Phase Shifting into 2007

December 31, 2006 at 8:13 pm 2 comments

Everything about me seems to scream ‘fucked-up’ at the moment. I’ve now reached the point in my lack of sleep patterns where I’ve completely phase shifted with respect to most of the planet (and, indeed, with the sleep cycle I should have for work). That is to say, I woke up 12 hours later than I should have. If you changed the pm to an am, I’d be healthy. I woke up at 7pm today.

I’ve been reading about sleep disorders recently. For a while I thought I had something called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, but since I’ve been keeping track of my sleep cycles, it seems that Non 24-Hour Sleep Wake Syndrome would fit the evidence better. I don’t have a stable sleep pattern – it advances constantly.

Of course, I’m no sleep medicine professional, so this spot of arrogant self-diagnosis counts for nothing. But actually getting to see a psychiatrist or neurologist specialising in sleep disorders? Right now that seems impossible. I get private healthcare insurance through my job, but it doesn’t include chronic conditions, or conditions that existed in the five years prior to the policy, so this kind of thing wouldn’t be covered. This means I have to rely on the NHS. And I’ve checked – there’s a sleep lab in the city I live in. Run by the children’s hospital. Its patients -and the patients of the specialists there – are children. So I don’t qualify. If my GP, or the counsellor I’ll be going to see, wants to refer me, they’ll have to do it out of area. Which will also make it difficult for me to get there.

And that’s if they refer me. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders are fairly rare and have only been recognised in the last thirty years or so. It’s not something the NHS seems particularly good at. I may be second guessing them here, but I suspect that they’ll think it’s a symptom of my depression. As far as I can see, it’s just that I manage the problems slightly better when I’m not depressed.

Or, I suppose, I could just be lazy and undisciplined. That’s what I’ve been told for years.

There’s no cure for these syndromes. If I do have the problem I think I have, then I always will. It can be managed, but information about the effectiveness of the management techniques (things like melatonin and phototherapy) is hard to find. Wikipedia, which may not be entirely accurate, says “It often takes several treatments before any progress is noticed, and for many the treatments may only be marginally effective or not effective at all.”

Nice. This condition, if I’m not just fantasizing, makes it so hard to hold down a job. When I actually go to work, rather than moping about the house, I go there tired to the bone. I’ll post about my second piece of dumb self-diagnosis later (say hello, Bipolar II!), but relatedly, when I’m in one of my better phases, I can just about manage to cope with the constant tiredness and sleep-deprivation. When I’m in one of my worse phases, I can’t cope with it at all. Depression makes it difficult enough to get out of bed in the morning (or, let’s face it, at all). Trying to force yourself out of bed when you’re depressed and have had three hours sleep is a losing proposition all round.

In less than four hours time it’ll be 2007. No, I’m not doing anything special to see the new year in. And although I’m theoretically on the road to treatment, it doesn’t feel like I’m getting anywhere.


Entry filed under: Bipolar Disorder, Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders, Depression, Docs and Shrinks, Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome. Tags: , , , , , , .

Friday On Suicide

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cinthia  |  December 31, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    Sorry to hear about your sleep problems. I can totally relate. I won’t be celebrating New year’s Eve either. What’s the point, really? All the best to you.

  • 2. Pippa Carey  |  October 10, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    hey James.. thanks for your blog…having trouble getting someone to diognose my son who i believe thas non 24 sleep disorder. maybe we can chat msn?

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Hi, I'm James. I'm a 26 year old guy from England with bipolar disorder (currently well controlled). I also have a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (not so well controlled). This blog has charted my journey from mental illness, through diagnosis and, recently, into recovery. It's not always easy, but then, what is?


Self-righteous note about smoking

As of 12th September 2008 it has been forty five weeks since I quit smoking. So in another seven weeks it'll have been a whole year.

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