I have a unique problem. For approximately eight years now, I have not slept at all. It is a source of great distress for me. It is due to a man I used to walk around a park with for exercise telling me that I could not calm my mind. My mind and brain are processing what he said as a 'threat,' causing me to have a constant stress response. I have not slept twenty-four hours and every second of the day in the intervening years. It is a full-blown flight or fight response. I cannot take anything to ease it, and it would have to be extremely strong to keep me awake all this time. I concluded that I would have to live my life with this distress bordering on torture, but then I saw on the internet that there was this woman who had a type of disease that destroyed both her amygdalas, and she did not experience any fear or flight or fight response. I also researched removing the amygdala, a fairly common procedure for persons with treatment-resistant epilepsy. In their case, however, they usually remove one of the amygdalas, not both, but because of this patient, it is known that someone can live without both amygdalas. There have been a few other patients with extensive damage to both, and they function, with some effects such as a complete loss of fear, and they might be prone to do dangerous things as a result. This is something that I am willing to compromise on because my illness is more of a burden to me than that would be. I wrote all this to ask you if you would be capable and willing to surgically remove both my amygdala in the hope that it would kill the fear response so that I can finally sleep and stop feeling adrenaline secreted in my stomach region and rush through my body constantly. If you are not capable and willing, can you please direct me to other doctors that can study me? Maybe do an MRI so they can confirm my amygdala is overactive and possibly agree to do the surgery on me.
Well, it is hormonal because the flight or fight response is active, but it cannot turn off. I feel it is because of the adrenaline being secreted from my adrenal glands. I have told several people about my condition, and most respond similarly. They tell me that I must be sleeping and it is impossible to be awake all the time. This, however, is my experience: any time I am up, I get very tired, and I close my eyes and rest for some hours during the night, but I am fully awake. I have been told of sleep misperception and stuff, but occasionally, I might not rest for the entire night, and anyone would observe that I did not sleep. I am generally very tired during the day and get headaches from not sleeping, and I feel like 20 % of what should be optimum on a usual basis. Can you tell me why someone could not remove both amygdalas? I researched where this woman, due to disease, had her entire amygdala destroyed, and she still lives and has her memory intact. Her declarative memory for emotional events is impaired, but not for neutral events. She does not have fear when she encounters dangerous situations, which is a potential problem for her, obviously, and it has gotten her into problems. But in my case, the fear response is causing me more trouble than losing it would hurt me. As for some memory deficits that would still keep everything mostly intact, I would be willing to do it.
I know how it sounds, a patient proposing brain surgery for a seemingly benign problem that appears to be a mere inconvenience. This, however, is a major problem for me, and I cannot live and enjoy my life or even have a peaceful existence. It has been eight years since it started, and it has not been good. There have been one or two psychological surgeries done in other countries that target specific areas of the brain that have some evidence of effectiveness, but they are quite rare and are only done in the most extreme circumstances. I know the world had moved on from the days of regular psychosurgery when they did lobotomies and so forth. These things were a disaster; many people lost their lives and were badly injured. They did not know much about the brain at the time and were poking around. What I am interested in I do not believe would have been attempted yet for this purpose. But I saw there was evidence that a person with PTSD could have alleviated symptoms by having one of their amygdala removed. This was discovered because there are persons with epilepsy who had it done that also had PTSD. But research is still young in this field, and no one has undergone it for the explicit purposes of PTSD. It was more of a knock-on effect of the surgery. What I am suffering from would not be PTSD, but it involves my fear response, and if the amygdala is removed, it could potentially kill the fear response, given what patient SM experiences. I am not asking someone to cut me open and do it purely because I request it. I am aware that there would be risks and unknowns about such an undertaking, but if I could get in contact with a team of specialists and maybe scientists that can research me, recognize that I am a very unique and peculiar case, confirm the source of my problem neurologically and potentially once they deem me an extreme enough case have a surgery done on me to stop the flight or fight response and allow me to get sleep. If you can put me on to any persons you know, it would be much appreciated, like researchers or medical specialists. I do not know who to contact that could even investigate my condition. I know what is happening, a stress response, but I do not know the exact neurologic mechanism in my brain. If I go under an MRI and they see my amygdala lit up and overactive, they can more confidently determine that removing it would solve the problem. PTSD is a bit different though it helped them, but people can still have a flight or fight response once one of their amygdalas is intact. If this is to work, I would need both removed.
I visited a doctor regarding this, and he reassured me that it is physiologically impossible not to sleep for eight years. He said that I will not feel rested and have no recollection of sleeping. And it is not possible to remove both amygdalae for many reasons. As my pathological condition may not have a surgical target because of functional or hormonal imbalance. He also said that the risk of surgery is more than the benefit. He said that he was not aware of any such researchers. He suggested I use my mind to modulate my fear. He also added that psychotherapy will help as well.
Please note that any psychological remedy has not and, in my opinion, cannot work. What are your suggestions on this?