My recent post “Obsessing” shared with you my recent obsession – my sleep. I mentioned what I was doing to track my sleep and the many steps undertaken to enhance it. What my post lacked, however, was an exploration of the harm caused by my obsessing.
I alluded to this when I spoke of sleepless nights. That wasn’t as harmless as the allusion suggests.
I experienced numerous consecutive days of sleep of no more than 2-3 hours. I’d go to bed and immediately be inundated with racing thoughts. They wouldn’t turn off. Often, I’d get back up and distract myself hoping the thoughts would subside. If they did, I’d fall into a fitful sleep only to be awakened when they returned, loud and obnoxious.
To distract I’d begin by controlling my breathing. I’d add to this a progressive muscle scan to relax my body. Sometimes I’d write down the thoughts, getting them out.
Too often distracting didn’t work. The racing thoughts just grew in intensity and volume. When this happened, the only way to pacify them was to do what they demanded. This was about poor sleep. I researched sleep and how to measure it online.
This created a triple-whammy of sleep prevention: the racing thoughts themselves; the stimulation caused by artificial light and the research; and, the new fuel for the racing thoughts. What was this new fuel? The new questions raised by my research.
It all seems innocent enough. I looked over old notes about sleep and sleep hygiene and returned to the sources for those notes clarifying doubts. I Googled ways to track my sleep and then I researched the options I found. Yet, somehow this simple task grew. The research wouldn’t stop because the racing thoughts wouldn’t stop. I had moved from simple research into the realm of obsessing.
As I said, the obsessing interfered with my sleep. Too many nights were sacrificed. This led to growing fatigue, poor memory, changes in concentration and irritability. I remained hyper-focused, hypomanic, but now elements of depression took hold. Darkness crept in, took hold and grew. I moved into a mixed-episode.
This added to the sleep issues. Some moments I’m wide awake and sleep isn’t required. Other moments, I sleep at the drop of a hat. Of course, there’s no rhyme or reason to when these alternating moments will occur. And sleep, when it does occur, is fitful and brief. I wake up fatigued.
The unsteadiness of mood is taxing. Mood shifts are unplanned and arbitrary. You grow to not trust yourself. This gets added to the chorus of self-doubt created by growing depression. A new din added to the racing thoughts.
It’s too much. Something has to give and I don’t want it to be me. So a call is made and medications begin to be adjusted. Just as importantly, the research leads to good conclusions, safe conclusions. Money is spent to improve my sleeping surface (I bought a mattress topper). More money is spent to buy a fitness band to track my sleep. Both purchases are modest and entirely within my means. The obsessing eases.
Sleep improves, modestly. Duration increases and deep sleep is gained. The cycle remains irregular, I’ve still work to do, but I feel more rested, less fatigued.
And yet… The research hasn’t fully ended. I find myself exploring smartwatches. It doesn’t help that two, Samsung’s Galaxy Watch3 and Galaxy Watch Active2 are being offered on reasonable terms, affordable terms. The obsessing lingers, albeit with less import, less harm.
Plus there are other issues to work out. My sister and dearest friend remain ill and I worry. My parents are ageing, and I worry some more.
For now the obsessing is eased. Experience has shown me it’ll return. It always does. I don’t fear it. Going through it now prepares me for the next time. Medication adjustments and improved sleep help. More importantly, I’m more aware. Hopefully, I’ll be ready.