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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mental Sea Legs

I have been frustrated with myself because I haven't been getting many blog posts out. The truth is my light therapy is working. What that means for me is I have a stable schedule. I praise God for that...

It is highly disorienting.
my therapy light

I think the best analogy is sea legs. If you are on a ship you develop legs that unconsciously keep your balance on a deck that is rolling with the waves. Then after a time at sea you dock somewhere and get on land... It is weird. The ground feels too still. You feel unstable, even though in reality you now have stability and the disorientation comes from your familiarity with instability. Well, that's what I am going through only instead of physical legs it's mentally adjusting to stability of schedule.
One of the hardest part is I am losing a literal hour a day. My sleeping disorder (Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder) is basically that my circadian rhythm doesn't match the length of the day. My internal day is roughly 25 hours instead of 24. So if I am getting the same amount of sleep but on a 24 hour day instead I literally lose an hour of awake time.

Then to make it worse I am losing nearly two hours to light therapy. The way it works is I wake up at 6:30 am, fumble to try to get whatever I need (ideally get a cup of tea and hit the restroom... Often I am snoozing that time away though.) Then at 6:45 I turn on the therapy light and am basically stuck in one place until 8:30. That's when I really start my day.

Then the reason my first few attempts at the light therapy didn't work was not the light therapy but the dark therapy. A few hours before bed I am supposed to turn all but red lights off. I have apps on my computer and phone to filter out blue light. Well I found the dark wasn't enough. I would try to go to sleep but wasn't tired enough. So I wouldn't get enough sleep and after several days of falling to sleep too late then waking at 6:30 I crashed from sleep deprivation. Then I have to wait a few weeks for my internal clock to rotate back (if I don't do therapy I will wake an hour later every day until I have crossed back to naturally waking at 6:30 for one day, which is when I need the therapy to freeze it in place.)

So this time I started using melatonin at night and that seems to do it. But I am struggling on the balance of when to take it and when to start the dark therapy. (I plan to buy blue blocking goggles soon but it hasn't been a budget priority yet.)

So this combination of light therapy and melatonin seems to be successful, it's been about three weeks now of stability. But I am still very disoriented. Adding to that, once a month Ryan's schedule changes.

Right now Ryan has to be at work at 11:30pm and is home around 8:30am. This means we're basically on opposite schedules and I am never doing any work in the house unless he's sleeping, which definitely limits me because I have to be careful not to wake him. We also miss each other all the time.

Well starting in a few days he's getting his new schedule. Which this time (and we never know more than a few days in advance) he'll need to be at work by 6:30am and will be home around 4pm. This is great on one hand, he is on a very rare day schedule! At the same time he'll be waking up before me and likely will accidentally wake me at least 75% of the time (based on experience) so this has the potential to derail my therapy. But assuming we make it work it still puts a kink in the schedule I am only just starting to adjust to...

So I am deciding to declare that April will probably continue to be weird. I definitely will keep blogging but it likely will be as odd as it has been. Who knows though, maybe Ryan's new schedule will help me. At least we'll have more time together! The first two weeks of stability were awful. We were fighting due to both being disoriented from lack of seeing each other. See while my rotating on a 25 hour schedule was instable it also meant no matter how weird Ryan's schedule was in a few days I'd rotate close to it and we'd never be on completely opposite schedules for long.

Thus, in many ways this has been really hard on my marriage. However, I am doing this for Dreamer. Everyone goes on about routine and stability being so good for kids but she simply hasn't had that, at least in time. She's had stability in relationship, which I think matters way more. But I want to do this for her, even if it isn't good for me. So far she still isn't scheduled. Some mornings she wakes up at 6:30, sometimes not until after my light therapy. Sometimes she falls asleep at 7:30pm, others not until 11:30. But at least day and night are stable for her now and given some weeks things should normalize. 

As far as a further structure to our day? Well that's the goal but I am still too disoriented. I'm praying for God to help me make wise choices and enable me to give her what she needs. I am experimenting, waiting for the wobbly sea legs feeling to go away...

So that's what's going on. Hopefully my mental processing catches up to my new day schedule soon and, optimistically, I will schedule in a regular period for blogging and we'll all benefit.

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