Underneath my yellow skin

I am done with sleep

My sleep has been shit.

I say this as if it’s news, but it’s not really. My sleep has been shit all my life for varying reasons. I had gotten into a semi-regular sleeping habit recently of going to bed by 2 am and getting up around 8:30*. Then, I got sick again as is my wont and my sleep schedule got all fucked up again. The sleep time started getting pushed back further and further until I found myself going to bed at 5 a.m. Then, two days ago, I could not stay up past 11:30 p.m. I crashed, but kept waking up every few hours. I finally got up at 6:30 a.m. or so, and I felt shittier than if I had gone to bed at my regular time.

If I could have one wish come true, it would be that I could get a solid eight hours of sleep a night. That I could sleep without tossing and turning for a half hour first. That I wouldn’t wake up in the middle of the night, my heart pounding uncomfortably fast. That I wouldn’t have nightmares, or more recently, anxiety dreams. That Shadow wouldn’t be in my face howling when I woke up in the morning/afternoon. That I would feel actually rested when I woke up. That my immediate response wouldn’t be, “God, I wish I could sleep forever.”

Some of that has to do with depression, of course. I don’t want to be alive, and that makes it harder to get up and go about my day. There was a program on MPR (or perhaps NPR) about suicide and how to talk to someone with suicidal ideation. The doctor said you had to first find out why the person was feeling suicidal. She mentioned there was a difference between someone who coped with the thoughts on a daily basis and someone who might have those feelings in response to a bad situation. She said in the former, it doesn’t help to tell them it’s going to be ok or to look at the bright side. She said it made them feel more isolated and as if nobody understood them. I wanted to shout an ‘amen’ from the rafters because fuck that bullshit.

I know there’s no reason for me to feel the way I do. I know that other people have it worse and that my life is going pretty well right now. I know all that, and it doesn’t matter one whit. I have said before that I don’t hate life. I really don’t. It’s not as if I wake every day wishing I were dead. Believe me. I’ve been there, and I know the difference. There was a time when I hated life so much, it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed. As I’ve said, if I managed to brush my teeth on those days, I considered it an accomplishment. They were dark days, and I don’t remember them with any fondness.

One thing the doctor pointed out was that people said shit like, “Look at the bright side” to make themselves feel better. She said it much more eloquently and without the swear, but the point was the same. It’s profoundly uncomfortable to sit with a person who’s professing the desire to stop existing. I’ve been on the friend end of this, and I wanted to rush in and make it all better. I’d never tell someone to look at the bright side, but I want to cuddle and cluck over them until they feel better. And I know that doesn’t work because depression isn’t logical. I had to say that to my brother today–mental illnesses aren’t logical. He’s a very rational person who’s never experienced depression, so it’s nearly impossible to explain it to him in a way that resonates.

You have to sit with that person, though. Find out what they’re actually feeling and why. Let it be uncomfortable. Sometimes, it’s just the need to breathe in the space you are currently in. To have someone else acknowledge what you’re feeling without the need for qualifiers–that’s a gift in and of itself. Someone who won’t judge or freak out or think you need to be committed. I don’t know if I have that because I don’t talk about my feelings in this area. Why? Because they feel too scary and too big, and I am ashamed for having them.

I think that I would have a better frame of mine if I could actually get decent sleep on a regular basis. That’s not a far-out theory. I mean, it’s fairly known that most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night. I can’t imagine sleeping eight hours a night except when I’m sick. In fact, I wonder if that’s one reason I get sick so much because it’s one time my body thinks it’s acceptable to sleep. I don’t know. What I do know is that I stumble through the day, feeling groggy and stultified, and I never feel more than half awake.

I was talking with my brother today about how the last ten years have flown by, and he agrees. It’s hard to reconcile with the fact that I’m 48. I don’t feel that old, in part because I have so many issues that I thought I’d figure out by this time. I also thought acne was just a teenage thing, but I was so very wrong about that. So very very wrong.

I don’t deal well with change, and there’s a big one coming. My taiji teacher’s studio is closing,** and she has to find a new place starting now. I am a creature of habit, and it’s messing with my head that we’re going to be practicing in a different place. It was one reason I didn’t go to classes in her teacher’s studio. Which may be a moot point because that might be where we end up. At least in the summer, we can practice outside, though that’s going to be gross for me. I hate the outdoors. Or rather, I think it should stay where it belongs–outside and away from me.

I’m trying to be more flexible, but it’s not a strength of mine. I like to have a schedule that I rigidly adhere to, and something as big of a change as this is knocking me on my flat ass. It’s not just not knowing where I’m going to be week to week (which ramps up my driving anxiety), but it’s also that I shop at the Eastside Food Co-op after my taiji class, so that will have to change as well.

I feel as if I’m stuck. I know I need to make changes. I even know what some of them are (but not all). I just can’t make myself do it. I feel like I’m beating this drum day after day, but it’s a vicious cycle that I can’t simply think my way out of. Also, I really think if I could get more consistent and better sleep, I’d be able to handle life so much better. That’s not going to happen any time soon, though, so until then, it’s running in molasses for me.





*Give or take an hour. Plus waking up in the middle of the night. In general, though, it was a schedule.

**It’s more complicated than that, but for the purpose of this blog post, it’s good enough.

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