don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away

11/22/04

This diary was originally started to chart my daily feelings on the antidepressant Celexa. I did so for about a month, and then the blog itself started being so therapeutic that I stopped talking about my emotional health and started writing all this random bullshit so many of you are kind enough to read.

You’ve helped me through many problems (although nobody had a decent suggestion on how to keep my barn warm) and I must draw upon your collective wisdom once more: namely, how the fuck do any of you stay awake?

Looking back at the arc of my life, the one problem that has stood out since the age of six is that I never have enough energy to rock all day long. My rest state is more restier than your average rester. I recall the endless days in high school when I would invent word games just to get through the preening boredom of Western Civ class. Now I find myself dragging through the day like I was carrying bags of sand.

I have tried ginseng, but it gats forth very little. I suppose I could exercise more, but I feel like it’s deeper than that. I have tried taking a little bit of Welbutrin in the morning, but all it seems to do is put an endless song loop in my head (usually “Hey Good Lookin'” or the “Facts of Life” theme, no lie).

I have ingested Coke until I got kidney stones. I was an early and proud adopter of Red Bull back in the mid-90s. Now I content myself with a 3-shot latt

0 thoughts on “don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away

  1. jon

    Have you EVER tried the obvious? That is, actually going to bed at a “normal” hour every night on a regular basis, for a long enough time to see if it works? I mean at like, 10 or 11 pm?
    If you’ve honestly given that the ol’ college try (well, a normal college try, not YOUR ol’ college try), and it still doesn’t work, then I’d say you’re just doomed to be a night person, so embrace it, and don’t ever pretend to be anything else. Take only red-eye flights. Subscribe to Skinemax chat groups. Become a producer for an overnight TV show and never have to apologize for sleeping ’til 2 pm again. Whatever. Seems to me you’ve just never fundamentally recognized this nightowlishness in yourself. You make plans for 9 or 10 am as if they’re actually going to materialize, but then you stay up ’til 5 am doinking around and are suprised that you oversleep for your 9:00 appointment. Figure out who you are, and be that person.

    Reply
  2. Alan

    Naps. Don’t fight it. Sleep when you are tired. Blow off Sunday afternoon. Two weeks ago it was bye-bye from 1 to 6 and I felt like a million bucks for the rest of the week.

    Reply
  3. Bud

    Go to bed the same time (give or take 30 minutes) every night; sleep the right amount (in my case, 8.5 to 9.0 hours hours), and take a 20-minute nap in the afternoon if you need one.
    A little caffeine is OK; a lot of caffeine is Very Bad. I have one cup of green or black tea first thing, and one cup of Really Good Coffee around 5 pm.
    Exercise at least 30 minutes a day, at least 3 days a week, preferably 1 to 2 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week.
    Stretch.
    Meditate, or do some other contemplative spiritual practice.
    And find a reason to laugh every day. In your case, keeping a mirror handy should do the trick.
    (smilie)

    Reply
  4. hxc

    While, as you say, your problem may be deeper than lack of exercise, some exercise will definitely give you more energy during the day. Don’t go crazy at first, pick something that leaves you wanting more at the end–a walk in the woods, a short bike ride. You’re in it for the long run.

    Reply
  5. Salem

    Funny you should ask. I have made some drastic changes in my life to try and capture more focus at work and more energy for the kids when I’m home. 1. No more sugar. 2. Eat four or five small low glycemic meals a day. 3. Cut back on caffeine. 4. Work out.
    I keep low sugar “Detour” protein bars for sweet cravings and convenience snacks. Anyway, it has had an incredible impact on my energy level. I was at 15% body fat when I started so I’m not dieting. Eating more small meals helps my energy.
    I found a cool book about managing your energy level by two sports psychologists that focuses on the “corporate athlete”. “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. One thing they find very important are rituals and routine. Apparently, rituals and routine play an important role in renewing and conserving energy.

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  6. Sean

    Speaking as a guy who shares your DNA, I’ll tell you what has worked for me. When I read that a large glass of water has the same stimulating power as a glass of coffee first thing in the morning, I tried it throughout the day.
    I also made a deal with myself that I would wake up every morning at 7:30 and start my day. And I would also always sleep when I am tired. So, I am an unapolagetic napper, and it has changed my life.
    People have a bunch of different views on napping, that it will ruin your sleep cycle, that 20 minutes or 30 or 60 is perfect, but you have to try it for a while and get the hang of it. I usually sleep about 30 to 40 minutes.
    But you really have to feel good about napping, it has to be a thing you do with no apologies and no feeling that you should be doing other stuff. I get 7 hours of sleep every day, but often an hour of it is in the afternoon. I’ve even slept two hours mid-day and still fallen asleep, no problem, that night.
    Coffee does nothing for me after an hour, and it does nothing for mom. My guess is that the same ADD properties in our biology that make us react to Ritalin as a calming focusing agent instead of giving us the jitters are the same thing that makes coffee good only for producing poop.
    Water, naps, no-guilt. I own my sleeping time, I don’t sweat insomnia because I know I’ll get my sleep eventually.
    And, as long as you don’t have a job in an office, and before you have kids, you should sleep as much as you can *RIGHT NOW*.

    Reply
  7. cullen

    ditto your bro’. If you plan on young’uns, sleep up now Johnny boy. Kids steal your sleep; the needy little angels will pick your pockets of available rest time and make your current fatigue level feel like a vacation. Try hard exercise, one or two slow beers, and some, um, exhaustive sex (if you’ve earned it) to knock your ass out good. Making babies makes great sleep, but once they crash the gate, the slumber party’s usually over.

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  8. Tanya

    Ian Darling,
    You’ve gotten some EXCELLENT advice, to which I echo it all. But I will add an underline to cullen and Sean’s comments. You think you’re tired now? Heh. Enjoy it while you can. When I was pregnant, I kept track of how far along I was by counting how many Saturdays I still had left to sleep in. I would now give my right arm to sleep past 6:45 on any given morning.
    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Reply
  9. CL

    This isn’t quite as healthy as the other suggestions, but I have been bribing myself with chocolate (cookies, cocoa, etc.) to stay up later if I have work to get done. I don’t eat chocolate other times, so it’s a real reward. Of course, I’m a girl.
    Anyway, the days are getting shorter and darker, so I think everyone’s a bit more tard right now.

    Reply
  10. kevin

    get off the caffeine and sugar. I never had energy in the afternoons until i got off the sugar train. It has been the big ride of the last 100 years and it is time to find a new ride.

    Reply
  11. Laurie from Manly Dorm

    Oh God, to sleep, perchance to dream! I have not slept well since I had my baby. Oh, and my baby is now 5 years old. When she was born, a switch went off in my head. . . I was doomed to be a light sleeper, always on alert for some imagined danger to my baby. Every night for the first year, I would dream that my husband had rolled on top of the baby. I literally woke him up 3 times a night, EVERY night, screaming that he was suffocating our daughter! YOU ARE ON TOP OF HER! GET OFF! WAKE UP AND GET OFF, I SAID!!! I even managed to kick and propel him out of bed on a regular basis. This is the funny part: we never opted for the family bed concept. Since we brought her home from the hospital, she was always asleep soundly in her OWN room, in her OWN crib, while I was having regular nightmares and battering my life partner. I dare you to find THAT chapter in the “What to Expect” books!
    Anyway, thanks to the passing of time and some Lexapro, I sleep a little better these days. However, thanks to my mind-numbing Insurance Job and the overall exhaustion of cubicle dwelling/working/parenting/housekeeping (poor me!), I am in a constant state of low level tiredness. You have received some great advice above from some very healthy-living friends. Bud and Salem’s ideas in particular are excellent. I, on the other hand, don’t have any insight. The only things that keep me going are my addiction to candy, coffee, and carbs, and the promise of seeing my fun little girl at the end of the day. Good luck!

    Reply
  12. Piglet

    Go ahead and sleep. For the next four years, you’ll be happier when you’re unconscious.
    I agree with the above people about the naps.
    The other thing is, if you snore like a sick moose, you may be ceasing to breathe in your sleep for periods of time.
    My wife got this thing called a C-PAP that attaches a long nose-hose to your face and forces air up your nose while you sleep so that you keep breathing. Then both her parents got them, and eventually I was persuaded. I was pretty horrified at the idea at first, and wondered how on earth you could sleep while wearing a gas mask, but I actually got used to the thing pretty quickly. Did wonders for my sleep.
    Unfortunately, now I’m off Wellbutrin for budget reasons, so I’m sorta drowsy again. If it isn’t one thing, it’s another. At least, the songs that plagued me were not-too-bad ones by the Hollies…

    Reply
  13. Kelly

    Echo sentiments above about drinking water instead of coffee — does wonders. Also, no white refined carbs after 5 PM — your body works too hard trying to digest, results in a less-sound sleep. And, as a parent, I must add that once babies arrive, you mourn sleep like an old friend gone. There must be a rule anyone over 30 who lays down beside a child after 8 PM will have the sleep of their lives squished in a toddler bed, with a wee one delighted to have stayed up later than you.

    Reply
  14. oliver

    Caffeine ought to do it, and it seems like it once did for you, so probably you’ve elevated your tolerance to the point of ridiculousness, which I believe is fairly typical. You could now transition to amphetamines, such as the Air Force gives its pilots and doctors give themselves and federal judges give to everybody else 25 to life for. Or you could decide you need to sleep more (needs change with age, I hear) or you could quit your corporate job and become an artist–no, scratch that, you did that already–or you could decide you must be depressed, Celexa regimen notwithstanding. You had a lot personally invested in this election, what with the poll patroling and daily inveighing. Sick animals don’t eat. Maybe your lizard brain has decided to give up the fight for survival and make way for the next generation of lizard lefties. Lizards don’t know squat, though, so I suggest you just turn your mind to something nice and/or productive. By the way, I charge $200 and hour for such advice and you’ll be getting an invoice in the mail.

    Reply
  15. oliver

    Not to mention that sleep disorders are a common side effect of SSRI’s. You might want to lower your dosage. Maybe you’re surviving on low-quality, shallow junk sleep, because you’re SSRI doesn’t let you sink into the full zombie rejuvinating trance, as we neuroscientists say.

    Reply
  16. Anne D.

    I sympathize with you… Do you think the Celexa made your sleepiness worse? I ask because I’ve noticed this with the SSRI antidepressants. The worst was Paxil, which I took for about 15 months in 1999-2000 and could barely get through a day without falling asleep at my desk at work. Celexa didn’t make me as sleepy. I went off the meds for a few years, but this summer clearly needed to get back on, and this time we tried Lexapro, the supposedly purer form of the active med in Celexa. It has helped me greatly with both my depression and panic disorder (I have highway driving panic among other problems), but my gawd… yawn, yawn, yawn all afternoon. Whereas before I had trouble sleeping more than 6-7 hours per night, partially due to anxiety/depression, partially to join pain, and partially to perimenopause, in the last few months I’ve been easily sleeping 10 hours a night on weekends…. and *still* feeling drowsy in the afternoons.
    I don’t drink caffeine — and honestly, to avoid those valleys of fatigue, you probably shouldn’t either (but do wean off slowly if you make that decision). Here’s a suggestion though: A friend of mine who takes an SSRI and had felt “inert” and de-energized was advised by her psychiatrist to add a morning dose of Concerta, which I *think* is related or similar to Ritalin. It does not make her anxious but does help jump-start her and keep her busy all day. This is something I will consider if my drowsiness continues at this level, because I have now learned the hard way that I will probably need to be on Lexapro or something similar for the rest of my life so as not to be incapacitated by chronic dysthymia, occasional major depression, and chronic anxiety and panic disorder with attendant phobias.
    Sorry to blab about me so much! I sympathize with you and suggest you talk to your doc about this and see if there’s a gentle stimulant med you could add to your daily regimen.
    Some of us just have slow-paced metabolisms and natures.
    Oh, by the way, you probably should have a complete thyroid blood panel done. I am hypothyroid which, even it’s treated with Synthroid daily, contributes to sluggishness.
    Good luck.
    – Anne (lurker fan in RI)

    Reply
  17. flaco

    you need slow release energy throughout the day
    oatmeal in the morning, some tea, and gallons
    of lemon water throughout the day.
    You need to feel the fire burn in your belly
    stay away from metabolic inhibitors, things that
    hinder your natural furnace
    avoid processed sugar
    eats foods that have a low glycemic index
    you want slow release energy
    exercise is key, but try to combine this with
    something meditative. A brisk walk in the
    woods, chop some wood (wood keeps you warm twice!!)
    that being said, don’t fight it. If you need to
    nap, do it. Don’t go in four levels deep into
    sleep. Just rest your eyes, put some
    trance music on, visuaulize and meditate
    this is the best kind of rest during the day
    if you are nocturnal, just adjust your schedule
    accordingly. Make sure you get blocks of
    four hours of sleep. This will ensure a cycle
    of deep sleep and cell and tissue repair
    Also know that the sun dictates our cycles
    whether we like it or not. Sunlight on the
    back of the knees will help us wake up!
    In this dark time of year, a light that
    mimics the sun’s color temperature will do the
    same thing
    Become aware of lunar cycles too! Our cells
    are affected by tidal currents of full and new
    moons just as the ocean and earth

    Reply
  18. WindRider95

    Concur with Piglet re the C-PAP (Continuous Positive Air Pressure) device.
    I’ve had one for four days now…
    Holy Shit, Batman!!!
    Prior to using it, I could sleep (I use the term loosely) for eight hours and still feel as if I’d been run over by a truck. Now…6 hours on the C-PAP and I’m turbo-charged…not only all afternoon, but into the evening hours as well.
    If you snore loudly you may have sleep apnea or some other sleeping disorder…recommend seeing a doctor. Couldn’t hurt…and who knows…could be just the ticket.

    Reply
  19. Salem

    Oh, I almost forgot. If someone knows the real science behind this, please chime in. I read that studies indicate chronic health problems and higher incidence of cancer, heart desease, and assorted ailments for individuals who are “shift workers”. Assuming they have night shifts and irregular sleep schedules.

    Reply
  20. jon

    A lot of these tips may be all well and good for people who are trying to tweak their routines to maximize their daily performance. But for you, it’s all horseshit until you get the basics in place. Your body will respond to a routine, that simple. If you’re at your best in the middle of the night, then *PLAN* on doing something *USEFUL* with that time, and sleep all day with apologies to nobody. The only trouble you have sleeping is that you’re always trying to do it when the world says you should be awake — including yourself, because you know you didn’t do anything useful with your most useful hours. Don’t take more of anything, don’t take different of anything, just find a daily routine of sleep and awake and semi-regular exercise that works for you and stick to it. You’ve never done that. It’s time to start. You’ll be amazed by the improvement.

    Reply
  21. jon

    Dude, I’m like that character Lloyd Bridges played on Seinfeld, Mr. Izzy Mendelbaum, I think it was. “Time to take ride on the Pain Train.”
    I goad because I care.

    Reply
  22. susannah

    i have a song loop too when i take my medication! mine is even worse than “you take the good you take the bad…” it’s the “hollywood” song, only with lyrics like “glovis-wood” or whatever is in my direct line of sight. terrible song looping should be on the label as a side effect in my opinion, or prescription medicine should come with a really good cd compilation.

    Reply
  23. litlnemo

    As long as I sleep on my own terribly night-owlish schedule, I am pretty wakeful. It’s when I try to follow the societally-approved morning-person schedule that I can’t stay awake.
    “If you’re at your best in the middle of the night, then *PLAN* on doing something *USEFUL* with that time, and sleep all day with apologies to nobody.”
    I agree wholeheartedly.

    Reply

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