So apparently depression has properly been biting my backside the last month or so.
Best laid plans have not come to fruition and I haven’t really been able to see where I am going or why. Mostly I have slept, felt tired and complained about how much shoulder hurts (apparently the new physio exercises are very uncomfortable and not making the days easier), and all i have wanted to do is sleep and curl up in the dark.
So.. um. Sorry
I really like my bed.
I really like sleeping.
I enjoy curling up in bed beside W.
I enjoy curling up in bed beside B.
The trouble is some of these things are mutually exclusive…
Not only is it inappropriate for me to share a bed with both of them despite the comfort I get from lying beside my loves and knowing they are warm and safe I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I tend to get better sleep when I am in bed alone. This is further complicated by the fact that they both get mopey if they spend too long without the opportunity to fall asleep and wake up at my side.
There is no easier way to protect and comfort someone than to be physically close. In a world of uncertainty and often of pain I can think of nothing I would rather do than keep my loved ones close – but on the other hand I have to deal with the fact that my pain problems and general mood often make sleep difficult or disturbed and without plenty of sleep I can help no one.
I don’t think anyone ever told me that this was going to be something to worry about when I was growing up… thank the gods for ‘first world problems’…
I have two beautiful partners and a wonderful family but this year I am spending Christmas at home with my dog and some beer.
I have spent all but 2 Christmases in my memory with my parents [one with the in-laws and one with my wife in our new house]. With the exception of the year my sister was in hospital, these have been stereotypical and near idyllic – think plenty of food and booze, stockings, everybody pitching in with the cooking, lazy evenings, open fires and board games… Its amazing and almost what I would want regardless.
That said, I have fantasised about the kind of christmas my chosen family and I could have if we had the option and the peace. The delight of just having our family together; of making our own time special. One day I will work my backside off to make their holiday dreams come true (together, separately or both) but I don’t know yet when that will be.
This year, however, I will pretend to be a bachelor. For the first and maybe the only time in my life I am spending christmas without expectations or traditional trappings. I have plans… insofar as I have food and alcohol to consume and a dog to walk. On the other hand, there will be very few of the things typically associated with the christmas festival (with the notable exception of the required phone calls) and no need to socialise or pay attention to the world. Despite both job and relationship configuration I am by nature a shy introverted individual and I need to recharge. After a year of trying to get my thesis finished and juggling my obligations the idea of being completely alone and commitment free if both exhilarating and terrifying.
I am looking forward to both sleeping and crying .. ridiculous though it sounds the release is needed and I think this will work.
On the other hand I can’t wait to have my loves back safe home and serve up a pile of pigs in blankets!
So.. success comes in many shapes and sizes.
Yesterday, I didn’t give blood, or send my DSA form off. I didn’t stay up all night beforehand and I didn’t finish the chapter. Instead, today I gave up my opportunity to go to the Games again in favour of writing.
I am sad and I am disappointed in myself for not being better at what I do and for not finishing what needs to be done in the time-period I had allocated.
And yet, I am also proud. Proud because unusually for me I both recognised a limitation in myself and then worked out a way round it. I made a choice to prioritise something for me rather than something that I feel I should do – and simultaneously considered what I want and need both long and short term. I did also send the chapter to my supervisor today and aim to send a big chunk of text to both my supervisors in approx 1 weeks time.
The editing and tidying of my thesis is a slow, time-consuming and stressful process. I can’t do it with interruptions, I can’t do without support and most of all I can’t do it without ruthless dedication
In other and related news: The DSA process is terrifying and stressful and I feel like a complete failure because of the inability to fill in forms – this is not a supportive disability scenario and not conducive to good mental health. OTC Sleeping pills are glorious – but perhaps real (anti-depressant style) medication might be more sensible. Sitting at my computer everyday is causing me all sorts of shoulder pain and I creak every time I move also I would still really like to get a weeks worth of sleep. /whinge
Absolutely need Chapters 3 & 4 to my supervisors by this weekend. I still have a serious reconsideration of my presentation of chapter 2 to do and need to finish the methodology section. Its not impossible per se, I need the confidence to axe sections and really emphasise my directions like I know what I’m doing.
The trouble is mainly that I don’t trust myself academically (or otherwise), that I still feel I don’t deserve a PhD and that I have a shit load of life to get on with. Therefore I am miserable, terrified and fighting my own head.
The last few nights have been filled with that odd sort of dozing where you are constantly aware of lying in bed and waiting for the alarm to ring whilst simultaneously having nightmares . I can’t lie in bed without thinking of the overall outline of the thesis and its progress. In short I am buggered.
So tonight I have resolved – I will stay up until I am satisfied I have reached a finishing point and so can sleep. And if tomorrow daytime is a haze sobeit. As long as I: walk and feed the dog, put on more laundry, fill in my DSA form, give blood, email my supervisors and go to work – I win. In theory, I will be home from work by 1.30am ..what could go wrong? TBH its important to me to get shit done before the weekend – I bought tickets for more paralympics on Sat as a b’day present and I just want not to spend all weekend miserable because I have too much to do.
urgh. the trouble is i am sooo tired all i want to do is curl up in a ball and cry myself to sleep. this is my righteous kick up the backside.
Have you ever walked the line between the DOOM in your head and the absolutely resolutely sensible getting-by day person who is busy not making a fuss?
I am currently very quietly running around screaming. Absolutely completely panicking about my thesis and its state of unfinished ridiculosity. Dreaming about it, waking up in cold sweats about it, crying at inopportune moments because of it, giving up sex and forgetting to eat because of it and pretending its no big deal.
The world still requires my presence – I have to get up and go to work, buy food, walk the dog, talk to people and plan my future as though I am not having a crisis with every breath and I think I might be losing it.
Though the desire to sleep incessantly is pretty strong mostly the fight is to keep away from my razor blades. Although I have slipped into my bad habits once or twice since the last time I really crashed you can’t tell – the scars on my arms are nearly a year old and finally fading to silver to match the rest. It has really been 3 months since i touched the blades at all.
I fantasise about it everyday – and its getting worse.
I don’t think there is any way to explain to someone who has never felt it the pull addiction has. I have other coping mechanisms: people to call, things to do – but that quick sharp sting and the soft flow of blood is still the first and last image in my mind when I can’t quite cope. I guess alcohol and heroin in their way offer that same stupid siren song. The ease with which I could make a mistake isn’t a worry its a comfort just like the knowledge a little more is a little better.
For now I have it locked down, a treat I must deny myself, like chocolate and sleep. I keep on saying that maybe tomorrow I will relent, I just have to wait til tomorrow, keep holding on.
But soon .. soon I will be too tired to care about tomorrow and consequences; soon just making it through today is all I can hope for.
Just when I thought that I had achieved a quasi-socially acceptable sleep pattern a combination of thesis and sofa rest have dragged me back to my natural hours.
The trouble is that my natural preferred studying/writing time is between 11pm and 3am. I can get up early, no really I can, its just that my brain doesn’t function very well. Naturally, until I have been awake for 3 or 4 hours my conversation is stilted and higher intellectual considerations just don’t happen which is why out of preference I will clean the house, read webcomics, walk or lift and carry at work.
The brain can be kick-started early (as required for conferences) but that inevitably causes a mid-afternoon crash, where a slow burn my give me a few creative hours between 4 and 7pm. The body will be awake as long as I ask it to be and usually a little longer than I want but tends towards approx. 10hrs optimum amount of sleep broken into between 2 and 4 chunks and usually waking me around midday regardless.
My parents have always tended towards late mornings and later nights, a preference definitely encouraged by a few years in continental Europe. During my A-levels I often did my homework til gone 3 in the morning before rising at 7ish to go to the gym before breakfast and school. I fuelled my sleeplessness with coffee, alcohol, over-the-counter painkillers and self-harm; often crashing into listless naps under my desk, incessant headaches and delusions. As a first-year undergraduate, depression unabated and anxiety spiralling out of control, I discovered the luxury of a Humanities timetable and remembered the delight of academic coasting which led to sleeping my days away and occasional 48 hr essay-writing spurts. A full-time job with notoriously anti-social hours and a part-time masters shunted me back to the insomnia end of the scale but when I started my PhD I was determined to be healthier and after eventually realising I needed to take time out for my mental health I have also been working on creating a sleeping pattern that correlates with common social working hours.
I was just about managing (shift pattern aside) 1/2am-10.30/11.30am in bed…
But my need for silence and brain power has reasserted itself, 3am-midday has become the norm and my rewrites have become increasingly frantic as I try to pull myself back towards working during the day! I don’t know whether 2am writing is the most coherent but at least it flows and til the thesis is submitted thats all I can hope for.
Right Where Am I?
Sorry I have been afk for a bit due to the time and energy constraints of our local beer festival. However, I think I have regained a semblance of whatever it is that passes for normality in my daily life. That is I have removed the swathes of mud from our houses and started trying to catch up on my laundry mountain, we are also beginning to settle back into a weekly routine and I have opened up my thesis for the first time in nearly two weeks…
For someone who prides themself on their flexibility and ability to be accommodating and who consistently fails to adhere to any personal daily routine I have discovered that my mental and physical well-being is somewhat dependent on some stability.
By which I mean that I quickly become physically and mentally exhausted by trying to keep up with unusual circumstances. I know that working long hours and seeing more people than usual has contributed to my sense of being overwhelmed and fatigued; but I also know that the stress of not getting regular alone time with my loved ones and of household chores and thesis-writing building up while I was otherwise occupied has left me drained.
I am also extra tired out by my continued inability to walk properly, squat or kneel for more than 30 secs or stand for any length of time. The physiotherapist has given me a series of exercises and the threat of an onward referral should the knee have failed to improve by my next visit. I would love to tell you that this spate of exercises for my knee has inspired a renewed vigour in doing my shoulder exercises but sadly that would be a lie – I have yet to successfully incorporate that into a daily routine.
However, as commented above steps towards normality have resumed and most of all I am able to get more sleep/more time in bed each day and more time loving and being loved.
Coming soon: A rundown on the wonderful world of mud and beer; commentary on a variety of medical delights; and Rain and my Garden…
After the house and the wedding rings the bed (incl. mattress) is the most expensive thing my wife and I own – it cost more than the pretty much all the rest of the furniture put together – it is a comfortable bed. So why the hell can’t I find a way to lie that doesn’t hurt?
When my shoulder is hurting during the day I can rest it or stretch it or even distract myself and basically ignore it- its only pain after all.
But at night when what I want is to sleep..have I mentioned I like sleeping? hell that I need to sleep quite a lot or else my psychological grip on myself vanishes… when I want to sleep the pain becomes almost unbearable.
I like to sleep on my side, curled semi-foetal safe, or alternatively to lie half on my fron with my arms under my pillow supporting my head, stretched out recovery-position style – but both are impossible for more than a few minutes. I love to lie spooning with my darling wife, arm draped over her body protectively or vice-versa – forget it.
Lying flat on my back is the only option. And woe betide if the pillows aren’t even because that way a crick in the neck shooting down arm and spine follows. Trouble is I find it uncomfortable in my head, it seems somehow wrong to lie flat like a corpse; plus if I put my hands on my belly they go numb and before the night is out my knees will start to hurt..
So first I toss and turn, determined tonight will be different and I will find a new position or perhaps that old favourites will have somehow ceased to be a problem. Eventually I settle on my back and begin the mindfulness exercises that help me breathe through the pain and accept it. I drift off. For a couple of hours, maybe a full 4 hour cycle, before bam! awake in pain and now stiff from lying still. I get up, go for a pee, stretch, lie down and try the same process as before. Usually I drift off faster and wake up faster this time before repeating (although usually without another pee) so that I barely notice that I have slept and it feels like one long stretch of not quite dozing. Around this time I start to think about whether fetching painkillers is a good idea but I don’t want to be codeine dependent and I usually reject the plan. Finally my wife’s alarm goes off and for half an hour nothing matters more than feeling her body next to mine as we doze. Then she gets up, we chat for quarter to half an hour (depending on how grumpy I feel) and she leaves the house. If I am not also due to head to work I contemplate the options..
If it has been a good night 2 uninterrupted hours at this point should be enough to face the day; I probably don’t fetch painkillers but might pee again and move around to stretch. If on the other hand I have woken not twice but 3 or 4 or 5 times it might be four hours before I can face getting out of bed and pain-relief is a must.
So what helps?
The most important is warmth. It sems daft to me, I’m usually pretty toasty in bed I even get night sweats when I have PMT but the shoulder is one of those regions that is often exposed outside the comfort of both duvet and basic core body temp regulation which means if you keep the room cool (as I and all anti-insomnia recommendations suggest) it can get cold and stiff fast.
Second for me is anti-inflammatory gel which is safe for use at night, non-addictive and not (to the best of my knowledge and GPs comments) contraindicated with my meds.
Finally not pressuring myself, especially to either stay in bed or to get up at a set time and therefore fretting if I can’t face it, but also really working on the mind stilling and meditative practices that stop the whirring thoughts.
I really like sleeping but..
I really like sleeping and I like being in bed..There is nowhere as warm and safe, nowhere else where obligations are put aside and nowhere quite as intimate.
I also really like that glorious feeling of waking up and knowing that you can turn over and sleep a few more hours, a feeling only made better by knowing that someone else has to get up and go to work.. I do feel guilty about those smug moments where I stretch out into the space vacated my sleeping companion comforted by my extra time and space but that isn’t going to stop me enjoying it as much as I can.
In part this arises because I have a different sleep pattern to my loves and in part because I find it very difficult to fall asleep when someone is awake beside me (constantly listening to check other person is still breathing, irritated by every move and yet tossing and turning self-consciously etc etc)and this means I often wait until my beloved has drifted off before slipping into bed; it often means missing out on dozy pillow talk- which I find best made up for in afternoon nookie, however it does lead to another of my favourite things about bed – curling in next to a warm companion. I don’t think I can do justice to that beautiful moment of safety and comfort of feeling the soft warm skin of a lover and the rise and fall of steady sleepy breathing. Plus, for some reason, bed always brings out the most delicious smells – like a mother tells you her baby’s head smells like home a lover smells like a dream you didn’t know you wanted to come true.
On the other hand having commented that I don’t like to try and sleep when I’m next to someone awake I have to admit to two exceptions: waking up in the morning and dozing off again and post-sex.
So anyway I like Sleeping