Extra sleep – the key to my future plans

brain-interests
Roughly – this is how my thinking has been prioritized

I keep sleeping in past 8 a.m. This is new, since I returned from my business trip. This morning, my spouse had to wake me up at 8:15, asking if I was planning to go to work today.

Well, yes, I had planned on it. But if I don’t have to do it, so much the better 😉 No, really, I hoisted myself out of bed, did a shortened version of my morning exercises, and made my breakfast. Now I’ll do a quick post before taking off for the office.

I got 9-3/4 hours of sleep last night. I think that’s a record, of late. The last few nights, I’ve been sleeping from 10:30 till 7:45 — even past 8:00 — which has been putting me at close to 10 hours, for the past three nights.

And I didn’t even realize I was that tired.

I guess it’s all catching up with me — and not only from the business trip last week, but from the past 10+ years of grappling with sleep issues. I’ve been exhausted for so long, I don’t even know what it feels like to be fully rested. And my neuro thinks that it’s one of the root causes of my dizziness and lack of balance. My old neuropsych said that sounded “preposterous”, but if the brain is in charge (at least in part) of your sense of equilibrium as well as coordinating your movements, and your brain is tired, then doesn’t it make sense that a tired brain would lead to an un-balanced body / proprioceptive sense?

That seems common-sense to me. But I’ll let them fight it out on the experts front.

As for me, I’m actually sleeping, and while I do wake up during the night many times, I’m able to get right back to sleep and stay that way… and for 2-3 hours longer than is typical with me. It’s either that, or take a sleeping pill, which has been shown to cause rebound insomnia and is strongly cautioned against for people with brain injury. Now, that apparently happens after extended use, but even so. Why chance it?

Plus, not everyone metabolizes it the same way, so saying it’s benign in every single case — especially mine — is pushing it. And that’s beyond pointless. And a little worrying.

But on the bright side, my own situation is worlds better — at least for now. I may have to start setting a clock to wake me up by 8:30, if I don’t wake up, myself. I’m accustomed to waking up at 5:30, but I can do with out that, for sure.

Aside from the jet-lag and time-shift that came with the business trip, I think another thing that’s really helped me relax and sleep more, is taking some concerns off my plate. I’ve decided I’m not going to go back to school to finish up the B.A. I failed to get, 30 years ago. I was in trouble with the law, I was in trouble with my family, I couldn’t stay steady with anything I was doing, I was with a bad group of people who were very self-destructive, I was out of money, and I was too booze-addled to make good decisions. Finishing my degree just wasn’t possible.

My current employer pays for both graduate and undergrad education, so this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to finish my degree. But let’s be honest — there is no way I can hold down a full-time job, take care of my spouse, and take care of my own health, AND go to school, even part-time. Even doing one course, would be too much for me. Two to three hours of classes a week plus reading, plus studying for tests… with my learning differences, and my crushing fatigue… there is no way that could work.

So, after having this bright hope that I might be able to do it, I let that go a few weeks back. It feels like a surrender of something I’ve wanted with all my heart for so many years, but it just doesn’t make any sense. If I ever find a way to support myself that doesn’t involve being at an office and constantly dealing with people for 8-9 hours a day (and beyond that, considering all the emails and texts that come in at all hours), I’ll consider going back to school. But not if it puts me in debt. And not if it destroys my quality of life.

The wild thing is, ever since I let go of that plan/dream/ambition, I have felt so much more relaxed. Yes, it’s a loss. Yes, it’s disappointing. Yes, I kind of feel like I’ve failed. But this frees up that part of my brain that has been connecting my future success to the way I was always taught I could succeed – through getting degrees and adding qualifications and certifications that come from others.

As it turns out, I realize that I really am on a different path than that. I belong on the frontier. My great-great-grandparents were pioneers who traveled to the West when it opened up, and they paved the way for others to follow them. I’m actually not happy about some of the things they made possible — the Dust Bowl, rounding up Native Americans and putting them on reservations as well as genocide against this country’s first residents. That’s a hard legacy to carry. But at the core, at the center of it all, I am essentially a pioneer, not someone who settles spaces that others have opened up. And I’m the kind of person who thrives in unstructured environments where the rules have yet to be written.

brain-interests-new So, I’m freeing up my “brain space” to make room for my new work direction. I’m making the most of my current job stability to really think about where and how I want to work in the future. I’m not rushing out to find a new job, right now, because I need time to think and really get clear about what I want to do. After years of hard work and sacrifice and doing a lot of jobs that I didn’t want to do because they were good experience, I’m finally at a place where I can literally pick and choose the direction I want to go in. I have the experience that others really, really need, and after years of rehabbing with a neuropsychologist, I once again have the temperament and behavioral control to work effectively with others.

I was this close to being able to do that, back in 2004, when I fell and got hurt. I was 18 months away from cashing in on my shares, that would have let me pay down my house and refinance the remainder at a very attractive rate. I was 18 months away from financial independence, which was no small feat for someone without a college degree, who everyone said would never get far in life because of my failure to complete pretty much anything I started. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it wasn’t an oncoming train. It was my future – the future I had worked so hard for.

Then I fell, and everything fell apart.

I’ve been rigidly locked onto the idea that I had to finish my degree, in order to get anywhere in life. But in fact, that falls back on thinking from when I was a teenager. As an adult, I’ve always been a pioneer, a leader, someone who ventures into spaces that haven’t yet been explored. The things I’ve done, have been things that nobody else thinks are possible.

But I know they’re possible, as do the others I work with.

Now I need to look again to the future and find where I need to be. Not just where I am right now, but where I need to be, on down the line. I want to make the best of everything I’ve got, and take it to the next level.

And so I shall.

Onward!

Holy smokes, it’s amazing what some extra sleep will do for you…

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

12 thoughts on “Extra sleep – the key to my future plans”

  1. Thanks to Kate McClellend’s reblog I didn’t miss this one! As you know, the mechanics (and benefits) of sleep is one of my areas of fascination and research (and the subject of a rather in-depth series of sleep-focused articles on my blog). Attempting to cope with the impact of a life-long sleep disorder [DSPS/Non-24], I’m always interested in how the sleep state operates in the lives of others.

    Since I’ve never awakened reliably to sound, I rarely even try to set an alarm, remaining trapped in the sleep-state until I awaken naturally. I’m currently sleeping 10-12 hours a day myself (and I’ve pretty much always been an 8-hour girl – although my awake-hours count has usually been much higher than the norm).

    One thing to consider is the reality that our brains (and bodies) need more sleep when they are healing, processing something particularly change-related, recovering from a recent period of higher than usual stress, and/or resetting chronorhythms due to a sudden change in time zones, etc. Although you could be recovering from a period of insufficient or low-quality sleep, you might not be sleeping longer because you are “catching up” on much needed sleep. (Sleep research indicates that it’s not really possible to catch up, in any case – unless you count a reduction in sleep-debt as “catching up.”)

    The relief that accompanied your recent decision about waiting to revisit going back to school until a time when it better fits the realities of your life caught my eye as well. It sounded to me like you had been in the grip of what the coaching world refers to a “should” (vs. an authentic goal). One of the quickest ways to move that type of incompletion off your plate is to come to the realization that you didn’t really need the completion in the first place. So congrats on coming to that conclusion!
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thanks for writing 🙂 Despite having successfully navigated the challenges of my business trip, it was So Difficult To Deal With. I’m realizing that now. I was in go-mode the whole time, running on adrenaline and self-defense tactics – very survival-related, very on-edge. And it took more out of me than I first thought, I realize now. I’m slowly getting back to normal – I’m still sleeping at least 8 hours a night — I got 8.5 hours last night — and I’m still feeling a bit wiped. I did find a pretty amazing “concoction” I can mix up that brings me back to life – I’ll blogging about it right now. It’s quite magical. And easy to make.

    The whole giving-up-going-back-to-school thing is a significant shift in my present and future plans. There’s more to it than what I feel I “should” do. It’s really intimately tied to all my future prospects, as I had been conceptualizing them before. It’s a requirement for the sorts of things I’d been wanting to do in the future. By deciding to forego a degree, I’m essentially cutting out a lot of different avenues for future work opportunities I’ve always longed for, where a degree is required. I’m also foregoing the regard and professional respect of people whose opinions really mattered to me.

    But I really cannot start from scratch. Not when I know as much as I do. I’m going it alone, and it (finally) feels right. Building on my strengths, rather than focusing on fixing my weaknesses, you might say.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m sorry you are having to rethink your entire future (and jettison a work trajectory you deeply wanted) because the demands of school won’t play with the demands of life and work, and the demands of funding school won’t rely work if you drop the job.

    I get the “respect” thing too – a Ph.D. would have opened a lot of doors, but a badly broken leg, almost a year in a cast, etc. made the timing t-totally wrong out of grad school (especially since I’d just moved to NYC to be a star, and *nobody* needs formal education to do that – lol). By the time I jumped into the early days of the coaching biz, going back for a doctorate never fit the demands of making a living as an entrepreneur of another type — no matter HOW many opportunities remained closed or how many educators, science and shrink-types accorded me less respect for lack of those particular initials after my name.

    I’ve never had a job that would pay for college OR grad school (side-work and teaching assistantship did that for me), but I would have been mighty tempted to take advantage of it if I had — and mighty stuck, if I hadn’t cared for the job all that much! I might have been projecting my own hazy should-imaginings on your story. My bad!

    In any case, I focused on my own strengths and muddled through to success of some sort – although the green gla$$ ceiling always rankled and made life tougher than it might have been if Dr. Griffith-Haynie could have unlocked a few of those doors.

    But if YOUR brain has been working through making friends with all you describe, it has probably needed to do it while you weren’t awake to distract it! 🙂 – along with recovering from the demands of the recent conference. I have personal experience that the attentional demands of conferences are BRUTAL! *Especially* the fun ones.

    A 30-something programmer friend in Cincy found an organization that sponsored some advanced certificate-type training through them that allowed him to change directions and be qualified for a change of venue – but he had to be currently unemployed to qualify for their training. He already had an undergrad computer science degree, btw.

    But I’m thinking you probably already have more education and experience than he and, unless you are “downsized” into an unemployment situation (his deal), it doesn’t sound like that would be a road you’d be eager to explore on purpose.

    As with jumping through hoops to investigate grants, scholarships etc. at my age – knowing that there are roads one COULD take and knowing there are roads one is constitutionally capable of taking are two different animals. You too, huh?

    It sounds like you are at peace about your decision at this point – again, congrats. I’ll be watching with crossed fingers and toes as you step into your future.

    If you ever want to join forces to pioneer TBI coaching, I’d be up for traveling that particular road with you, however. ::only half kidding::

    Onward and upward,
    xx,
    mgh

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Tell me about it! Sleep struggles complicate everything – my life would have been much different, had I been able to count on getting myself up every morning.

    If you’re at all serious about developing a TBI coaching protocol, I have been considering a move to that arena for years as well – and I can’t think of a better biz partner.
    xx,
    mgh

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s entirely possible. I think my system got totalky fried on the trip, and I needed to seriously rest and digest. Now back at work… regular schedule again, and a different type of stress is setting in.

    Liked by 1 person

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