16 October 2000 – Diary
Today is the first day that I feel that I have settled back to work. And I implemented a project that I decided to do nearly eight months ago. It took one afternoon to get the paperwork in order and to instruct the people on what to do.
It’s an exhilarating feeling to get the project of the ground after so long. And also quite a bit of puzzlement. After all, if it only took one afternoon to start up, why have I not been able to get it going for the last eight months? Some of the answers are intriguing – the first one is simply being unable to picture the next few steps in a task clearly enough to get them done. When I am depressed I shy away from thinking about the tasks or the steps of the task, and when I am hypomanic I often cannot hold onto the task long enough to finish it.
When I decided to start the project, I simply realised that all I had to do was develop the forms needed, write down the instructions, decide how I was going to used the data generated, and determine who was going to do the data interpretation. And of course tell the people what they had to do. It was all that easy.
Of course I could say it was that difficult. But it wasn’t. I was able to see how simple each task was and just do it. The ability to focus on what I was doing, keep at each task long enough to finish it (even with distractions), and have the courage or lack of anxiety about telling people what to do was all that I used.
When I was depressed I would not have had the courage to give instructions to people or the ability to focus clearly, and minor efforts such as finding out some information would have seemed like insurmountable obstacles. And although I would have been able to talk confidently to people when I was hypomanic I would have been easily distracted and been unable to continuously focus on the task at hand.
The work didn’t take any spectacular intelligence. It did take the ability to stick to it until finished and the ability to talk with people. I didn’t have that combination of skills when I was either hypomanic or depressed. I do have that combination now.
In fact my ability to get things done is taking me by surprise.
17 October 2000 – Diary
Last night I had only 4 hours of sleep so I could shift to my new work hours of 6 am to 2 pm. This is a voluntary change of work hours on my part and I like the effect of being able to put in a full day’s work and still feel as if I have half day to myself. The real joys of flex time.
Unfortunately four hours of sleep was a really bad idea. Not unexpectedly, I was kind of drowsy at work due to the lack of sleep. But I got a decent days work. It is still surprises me how much simpler getting tasks done are and how much easier it is to finish tasks that I started. I simply cannot get over it yet. As each task is finished I think “That’s all. Shouldn’t there be more to do?” And I have actually done the work and then I think “But this would have taken me so much longer to do a few months ago and I would have had so much indecision and anxiety about doing it. Wow. Vive le difference!”
I still don’t quite believe it. And no manic symptoms either.
It’s a little awesome, in a good way, how much I can get done when I don’t have to fight against being manic or depressed. I sometimes think of it as diverting the 40% of my energy I use to fight being unstable back to getting the regular day to day things done. Then it’s not so surprising that I find things easier.
But back to the lack of sleep.
By two o’clock in the evening, when I had left work and was doing a few errands, I started showing some of the symptoms of mania. Not too many – by my standards the “little” symptoms. I was starting to get a bit jumpy or edgy while driving. I forgot that I wanted to buy a plant at the plant place in my haste to get home. I started having minor problems doing fine motor tasks (such as rummaging through a box looking for a key), as if I were in a hurry to get them done. When I visited a friend’s house I felt a tad bit surreal as if everything was just a bit out of focus. I decided not to go to the bank and go home instead.
None of this affected my basic functionality, and I really was tired. How I was feeling probably would not have been abnormal to anybody. But still, I haven’t had any of these symptoms for the last two weeks and I was not about to assume they were just tiredness.
When I got home, I decided to go to sleep. But I couldn’t. I usually fall asleep in less than one minute. So when I was still awake five minutes later and being annoyed by some noises from outside that would never have affected me otherwise, I decided that I was becoming hypomanic. I took 100mg Tegretol, which acts as an antimanic for me and works within half hour.
Sure enough half hour later I had lost the hyperactive edge and was able to fall asleep. I woke up about two hours later feeling refreshed and back to my old self. That is, the new old self that isn’t depressed or hypomanic.
Basic rule. I need at least six and a half hours of sleep and better yet eight hours. I don’t think I am likely to break that rule in a hurry again.
I decided not to go to the birthday party of my niece this afternoon since I wouldn’t come back in time to have a decent night’s sleep. I’m a bit disappointed about not going, but at least I called to say I would not come (another first – I usually just don’t show up). And I really would prefer getting a full night’s sleep.
I start the gym in the morning. At last. I have twenty pounds to lose and I want to make some headway before Christmas.