I finally said “Okay, I cannot keep up with the auction schedule” and passed my noon/9am PST auctions off to someone who is actually awake at that hour. If I’m sacked completely because of it, well, at least I’m sacked and sleeping better.
Things you did not know about the way I sleep:
I dream in epics. I am a more natural dream-rememberer than most. I trained myself to recall them with alarming ease — I didn’t need long to graduate from writing them down immediately to writing them down later and eventually not needing to write them down at all. Even without that training, I had memories already of dreams from when I was three or four, maybe even two.
What I discovered: My dreams are cracktastic and cinematic. They are beautiful and terrifying, awesome in the truest sense of the word. You would pay $10 to watch my dreams. Some of them are miniseries. Some of them are not-so-miniseries, just worlds into which I drop, context and all. They are long, they are detailed, and whoof, sometimes they’re exhausting. This is great for my writing and kind of beastly for everything else.
Alarms make it worse. I am very good at tensing up in anticipation of things. I’ve trained myself to stay limp in my jaw so I can take a needle during dental work; the rest of me is clenched hard. I also spent a couple of years training myself to wake between 3:30-5am… before cellphone alarms were a thing, and since I had to hide it from my parents (“Mari? What are you doing?” “Oh, nothing, just last night’s homework!”) I learned to sleep lightly if I knew I had to wake early.
I need more than you do. Probably. If I were to track the hours I slept over the course of a month, even with caffeine to tackle the chronic fatigue thing, I’d still be showing you between ten to thirteen hours for optimum function. When I sleep with the expectation that nobody will wake me, it’s usually for about ten hours; I also end up needing to nap, and I do mean needing. Otherwise I start feeling what I’m tempted to abbreviate CFS/FML. I get aches and chills, only there is no fever. There is never a fever. Advil does nothing. I think more and more slowly until I’m your basic zombie lurching from task to task.
I have perpetual jet lag. My internal clock is set to Somewhere In Alaska (Possibly Even Japan). Left to my natural inclinations, using the same controlled substances as most other people, see below, I usually wake up between eleven and two and fall asleep between two and five. Not as problematic as having my day swapped for night, though that does hit me from time to time, usually not long after a major disturbance in my typical pattern. It’s corrective, I guess: I’ll sleep extra, then I’ll sleep less, and be back on track. But I do track. I have discovered that much. It’s only forcing myself into the average pattern that triggers fluctuations, and then my sleep stops looking entrained at all. Worse — well, I just got done describing what happens when I don’t nap when my body says “nap”. Consider, please, what I look like at the end of a long period of weird-for-me sleep.
Possibly this is why I was let go from two call centers, and how I discovered I might have chronic fatigue in the first place. At this point, to me, it’s a case of demon chicken vs wrathful egg. I was a weird sleeper to begin with, but I napped and was okay. Not so much on a true 8-5 work schedule. Oops.
Caffeine is only so effective. I hear people praising the stuff, and I’m sure it’s great for them, but the need to sleep overpowers the wakey juice. It helps more on waking than if I’m trying to fend off sleep. It also works best if I haven’t already had a bucketload, because too much throws me past alertness into anxiety and panic territory. And if you take all that together, here’s one last thing, the only thing anyone could conclude from the sleep study (aka forcing me to sleep in a light-controlled box under the ground):
I have panic attacks in my sleep. That’s right. You think you have to be awake for that crap? Uh-uh. I suspect I have had entire panic attacks from start to finish in the context of a dream. I’ve certainly woken at every other stage of the process. So if I drink more caffeine or try to skimp on my meds in order to stay up, all I am doing is buying myself a restless rest.
I asked the doctor what to do, at the follow-up. She shrugged. “Take more Klonopin?” That’s the medical establishment for you. If it’s sleep, take more; if it’s panic, wean yourself and find Buddha. Make up your minds. — I did what she said. Maybe that’s why the attacks don’t wake me as often: I can dream my way right through them. (Which, by the way, apparently I dream the normal amount. I just remember it that well.)
Nope, no eight-to-five job in my future. Not, at least, without losing a boatload of quality of life. I am the ideal candidate for something like crisis counseling in a hospital — give me a shift and an on-call room, come get me when I’m necessary, I’ll work nights, no problem. Or, with naptime built in, I could work the phones: two to six, nap til eight, ten to two, bed?
Full-time work may be ambitious. Because frankly, if I need thirteen hours to sleep, figure in a commute, I’m literally living to work. Sleep disorders and CFS/FML are considered disabling for good reason. Part-time work is more plausible, and if I could work part-time with Social Security to make up the deficit (living wages for all!) then I could be okay. But:
I am likely applying for Disability in 2016. Recommendations for good lawyers and other wisdom would be appreciated.
Much as I complain about my dad, he told me that this is what he wants most for me right now: to make what progress I can in therapy, and for me not to have the problem of survival hanging over my head. He would be happy to see me knock out a novel and never worry about money ever again. Unfortunately, I am not a Big Name Arse-Kisser, but I have part of a lucrative little notion sitting on my Google Drive. If I liked, I might even look into editing. I’ll first-read! Send me your slush piles, I’ll sort them no problem. I read quickly and I know tripe when I see it.
That is, by the way, my entire cover letter.
The point is that I need support from society in order to get by once my parents pass, and I just knocked wood that it wouldn’t happen anytime soon, so you do the same for me and hold your thumbs to boot. — At nearly thirty, I am choosing to fight in a different direction than the one that was drummed into me all my life. Or at least that is my intent at this point. Talk about burying the lede, huh?
I would give just about anything to have been able to work a normal job. I have spent the better part of my adult life regretting the circumstances that have held me back. I didn’t ask for any of this. I didn’t want to find myself talking this way. Ever. I always thought “At some point, it’ll get better. Or better enough.” And it never has, and I’m not sure it will. There are treatments for the sleep part, sure. Provigil. So, caffeine on ‘roids, can’t wait to find out how crazy I get on that! Melatonin? Skeptical, but since I flunked the behavioral treatments and the light therapy, that’s gotta be next.
Or I could move to Japan.