I mentioned I might try to get something off my chest here. I'm a bit worried that I might go on too much or ramble, or get emotional, or probably worst of all, still not be understood. So I'll try to keep this first post a reasonable length. Although as I hope to explain, that may mean that I go on for ten pages.
Where to begin? And then where to go? Well, there's so much jumbled up, different ways of seeing things: focusorganisationsatisfactionselfdisciplineselfawarenesscuriosityheadacheplanningachievementmotivationintroversionrelectionattentiondepresionobsessionsleepmissingmeaningfatigueisolationlaziness
And that's just part of it. Maybe sleep, then. I'd said only a few months ago that my sleep was normal. But the last few weeks the pattern has been intending to get to bed 10-10.30 and read, often staying up past midnight, get to sleep immediately, wake up at 3am, can't get back to sleep again, feel very tired, mess around a bit trying to relax, microsleeps, try to snooze, get a few minutes, restless again, get absorbed in something online by the morning, then something else, still hoping to catch up on sleep and nodding off, put off what I was meaning to do because I'm not feeling energetic enough and I'm not really thinking about it as immersed in finding something out and digesting it, most of the day's suddenly gone, get frustrated, try to do one basic thing, intend to get to bed 10-10.30, repeat.
It seems that my brain doesn't really shut off, although I have tried meditation (running while just accepting sensations seems to work better). It always has to probe and assess and conclude and often comes up with sensible plans. But actually carrying out those plans can get put off for weeks or not happen at all. What's the point of a to-do list when I seem unable to force myself to get started? And sleep makes things worse. It's like the curiosity is there all the time, but any sensible motivation to do the washing or ring the bank or act on one of my ideas is much reduced. That's kind of expected when you're tired, but shouldn't the dratted mental processing give up as well? Can't I just watch a crap film? No, I just think about how crap it is (Sicario 2 not recommended: if you're interested wait for it on TV with subtitles).
So, is there anything I can do about the sleep? Could it be worse this time of year because of the early dawn? I'm not sure, I can't tell. Maybe I should get heavier drapes for my bedroom, but that's another thing I've been putting off, as has registering with a GP. Could it be depression causing early waking? Well, I don't currently feel anywhere near as depressed as I have, but then one of the main virtues of this diagnosis has been not feeling obliged to feel anything. It's autism meaning something affecting my ability to connect to people, but with main features being 'alexithymia' (not knowing what you're feeling) and poor 'executive function' (getting stuff done). It's not that I don't understand feelings, it's that unless very depressed I can override or ignore them and usually do. They're secondary to a rational understanding. This is why I have problems with 'How are you?', and maybe have problems just making friends by liking people, being fundamentally convinced I should really like everyone. It also makes it hard to make decisions. Given what someone else wants, or somehow getting committed to a task, I can work out how to do it (so it's not executive dysfunction in that respect, it's more 'autistic catatonia'). But faced with having to have a preference, I'm consumed by the future of the planet in millions of years. My usual tricks for decisions include: a quick pro-con, if I can think of two reasonable-sounding causes for action, I take a particular path; or I try to evaluate things ethically; or both; or I flip a coin. I also try to apply myself in whatever seems the right way at the moment - if an intervention is waiting to be made, I make it. Or not if something more important-seeming comes up. But that's not great for accomplishing a daily plan, or a life plan. Most people don't have such a thing as a life plan, I'm assured. Although wouldn't it be good to share dreams?
So one day this week I just didn't go into work. I was expecting myself to. It just didn't happen. I can't explain it, and people seem to know me so well they haven't disciplined me, or have their own ideas of the reason. Maybe I'm demotivated and need a new job. I may benefit from people around trying to motivate me, and am a bit adrift in life. They say the mind is a millstone, and when it has nothing to grind, it grinds itself. Well, I spend too long on the web on sites like this, and that provides constant grist, but what for? I know I need more meaningful real-world relationships and mutual collaborations. I think it's because of my alexithymia that firstly I can't explain my own actions, secondly I'm in the habit of believing I will find the motivation soon, so put things off. Sometimes I really try to force myself to not procrastinate and knuckle down, but somehow can't. It's a very frustrating block that I can see reasons to overcome, but just end up getting stressed over my internal conflict. Maybe alexithymia means I think I intend to do honourable or useful things, but really my motivation is just to sound off and eat pizza. But people assure me I'm not lazy - when I'm started on something I'll work 12 hours or more. I just can't predict what that will be. Is trying to force myself a bad thing, because if I fail I get into bad habits of failure? You'd think I might have learned all this being more than halfway through my life, a life that doesn't seem made by choice. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
I think that will do for now.
So much of this applies to me, Cassandro. You know when you are trying to explain something to yourself, but can't get it right - then you read what someone else has written, and you think 'Yeah... that about sums it up.'
Much more I can say... but I'm exhausted after a stressful couple of days, so can't get my thoughts in order. I wanted to reply, though - just to say something. I'm slowly getting down a bottle of red, which should knock me completely out. Tomorrow, I'll say a bit more.
PS Sad to read about Sicario 2. I enjoyed the first one and was looking forward to this - but somehow thought it probably wouldn't match up.
I have had significant problems sleeping so I know where you're coming from. The thing is that a sleeping pattern is habit forming, so if you sleep well one night, you are likely to sleep well the next, etc. You are also likely to repeat bad sleeping habits over and over. Melatonin is actually really good for establishing a good sleeping pattern, but for some reason that I cannot fathom, you can only get it with a prescription in this country. You really only need to take it for two nights and then it's easier to sleep after that, even without the melatonin. It is suspected in some circles that autistic people are not as capable of producing melatonin as other people. I suspect that being extra sensitive to light makes it harder to produce melatonin, which is released by the brain when it gets dark.
The thing to do if you want to change a repeating pattern of bad sleeping is to force your brain to associate bed with only sleep. Go to bed only when you feel tired and if you don't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up and go somewhere else, until you feel tired again, then repeat. Don't read in bed. Don't use a screen in bed. Any devices with screens that you use away from bed should be set to filter out blue light from sunset to sunrise at least. I have found an app for my phone that does that. and my computer already had the utility built in. Don't sleep in, even when you don't have to go to work.
Once you have developed a good sleeping pattern for several weeks, you can ease back on some of the rules, but don't allow yourself to get into unhealthy sleeping patterns again.
I have an app on my phone to monitor my sleep by detecting the vibrations of my movements through the mattress (I said not to use a phone but for this it's ok). It's good for trying to figure out what factors make me sleep well, and which ones cause me to sleep badly. The app detects when during my sleep cycle it is best for me to wake up and then it plays an alarm. That one feature makes me feel refreshed in the morning, even if I technically haven't actually had a very good sleep all night.
Use an eye mask or a blackout shade to block out the morning sun. Even the tiniest bit of the blue daylight will stimulate your brain into being wide awake, so heavier drapes will not be sufficient unless they allow absolutely no light to pass. The app also shows that I wake up when the sun starts to rise (which is before the actual official sunrise time), but I don't know if it's because of the light level (it happens even when I wear an eye mask, but that doesn't block out all the light) or the birds that start chirping outside my window at an ungodly hour in the morning once they themselves wake up. Probably a combination of the two. It seems to me that I have heard the first few birds of the morning several times. It starts with just one, then another, and pretty soon all of the rest of them wake up and it's a cacophony of chirping.
As for motivation to do things, what I do is make lists. Of course, you first need to have the motivation to make the list in the first place.... But crossing things off the list is so satisfying. There are many apps for that, or you can just use paper. Divide the tasks into smaller chunks so you're not stuck on something for hours. Believe me, I know how that is too.
I hope that helps.
Apologies, the page froze and I had to screen grab my post! That’s so you wouldn’t spot me as a bot!
I'm sure you already know this, but while alcohol tends to help with getting you to fall asleep, it actually leads to a very unproductive type of sleep and an inability for the brain to fall into a state of deep sleep, so it is not adivisable as a cure for insomnia. Since two people have indirectly implied that alcohol helps with getting to sleep, I thought I should mention that it's not actually a good or healthy solution, especially for someone who tends to wake up and cannot get back to sleep.
Agreed it is not a great form of self medication.... liquid methadone for a lonely soul and also a depressive.
Everyone I've recounted my difficulty sleeping to (too hot, too light in the morning, birds too loud) has said they're also having a hard time sleeping because of the early dawn. So that could definitely be a contributing factor. But it does sound like a rather classic insomnia pattern-you get to sleep and wake up, often around the same time and have trouble getting back to sleep. Rinse and repeat.
When I get insomnia (which is thankfully not too often, but I've had it enough to know the established pattern) it goes in pretty much that same pattern; have trouble getting off initially, wake up dead on the dot at the same time every night in the early hours, can't get back to sleep despite being really tired. Finally get off again for another hour before I have to get up. Which is awful, because I need a good 8-9 hours sleep really to function well, and I'll end up wanting to fall asleep mid way through the afternoon (except you can't nap because that doesn't help-and when I do try and nap I still can't drift off). For me, it is a sure fire sign that I am stressed-even if I haven't previously realised it. My body is more sensitive to how I'm feeling sometimes than how I think I'm feeling ( I also get a really strong physical reaction to anxiety (nausea, stomach ache, shaky) that's not necessarily proportionate to how anxious I feel) so I'll feel like emotionally I'm fine and it's only when I realise I'm trying to do 1039393 things that it occurs the insomnia might be due to that. So it's a cue for me to cut down on my obligations as much as I can, and take some time to relax and eventually my sleep patterns go back to normal. Difficult when you can't find something you can immediately cut out-the worst I've ever had it was during my undergrad dissertation, I didn't have the time to take a break, so I was just painfully tired for about 3 weeks and took a break as soon as I was able to. Does help if you can try not to take naps and get into a good routine before bed; stuff like having a nice bath or some warm milk is meant to help-I did find when I used to work nights, establishing doing the same thing every morning-breakfast, hot chocolate, hot water bottle when it was cold, really helped me get off nicely, though I can't say how much it has an affect when I've got insomnia. Having other routine might help the sleeping part of it sort itself out though.
Also, could you be having issues with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inertia_(anxiety) ? I definitely get this, a sort of paralysed feeling that you just can't.
Cassandro said:It's autism meaning something affecting my ability to connect to people, but with main features being 'alexithymia' (not knowing what you're feeling) and poor 'executive function' (getting stuff done). It's not that I don't understand feelings, it's that unless very depressed I can override or ignore them and usually do.
Yup. Totally me.
Cassandro said:consumed by the future of the planet in millions of years.
Usually, the Jehovah's Witnesses are the ones trying to get away. They ask daft stuff like, "have you thought about the end of the world?", to which I earnestly reply, "Yes - but it doesn't matter anyway because even if we take care of the planet in perpetuity, humanity is finished when the sun runs out of fuel, therefore it is actually moral to destroy the planet in the successful pursuit of getting mankind off this rock..."
' can override feelings as secondary to a rational understanding'
Rational autistic self lays out logically what should happen and needs to happen. The autistic self lays down its own challenges and veils of complexity that can present a barrier to the logical pathway being achieved. This leads to knots. ... separation between brain saying 'this needs to happen'... and your non brain self saying 'screw it, I'm worn out, time out card!'
Yes. This is it, in part at least. There's an internal conflict of sorts, that's a bit hard to describe to more typical people that I'd previously thought of in terms of personality type.
A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure. They spend considerable time second-guessing themselves. The open-endedness (from Perceiving) conjoined with the need for competence (NT [iNtuition Thinking, ie rational]) is expressed in a sense that one's conclusion may well be met by an equally plausible alternative solution, and that, after all, one may very well have overlooked some critical bit of data. An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as his opposition.
Well, I just lost a thousand words of reply to DragonCat16. Maybe it should wait until tomorrow....
Thanks. It's not a current problem with the heat, because I have quite a breeze and very light bedding, and actually have no problem getting off to sleep at first. It's only after I wake up at 1am, 3am, 5am that I need a strategy. If it's after 6am the rule in my head has been to start the day rather than try to sleep, although there's little practical to do before businesses open and unfortunately it turns into computer time, which would be fine if I were writing.
I've not read that Wikipedia article, but it's definitely relevant. When I've come across autistic inertia mentioned before, I could relate. I would call it paralysis more than catatonia, possibly also related to procrastination and perfectionism.