Friday, May 05, 2006

Doth Not Make It So

I'm finally working again with medical professionals on the diagnosis of the long standing mysteries which have made my life difficult for the past decade. As much as I'd like to believe I have a good idea of what comprises the various discomforts, I'd rather not go too far off on my own without a chance to garner the opinions of those wiser and more informed than myself in what is unquestionably a complex discipline.

It's taken me some time to become comfortable with the idea of investigation and treatment of symptoms. Investigation no - that's the process by which the causal factors can be identified. Treatment, yes - I am uncomfortable here, or at least have been. With my background in behavioral psychology, leaving the originating tendencies untouched and simply removing the current manifestation will only prevent that one outlet. The pressure which first caused it will remain and then continue to build until other habits and conditioning break down and a new pathway is forged - sometimes explosively - to release it.

In the case of medical practice, the symptom is often the beast which must be dealt with. One cannot cease to age, but the process can be softened. Likewise, I may not now nor ever know what leads to the fractured sleep. But I can seek to alleviate that indication regardless, without the worry that I'm simply ignoring something (so long as I dutifully continue digging into the matter to a reasonable conclusion). Psychiatrists often assist the process of mental recovery by introducing chemical management as a dissociative buffer, taking the bite out of the problem until it can be progressively resolved. Same with hypnosis - other analogies like an electrician disconnecting the electricity to make repairs and a plumber turning off the water also fit well here. Treating physical symptoms goes way beyond these however, and can rightfully be considered an effective long-term strategy for improving the quality of life without worry that the unknown source will suddenly sprout other miseries.

I say that, but I'm still not entirely satisfied with the prospect of unresolved elements of my own body. It feels like relinquishing control, and admitting that I am so flawed in mortality as to allow unknown elements of my own being to have sway over what I do and how I feel - essentially, who I am. The illusion of separation between mind and brain is an empowering one, but is an arrogant presumption. I do believe in an immortal spirit inhabiting a briefly organized tabernacle - but that same soul is only as good as its tools, and if upset or tampered with the impact can truly be devastating. This is a bitter fact that we, in this culture especially, would rather not be party to.

The point of my post and inspiration of this title though was not meant to be such a high review of the morality of psychology and medicine.

In that renewed exploration of health, I have been prescribed new medication to assist with my sleep. Last night was my first live trial. I had no reason to expect immediate success given my excessive accumulation of sleep debt, and firmly believed that this would be a small, first step at best. Or rather, I reasoned this to be the case.

Subconsciously I was betting on waking up with all neurons blazing away and feeling truly on top of my game for one of those few moments which I cling to every year or so. I was not immediately aware of the depth of my own passion for this to be the case until much later in the day. I do remember still waking multiple times throughout the night, which frustrated me, but was still able to arise earlier than is typical for me without much of an issue.

It wasn't until the afternoon when I became so distractingly drowsy, once again, that I was forced to nip off for a quick nap in order to retain any semblance of focus. That brief sleep helped more than such episodes usually do, but I awoke very agitated at what was turning out to be a failure of the new approach. Moreso than I thought to be appropriate or could readily explain, given my previous rationalization.

Even as I write this, the frustration continues: feeling dissatisfied, betrayed, spiteful, and infantile. Producing this depth of emotion in a way my higher consciousness feels is inappropriate means that I have come to a point of conflict which inhibits the Gestalt I'm normally able to achieve. I will most likely need to engage in deep meditation to get it all straightened out - in the meantime I'm becoming dissatisfied with myself as well, which is serving only to sour the mix.

If, however, simple thought and belief could control (or at least largely influence) all emotional states, then the mind would have no committee of balance, and we'd have much larger issues at hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is my personal experience that sleep medications are not a substitute for meditation. The best sleep I get comes from a combination of both. I take the medication and lye down and go through the meditations that i normally do to allow me to enter sleep stage. A combination of these 2 have allowed me to enter stage 5 sleep and sleep for at least 4-5 hours straight without waking. But it took time to get there. 12-13 days to reach the point and another 30-40 to develop it as a habit. Now I am able to go to sleep quickly with or without medication and sleep 5 hours with medication and about 4 without. Personally, it was one of the best decisions ever made, after years and years of chronic sleep problems.