I’m sat in bed, wide awake as I usually am at these obscene hours of the night, at such a loss of ideas as to what to do, that I’m now going to write about said loss of ideas as to what to do, in an effort of turning it into an idea of what to do… Or something.
I have had insomnia all of my life. And no, I don’t mean the sad fake insomnia that ‘emo’ kids have where they stay up as late as they can so that they can write a time stamped Facebook status about how they can’t sleep, before happily, and secretly, clonking out for a good eight hours as soon as they click send, perhaps while cuddling a small teddy bear; and I also don’t mean insomnia as “the lack of sleep sustained from going out drinking every night”.
No, unfortunately I have the kind of insomnia that has plagued me from infancy, much to the dismay of my mother who apparently had to be up with me every night as a baby. I have the kind of insomnia that has caused, so far, 19 doctors (just in the last five years) to be unable to help me. I have the kind of insomnia that has led me to try any kind of sleeping pills, from legal ones at a pharmacy; to doctor prescribed ones, to other people’s prescription medications; to things that aren’t legal in this country and had to be shipped from abroad, and finally things that just aren’t legal anywhere. I have the kind of insomnia that has caused severe memory loss, constant shaking, an incurable, insurmountable, life-wrecking and ever-present disassociation disorder, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, chronic fatigue, depression and of course, good old fashioned hopelessness. I’ve tried therapy, special diets, exercise programs, late night baths, hot drinks, imagining myself on a beach or whatever, counting, meditating, reading, and a few other things too embarrassingly bonkers to mention, but no matter what I try, when I get into bed, I just wind up getting increasingly depressed, increasingly frustrated and increasingly hopeless each time I look at my clock.
The funny thing now however, is that I’ve gotten so fed up of the mind-numbing boredom of sitting in the dark silence, that I now spend all night doing absolutely useless things to pass the time. Most commonly, I read a lot of wikipedia. Any subject will do, as you start off by thinking “I wonder how old Tom Petty is?”, and given the wondrous linking capabilities of Wikipedia, you wind up studying Al Capone, the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Large Hadron Collider. The downside to this is that in my bleary-eyed state, I find it totally impossible to retain any of the information I’m reading, so rather than it being a useful form of studying, it’s more like my eyes are simply scanning word after word, interpreting and then deleting, just for the sake of having something to do. The only upside to this is that every now and then I will begin to wonder if I actually do have a problem with sleeping, or if I simply stay up so late because I don’t want to face trying and failing to achieve it. However, this inexorably leads to the realisation that I do in fact, still have insomnia, and that fleeting moment of hope was the only ray of light in a pitch black sky of tired despair.
I have however, come to terms with it. As I mentioned, it is an affliction I have suffered from in all the years I have been on this planet, and as such I’ve not so much ‘gotten used to it’, as you never really can, but accepted it, I’d say. There are times when it’s bad, and times when it’s really bad like these last couple of weeks, but there are also times when it subsides a little and I do get a few good nights, which is a painful comparison from what I always know will await me the following nights. I think one of the worst things of all is that my girlfriend, who I live with, has to get up rather early for work, and so has to get to bed quite early most nights, and so as I’m getting back from a late shift at work, and she’ll already be in bed, I have to suffer through the act of lying with her as she falls asleep in about two minutes, knowing full-well that afterwards, I’m going to have to get up and quietly skulk around the flat, feeling indescribably lonely, as if I were the only awake person on the planet, and look for anything to do that will kill at least a few moments. And of course, I’m far too tired to do anything of interest or anything remotely constructive, hence all the fruitless hours on wikipedia or, as tonight saw, several hours of watching old Jonathan Ross interviews.
Adding to the joy of not being able to convince myself to try and go to bed before 6 or 7 o’clock in the morning, is the annoyance of knowing that come 3 or 4 o’clock in the afternoon the next day, I’ll still find it damn near impossible to muster the energy to get back out of bed and do anything, partly because I’m physically exhausted, but also partly because my mind is so drained from being unable to rest for so long, that it is totally incapable of thinking of one good reason to actually get out of bed at all.
So there we go, this was originally going to be a journal entry type thing with the objective of saying “Hi, I’m bored”, but has now turned into the barely conscious ramblings of how fucking horrible it is to be sat in my flat right now, with all the lights off, trying not to make a sound and knowing that in a minute, I’m going to go to bed, lie next to Becky as she quietly snores away and then lie face down in my pillow and scream silently.
And I want to clarify, I’m not writing all this for sympathy. There are far worse things I could have, and far worse conditions I could be in. Instead I am doing this so that tomorrow night, when I look at it, which I know I will, I can tell myself that it is fundamentally such a big part of who I am as a person, in ways that affect every microscopic particle of my being, that if I ever want to be okay with myself, I need to make peace with how much it defines me, and makes me who I am. And the very fact that I have written this unintelligible gibberish is proof that good or bad, I can achieve something between the hours of midnight and 6am.
Right. Off to bed. It’s show time.