Nighttime Anxieties

22 02 2011

A single night can be monumentally long if you spend it lying in bed and waiting…Waiting for it to end.

Demons are abundant in an unquiet mind, and sleep is elusive. I thought I got rid of those critters a few years ago. Valerian tea, lavender-eucalyptus sleep balm and finding a soul-mate successfully chased them out of town for a while.

But now it seems like it was only a changing of the guard – a younger and more aggressive generation of these parasites lies in wait for every moment of weakness. A car in the distance, a squeaky floorboard, the neighbor out walking her dog on the gravel path under my window – all innocuous sounds that open a door to insomnia and conspire to rob me of that which I so desperately need.

There are many reasons sleep escapes me and every night it’s something different – imagined or real and often incomprehensible to those who have never had a problem with it. Emotions long repressed play nasty tricks on my sanity. Deep personal fears, invisible in the light, reappear and go toxic with darkness, conquering the remnants of an afternoon’s happy memories.

The night drags on. And when it finally turns grey, bleeding light into the darkness, my demons run and hide. Suddenly the world appears in color again. And the thought of having to get up into the daylight is nearly unbearable. I must again function as a responsible adult in society after seven hours spent staring out the skylight above my bed into black, and chasing windmills.

A first unsteady moment on my feet passes. My pale face in the bathroom mirror features new shadow under the eyes. The flat feeling in the pit of my stomach goes away after a few minutes of splashing under a hot shower, and the fresh smell of “wild honeysuckle” bath gel infuses life into my lungs and brain.

I will be fine, I tell myself. It’s okay, today I will be fine.

And the day passes like any other. In the afternoon I am tired, my concentration lapses in phases, I look out the panorama office window at life beyond. And I was right – it’s okay, I manage. I function.

But the cycle repeats itself a few hours later. With darkness, the demons of the night return, once again bringing with them the iron grip of insomnia. I lose my way trying to find the cliff of unconsciousness, with no chance in hell of dropping off.

And that constant, repetitive fear of the insurmountable – the pressure I impose upon myself – turns it all into a self-fulfilling prophesy: A non-event that ends up happening anyway, because I will it to not happen.

A few days go by. Soon, it’s not just the weariness of one night lost, but a complete, thorough, crushing fatigue that punishes the soul. The body craves sleep, hemorrhages energy and it’s almost impossible not to lose is one’s mind as well.

But the new day always gives me hope that this too, shall pass. I’m sure I will grow out of this, someday. And that the waiting in the dark will end.

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3 responses

22 02 2011
Ironic Mom

Insomnia is hell. I know. I wish I could magically wave my wand and you would sleep.

I’ve done a lot of research into “sleep hygiene.” Google it, and you come up with a zillion hits. One thing that I find hard is that once you’ve been awake for 20 minutes, you’re supposed to leave you bedroom and go sit up and do something. Stop the cycle. I find it hard to leave the warmth of bed, but I do it sometimes.

May the sleep gods be with you, my friend.

23 02 2011
Evelynn Starr

Thanks for your wishes… I have tried using a magic wand or two myself, to no avail. My next plan is yoga.

23 08 2011
Waiting for the sky to fall « Evelynn Starr

[…] Sleep has never been my forte. If I wake in the middle of the night, my sleep cycle is over… it’s like I lose my way to unconsciousness, and I don’t know why. Only in the grey of morning do I sometimes find the key to slumber on my own, just minutes before my alarm clock screams at me to get going – another day has dawned, and I have to darn well make the best of it. And the moments between sleep and awake are tortuous. How will I get through it? I don’t know. I just can’t. But I must. I must get up now. No excuses. […]

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