Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night: Another Insomnia Post

Thoughts from the Ass End of the Night: Another Insomnia Post

Been a while since I've found myself staring at a computer screen at 4 in the morning. Been sleeping alright. One of those things you end up taking for granted.

I'm an occasional insomniac. I'm the type that'll wake up in the middle of the night, and not be able to go back to sleep. I've read and heard that it's related to anxiety, and given my free-floating hostility post from last night, I'd be hard pressed to disagree.

Irritation is related to anxiety, right?

But, my intent here is not to rehash what has been amply hashed. It's simply a way to occupy my mind.

Like I said, it's not a regular thing, this insomnia of mine. It comes and goes. Here lately, I've been sleeping alright. Actually, I don't believe I've done an insomnia post in 2008, and considering we're a third of the way through the year, I'll take that as a moral victory.

I say taking sleep for granted. It's a weird thing. It's been about a year since I've had a serious bout of insomnia. My most serious bout. About this time last year, a lot of shit was piling up on me. Work was more than rough. I was having personal issues with women, with friends. I wasn't writing. Had a few minor problems, but they were mounting up.

The insomnia started in February, of last year. A couple or three nights a week, I'd wake up three or four hours after settling in for the night, and be completely unable to fall to sleep. The crazy thing was this: Instead of my mind wandering over the issues I was dealing with in real life, I found myself dwelling on inconsequential episode of Lost, or later in the spring, the Cubs' miserable start last season.

By March, it was happening more than a couple or three times a week. By the middle of March, I was pretty much operating on 3 hours of sleep a night at least five nights a week. What's the saying? Denial isn't just a river in northwestern Alabama? As miserable as I was, with life, the universe and everything, adding to it was the fact that I wasn't sleeping. I was operating most of last spring an over-tired, over-stressed zombie.

I dunno. The insomnia thing is weird. After a point, I began to accept it. There's your normal frustration, where you wake up at 3:09 and know that the alarm is going to go off in two hours, fifty-one minutes. But after six or eight weeks of it, I'd wake up, vaguely wonder if I was going to fall back to sleep, and end up lying there for three hours. And just take it as a point of fact. By April, I was getting more than six hours of sleep just once a week.

That was part of the problem, looking back. The lying there, waiting to go back to sleep. My normal M.O., if I've got an insomnia night, is to try to sleep for about a half-hour. But if it isn't coming, I find something to occupy my stomach, and occupy my mind.

The stomach thing? Something light. Maybe a piece of toast, and a glass of milk. One of those microwave cups of Tomato Soup...something I've come to swear by, by the way. I guess the theory is twofold. One, if the stomach's growling, then you KNOW I'm not going to sleep. And B.) if I have something on my stomach, my body will send a little blood that way to deal with digestion, and take it away from my brain, which seems to want to work overtime fretting about the Chicago Cubs....

The mind? Well, I'll make an inane little blog post, or I'll read.....tonight was about a hundred pages of the Shawn Michaels autobiography I found at the Goodwill store the other day...

And of course, writing an overlong epistle on lack of sleep.

I've digressed a little....

Last spring, I'd toss and turn, remove or add pieces of clothing. Mostly, I'd lie there stewing in my own juices, not helping myself by any stretch of the imagination.

That stretch lasted between three and four months, but there's no defining stop and start point. It ended as quietly as it started. I started sleeping six and seven hours again more nights a week, until I was sleeping normally most nights a week.

Looking back at that time, I wish I'd had the presence of mind to actually go to look for a little help. See my doctor. Maybe found a way to sort out the various stresses I was going through at the time.

But as much as I am taking my sleep for granted now, I was just taking the insomnia as a course of nature then. And maybe it was. But looking back, it wasn't a good time in my life. I was probably sorting through a depression of sorts, and I'd have made it easier on myself even if I'd gotten some kind of sleep medication....

I promised myself to pay a little more attention in the future. Not seeking help was dumb, in retrospect. I was stressed already--working 60-70 hours a week. I had personal issues that weren't sorting themselves out. The stress was making me lose sleep. And losing sleep was causing even more stress. It was an odd spiral, and it's not one I want to repeat.

I say, thankfully, that problems since then have been few and far between. This is the first incident I can remember in a while. There are irritations in life, but they're not nearly as bad as last spring. Once in a while, that's an aberration, rather than the fact.

However, if I'm writing anymore insomnia posts in the next while, somebody send a van by Casa de Big Stupid Tommy to drive me to the Nut Hut for a little while, okey dokey?

Because I like Indians.

Anyway, since I had to get up at 5:30, and I figured I'd probably feel worse if I fell asleep for 45 minutes, I got up. Wrote this post. Problem is, since I've unpacked my troubles on you, all seven of you, I feel a little sleepy.

Well, I think I can live on coffee for one day. And I'm off Friday, so I can sleep the day away, if'n I have to....


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