This is your sleep schedule. This is your sleep schedule on depression. ::fry::
So, I thought I'd better update — that bad news was better than no news; I hate blogs that just fade out, and this one certainly isn't going to. In fact, viewed in a positive light, there's a ton going on that bears writing about, and content-wise things should get pretty exciting in the next few months! For instance:
- Ubersleep 2nd Edition is in the layout/design phase, and in a couple weeks there should be snippets and other cool information to geek on!
- However, if you'd wanted to write a testimonial and didn't yet, you still have about 1.5 weeks within which to do it, before I really, really have to finalize everything!!
- Posters are in the works for the UberSleepStudy and the actual application period is still slated to open up sometime in October!
- I've discovered UfYH — oh my gods. I can't really put it to much use yet (see below), but this is exciting stuff and I think ties in with the polyphasic lifestyle just wonderfully…lots more on that soon
- I also have a list of dietary changes and financial changes I'll be enacting soon, and since many fans of this blog are fans of lifehackery in general, I'll totally be keeping the world updated on those, and reviewing the systems I've chosen to try out
- I'm taking on another martial art this winter – finalizing plans to get into the classes this month – and of course I won't be able to shut up about that either
- And lastly-but-not-leastly, another major effort to fix my sleep schedule will be underway, and doubtless produce at least a little new information about something, readjustment maybe, or perhaps the new napping-conditions since I moved office-suites, etc.
"Wait," you may be thinking, "You're still working on getting your naps correctly? How long can it take, for an adjusted Ubersleeper of years and years to get back on easy-old E3?"
Well, in functional terms, not very long — typically it takes me about 2-3 days of trying, though if I've really borked things schedule-wise (not just sleep-wise), then it can be a little effort for a while until I re-internalize all the day-to-day changes.
But that's not this. In spite of all the positive stuff going on — the above plus quite a bit else (I am leaving out the exciting underwater-hockey stuff, my intensive freediving course, etc) — the seeing it in a positive light is precisely where I'm falling down lately.
[Mercy cut! Feel free to skip if this subject just does nothing for you -- and congratulations, by the way. ;)]
HARD WRITINGS FOR REALZ
Internet, I've kind of hinted at this before, but it's time to be clear about it: I'm going through another depression, and by the looks of it it's a doozy. It's sometimes hard to see all the symptoms and to know exactly when it "hit" or "got official", but I'm guessing this has been on for a good six months now, maybe more; and it would not surprise me to learn that I still have a few months left to go. I don't write frankly about this stuff very often, because it's a flaw in my psychology that I wish wasn't there, and that I often get angry, ashamed, or resentful about. But for today, for now, let's just say it's there, it's always been there — I've had depressions on and off since I was very young — and leave it at that.
To jump right on the grenade of that news and stop it getting too messy, no, I'm not in any danger. I'm throwing a ton of energy into managing this as well as I can, and more importantly into being vigilant about the need for interventions and help. I am kind of thrilled, in a way; ugly as depressions are (and I wish this wasn't true, but I know them every bit as well as I know sleep-deprivation), I'm doing better with this one than any other I can think of. I may be struggling with the higher-order things like organization and motivation and positive thinking, but I'm not some sad Malkavian in a corner drawing on the walls with my forehead — I'm functional, my hygiene is uncompromised, work is generally ok (with some grumpiness and shortness at my coworkers, but hopefully nothing serious), I'm doing well with getting out and staying moving, and even when it gets bad I have a pretty good (and elaborate!) system for coping and self-protection.
AH, MY OLD ENEMY…SLEEP.
Unfortunately, sometimes coping and self-protection means "oh my god just go to sleep until tomorrow". Much as I hate wasting time unconscious, especially when I know there are so many better alternatives, sometimes for me at that moment there are no even remotely palatable alternatives, and sometimes a day is getting so bad that it's best to just cut your losses and pass out until tomorrow, when hopefully things will look brighter. (Evenings are particularly hard for me, and I've heard, for other depressed people as well. Running out of active things to do or the energy to do them, and having already struggled to keep your flailing brain on a leash all day, plus probably a circadian tendency to slow and lower the mood when it gets dark — they all contribute, I'm sure.)
The damage done by losing the time is not always worse than the damage that would be done if you kept it and did icky things to yourself with it, in other words. As a result of this discovery, I spent a good chunk of my teenage years sleeping 12-14 hours a day…which is probably why (in conjunction with the sleep problems I had — not uncommon symptoms for depressives to have, either) I decided in college that I was just freaking done with sleeping and wound up trying Uberman. (See, there's *always* a silver lining. ;)
And on the other side of that, it's not at all easy for me to nap, either…I am tired pretty frequently, and I still crave naps at all the right times, but I dread laying down with my thoughts, when it means either letting down my guard against the negativity, or having to lay there all still and silent and struggle against it — which is the opposite of restful, believe me. I actually, lately, often feel more rested after an hour of running or swimming than I do after an attempted nap — at least while I was exercising, I wasn't having to mud-wrestle with my brain.
EXERCISE IS MY ANTI-ANTIDEPRESSANT
Make no mistake: I credit exercise and sports-like activity with a LOT of my success this time.
When I was younger, many people (including me) took my malaise and melancholy as signs of low energy, and so I didn't get poked to get much exercise. I guess it's hard to suggest, to yourself or someone else, that they go for a run when they can barely manage to get pants on some days — but it turns out that was exactly what I needed. And once I started exercising, I realized that in fact I have a lot of energy, more than normal even, and that it's quite likely that sitting still and letting my gears burn while the engine idled at 5,000RPM was totally contributing to the problems I was having.
Fully 80% of my most serious symptoms — and I had some doozies; let's not sugar-coat — went away when I began to exercise in earnest, and now, about six years after I learned that, I can often deliberately head off, minimize, or control them with judicious application of calorie-burn. It's not just the generalized "oh you'll feel better and you'll look better, woohoo" stuff they sell in magazines, either — there's a chemical thing, or more likely several, going on that REALLY helps. No lie, if you or someone you know is struggling with depression — either as a chronic tendency or as caused by some difficult life-event (or, as in my case now, both) — then I could not recommend anything more highly than I recommend some kind of exercise program. Any kind (though something they/you like is definitely easier — that's why martial arts stuck for me, I think) — and however much they/you can do. Stat.
So…yeah. That's where I'm at, and for the time being there isn't much I can do about it besides wait, and make small changes as frequently as they'll stick, and mostly focus on not sliding any farther than I am…it's like (very like, actually) climbing out of a well: You make an inch of progress, wait, very carefully adjust your grip, and then go for another inch. If you scramble, you'll just fall again.
I'll keep updating regarding my progress in various things when they're interesting, and in sleep when I start to make it; but this will be the last "update on my flaky mentalness!" if you don't mind. Some brave and necessary people have a deep tolerance for showing the world their flaws in all their suck and glory, but I am not one, and writing stuff like this is hhhhaaaard, so yeah. I may one day write more about my coping strategies and suchforth, since millions of people deal with depression and maybe something I've learned could help them, but now is not a good time for that.
One inch. Adjust grip. One inch. ::sigh:: Man, this stuff is boring — I can't imagine how anybody could want to read about it anyway! ;)