Insomnia, my old frenemy

27 Jan

Insomnia. I gave up on sleep after two hours of lying awake in bed. I tried to counteract it with Benadryl and Valerian root, but no dice. I usually wake up at 5 AM to make my husband breakfast and see him off to work. This morning I’ll just stay up until then. I’ll crash sometime later in the morning. The day will be a wash, but luckily I’ve nothing on my agenda that can’t be rescheduled.

My brain often speeds up at night. I start lighting on insights and deconstructing everything, and snatches of songs I’ve listened to during the day play in my head in a relentless loop. I used to feed it. Now I fight it. Being a restless night owl works better when you’re in your twenties.

My depression and mood swings are more manageable when I’m on a 9-5 schedule, but I often feel like I’m fighting my nature. My frosted side whines: why shouldn’t I follow my inclinations to stay up all night writing, watching Game of Thrones, and bopping around online? It’s fun. It feels good.

The next day, however, feels awful. Today will not be fun. Today will be a mulligan. It’s just the way it is, and beating myself up about it isn’t productive. I’ll need to reset my clock: more Benadryl and Valerian root. Maybe a shot or two for good measure. Tequila agrees with me a hell of a lot more than Trazadone does. That shit gives me nightmares. And I don’t hit the bottle much. I haven’t done so much as a shot since the weekend before Halloween. I can finally justify buying a bottle of Espalón.

I know I don’t do enough. I don’t exercise enough. I rarely meditate. And I haven’t been eating well the past few days.  I admit it, I’ve been slacking.

When I was a child, I tried the conventional remedies that I gleaned from books and television. Warm milk didn’t do anything besides upset my stomach. I counted sheep well into the hundreds. When none of that worked, I often sneaked books out and read them by flashlight. It got to the point where I hid two or three flashlights because my parents started checking on me and confiscating them. I remember my father being roused by the noise from me playing in my rocking chair before dawn and dragging me back to bed. I remember him accosting me in the hallway late one night and telling me that if I couldn’t sleep, I should just lie there and rest. I resented him at the time, but now I’m grateful that they didn’t try to drug me with sleeping pills.

In high school, I stayed up writing frantically in my journal and purging the day’s pain with a crying jag, screaming sobs into my pillow and gulping  vodka filched from the kitchen cabinet. When I grew too restless, I’d creep out of the house and wander. I walked down back roads lined with stone walls built centuries ago by colonial farmers.  I walked through moonlit woods hallucinating that the trees were following me. I walked to the houses of boys I had crushes on. Cops would find me and put me in the back of their cruisers, lecture me while they drove me home, and deposit me at my door with empty threats of alerting my parents if they caught me out again.

Sometimes fatigue would set in on the walk back and I’d accept a stranger’s offer of a ride home. I’m incredibly lucky that I was never outright assaulted, that on the occasions I felt unsafe I was able to exit the vehicles and get away.

In college and grad school, I worked late into the night reading and writing. I loved it, but it wreaked havoc on my mood. I plan on going back to grad school and I’m not thrilled at the prospect of only working during the day and sticking to a schedule. Studying and writing in manic spurts has always been my M.O.

When I was emceeing and performing burlesque, I stayed up late doing shows and then winding down with other performers afterwards. Musicians and theater folk tend to keep late hours. I loved it, but again, not the best thing for my moods. It’s one of the primary reasons I gave up performing.

My brain functions differently at night. I feel more inspired, creative, and insightful. I do not enjoy fighting that.

I’m starting to fade. I’ll go back to bed after I make breakfast. Bring on the mulligan.

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