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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Insomnia


Ah, insomnia. Since I was little I’ve suffered with this illness. Picture a person whose mind is constantly active, tick-tocking overtime. It’s improved over the last year since I started taking antidepressants, but now and again when I get stressed the old goose rears her ugly head.


Insomnia is a condition where people struggle to fall asleep, wake up repeatedly in the night, or feel tired all day due to feeling un-refreshed. It’s also the name of a Stephen King novel, but that’s not
important. For me, insomnia has always been a chronic problem, which has episodes of being better or worse.

As a child, I shared a room with my younger brother. If we say my insomnia kicked in around the age of seven (though may have been earlier), I have memories of lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. My brother, who rarely struggles to sleep, would nod off after ten minutes or so. I would lie in my own bed, listening to him sleep. If I’m sleeping with a person (not in a sexual sense), be it a friend, boyfriend or whoever, I have a habit of watching them whilst they inhale peacefully. Everyone looks so sweet when they sleep.

Yeah, I’m freaking Edward Cullen. A creep who watches people sleep. Usually I watch in affection; sometimes it’s out of interest. Like, how are they asleep so quickly? What’s their secret? What do they do to nod off so fast?

At my current place in my life, the ‘standard’ time for me to fall asleep is roughly 20, maybe 30 minutes, which to me is very fast. For a long time, maybe years, it would take me an hour, or possible two hours, to fall. There have been times where I’ve gone to bed at say eleven and lain awake till one or two. After the first hour or two I give up and watch something on my phone or read a book.

Masturbating; meditating, counting sheep, reading, counting down from a thousand, messaging someone, listening to my breathing, ‘blacking’ my mind (which deffo doesn’t work), listening to music, drinking alcohol, listening to a guided sleep-help voice, putting lavender oil on my pillow, watching a film or TV show – I’ve done it all. Over a week ago I even did something I shouldn’t. As I mentioned, my insomnia has been better since the end of last year. Recently I've been stressed out and struggling with my sleep again. Over a week ago I took three of my meds instead of one, just to knock me out. (It worked). I typically take 40mg. That night I took 120mg of citalopram.

Yeah, I know it’s not a good thing, but bloody hell I was desperate. If you’re an insomniac, you know desperation. You know that hopeless feeling of lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, counting down the seconds, gripping onto the air. You can feel yourself falling, and then something wakes you up. It’s a scary feeling. Falling asleep, for me, can be one of the most terrifying and difficult things in the world. Terrifying because you don’t know how long you’re going to be lying there, trapped with nothing but your own thoughts.

When I was in school, I was never a major trouble maker; the only thing I got into frequent trouble for was my punctuality. Because of my insomnia, I was constantly late for school. I remember traipsing down the corridors feeling like a zombie. Naturally, every other teenager feels the same way, so I wasn’t alone. Standard conversations between 12-18 year olds are ‘I’m tired’ ‘same here’ ‘I’m hungry’ ‘me too’ ‘it’s cold’ ‘I want to go home’ ‘I hate my life.’

In sixth form sometimes I’d be so late I’d skip breakfast and sit starving hungry through my first lessons. Teachers were always tapping me on the shoulders and telling me to sit up and stop dozing off. ‘Go to bed earlier’, they always say. I went to bed around eleven and often slept around one. Often I’d feel like a ghost, mulling from one class to the other, looking forward to going home and being able to take a nap – HAHA! Joke’s on me, an insomniac can’t nap! Nowadays I can actually fall asleep when I take a nap, but ‘back in the day’ there is no way I was falling asleep. Lol, maybe 5% of the time.

If anyone’s ever seen me ‘asleep’, during the day, I was most likely faking. I’m a master at faking sleep. The hope is that I can trick myself into actually falling asleep (it rarely works). I’ve been in situations where everyone around me is fast asleep and I’m walking around, as if in a trance. Everything is still and silent. It’s like, for a while, I’m the only person in the world and everyone around me has disappeared.

And to end, a poem:

I can't sleep

I'm a prisoner trapped in my own body
Locked away, waiting for sleep to take me
My rumpelstiltskin, my loan shark
I lie awake, letting the tide of drowsiness wash over me
Brain fired up, electrons racing, charging
I wonder, while the rest of the world slumbers like logs

Unable to distinguish between what is real and what isn't
My subconscious as hectic as my conscious
Aged 4, aged 7, aged 12, aged 14, aged 17
One thing in common they share. We share.

Why can't we be friends, dear sleep?
For some people sleep is a willing lover
But to me  sometimes I love you, sometimes I hate you
You tempt me in, pull me down
Then as soon as I think victory will be mine
I'm doomed to the contours of my own mind

During the day I'm frantic, energetic
Then turn to the living dead – asleep while awake
I dread those hours when I need more hours
Yet I'm wide awake. Is this real?

I can't tell if I'm dreaming or lucid
I can't tell what's real and what isn't
Am I a brain in a jar? But my legs, they stiffen
The ongoing battle, beats the battle of Britain
Why can't we just be friends, why can't we get along
Don't make me turn to the pills.

This is simply unfair, few will understand unless they
share that position of the not so dead.
Worse my fatigue inflicts upon me
Heavier my body gets, tenser and sorer
My mind can't write any wrongs.

14th September 2014

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