrenia. Losing weight isn’t going to get rid of my depression. I have no desire to work or date again. I’ve seen what messes both those arenas are and I want no more part of them. I really don’t care if I ever get healthy. I’m tired of fighting a losing battle. I’m tired of always having to watch my back. I’m tired of people being mean and angry all the time.
In an attempt to try to help myself recover from my current depression, I am going to attempt to avoid Facebook for the next several days. I’ll still have my blogs posted there as I’m on an automatic post to Facebook set up. It’s just depressing to see people snipe at each other and myself over the most trivial of matters. I’m depressed with how messed up most people’s priorities are. At least their posts indicate their priorities are out of wack. I guess I never completely learned that who people are online is not always who they are in real life. That’s another lesson I missed while in school that most people seem to have gotten. I’m just going to lay low and try to avoid social media until I’m feeling better.
Now that my back has completely healed I’ve been getting out of my apartment more the last couple weeks. At my most recent doctor’s appointment I found out I gained 15 pounds this summer. Most of this is no doubt due to lack of physical activity and my eating too much comfort foods. I did spend this summer with alternating periods of depression and irritability. I spent too much time indoors and exercising my mind and not enough exercising my body. In short, this summer has been a loss in terms of physical health and activity. The only positive of this summer is that I’m posting more on this blog and have gotten some more audience.
But fall is just a few weeks away. I can already tell the days are getting shorter. We also are no longer having several days in a row with nothing but scorching heat. Looking ahead I see that we’re supposed to have some more cooler weather over the next several days. I have spent most of my afternoons indoors avoiding the heat. Since I spent the first month of summer on the mend I never adjusted to the warmer weather. I normally have bad times during the summer. Besides the blow ups on a couple friends I haven’t had any real serious problems this summer. I know that I still have another three to four weeks of traditionally bad times ahead. Hopefully I can make it through without anything else major. I made it through last summer before having problems in October but I think working through my grandmother’s death made me more resilient because I had no options. So my problems last year weren’t avoided as much as they were delayed. So far things look good mentally.
I have been bored by the forced inactivity this summer. Besides seeing my family a few times I really haven’t had much for social activity since Memorial Day. But with the weather starting to get cooler and the nights starting to get longer, maybe my social activities will increase in the coming weeks. I admit I am not sorry to see this summer go. I’m ready for cooler weather again.
Saw my psych doctor last week. We haven’t changed any medications or dosages this winter. Winter has usually been a pretty stable time for me, at least after all the nonsense of Christmas blows over. We added a third anti psych med in October after I have a vicious but short lived psychotic breakdown. It seems to be doing alright. It definitely makes me fall asleep and stay asleep. I have to take it right before bed. Any other time I will be asleep for at least five hours straight. I take all my meds at once right before bed. It’s easy to remember things that way.
With these current medications I’m taking, I have to real careful about not missing doses. I have found I don’t sleep well and have vivid dreams when I accidentally skipped doses with these meds. Some anti depressants I was on years ago, like Prozac, could be forgiving and not affect me too bad if I missed a dose. I suppose Prozac is one of those drugs that can build up in your body over time. When I decided I was going off my meds back in early 2007, I was on Prozac. At first it felt good to be not taking medications every day. Notice I said at first. I was able to work 60 hours a week again and was getting interested in dating again. But the good times didn’t last. I was off the meds entirely for almost two months before reality came back to hit me. I probably should have committed myself for that breakdown. I went off the meds again in early 2013. Felt alright for two months once more before the reality came back with a vengeance. I was lucky and smart for realizing I needed to go back on the medications. Both times I was on medications that probably stayed in the body longer than most. That’s got to be the only reason I did alright for weeks before I had problems.
My current medications are not as forgiving if I miss a dose. But they have fewer side effects. When I was on most of my previous medications I did well mentally but not physically. I gained weight on almost all my previous psychotic medications. I gained a lot of weight. I gained almost two hundred pounds from when I started on psychotic medications in late 2000 until I started my current medications in spring 2013. I didn’t get it that I had to force myself to be active and that I was using the psych medication promoting weight gain as an excuse to overeat and not be active. But since I got serious about exercise and eating healthy I have lost forty pounds in two years. I still have a long way to go but I am on the right path.
If I had to give advice on whether one should go off medications because of fears of weight gain and resulting problems, talk with your psych doctor and general practice doctor both before you do anything. Do not do anything like that on your own. You will have a breakdown and probably have to be hospitalized. I got off easy in that I didn’t have to go to the hospital because I recognized that my mental health was falling apart early on. Also, it should be noted, that medical advances being what they are, newer treatments with fewer side effects are being developed regularly. I didn’t think the genetic ‘black box’ for schizophrenia would be found as soon as it was. It was found only twelve years after the Human Genome project was finished in 2003. I don’t know if I’ll ever live to see an outright cure for mental illnesses, but I am remaining optimistic. It is certainly exciting times we are living in.
Winter is normally not a time people think about diet and exercise outside of a New Year’s Resolution. These well intended resolutions to strive for better health usually don’t make it past the second week of January before old habits come back. I think this is because few people don’t give enough time for positive change to take effect. Far too many people think that adopting good habits are merely a matter of making a decision and acting on that decision. The fact that highs and lows, wins and losses, up days and down days are not taken into consideration. This is why so many people give up on good intentions after a couple rough days. Very few people make allowances for setbacks and screw ups.
For my diet and exercise routine, the second half of 2015 was one setback after another. I didn’t exercise enough, I was under too much stress, I ate too much, I got out of the habit of keeping track of what I ate, I quit lifting weights, and I wasn’t getting consistent sleep. Consistent sleep helps with weight loss and mental stability. Without consistent sleep, hormones can become out of balance and that alone can mess with weight loss. I gained at least 30 pounds from early July to New Year’s Eve precisely because things like exercise, sleep, stress levels, and eating were not consistent. For most of the summer and fall of 2015 I was pulling two all nighters per week on average. I’d try to sleep during the days but it just wasn’t the same. I didn’t have enough sleep and I also didn’t have the quality of sleep I needed for weight loss or mental stability. I didn’t get the consistent good nutrition I needed either. Looking back on July to December of last year, it’s no wonder I went in reverse. I’m also not surprised that I had two nervous breakdowns. Fortunately I didn’t have to go to the hospital either time.
But since the first of January I have consciously made choices for better health. I don’t pull all nighters any more. I don’t skip taking my medications. I take more time to relax and not feel guilty for having a small amount of time every day to clear my mind. I exercise for at least 10 minutes every day rather than go hard for two days and take a day off like I was in the fall. I’m back to lifting weights three times a week and I’m noticing improvements after only a few weeks. I eat when I’m hungry and never just because the clock tells me it’s breakfast or dinner time. Somedays I’ll have my last meal of the day by 5pm. And others I won’t eat “breakfast” until 11 am. I also make far more mental notes on what I’m eating. I don’t track as strictly now because I know how many calories most foods have just by looking at the serving sizes and the labels. But it took over a year and half of hard tracking to get that level of knowledge.
As a result of my efforts, I’ve lost seven pounds since January 1. I want to eventually lose 150 more pounds. But this is a life long commitment to a lifestyle change, not just a diet to be followed and endured for six months and then discarded once a goal has been met. Overall since I started this lifestyle overhaul I’m down 35 pounds since March 2014. The road has had detours and potholes along the way. But I never gave up the dream of a healthier body and a more stable mind even when it seemed nothing was going right.
It has been quite hectic for several months for myself. Between my friend’s wedding, my grandmother’s death, my typical rough late summer and early fall flare ups, my car accident, and the stomach problems, it has been quite eventful since early summer. As a result I got stressed out and lazy about my exercise and diet routines. I wound up gaining 35 pounds from Memorial Day to Halloween. But after my back problems cleared and I changed my diet because of my stomach problems, I’m losing weight again. I’m now down 12 pounds in the las six weeks. Over all since I started the routine of diet, exercise, and lifestyle change I’m down 50 pounds. Still want to lose at least 100 more pounds. But I knew this was a complete lifestyle overhaul when I got started in March 2014. This is going to take years of work and a lifetime of maintenance. Yet I am back on the right track again. On top of that I feel mentally more stable. It’s amazing what a few weeks of stability and less drama can do.
I haven’t posted for awhile so an update is in order. I have been struggling with the diet and exercise routine for the last two months. I gained around 15 pounds since the middle of May. I admit I haven’t been as compulsive about tracking what I eat since at least early May. I’ve been exercising at least 4 to 5 days a week, but it’s apparently not enough exercise to keep the weight loss going. I work on losing weight as I have a family history of heart and high blood pressure problems. I refuse to be one of those who dies in their 40s of something they could have prevented. Overall, I’m still down 55 pounds. But this summer has been much tougher than the last. Heck, I was even having much better success losing weight in the winter than I am now.
I want to get back into tracking what I eat again. That was really working. I became haphazard about it. I even quit tracking for most of this month. I must be consuming far more than I thought. In spring 2014, it took only one day of tracking before I figured out I was eating way too much to hope to lose weight. I’m getting back on that again.
The exercising was going good since I got back from the Black Hills until I pulled a muscle in my lower back this morning. Looks like heat packs, ibuprofen, and not exercising for the next day or two. But if I was taking in more than I was burning off, then the exercise was essentially being nullified. So the day or two away from the exercise will allow me to get reacquainted with tracking my food consumption.