disorders on order

I feel like I’m being pulled in many different directions right now, like that Stretch Armstrong doll when I was a kid. I don’t have much time for myself, and I have to be “on” a lot. I’m often asked to solve the emergency of the day. I have to play different roles for different people, and it is really tiring right now. I need a break, but I don’t have time for a break. I have one vacation day remaining at work, and I need it for something fun in September.

I have so many unfinished tasks and projects, and it’s a trigger for anxiety. I can feel it closing in around the edges of my vision. I wish I had the motivation to finish a few things, or just to make progress, but I give up because I can’t break things down into manageable pieces. It’s all or nothing, and I know it is distorted thinking, but as a result I’m mentally paralyzed.

I have been officially diagnosed with social anxiety and general anxiety, and I’m certain I have ADD and some elements of OCD. I don’t know how likely it is that someone has all of these things going on, but here I am. My new therapist asked me to consider if I might be on the mild side of the autism spectrum. I’m skeptical, but I’m doing some research to see what I think. I don’t think I need another label at this time, so I will ask her to table that discussion and help me work on social anxiety (which currently seems to be my biggest problem).

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sleep problems

It’s the middle of the night again. I’m developing a pattern of going to bed relatively early, waking up for a few hours during the night, then going back to sleep in time for my alarm. Some nights I will sleep through with no problems, but sometimes not. I know I will be really tired tomorrow.

When this happens, I will try to go back to sleep, but my brain is too active to fall asleep quickly. As soon as my eyes open in the dark, I am thinking about a million things and listening to the increasingly disruptive music running through my head. I don’t think this is anxiety or hypomania, I think this is my normal ADD-brain on hyperdrive.

When I get up, I could sit in the dark and do nothing until I fall asleep again, but that seems so boring when I could be on the computer doomscrolling, or writing, or doing word searches, or designing a kitchen remodel. Sometimes I can’t concentrate on anything, and just relive old memories or think about weird shit.

This could be related to the time change; it really affects my sleep and fatigue level every time. It could also be a function of increasing my dosage on the Vraylar, but I didn’t really expect it to keep me up at night. Hopefully this is a temporary phase.

mind over ice cream

I don’t know if I am on the same page as my therapist. Yesterday was an awkward appointment. I had very little to say and didn’t want to be there, and he seemed like he was stumped, trying to find something to talk about. Neither one of us seemed prepared. Granted, I’m the one asking for help, so I guess I should be the one with questions. I would have been fine if he had let me go home early.

After flailing for a few minutes, he started talking about mindfulness as a tool for reducing anxiety. He described what mindfulness is, and I was having trouble concentrating … as he’s telling me how to concentrate on acknowledging distractions then coming back to the moment. My brain was tired but bouncing all day yesterday, so it was a particularly poor time to have to listen to someone talk.

I have to admit I don’t get the mindfulness thing. I thought it was more about doing something to distract you from everything in your brain, allowing you to have a little reset. I know how to be totally present in the moment, like while listening to my favorite music for the 100th time, or when being by myself in the woods, or reclining with a purring cat. But either I get distracted by something or someone, the moment is gone, and I start thinking about all the things I took a break from.

I asked him if mindfulness was blocking everything out and just clearing your mind for a few minutes, and apparently that was incorrect, because he was trying to convince me that something like eating ice cream or the act of standing up can be the object of a mindfulness exercise. (Really? Does pooping count?) I asked him what did that solve, and I never really got an answer. He said he wrote a dissertation about the subject, so I decided not to tell him I didn’t get the point.

Then he started talking about Buddhists and India, and honestly he lost me at that point. Nothing against Buddhism, but I just need something I can understand. However he did refer me to a book on mindfulness for anxiety, so I’ll get that from the library and see what I think. He also told me about some guy’s videos, but I told him I can barely sit through an episode of a TV show on Netflix. My brain moves way too fast to listen to some dude drone on for an hour about how to enjoy ice cream.

I don’t know if mindfulness exercises are going to work for me, but I guess I will give it a good faith effort to see if I can get something useful out of this. If anyone has any tips or references for helping me understand this, I’m willing to listen. Comment or email me if you have something that might help.

overload

Once again, it’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. When I wake up it is from a dream, from my wife coming to bed late, or from my CPAP mask not fitting properly. Sometimes I can adjust and go back to sleep, but not this past week. My brain is instantly wide awake. I give it 30 minutes to try to go back to sleep, but if I don’t succeed, I get up.

During that 30 minutes tonight, my brain was on fire. I had fragments of up to 10 songs playing in my head. I started thinking of three or four blog posts I wanted to write. I remembered I need to call my doctor. I was thinking about medication side effects. I remembered an abusive voice from the past. I was still irritated about an unfinished word search puzzle. I was thinking about what snacks were in the kitchen. I can’t tell you any of the other 40 things on my mind, because they came and went so quickly that I barely had time to process them.

So I’ve been up for almost two hours now, snacking, listening to the music in my brain, and feverishly writing all my ideas before I forget them all.

I don’t know if this is mania or attention deficit disorder (a topic for another post), but it isn’t good for my sleeping schedule. I’ll stay awake until my brain slows down a little, then probably just sleep in my chair again until morning.