No Sleep is a Bad Idea

16 Dec 99 – Diary
I know that I am on the road to recovery. Well, not recovery, but coming to an accommodation with being bipolar. I know lots of people have done it and achieved high functionality. I’m just waiting to do the same.

But the little setbacks along the way are so irritating. Take for example today. I got up feeling very lethargic and didn’t make it into office until 11:00 am. And I achieved that only after really pushing myself to get up and get out of the house.

The root cause was lack of sleep. But the symptoms didn’t appear in any straightforward way. I actually had a decent amount of sleep last night.

The night before however, I only slept two hours. Although yesterday I was tired, it didn’t cause any problems. Except that by 4:00 pm I had a whopping headache that refused to go away until I gave in and went to bed at 9:00 pm.

I had set my clock to wake up early this morning, but I slept through the alarm, woke up, went back to bed, woke up and kept on taking 15 minute catnaps until 10:00 am when I finally forced myself to take a shower and leave the house.

And I was still tired and had a difficult time concentrating on anything. I finally came home and slept for another two hours this evening.

I’m feeling pretty okay at the moment. And I’m glad that I finally figured out this problem – it has been the cause of more than a few peculiar days. Now that I know it’s sleep I need, I can try to program myself for it. And apparently I do need a minimum of 6 hours sleep to be able to function properly over the following two days.

I also think I’ve found the root cause of all the headaches I used to suffer with when I was younger. Even before I was diagnosed with being bipolar, I had visited the doctor on a few occasions (when I was about 16, again when I was about 22 and later when I was 25), complaining of terrible headaches, ones that didn’t match the symptoms of migraines. The headaches always passed, but while I had them, they were often sufficiently bad that my vision would blur and I would barely be able to hold a thought in my head.

I even had my eyes tested a few times to see if they were the cause of the headaches but always came back with a clean bill of health.

I am beginning to wonder if the headaches might not have been a milder version of current effects of not enough sleep. Or perhaps a precursor to the onset of being bipolar.

I’m also a little worried about Christmas. It has always been a high stress time for me. I have found out that meeting people in large groups is difficult – I can’t cope well with having so many people around. Also, if I am feeling low, the noise and the, well, festive atmosphere can be a bit too much.

I also have a large family, all living within one hour of me. It always takes both Christmas and Boxing Days to visit everyone and it can be fatiguing. And although if I am manic I can be the one inciting all the children to water fights, if I am depressed it takes a tremendous effort to be cheerful to the hosts. Or anybody.

And I miss my grandmother very much.

I’ve decided to play it safe this year and visit fewer people than usual. I’ll also have C. around to keep me feeling a bit better. I hope that helps.

18 Dec 99 – Diary
Didn’t take my medication yesterday. No real reason. Just that I was rushing out of the house. I hadn’t had any breakfast so I picked them up, told myself I take them later, and carried them to work where they sat very decoratively on my desk all day.

Of course I knew that I wouldn’t take them if I carried them to work. I never have in the past. I knew that I would forget. But I occasionally weave these little fantasies on little things I will do in the future, knowing full well that they won’t get done. Each time I hope that this time I will break the spell and actually do what I had planned. But it never happens.

It’s a dangerous habit and one I am trying to break.

Of course I did take advantage of the lapse in taking medication to drink alcohol at the office dinner last night. This did not work out very well at all. The beer I drank at 4:00 pm (about nineteen hours after I last took medication) tasted horrible because I hadn’t drunk one in months and I had forgotten what beer tastes like. Then after about fifteen minutes I started to get a sensation very similar to heartburn which lasted for two not entirely pleasant hours.

I should have quit while I was ahead, but at the company dinner at 9:00 pm, I had two rum punches. Tasted good and made me intensely sleepy, gave me a headache, and made me feel slightly nauseous. There was no relaxing effect and none of signs of being drunk. When the rest of the gang went off to have a few drinks, I had to bow out and go home. All in all an underwhelming night.

I’m staying off alcohol for the holidays. It certainly won’t make it more enjoyable.

19 Dec 99 – Diary
I’ve been noticing that I had a phase change when I came out of being depressed about a week ago. It’s a bit hard to explain but basically I’ve surfaced back to normality as a slightly different person.

I don’t mean that I’ve changed personality or anything so drastic. It’s more that my interests have altered slightly. Not necessarily by much, but by enough to throw off my old patterns of behaviour.

My work is less interesting, or it means less to me now than before I was depressed. My house work has picked up. I haven’t reconnected properly with some of the friends I was in touch with just before I was depressed, but I have reconnected with a few persons I haven’t chatted with in months. Lots of little things have changed. It’s all very random. Even my handwriting has changed slightly.

I’m not sure if this is a direct side effect of being depressed or if it is a secondary effect caused by being out of touch with everything while I was depressed. It might even be a unwitting effort on my part to distance myself from the events during and just before the depression – as a means of protecting myself from guilt or hurt.

I can’t say it will go away, it never has in the past. I can however hope that this reintegrates with my basic world view and expectations soon. Until it does, I’m a tad bit disoriented with many everyday happenings.

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