Meeting without Sleep

4:38am

I guess I should have expected this. I got one brief night of reprieve, but am otherwise definitely riding a solid hypo-manic/up period, including the sleep disturbance.

cafe-conversation

I mentioned previously that, being awake early can be a problem if an early morning meeting is later. Particularly if that meeting is around the time when I’d be getting my “catch up” / second cycle of sleep in.

Should I try to push though and stay awake? Should I use some caffeine to help make that happen?
When should I cancel such a meeting, even at the last minute? Sometimes, like today, that doesn’t feel like a real option for me: the costs would be too great in this case.

It’s a struggle, I’m unsure about what to do.

I’ve come a long ways to making peace with and accepting my condition, especially regarding this impact of lack of sleep that it can have. So my stress from the lack of sleep isn’t that high.

But I’m definitely concerned. I don’t have a record of trying various options in this scenario. That partly because I work to avoid being in this scenario. And partly because when I’m not hypo-manic, then this can’t crop up.

Yet here I am. In the middle of a hypo-manic period which is disturbing every night of sleep for nearly two weeks running, with an important, early morning meeting. Like two oncoming trains, the only question was when, not if, they were going to collide.


The only small changes recently to previous trigger lists are caffeine and interaction.

I allowed myself slightly more caffeine yesterday. It’s a weakness of mine. There was a weak justification I told myself in my head, but I drank more coffee because I wanted more coffee.

There was more interaction yesterday, after having less. In particular, the interesting and exciting interaction of new ideas and new connections (and again, fueled further by caffeine). When I got home, I said to myself that I was going to be awake in the middle of the night[1].


Maybe the sole bright spot is that there isn’t a song in my head this morning. Hopefully that is an indicator that this mania is subsiding.


 

[1] Long-time readers know that’s the easy bet: multiple days running of being awake, I’m in a hypo-manic period. Any given night will probably not be the first night of a changed sleep schedule. But still, I knew the ideas had hit me very profoundly and they would upset my internal emotional balance.


Photo Credit: Dave Gilbert

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Meeting without Sleep

I need to sleep *cough*

3:58am

What is this, six days running? It’s at least five for sure.[0]

sleepless

Frustrated, on the one hand.

On the other, I feel like I’m doing a better job managing. I’ve had a morning meeting, and made it – despite waking up early (in the middle of the night) that morning. I’ve had a long morning hike, and made it.

And not just barely straggled through, but been fully present and engaged.

I can make it on five hours of sleep when otherwise rested. Five hours only for too many nights and that’s a problem. Six is completely fine for a night or two. At least the same hypo-mania that brings lack of sleep brings some energy to manage through the lack of sleep.

But I’m worn out from this lack of sleep. So definitely wishing for those days with more sleep.

Rundown? Thought so.


Information Diet: Reduced.

I’ve continued on the cutback diet, avoiding information that generally makes me less happy and sucks up time. I haven’t been overly strict with this, but still reduced and avoiding.

 

Caffeine: Mostly continued, slightly more.

I’ve continued the “new regime” of strict caffeine intact monitory. Strict and much reduced. Most people would think that the amount can’t possibly be affecting me. Maybe it isn’t, maybe the effect I feel is placebo. Placebo affect is real, even if the stimulus isn’t.

What I have changed is that, due to some increased interactions, I’ve had caffeine a few times in preparation for those interactions where otherwise I wouldn’t have. This is the approach I have been taking: trying to limit caffeine strictly but recognizing its use for boosting my mood.

Faced with an evening of interactions, late afternoon caffeine will boost my mood throughout the afternoon and evening but doesn’t interfere with falling to sleep. That works.

Of course, I don’t know that it doesn’t have an effect on my alertness at the 4am time spot.

I really want to have three or more days off caffeine soon. I’m not sure about when to do this abstinence given all the work I want to get down. Won’t be today

 

Diet: Well, some breaks.[1]

I’ve been doing very well here. As for the diet specifically, even finding some new tweaks that work better diet-wise. But a few breaks for various events.

 

Interaction: Whew. More.

Both social and works events. Work in particular much increased this past week with three events, one being higher stress in particular.

Above, I wondered if the caffeine use for interaction was part of the cause of this hypo-mania. That is, the caffeine as a cause.

Now I’m wondering if it is the interaction that is the cause. And the caffeine is merely correlated (more interaction means more caffeine use to keep up). If I had to guess, I’d guess correlated – but since I can’t know, it’s still worth taking a break from caffeine and seeing if that doesn’t even me out.

 

Exercise:  Back to usual.

After doing nothing, I’ve gotten back to the basics in a focused way this past week and done well. Even watching for some feeling “down” and planning to use that as a trigger to get exercise.

Being more tired, late afternoons once caffeine is clearly gone, I feel a bit dark. I noticed this and so exercised, the next day, expected this fatigue and related “down” mood to set it and planned to exercise when it did. As usual, exercise is the best antidepressant we humans have available.

Also did more this weekend.

 

Stress: Mixed.

While mostly low, there were a few extra stressors this week. From shuffling my overall medium-term schedule, as well as acute stressing events.

Shuffling my medium-term plans is stressful in two ways. One, changing plans generally causes me stress. It is frustrating to have to juggle and re-set things. Secondly, my medium-term plans were things I had been putting off but that I really wanted to do. I didn’t want to do what I was planning on shifting into, though I recognized its value so was going to change. Things haven’t finalized on this, so likely some low-level background stress continues to radiate from this possible-pending change.

Probably additionally enhanced by the “possibly” part: the unknown. That this change that I don’t want to make might still happen, but I don’t know so I can’t even just accept the change and get on with it. As possible, I’m trying to live like it isn’t coming and just ignore it. But it requires my attention sometimes so I have to then live like I’m completely sold on the change and that it will indeed happen. So completely ignoring it is difficult.

The acute stress event is related to the schedule shift: the event precipitating the change.

 

*NEW* Induction: Good, but may change.

New thing here: what things are inducing, eliciting, or drawing me forward or towards happiness? While the other items are stress, stressors, and managing items. This is more about things that elicit happiness, health, and well-being.

The medium-term shift to my schedule? Well, my current focus is on something I’ve been promising myself for quite some time. Explicitly for about a year, implicitly much longer[2] . Also, it is a really good thing to focus on.

So working on it has been a good thing drawing me forward. Imagining a better world and life.

It has also been something that was calling for a lot of good effort and learning from me. So it is beneficial in that way as well: the joy of learning and the satisfaction of being challenged.


I’m proud of myself for maintaining the activities that I need to stay healthy: diet, exercise, time to myself to think and relax. I know how I have sometimes let these slip, even while knowing how helpful they can be.

While my mania and its cause I cannot control. I can control activities that drive me to be healthier. And I’ve been doing those well. That’s within my locus of control, so that’s what I work with and accept the rest that I cannot change.


Beyond the things that push for unhappiness, other things push me towards happiness. I want to think about those more and monitor them more closely. My goal isn’t just to reduce or manage things that make me unhappy[3] and end up “normal” or “fine”, but to get to be healthier and happier in general.

Sometimes there are efforts, projects, work, or plans that can represent and bring about that better future. I’ve had more of that in my life recently and will be more conscious of seeking out more of those and cultivating those that I have. I’m not really sure the best ways to do this.


Anxiety has been much reduced recently. Not sure when it dropped off nor why. Feels so random that anxiety just shows up unannounced and then disappears equally as unannounced.



[0] Reviewing other posts, it’s possibly/likely that this is actually eight nights: since previous posts.

[1] Showing that increased interaction and stress, like experienced this week, doesn’t have to set my diet off. It’s more than possible to manage and maintain the activities needed to be healthy even in the face of stress.

[2] “implicitly”: I’m thinking of GTD plans/stress and “internal commitments” that we make without thinking about them. They can stack up as internal stress or frustration when I feel we are falling short of this expectation that we have even though we haven’t actually made any formal commitment to accomplishing something.

[3] I’m using “unhappy” pretty loosely here. I’m thinking of things that cause me to be down, depress, unhappy, or just generally aren’t where I want my life to be. Not just things that make me unhappy in some small, fleeting way.


Photo Credit: micagoto


 

I need to sleep *cough*

Silly

5:18am

I really thought yesterday was the anomaly. Since my brain didn’t wake itself up and even though I recognized the “immediately awake” state of my brain. I still somehow thought I wasn’t kicking off another “up” period of hypo-manic lack of sleep. Silly me.

jonathan-gross-delusional

It’s so alluring, the thought of being normal. And, when I am normal for long periods, I forget or convince myself that that normal is the new normal[1]. I forget that the very nature of cyclothymia (or manic depressive / bi polar) is literally the cycles or the shifting from one pole to another. The cycling from one state to another is the definition of the condition. It’s right there in the name, just what it says on the tin.


However much I may be lulling myself into forgetting that normal isn’t for me normal, I am not forgetting how to manage. I’m not frustrated by this wakefulness. I am not confused and running through a list of things that may have triggered “bad sleep” (Did I exercise too late at night? Did I have caffeine too late in the day? Is the bedroom uncomfortable?). Sleep problems are a symptom, and so solving them isn’t the ultimate goal. And this is just a state to be accepted and managed – fighting against it only brings frustration when the fighting doesn’t work in promoting sleep.


The song in my head this morning


[1] Not so dissimilar to how when I’m “down” it feels like I’ll be down forever. Though  I usually have a voice in the back of my brain reminding me that this isn’t normal – except for the darkest of days when there is no such voice. And when I’m “up” I’m very clear that this is a temporary state of affairs and will soon pass.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Gross


For the record, did get out and exercise yesterday. Streak of 1 so far.

Silly

Anxiety, continued normal

5:33am

Not as crazy early, thankfully.

Been doing much better recently. I’d like to think that this is due to taking better care of myself, but I’m not so delusional as to think my conscious actions are the primary driver of my health. I do have some power here, but it’s far from completely within my control.

I have been having more anxiety in general. That has been a bit of a learning experience to feel otherwise well and healthy but yet have this anxiety to contend with. Previously, I hadn’t really thought through how my anxiety interacted with my up-down cycles. It seems completely independent. Looking back, I can identify other periods where my main struggle is just experiencing anxiety.

I haven’t been particularly “up” recently. Definitely not down – mostly middling, slightly up. The anxiety comes, as it often does, in periods of repetition. There will be a trigger or two and anxiety will well up, threatening to overtake me. I’ve experienced a few instances in public where I wasn’t able to handle it very well though I suspect no one but me really knew the inner turmoil – it didn’t spill outside me too far.


It wasn’t my brain that initially woke me up tonight. It was obviously an external environmental factor. But my brain was instantly alert. Not any rushed thoughts, but I suspected that I was now “awake”. As it was, I tried to settle back down only to have one thought after another pop into my brain, insisting on being dealt with, resolved, or investigated. That was my final tip-off that this wasn’t going to be just a brief period of wakefulness, but that my mind was up and running at full.


Trigger check-in:

Information diet: Many cutbacks.

I cut back several weeks ago, and also made a more concerted effort to cut back further a week ago. I’ve been allowing myself more of various types of information input and realized that some of it, while not immediately obviously a problem, was in the longer-term detrimental to my health and happiness.

I think that’s what is so insidious about the information inputs: some things aren’t really a problem immediately. It’s only by allowing them for longer periods that I feel they are detrimental – and it’s really not obvious that they are the culprit.

That non-obviousness makes me wonder if my current anxiety is exacerbated by my current information diet and whether it would be helpful to cut back further. I’ll probably try to cut back further and see how it helps.

 

Caffeine: Strictly controlled.

I had been hoping to have it occasionally at most. But I find it very helpful to get my day started. So I have a very precise, controlled, amount and otherwise avoid all caffeine.

I also use it as an aid when dealing with the outside world. Prior to a situation that I know will be stressful, I may plan to have another small amount of caffeine. This week, prior to going out for a longer period of personal interaction in the evening, I scheduled a smaller morning amount of caffeine so that I could have a second small dose of caffeine prior to going out. (Still not late when I consumed it.) I’ve done this a few times and find it can be very helpful by setting up my internal feelings well for navigating social situations. I attribute it to the general positive outlook that it engenders.

 

Diet: Mostly good.

I’ve been predominantly eating well throughout, with a few occasions of eating in a celebratory manner with friends. This is now a relatively long stretch of holding a pretty good diet.

 

Interaction: More than usual.

Definitely a higher level of interaction than usual. Some work events, and some increased personal social times. Mostly this hasn’t felt as draining as expected. Though I may be just more attuned to expecting this than I have in the past, so it’s just as draining as it has ever been and I’m just monitoring more closely and expecting worse results than normal by being hyper-aware of this.

 

Exercise: None.

This has been sadly lacking. The small amounts that I had been doing previously, I haven’t even achieved to maintain. Some of this driven by scheduling conflict (or lack of prioritizing it), some just lack of effort in this area. I should prioritize it a bit higher. But, other than that, I’m not sure what to do and I don’t think that will be sufficient to get exercise to the point that I think it will be helpful.

 

Stress: Relatively low, some high spots.

Mostly the bits of higher stress have been covered previously: some stress from social interactions, but also a few other stressors from outside forces beyond my control. Two in particular come to mind that triggered a good deal of anxiety for me.


 

Anxiety, continued normal