Tuesday, February 05, 2008

To Sleep Or Not To Sleep

The following is an IM exchange between me and my sister-friend Jamie. With her permission I am posting it as an introduction of the topic and a way to get some of the info on the table. I have edited it minimally only for clarity so most of our typos and shorthand are intact. I will add a few explanatory comments in a different font.

I will add commentary at the end.

To set the scene: I had just logged back in after a restart that I'd had to initiate in the middle of our discussion because Windows was being a brat.

Joy winks:
A wink is a mini-cartoon of about 3 seconds. A glorified smiley.
Play "Silly Face" This one is of a stick-figure face peeking around an edge. We use it to say 'Hi'
Jamie says:
hello
Joy says:
i forgot to look at the time before i started so i don't know how long that took
Jamie says:
about 20 minutes
Joy says:
seemed a lot longer
Jamie says:
it always does
Jamie says:
LOL
Joy says:
like watching moss grow
Jamie says:
or water boiling.
Joy says:
LOL
Jamie says:
I know it didn't take me that long to write out my post and post it. I knew what I wanted to post, I found something. I dedicated it to dad and Rick.
Joy says:
cool
Joy says:
i still don't know what i'm going to do. all my ideas would take hours to put together
Jamie says:
do you have a quote that you like
Jamie says:
and then you can write a brief summary , like a paragraphy or two of why you inspires you.
Jamie says:
paragraph, not pagraphy. I don't think that is a word.
Joy says:
lol . i got it
Joy says:
and: you inspires you?
Jamie says:
that inspires you.
Joy says:
fingers getting tangled?
Jamie says:
yeah, i just finished typing
Jamie says:
a long thing
Joy says:
ah
Jamie says:
and sometimes I think faster than I can type
Joy says:
me too
Joy says:
i suppose i could muse about the movie ed and i watched today
Jamie says:
you can write a paragraph or two about that
Joy says:
but to do it right i would want to go look for something about it online and get pics to post with my comments
Jamie says:
or a link
Jamie says:
would do it justice right
Joy says:
that is the time consuming part. that and editing after i get my thots down
Jamie says:
maybe that could be for tomorrow, and you can do just a quote tonight that inspired you.
Joy says:
at least a link. but pics are more eyecatching and people tend to stop to see what they are about
Joy says:
i know i do
Joy says:
tomorrow is tt. and i think i am doing pics of the old and new library. if i get to go
Jamie says:
cool
Joy says:
i've got the pics of the old library
Joy says:
i am planning to take my camera and maybe even my computer with me to the library tomorrow
Joy says:
but i started with a sore throat this evening. and if it is pouring rain i shouldn't try to walk in it. not just because of a sore throat but becz it compromises vision
which makes it more dangerous for me being legally blind already and add that to an unfamiliar route as it would be my first walk to the new library
Joy says:
it is pouring now. or was a few minutes ago
Joy says:
if i am getting what ed has i sure hope it doesn't hit me as hard
Joy says:
if it does, i will need your encouragement to stay on course with CC. not just the blog but the attitude
CC stands for Creative Change and is the name Jamie gave to our joint project to encourage each other and hold each other accountable for making healthy choices for our life and reaching for our dreams by setting incremental goals. We have a private blog by that name too where we post about our goals, inspirational quotes, progress reports and so forth.

OK. Heads up. Here's where the discussion reaches the topic:
Jamie says:
yeah that doesn't sound good. get some sleep, what is that stuff you are taking called again
Jamie says:
I will
meaning she will provide the encouragement if i get sick and falter and help me keep my expectations based in reality.
Joy says:
airborne. i took one abut seven
Joy says:
or do you mean 5HTP
Joy says:
i'm planning to take one tonight if i get posted early enough. but i don't know.
Jamie says:
that second one.
Joy says:
i stayed awake too long last night. didn't post til five AM
Joy says:
so it was way too late to take it. i would have slept thru ed's day off
Joy says:
i was also hoping to watch another movie tonight
Joy says:
but that probably isn't wise.
Jamie says:
why didn't you take it at midnight
she means the 5HTP which is a food supplement that provides a building block of seritonin which is the brain chemical that most anti-depressants of the Zoloft and Prozac family act on.

Joy says:
they all have to go back tomorrow
i'm talking about the movies
Joy says:
because i could tell i wasn't going to be posted by two and i was afraid i would not be able to stay awake to finish
Joy says:
if i took it
Joy says:
i know. i need a waterballoon
i am referring to the wink we use to call each other on irrational thinking, negative self-talk, sabotaging behavior and so forth
Joy says:
this is one of my big issues. i've always hated letting go of which ever state of consciousness i am in
Joy says:
if i am asleep and dreaming i hate to wake up
Jamie winks:
this wink is of a rascally boy in a knit cap laughing the 'evil' laugh as he takes aim with a water balloon and throws it straight at your face. a big wet splat covers the screen.
Play "Water Balloon"
Joy says:
if i am awake and engaged in something important even thots i hate to sleep
Joy says:
lol
Joy says:
thanx i needed that
Joy says:
mom said i was that way as an infant
Joy says:
i would fight sleep. then i would fight waking up. and at times would sleep twelve whole hours
Joy says:
and when i woke up i would demonstrate some new talent
Jamie says:
well
Joy says:
well what
Jamie says:
then how are going to fix that or change that pattern.
Joy says:
as dr phil would say: i have to acknowledge first that it is change worthy behavior
Jamie says:
do you feel that way
Joy says:
stop justifying it, making excuses, stop denying that there are more cons than pros
Joy says:
sometimes. after a big crash
Joy says:
but when i am in this zone
Joy says:
OMG
Joy says:
i feel unstoppable
Joy says:
not quite the right word
Jamie says:
you feel like the energizer bunny
Joy says:
but it is like a high. an altered state of consciousness that feels more real that regular reality
Joy says:
after i have slept the first several hours after waking i feel like a slug in mud
Joy says:
unless i've slept less than six hours
Joy says:
then the transition is quicker
Jamie says:
i think you definatley have autism
Jamie says:
of some strain
Joy says:
??????
i am asking for more info and expressing surprise.
Jamie says:
well ambers boy is exactly like that with his sleep.
amber is her friend who's boy is diagnosed as autistic but high functioning. he goes to main stream school
Jamie says:
and he keeps going and doesn't want to stop for bed and then he is extremely difficult to get up in the morning
Jamie says:
and get him ready for school.
Jamie says:
not like the rain man, and also some other things you describe to me
Jamie says:
it isn't a bad thing, just something to accept about yourself and things that cannot be changed, but can be adjusted to.
Jamie says:
It doesn't sound like you are doing it out of defiance or anything like that, it is a health thing.
Joy says:
meaning what? re can't be changed
Jamie says:
right, in the sleeping thing, no.
Joy says:
that it would be expecting the impossible to insist on a regular sleep habit?
Jamie says:
Because no matter how hard Amber tries with Cullen, it isn't worth fighting him over, the doctor said this to her becuase she was getting angry with him over it. So, as long as he is quiet in his room, then he can be up and then she is able to get him up for school a lot easier and stuff. It is him adjusting.
Jamie says:
only if he doesn't sleep, but when he is asleep, then it is a bit difficult, and it saves her a lot of anger issues. Maybe if you accept that about yourself, then you are not going to get angry with yourself.
Jamie says:
have you ever kept a regular sleep pattern for a long time
Joy says:
i'm still not clear about what u mean.
Joy says:
no
Joy says:
never in my memory back to age four
Jamie says:
well, then accept that about yourself, and deal with it each night, becuase that is how often it changes, or how ever it changes for you.
Joy says:
what about the fact that sleep deprivation has severe consequences for the immune system and the psyche
Jamie says:
He sleeps nightly
Joy says:
those cons that make it change worthy
Jamie says:
or daily depending
Jamie says:
See what he does is he goes to bed at 8pm nightly, at least lays down, then he does his thing, and then he wakes up like at 3am and can't sleep for awhile.
Jamie says:
And some nights he doesn't get to sleep until 3am
Jamie says:
and as long as he gets 8 hours in some form, he is fine.
Jamie says:
that is a healthy amount of sleep.
Jamie says:
he switches a lot
Joy says:
you mean the eight hours don't have to be in one chunk
Jamie says:
no
Joy says:
i was wondering if a combination of six to seven hours in a chunk with something called power naps and a couple of deep meditation sessions ea day would compensate
Jamie says:
yeah, why wouldn't it
Joy says:
be as good as an eight to nine hour night
Jamie says:
exactly.
Joy says:
stuff i've read about sleep hygiene says our physical, mental and emotional system need eight to nine hours
Jamie says:
it doesn't say that you need it all in one chunk
Joy says:
some of them do. there is controversy
Joy says:
but maybe my wires are hooked up different
Jamie says:
Well, the doctor who did my sleep test and what I ahve read especially in holistic medicine you don't. Meditation or taking a nap works too.
Jamie says:
exactly, not everyone is the same.
Jamie says:
some people can get by on less sleep than others. like me I don't feel like I can function with out an 8 hour whole night, but you might be someone who can do 5 or 6 hours and then take a nap during the day.
Joy says:
whenever i've had times like this that lasted more than a couple weeks i am mega productive
Joy says:
but there is always a crash of somekind eventually
Jamie says:
well, the crash when it comes you will deal with it differently. I will help you with that. just don't worry about it. I'll send you balloons if I have to.
Joy says:
i think i have my post theme
Jamie says:
cool
Joy says:
i'm actually tempted to copy this whole dialog and paste it in with a few comments
Jamie says:
sounds like a plan.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>>>>

OK. End of IM dialog.

My head is spinning. Autism? How do we go from talking about sleep habits to autism? Now I know that this kind of conversational musing about something like this is way different than a professional diagnosis. I'm not jumping to any conclusions or latching onto the label as an explanation for my experience.

But this isn't the first time this has been brought to my attention. It's the third, at least. The first time was when I was researching autism for a character in one of my novels. I noticed with amusement that I could say yes to more than enough of the items on the list of criteria for a diagnosis of high-functioning autism and wondered how useful such a list could be for making a diagnosis if these symptoms were so common that I experienced three-quarters of them and yet had reached my mid forties without any professional taking notice of it?

The second time someone noted that the list of high-functioning autism fit me was about a year after my biological sister and her son were almost simultaneously diagnosed with ADD and ADHD respectively. In that year my sister had steeped herself in the literature on attention disorders of which autism is one. But again I'd been little more than amused and maybe a bit bemused. For she had been 'diagnosing' the entire Myers clan (Mom's family) over the months she had been reading the literature. And over three-quarters of us fit enough of the criteria to qualify as attention-challenged to a more or less degree. Only our Dad escaped the net among our immediate family. She told me that I fit the criteria under atypical ADD which, she explained, some experts were saying was on the spectrum of the autistic disorders.

She read both lists of criteria to me over the phone and I marveled at the fit and yet, still, I couldn't get past the fact that I'd reached my fifth decade in life without any professional taking note of it. And I've encountered my share of professionals.

But here's the thing. I reached the back end of my fourth decade before receiving an official diagnosis of a mood disorder: Panic/Anxiety Depression. My last Psychiatrist added OCD to the mix. I had encountered one Psychiatrist in a support group who also said that if I were his patient he would at least consider the possibility of Bi-polar disorder based on my atypical reaction to the first anti-depressant which had induced a manic state with hallucinations, agitation, and profound insomnia. Which was ironic because the meds had been prescribed precisely to address insomnia But he wasn't my doctor and none of the dozen or so mental health professionals I encountered over the next six years made any reference to bi-polar even though that first med incident was in my records.

Now, I am not bringing this up because I am speculating that I've been misdiagnosed. Even if that is a possibility, that isn't the point I set out to make. This is: When Jamie threw that into our discussion of my sleep hygiene, it threw me for a loop. Because I suddenly had what felt like a moment of clarity. It flashed into my mind that it wasn't about the labels or the diagnosis criteria but that I was being asked to consider that my issues with sleep were not something that will-power could solve any more than I could will my blue eyes purple.

Yesterday, when I was making that Daily Tasks list that is featured in the forth screen shot in yesterday's post, I put 8 hours of sleep on and took it off several times before I left it off deciding to deal with it later. I just couldn't bear to put something on there that I knew I could not commit to, would fail at repeatedly, and then use as an excuse to throw up my hands with the whole CC project.

I had bought the 5HTP last Friday evening precisely because I intended to address this issue and had had some success with it before. As I once had with L-Tryptophan before they took it off the market. On the other hand, when I tried melitonin as a sleep aid it made my insomnia worse. That, coupled with the first experience with anti-depressants makes me think that I should be very careful with the 5HTP. That maybe I shouldn't be trying to self-medicate at all.

So much for 'a few comments'. Here it is nearly 5AM again and a post I began six hours ago is still unpublished. Hypergraphia anyone? If you don't know what that is, Google it and have a good belly laugh with me.

1 tell me a story:

julia 2/06/2008 7:23 PM  

As I was reading your conversation, I was already wondering about the possibility of bipolar disorder before you got to it at the end. Disturbed sleep is a basic symptom of this condition.

'Joy says:
whenever i've had times like this that lasted more than a couple weeks i am mega productive'

Also, your hoarding tendencies - my husband is bipolar and is a hoarder. He has noticed he has ADD tendencies but his psychiatrist told him those symptoms are definitely tied in with his mood disorder. My husband also suffers agoraphobia, yet manages to hold down a part time job.

Perhaps you could look at the bipolar possibility again. It's actually very classic to be diagnosed with this in your 40's or 50's. The reason is that no one ever complains about their extreme happiness/productive times (otherwise known as mania.) Most people only ever complain about the depression episodes. The insomnia.

My husband is very stable these days and enjoys good sleep. But he does take a powerful cocktail of daily drugs in order to achieve this.

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