Am I The Only One…?

Introduction

Today I had a meeting (don’t worry Will, Cassandra, and Sarah, it wasn’t with you) that tapped me out. It is a strange and fairly seldom occurrence – but it occurs frequently enough that I’d consider it to be a “pattern” in my behavior (but one which surfaces only under a rare mix of conditions)…and I’m wondering (a) if anyone else experiences this and (b) if there is a term for it.

The Setting

I’m not sure what the exact conditions are to bring out this pattern – I only know that it happens infrequently enough that it must be a fairly complex set of factors, otherwise it would occur much more frequently. It seems to occur:

1. In conversations with one or more people about whom I care deeply.
2. When I need to express myself emotionally.
3. When I need to listen and appreciate others emotional expression.
4. When I am honestly unable to discern what the right answer to the topic under consideration is.

There  may be other factors that contribute that I am unaware of..

#4 seems to hold a unique place. That is, in many situations I may need to enter into some combination of #1, #2, and #3 – but this doesn’t cause this behavioral pattern to surface…but in almost every occasion where I experience #4 and the pattern occurs I also experience #1, #2, and #3.

The Behavioral Pattern

In these situations I am usually experiencing a mixture of emotions – anger, apathy, passion, fear, compassion, uncertainty. I feel “alive” in the sense that I am mentally alert and ready to undertake the discussion at hand. I enter into the discussion with “gusto” (but when I say, “gusto” I mean, internal and intellectual gusto rather than a visible expression of emotion) and continue in such a manner for some period of time.

However, at some juncture, and with a fairly sudden onset, I become incredibly sleepy. I feel as if I have been up forever and working hard and my eyes are literally closing themselves and I fight and fight to keep them open. I can continue to listen and process what is being said, but my ability to express myself decreases – and oftentimes people assume that “I’m done” b/c I can’t keep my eyes open (but my brain is still working).

Some Initial Observations

  • I have a “time limit” for social conversations. At some point I lose my ability to continue talking and become sleepy and/or restless BUT this is usually after a fairly standard amount of time has been expended…in the above case it may occur after a significant amount of time has passed, but it can also occur fairly early in the conversation – as if something triggers a chemical reaction within my brain that says, “Go to sleep to protect self.”1And this is not my conscious intention, I am not willing to be sleepy or attempting consciously to escape the situation, but my body – whether in order to avoid the situation or as a natural response to the situation – insists on shutting down. I assume, perhaps, that this may indicate that some chemical is being released into my bloodstream in unusual (not what other people experience) amounts that causes this sensation.
  • I suspect that I experience this to a lesser extent in any situation where #4 is true – e.g., in making decisions about how to proceed with a work or church project when there is no clear answer – but the feeling is not nearly as forceful. In those cases I feel the desire to sleep2I find, at least for me, sleep oftentimes, especially with technical questions, results in the answers I am looking for…I oftentimes go to sleep with a technical problem in mind and awake with the solution. and I oftentimes will sleep (nap) if the occasion is available to me – but it is not an overwhelming physiological drive3And I would describe this as overwhelming and physiological in nature.
  • I suspect I also tend to become tired after any sustained expression of negative emotion (e.g. any time I am stressed for a sustained period of time).
  • I also know that I tend to express sustained positive/humorous/free-flowing emotions when I am tired (assuming the tiredness is not caused by negative emotions AND I am in a context that allows for such expression).
    • I suspect that this results from impairment of my intellectual faculties – similar to drinking x amount of alcohol4I don’t drink…Not b/c I believe it is immoral, but b/c I can get addicted (e.g. to sugar) and would rather not to alcohol AND b/c I think alcohol tastes like pee (not that I have ever tasted pee…I guess I mean it just tastes nasty to me…and yes, even bartender Mike Sands tried whirling me up a “girly fruity drink” where I wouldn’t be able to taste the alcohol and I thought it was disgusting.. What portion of our brain is it that handles inhibitions?
  • I’ve also noticed that even after I sleep, I experience increased emotional instability throughout the rest of the day (and sometimes into future days).
  • I am unsure whether there is a correlation between good days/bad days – e.g., I’ve been having very productive days since (and including) Saturday…but while today has been productive, it has not been as productive – and certainly not as passionately/energetically productive.

Conclusion

So, what I REALLY want to know is whether you have experienced something like this or know of others who have or are aware of a “term” or “cause” for this. Even if this is something that DOESN’T happen to you, I’d like to know…maybe it happens to lots of people and we just don’t talk about it, or maybe I am really in a party of one or ten thousand (out of eight billion or so people currently alive).

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. And this is not my conscious intention, I am not willing to be sleepy or attempting consciously to escape the situation, but my body – whether in order to avoid the situation or as a natural response to the situation – insists on shutting down. I assume, perhaps, that this may indicate that some chemical is being released into my bloodstream in unusual (not what other people experience) amounts that causes this sensation.
2. I find, at least for me, sleep oftentimes, especially with technical questions, results in the answers I am looking for…I oftentimes go to sleep with a technical problem in mind and awake with the solution.
3. And I would describe this as overwhelming and physiological in nature.
4. I don’t drink…Not b/c I believe it is immoral, but b/c I can get addicted (e.g. to sugar) and would rather not to alcohol AND b/c I think alcohol tastes like pee (not that I have ever tasted pee…I guess I mean it just tastes nasty to me…and yes, even bartender Mike Sands tried whirling me up a “girly fruity drink” where I wouldn’t be able to taste the alcohol and I thought it was disgusting.
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