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Dissociation Or Cataplexy?


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#1 lostwidget

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Posted 08 November 2009 - 11:50 PM

I have a question for y'all.

I've never been diagnosed with narcolepsy, cataplexy, or any other sleep disturbance. I've always been a good sleeper (that is to say that I need a good bit of it) but nearly never wake feeling rested. I can't say I do a good job of scheduling my sleep, so I've always figured that I just don't get enough. I dream vividly and sometimes have a hard time separating what I dreamed from what I actually lived through, but my dreams don't disturb me, and I actually find them rather illuminating (as they give me clues to myself about what is important to me).


Still...there are some weird sleep things for me. I sleep during the day irregularly but not infrequently. Sometimes I'm just tired when I nap, but probably more often I'm emotionally upset before I fall asleep. This is the part I especially thought you guys might have some insight about.


I not uncommonly find myself blanking out during emotionally-charged discussions. I will suddenly become incredibly sleepy. My eyes will begin to unfocus and I will find myself nodding off right during the conversation. This is generally occurring at a time when I am feeling verbally threatened by my husband. He may or may not actually be acting threateningly, but it happens when he raises a topic which I find emotionally uncomfortable for any number of reasons. While this happens most frequently during discussions with my husband, it’s also happened in emotionally-charged settings with my children or even in places outside my home with other people. It’s like a switch gets flipped, and I have absolutely no choice but to flop into the nearest bed (or couch, or escape to the car to sleep...).

Years ago, when discussions with my husband were more frequently not simply discussions (but verbal and even physical bullying sessions), I dismissed the sleepiness easily — most of the arguments occurred late at night when I could reasonably be expected to be tired. My husband would insist on me waking up to finish the discussion, with me floating in and out of a hazy daze of understanding. He tried various tactics to force me back awake so the discussion would be resolved. One time I remember literally falling asleep while standing. It was incredibly unnerving.

At the time I attributed all of this to late nights and a mean man. I saw no need to accept responsibility for this behavior for myself. (My husband has turned around completely, incidentally, and is now incredible.) Since that time, however, I have been in psychotherapy, and my therapist and I have observed this behavior of mine (sudden lack of focus and extreme sleepiness) in her office. I know perfectly well she’s not bullying me (she’s very nice). I know perfectly well I’m not extremely tired (daytime, not night--besides, it comes on suddenly). The only thing in common between these settings is the presence of an uncomfortable topic of discussion. So now I know it is me doing this. In the presence of emotional distress, I sometimes just clunk out and go to sleep.

My question to you is this: does this sound to you like cataplexy? Or is this (as I have been thinking) "simply" a dissociative strategy? My therapist had encountered at least one individual prior to me who had a similar issue. It’s helpful for me to have a name for it, so I termed it “emotional narcolepsy.” A bit cumbersome, but it works and is very descriptive of the suddenness and inevitability it seems to have. Recently, however, I discovered the term "cataplexy" and began to wonder.

I’m learning to work with it, and my husband is, too. I’d appreciate any thoughts or insight you might have on this topic.

lostwidget
:unsure:

#2 psocoptera

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Posted 09 November 2009 - 10:04 AM

I am not a doctor, but this doesn't sound like cataplexy to me. It does sound like a sleep attack triggered by emotion. A lot of people here have reported emotional triggers for sleep attacks (sudden, irresistable urge to sleep). I sometimes get them after an emotional episode, like right after an argument with someone or when I find out that someone has died.

With cataplexy you are awake (at least at first), so you should be aware of your surroundings. It is sudden paralysis or muscle weakness involving nearly all or groups of muscles and is typically associated with positive emotional expression like laughter, elation, or suprise. You can google the Stanford Sleep Center site for more information. You might have cataplexy, but it doesn't seem to be what you are describing here.

IMHO, inability to maintain wakefulness is not a "dissociative strategy," it is a sleep regulation issue. It infuriates me when doctors say these things, because it is so much psuedoscience. If I were you, I would get a referal to a sleep doctor.

#3 bandido mustang

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Posted 11 November 2009 - 06:35 PM

I have a question for y'all.

I've never been diagnosed with narcolepsy, cataplexy, or any other sleep disturbance. I've always been a good sleeper (that is to say that I need a good bit of it) but nearly never wake feeling rested. I can't say I do a good job of scheduling my sleep, so I've always figured that I just don't get enough. I dream vividly and sometimes have a hard time separating what I dreamed from what I actually lived through, but my dreams don't disturb me, and I actually find them rather illuminating (as they give me clues to myself about what is important to me).


Still...there are some weird sleep things for me. I sleep during the day irregularly but not infrequently. Sometimes I'm just tired when I nap, but probably more often I'm emotionally upset before I fall asleep. This is the part I especially thought you guys might have some insight about.


I not uncommonly find myself blanking out during emotionally-charged discussions. I will suddenly become incredibly sleepy. My eyes will begin to unfocus and I will find myself nodding off right during the conversation. This is generally occurring at a time when I am feeling verbally threatened by my husband. He may or may not actually be acting threateningly, but it happens when he raises a topic which I find emotionally uncomfortable for any number of reasons. While this happens most frequently during discussions with my husband, it’s also happened in emotionally-charged settings with my children or even in places outside my home with other people. It’s like a switch gets flipped, and I have absolutely no choice but to flop into the nearest bed (or couch, or escape to the car to sleep...).

Years ago, when discussions with my husband were more frequently not simply discussions (but verbal and even physical bullying sessions), I dismissed the sleepiness easily — most of the arguments occurred late at night when I could reasonably be expected to be tired. My husband would insist on me waking up to finish the discussion, with me floating in and out of a hazy daze of understanding. He tried various tactics to force me back awake so the discussion would be resolved. One time I remember literally falling asleep while standing. It was incredibly unnerving.

At the time I attributed all of this to late nights and a mean man. I saw no need to accept responsibility for this behavior for myself. (My husband has turned around completely, incidentally, and is now incredible.) Since that time, however, I have been in psychotherapy, and my therapist and I have observed this behavior of mine (sudden lack of focus and extreme sleepiness) in her office. I know perfectly well she’s not bullying me (she’s very nice). I know perfectly well I’m not extremely tired (daytime, not night--besides, it comes on suddenly). The only thing in common between these settings is the presence of an uncomfortable topic of discussion. So now I know it is me doing this. In the presence of emotional distress, I sometimes just clunk out and go to sleep.

My question to you is this: does this sound to you like cataplexy? Or is this (as I have been thinking) "simply" a dissociative strategy? My therapist had encountered at least one individual prior to me who had a similar issue. It’s helpful for me to have a name for it, so I termed it “emotional narcolepsy.” A bit cumbersome, but it works and is very descriptive of the suddenness and inevitability it seems to have. Recently, however, I discovered the term "cataplexy" and began to wonder.

I’m learning to work with it, and my husband is, too. I’d appreciate any thoughts or insight you might have on this topic.

lostwidget
:unsure:


lostwidget,

I doubt cataplexy without the sudden loss of muscle tone. Sounds like a variation of the theme "I'm not hearing you... (with hands covering ears.)" A narcolepsy specific workup with EEG topography would pretty much confirm or eliminate the narcolepsy/cataplexy suspicions you or your therapist might have.

Hope this helps.

Bandido Mustang 1%ER

#4 GaryReimer

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Posted 07 January 2010 - 06:40 PM

I have a question for y'all.

I've never been diagnosed with narcolepsy, cataplexy, or any other sleep disturbance. I've always been a good sleeper (that is to say that I need a good bit of it) but nearly never wake feeling rested. I can't say I do a good job of scheduling my sleep, so I've always figured that I just don't get enough. I dream vividly and sometimes have a hard time separating what I dreamed from what I actually lived through, but my dreams don't disturb me, and I actually find them rather illuminating (as they give me clues to myself about what is important to me).


Still...there are some weird sleep things for me. I sleep during the day irregularly but not infrequently. Sometimes I'm just tired when I nap, but probably more often I'm emotionally upset before I fall asleep. This is the part I especially thought you guys might have some insight about.


I not uncommonly find myself blanking out during emotionally-charged discussions. I will suddenly become incredibly sleepy. My eyes will begin to unfocus and I will find myself nodding off right during the conversation. This is generally occurring at a time when I am feeling verbally threatened by my husband. He may or may not actually be acting threateningly, but it happens when he raises a topic which I find emotionally uncomfortable for any number of reasons. While this happens most frequently during discussions with my husband, it’s also happened in emotionally-charged settings with my children or even in places outside my home with other people. It’s like a switch gets flipped, and I have absolutely no choice but to flop into the nearest bed (or couch, or escape to the car to sleep...).

Years ago, when discussions with my husband were more frequently not simply discussions (but verbal and even physical bullying sessions), I dismissed the sleepiness easily — most of the arguments occurred late at night when I could reasonably be expected to be tired. My husband would insist on me waking up to finish the discussion, with me floating in and out of a hazy daze of understanding. He tried various tactics to force me back awake so the discussion would be resolved. One time I remember literally falling asleep while standing. It was incredibly unnerving.

At the time I attributed all of this to late nights and a mean man. I saw no need to accept responsibility for this behavior for myself. (My husband has turned around completely, incidentally, and is now incredible.) Since that time, however, I have been in psychotherapy, and my therapist and I have observed this behavior of mine (sudden lack of focus and extreme sleepiness) in her office. I know perfectly well she’s not bullying me (she’s very nice). I know perfectly well I’m not extremely tired (daytime, not night--besides, it comes on suddenly). The only thing in common between these settings is the presence of an uncomfortable topic of discussion. So now I know it is me doing this. In the presence of emotional distress, I sometimes just clunk out and go to sleep.

My question to you is this: does this sound to you like cataplexy? Or is this (as I have been thinking) "simply" a dissociative strategy? My therapist had encountered at least one individual prior to me who had a similar issue. It’s helpful for me to have a name for it, so I termed it “emotional narcolepsy.” A bit cumbersome, but it works and is very descriptive of the suddenness and inevitability it seems to have. Recently, however, I discovered the term "cataplexy" and began to wonder.

I’m learning to work with it, and my husband is, too. I’d appreciate any thoughts or insight you might have on this topic.

lostwidget
:unsure:


Sounds like me in regards to importance and sleep attack triggers, the difference between sleep and cataplexy is a bit thin when you consider that cataplexy when it hits can hit the body only or it can affect the blood flow to the brain. Rather then Dissociation... a term that I ran accross recently is Expressive Dysphasia, is shows up in Stroke patients. Also its also something that hits people with ADD as well, not being able to concentrate on what is most important. Check out the book "Change your Brain Change your life" there is an example of just that type of situation, zoning out during an argument. My cataplexy trigger is excitement from spontenaity and new experiences... yes it sucks... my sleep attack trigger, is being present and calm (the brain state usually associated with driving, and skill development).

In regards to "psychological" reasons... think of it like this, if you try harder to not do it, and it gets worse, its not intentional anymore, its either habit or neurological, if you continue to have problems over time without much improvement no matter the effort, its leaning towards neurological. Ask your doc to try you on an ADD medication (read the book "Change your Brain" that I mentioned and bring it to the appointment. And ask for a script of Amphetamines and see if that fixes it. Adderall solved the problem for me first dose in regards to sleep attacks. But it also amplified my cataplexy due to increasing my anxiety... I have spent much of the past year undoing most of my NLP self programing to reduce the likely hood of triggering cataplexy.

There is a book called "The Creative Habit" written by a dance Coragrapher named Twyla Tharp, I had to lay down with my chin on a pillow to not go unconcious or have my eyes close when she mentioned a really simple and fun exercise to go do that she uses to get past creative blocks in her work. Serious, two or three times per chapter, I would start nodding off.