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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder

Damn Near Quit My Job Today

I'm sick to death of the crap I get from morning people.

Michael David Crawford, Consulting Software Engineer
mdcrawford@gmail.com

June 5, 2007

Copyright © 2007 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.

I posted the following just now to the Niteowl mailing list:

Today began like most days, with my alarm sounding at 8:30 AM, followed by several hours of me hitting the snooze button every nine minutes.

Around 1:30 PM, I awoke to the sound of my mother pounding on my door. She is visiting, but staying in a hotel as my apartment is very small.

I got up to let her in, and she said "Do you know what time it is?" "Yes," I said.

She didn't stay for me to come around, but went back to her hotel.

About 2:30 PM I finally got up. While I was hours late for work, I wasn't going to let that interfere with enjoying a muffin and a coffee in a neighborhood cafe. Then I took the train downtown. (I live in Vancouver, British Columbia.)

As I walked to my office, I began to get very, very angry...


All of my life I've been dealing with morning people who regard me as lazy, irresponsible or immoral because I keep different hours than they do. This despite the fact that I work very, very hard and am scrupulously honest and ethical.

I decided, in my anger, that if my new manager gave me any crap about being late I was going to quit my job on the spot. I was just going to hand him my key, say "I Quit" and walk out the door.

The first time I was late after he took me on, he was very angry, but he had been quite understanding when I explained that I thought I had Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and sent him the Wikipedia link. Even so, today was the latest I have arrived at work since we started working together.

I should explain that for eight years I was self-employed as a software consultant. It was a Hellish existence, as the clients were often cruel and I am very bad at time and cost estimation, so I underbid a lot of contracts. But a significant reason why I kept at it so long was that I could keep any hours I wanted, as I worked out of my home.

If I were to quit my job, I would go back to consulting. While it was a hard way to live, I'm actually very good at marketing myself and never wanted for work for any length of time, not even during the economic downturn.

My feeling this afternoon was that I was pretty damn sick and tired of people complaining about my hours. I really wanted to tell them all to go fuck themselves.

When I sent the Wikipedia link to my boss, I said I had no problem working late. When I got to work today, I didn't find any complaints in my inbox. I sent a mail to my boss telling him that I'd work until midnight. He just acknowledged my mail and that was it. So I didn't quit, but I was still pissed off.

My wife and I are on opposite coasts, as she is a student at a top art school in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but I couldn't find work anywhere in Atlantic Canada. When I called her, I told her I was considering quitting my job. She was very understanding why I was upset, but she was also very calming. In the end I just worked my day - or night, rather - and it was a good night at that. I got a lot done.

Tonight I'm going to stay up all night practicing my piano and writing. That way I can go in to work early in the morning. This is one way I have found to get onto a daytime schedule. It never lasts very long though. Nothing does.

I am still waiting for my appointment at the University of British Columbia sleep clinic. But one of their doctors told my doctor that all they can do for DSPS is have me go to bed and get up fifteen minutes earlier each day. I've tried that so many times, and it just doesn't work. I'm not at all convinced that going to the sleep clinic will even be worth my time.

Yours,

Mike

While I'm certain that I have a circadian rhythm disorder, I'm not actually sure that it's DSPS, because people with DSPS have a normal need for sleep, while I - even in the best of times - sleep a great deal more than most people do.

I have never been able to keep on a fixed schedule for any length of time, and if left to my own devices, my schedule rotates around the clock. Possibly I have Non-24-Hour Sleep-Wake Syndrome.

When I first subscribed to the Niteowl list, I was very hopeful that I'd find a way to get up in the morning, and consistently so. But overwhelmingly the list's members report that nothing works for them, not for any length of time, and in particular sleep clinics are generally of no help whatsoever.

The Wikipedia article points out that treatment just doesn't work for some people, and that we might do better to just adapt to it:

Working the evening or night shift, or working at home, make DSPD less of an obstacle for some who have it. Many of these individuals do not think of describing their pattern as a "disorder." Some DSPD individuals nap, even taking four hours of sleep a day and four at night, although long daytime naps tend to promote nighttime sleeplessness. Some DSPD-friendly careers include security work, work in theatre and the media, freelance writing, call center work, nursing, and taxi or truck driving.

Or computer programming: the whole reason I ever tried writing code for a living is that I thought it might be the only way I could ever hope to hold a real job - my degree is in Physics, not Computer Science. I decided to work as a programmer because all of my programmer friends got to work flexible hours, with many of them working at night.

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