Streaks Both Long and Short

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I have two learning apps on my phone. One, called Elevate, provides brain games that help expand vocabulary and quicken mental mathematics skills. The other, called Duolingo, uses a method similar to Rosetta Stone to teach foreign languages – in my case, Spanish. Both apps provide daily exercises and usually only take just a few minutes a day to complete. Both apps also track streaks of consecutive days used. Heading into yesterday, I had a streak of 119 days – nearly four months – of consecutive days used.

And then yesterday, on what would have been day 120, I forgot to do my learning.

When I looked at the clock a few hours ago (I’m up late – early? – nursing a sore back and a glass of water) and saw that it was past midnight and realized that I’d put my learning off long enough to break the streaks, I was furious with myself. Logically, I knew that this was no big deal in the scheme of things, that the 119 day streak started on day one and that today I could start a new, even longer streak. I was exceedingly proud that I had clocked 119 days straight. I was beyond embarrassed that I missed day 120.

My wife tried to remind me that it was no big deal, but the more she kept trying to convince me of that, the bigger of a deal it became, until the streak had been built up in my mind as the most important aspect of the exercise, rather than the incredible body of learning that I had strung together and had only taken one day off of in four months’ time.

I went to bed angry. I hate going to bed angry. In the bedroom there was an exchange of increasingly heated words as she became more frustrated at me for not listening to her and I became more stubborn about how this was a life-altering, unforgivable error that I had committed against the universe. Finally I got tired of trying to make my point and tired of not seeing hers and I strapped on my CPAP mask and laid there, fuming into the night. The longer I stared at the wall in silence, the cooler my temper became, and eventually I grabbed my phone to start a text conversation with my wife laying mere inches away. I apologized for my behavior, I apologized for not seeing things her way, and I apologized for sending her this apology via text and not vocally. (I can say short sentences with the CPAP mask on, but the longer I talk, the more choked I get trying to vocalize while air is being gently forced into my nostrils, and I had a lot of apologizing to do.)

I used the Nook app on my phone to read for a short while, continuing to cool off, and eventually we rolled into position and I spooned her, and that’s how we fell asleep.


Speaking of the CPAP mask, I haven’t reported on how things are going since picking up the machine on Wednesday. I’ve slept every night since with the mask on, throughout the night, and have been waking up with progressively better rest. Thursday I took two short naps after waking up around 9:30. Friday I took an hour long nap after waking at 7:00 am with my alarm. Yesterday I woke at 10:00, but didn’t nap at all throughout the day. We’ll see what happens after I go back to bed, now that the pain in my back has eased off and my glass of water is gone. It’s a streak of three days so far, but it’ll be 119 days on its own before I know it, and who knows what changes will have happened because of the improved sleep?

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Overnight Musings

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I have a category for my overnight posts, when I’m suffering from insomnia. I haven’t written in it since last October, which is a good sign.

A lot of the time, my insomnia is fueled by either nightmares I can’t shake or migraines that won’t go away. Tonight’s a little different: I woke up with a terrible thirst and have steadily been polishing off the better part of a quart of water.

I woke up, dressed, went to the fridge for my water, then went to sit down and bundle up against the chill in the apartment. (We drop the temperature at night to promote better sleep, especially given that we have to close the bedroom door for the cat and the ventilation system to the bedroom sucks and we put off enough BTUs to raise the temperature in the bedroom almost ten degrees.) I did my reading and my learning for the day, puttered around on Facebook and settled in to write. And here I am.

Physically, I’m tired, but my mind won’t slow down. I’m still asking myself the question “why did the killings in Orlando happen?” I wish I knew why this incident has affected me so. While I was bothered and disturbed by all of them, I didn’t lose sleep over San Bernadino, or Charleston, or Sandy Hook, or any other mass killing that’s taken place in recent years. Maybe it’s the sheer numbers involved, I don’t know. All I know is that my mind is obsessed with this event and cannot let it go.

I think my body is finally starting to lose the battle against my mind for sleep. I might take half a sleeping pill to make sure I stay down this time.

Screaming Myself Awake

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I remember being in my grandmother’s home. I was younger, and I was staying in one of the bedrooms upstairs. It was dark, and I don’t know why but something inside me told me to scream. It was a bloodcurdling shriek, and suddenly I was terrified where I wasn’t before – I was screaming to scream, and I knew it. Things got even scarier when no one came to check on me, and that’s when I woke up from the nightmare.

I haven’t been back to sleep or even tired since, and I still can’t get the images out of my head. That was six hours ago.

It’s been a chill kind of morning, though, with not much happening outside of my Facebook addiction (I can quit any time I want). We’re having chili tomorrow night and we’ve thawed a pound of ground venison to go with the ground chuck for it. New recipe to us, sounds tasty and pretty simple. Today’s big goal is to continue to hardwire the poem in my head for next weekend.

That is, until the nap fairy visits later, which I’m certain will happen.

Having a nice quiet day after such a bizarre nightmare isn’t going to be a bad idea, I don’t think. Not much adulting planned for the day, I’m afraid.

And just this once, I’m okay with that.

Dream Theater: The College and the Baby

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I was dreaming that I was moving into my college dorm room, only I had a baby that I had to trust to a stranger while I went and enrolled and got settled. The college was a maze, an older institution with older buildings and older furnishings, and I kept getting lost. Finally I got settled in but then didn’t know where I had left my baby. I remember being in a panic about where she might be, and I started searching the campus. I took the time to stop at a Texas roadhouse-style restaurant to eat (prime rib, which was huge and cheap) and then went back to looking for her. I finally found her in a hospital – again, an older facility with older medical principles and customs in place – but she was safe and sound and doing well. I remember being happy that we were together, even though the future was completely uncertain, before waking up.

I’m usually not much one for analyzing dreams, but it’s difficult to not correlate this to the situation I found myself in regarding my daughter for most of her life. When I was made aware of her existence at age four, I tried to take responsibility for my part in raising her, but was politely told that her mother wanted to do it on her own, so I stepped out of the picture. I was always curious what became of her, and finally I looked her up on the internet and eventually contacted her. We’ve since started a relationship that exceeded my wildest expectations when I first contacted her, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m also not much one for remembering my dreams, so the fact that this one stuck is unusual.

Disclosure: I woke up from the dream at 5:30 am to write down the dream part of this, then went back to sleep until just a few minutes ago.

Crisis of Conviction

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I’ve been a terrible blogger.

I haven’t written in my blog in almost a month, and it’s been a rough month for me. I’ve been filled with self-doubt, self-hatred, and plagued with the conviction that if I don’t wake at 6:30 to start my day with my vitals routine the entire day is shot, so why bother … which of course continues to fill the self-hatred.

I tried readjusting my schedule to wake up later, and the first workday that I did that my wife missed her alarm and wound up late to work, something that she really cannot afford to do right now. So I moved it back.

I’ve tried staying up overnight to get tired enough to go to bed at a decent hour the next night, but I keep napping half the day away and staying up half the next night.

I’ve tried sleeping pills to correct the problem and they either don’t work or knock me out entirely too long (usually the latter).

So I’m torn about what to do here at 2:00 in the morning.

I’m not sleepy, I’m not tired, and yet … I don’t know what I should be doing except sleeping and being tired. Which means being awake is the wrong thing for me to be doing.

I’ve been trying to post this entry for nearly a week now, and I keep getting interrupted by things that are more important than blogging.

Do I keep struggling with trying to make my life better, or do I just accept that this is how I’m going to be for the rest of my life and let it consume me?

I’m so full of self-doubt right now, and it’s bleeding over into my other relationships. Friends can tell something is wrong but it’s not something we can discuss very easily.

I just want to cry.

I want to feel something, anything, besides lost and confused.

Every time I try to do something productive it gets lost in the shuffle and I don’t give myself credit for having done the thing. I just kick myself and tell myself why it shouldn’t be a struggle for me to do whatever it is I just busted my ass trying to do.

I just wish I could shake this feeling and get back on track. Been struggling with this for over a month now.

A Cacophony of Time

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Tonight I start the slow process of resetting my circadian rhythm. I’ll be awake as late as I can and sleep as long as I can afterward, in the hope that once more I can get my body back to being unconscious from 11 pm to 6 am. It’s bad enough that I get headaches that will wake me up from time to time, but when I’m not even getting sleepy until 2 or 3 am, it’s a problem.

One of the things that I’m discovering comes with the borderline diagnosis is a need for external validation. If you’ve followed me for any amount of time on Facebook, you’ve seen that in action. Now, for the most part, that validation doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. I don’t need to be constantly told how awesome and loved and other superlatives I am; I just want someone to talk to and spend some time with me. It explains how I can be an introvert that seems to crave social contact in some way most of the time. I’m not extroverted, I just need that mental reassurance that I’m not alone.

Perhaps by now you’ve already put two and two together and realized why someone needing the reassurance of social contact spending half the night awake is a problem. Most people keep “usual” sleep schedules, which means the later it gets, the fewer people I have available to while the time away, the more antsy I start to feel, and the higher the chance there is for self-doubt to start creeping in. It becomes a very delicate balance between staying up late enough to find that social contact and staying up late enough for my mind to turn against itself. When that happens, it’s almost impossible for me to sleep until my body’s overwhelming fatigue overrides my mind’s downward spiral.

So I have a computer game to keep me company while I revolve my circadian rhythm back to a “daywalker” schedule, and I’ll have music going in the background to distract me as well. I should be fine. But if the need arises, I’m not against packing everything up and heading down the street to the local IHOP for coffee and the occasional conversation with the waitstaff.

In the meantime, my checklists are going to slide by the wayside, with the exception of my meds and my vitals. (At least, I’ll keep track of my vitals as best as I can, but if I don’t wake up until 2:30 in the afternoon, breakfast and lunch is kinda shot.) It’s gotten to the point that getting back on a typical sleep schedule is more important than perfection on my checklists, which is something that’s been eluding me while I get more and more off kilter with my rest. While perfection isn’t the goal, health is, and I’m finding it to be an increasingly unhealthy thing to stay up half the night. My mind suffers at the time and my body suffers the next day.