Sleep update

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Preston Crawfor

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Feels kind of good to say "sleep update". I say the term reservedly, but it's more positive and more
true, because I have gotten some sleep. Haven't gotten to see a psychiatrist yet to talk about the
anxiety, but I've been doing everything I can to relieve it myself. At least, as much as that is
possible. I feel much better today. Felt much better this whole weekend, but what remains to be seen
is how I am going to have to deal with the root cause of the insomnia that began on Sunday. To
update, on Friday I did everything right. Relaxed way ahead of time. I haven't so much as turned the
TV on or picked up a newspaper (a great deal of my anxiety centers on what's going on in the world
at large) for the entire week. I took 1mg of Ativan and slept for about 4 hours. Nothing too stellar
and then I had some more insomnia. Called the doctor on call and he gave me some new instructions as
to what to do now. Strangely I was up from like 3am until 9am then inexplicably fell asleep on my
own at 9 until like noon.

Then I proceeded to have a good day. Went out to eat, rode my bike around 5 miles and worked really
hard to overcome little anxieties I'm starting to recognize in myself (i.e. taking more chances I
normally wouldn't) until I came home and relaxed at 5. Took 1mg of Ativan at 9 again, fell asleep
and slept for 9 hours.

Today I felt really good. Biked 11 miles, ate at a restaurant I've never eaten at before and went
out with my wife. I hope I get good sleep tonight and I hope I'm ablel to normalize it soon enough
to get off the Ativan and the Xanex. I don't want to be come addicted. I'm only taking 1mg of the
Ativan and 0.25mg of the Xanex, so hopefully it won't be hard to wean off it soon.

The real question is if the stuff I'm starting to talk myself through and think through (in terms of
how I let certain anxieties control me) is enough. I really don't want it to be a situation where
I'm on medicine for good because of a chemical imbalance or something. I only pray I get a doctor
smart enough to know what I really truly need.

Anyway, thanks for the help and advice. The last couple days have been better. Thanks especially to
those who suggested I go get some exercise. I've been so "busy" and so anxious about little colds
turning into sicknesses that I haven't really been on my bike in months. It's quite apparant how
much better I feel when I exercise. If only I could ride it constantly.

Preston
 
I know it's bad form to followup yourself, but I forgot to write down what one of the major things I
did today to overcome an anxiety was. It may seem stupid or minor, but to those who have followed my
repeated questions about heart rates, dehydration and other things it won't seem so silly. In fact
it's quite serious. I rode today and yesterday without my heart rate monitor. Doesn't seem like
much, but that's been one of my anxiety crutches for quite some time. I'd look down at it quite a
lot just to make sure my heart wasn't beating too fast. Maybe it's not a good idea to ditch it now,
but I'm only 28. I've gotten the battery of tests done and my body is fine. In spite of what I've
been through my body is fine. When I was losing the weight I don't think I wore a heart rate monitor
from around 400lbs down to around 290lbs. I only started riding it when the anxiety over my health
began. It felt good to just ride. Pedal as slow or fast as I felt like and to ride because it was
fun. Not because I was racing death and not in spite of my fear. Just riding because it's fun.

Sorry so touchy feely. It's been a tough week for me. Erratic sleep or sleepless nights will do
that to you.

Preston
 
In article <[email protected]>, [email protected] says...

...

> Today I felt really good. Biked 11 miles, ate at a restaurant I've never eaten at before and went
> out with my wife. I hope I get good sleep tonight and I hope I'm ablel to normalize it soon enough
> to get off the Ativan and the Xanex. I don't want to be come addicted. I'm only taking 1mg of the
> Ativan and 0.25mg of the Xanex, so hopefully it won't be hard to wean off it soon.

I'm glad to hear you're getting somewhere with this. The Ativan can be a godsend for some people,
but as you suggest, it can be habit forming (not truly addicting, though) if you use it for an
extended period of time. My wife used it for about a year when she was suffering from depression.
Once that was under control, she tapered off the ativan until she didn't need it at all. The only
"withdrawal" effect she had was wierd dreams for a few weeks after stopping it completely, and then
those went away too.

As you have found (or will), exercise helps a lot, too.

--
An optimist says "Good morning, Lord." While a pessimist says "Good Lord, it's morning".

Remove the ns_ from the address before e-mailing.
 
You know Preston, it sounds like your anxiety and insomnia are part of a positive feedback loop.

A negative feedback loop tends to enhance stability. Your basic thermostat is an example. It gets
too cold, the metal bends and turns on the furnace. It gets too warm the metal straightens and the
furnace shuts down.

A positive feedback loop would be if the furnace ran and the thermostat would instruct it to run
hotter the higher the temperature went until the whole thing blew up or something.

I have had insomnia from worries and I have noticed that the worries seemed to "chase themselves
around my head". The more I worried, the worse it got.

The trick for me is derailing the process. I am wondering if you are having a similar but much more
severe situation.

I think you did the right things - not watching much news. Riding your bike. Going out to a new
restaurant. In short, kicking back, doing stuff but relaxing also.

Good luck.

"We are all in this together"
 
In article <[email protected]>, Pbwalther wrote:
> You know Preston, it sounds like your anxiety and insomnia are part of a positive feedback loop.

I think that's exactly what was happening. Except in my case I wasn't experiencing insomnia before
this week, but rather just sleepless nights because of worry (5, 6 hours instead).

> I think you did the right things - not watching much news. Riding your bike. Going out to a new
> restaurant. In short, kicking back, doing stuff but relaxing also.
>
> Good luck.
>
> "We are all in this together"

I appreciate it. It's definitely been better in the last 4 days. Lots of sleep, lots of relaxation
and my mind is so clear that I've started to focus on and come to terms with all these defensive
patterns and habits in my life that fed my anxiety. I don't know if that will be the ultimate
"answer". I'm still going to see a psychiatrist, etc. But I feel better today.

Preston
 
It is a little weird to find this discussion on rec.bicycles.misc, but I just wanted to comment that
when I deal with my own occasional anxiety problems that while the meds are sometimes useful to stop
yourself from spinning out of control, it still requires that you focus attention on how to
eliminate stress in your life, put your health first, and (very important) make changes to get your
life into a lower gear, put ambitions on hold and accept that without calling yourself a failure,
rethink what things are really obligations. I do not use a therapist for this.

I liken it to cleaning bookshelves. The first week you can throw away 20% of your books and the rest
you just can't part with. Come back 2 weeks later, iterate, suddenly 20% more books are expendable
and you find that some of those keepers from last time just aren't as important as you thought...
repeat regularly. Repeatedly trying to let go of self-imposed obligations is a kind of mental-health
self-maintenance that helps me a lot. There are still real obligations (esp. family) but there are
usually also a lot of "pretend" obligations that are really self-imposed and not as important as
imagined. I try to let myself not be the "star performer" all the time.

Sometimes that means I drop everything and ride a bike or read a book in the back yard when I
"ought" to be doing something else.

looking out for #1 because if there's no #1 then there's no #2 either.

Although getting off the meds again is a worthy goal, being anxious about the meds is
counter-productive to short-term success. Like any medication, demand candid information from the
physician and try to deal with it rationally. Using them is part of doing whatever is necessary for
yourself on a day-by-day basis - worrying about being be on meds next year is something that I put
beyond my horizon. There is also shame in using psychiatric medication and you have to identify and
resist that as well since it impedes rational decision-making.

--Paul
 
In article <oLqba.33388$A%[email protected]>, Paul Southworth wrote:
>
> It is a little weird to find this discussion on rec.bicycles.misc, but I just wanted to comment
> that when I deal with my own occasional anxiety

Sorry about that. The reason it's here is because many people here have been subjected to my various
concerns (anxieties) and thus I figured they would have good advice to give.

> first, and (very important) make changes to get your life into a lower gear, put ambitions on hold
> and accept that without calling yourself a failure, rethink what things are really obligations. I
> do not use a therapist for this.

I think that's the root of a lot of my problems. I'm quickly recognizing it in the way I've behaved
in discussions with people (here and in "real" life). I've had difficulty admitting I was wrong or
even admitting a point wasn't worth arguing, because I have an underlying anxiety about being
average. About being just a guy that has things he likes to do, works his job and hangs out with his
family. I'm quickly coming terms with the fact that this isn't failure and in fact that the
inability to enjoy your one life you're given is the only true failure.

> to let go of self-imposed obligations is a kind of mental-health self-maintenance that helps me a
> lot. There are still real obligations (esp. family) but there are usually also a lot of "pretend"
> obligations that are really self-imposed and not as important as imagined. I try to let myself not
> be the "star performer" all the time.

Yes, definitely.

> Although getting off the meds again is a worthy goal, being anxious about the meds is
> counter-productive to short-term success. Like any medication, demand candid information from the
> physician and try to deal with it rationally. Using them is part of doing whatever is necessary
> for yourself on a day-by-day basis - worrying about being be on meds next year is something that I
> put beyond my horizon. There is also shame in using psychiatric medication and you have to
> identify and resist that as well since it impedes rational decision-making.

I agree. My concern isn't the shame to be honest, though. And right now I'm taking a little, so
obviously I've gotten over my short term hang-up. I'm just concerned (and I think quite rationally)
about their use long term. Speaking specifically about medications people take for years like Paxil,
etc. I'm hoping I'm not wired that way and this is something I can overcome with frank discussions
with a therapist, loved ones and a lot of biking. The biking has definitely helped lately. I didn't
bike much in the last 6 months because of time pressures at work. Now that work is obviously
secondary to my well-being I'm biking again. 5 miles on Saturday, 10 on Sunday, 11 Monday and 14
today. It feels good. I used to bike 17 miles to work and 8 back (taking a train to get over the
hills on the way back here in Portland). Hopefully I can get back up to that.

Preston
 
"Preston Crawford" <[email protected]> wrote in message
news:[email protected]...
> In article <oLqba.33388$A%[email protected]>, Paul
Southworth wrote:
> >
> > It is a little weird to find this discussion on rec.bicycles.misc, but I just wanted to comment
> > that when I deal with my own occasional anxiety

I recently realized that I have some stress-making anxieties, too, and I'm trying to recognize the
unrational ones and address the real ones. The real kicker was when I wrote out a list of things I
was anxious about, several of the top ones were bicycle-related! "Fix this, change this, ride more,
buy this."

My wife was like: "this is what you do for FUN..."

Philip
 
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