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Daily Check In, 3

MOAR sleep! Scooped a sweet five hours of sleep, having had a couple of pints at the (splendid) Smash Night followed by a neat chaser of bourbon and zopiclone. Certainly knocked me out, but I was waking up from around 4am onwards. It feels better that way round.

The grind of insomnia for me is in the not getting to sleep. The special rage and fear that rise up with every lost minute of slumber annihilate the possibility of sleep. It makes me afraid to even try to go to sleep. That lying there, hot and frustrated is unbearable. Which is why the best sleep advice is to just get up if you aren’t going to sleep after twenty minutes or so. That’s hard to do, because goddamn useless hope kicks in, with its familiar lies and soothing hums of reassurance “you’ll get to sleep soon, just give it another minute”. Fuck you, hope. By the time I finally abandon hope and get up it’s usually way too late to chill for a while and try again with any chance of snagging five hours plus of sleep. I wonder if that’s the effective sleep span for me – less than four, more than five. Less than four I can function for a couple of days (hello, this week) but to stay well needs consistent nights of seven hours plus. That’s really hard to get.

Winding down for sleep requires hours of quiet. My phone disables Facebook, WhatsApp and Slack at 8pm, and disables the rest of the Internet functions at 10pm. At the same time, the TV should go off, the White Noise app goes on, and I’ll be diving into my book or maybe some gentle Lego building (existing set, not something of my own). It’s a good routine, but it’s easily wrecked. I can still use my laptop, I can disable the phone lockouts, I can leave the TV on, I can grab another beer from the pantry (though I’ve recently moved all my beer to the garage as a further disincentive)… But having a plan helps, even if I go off-plan more often than I’d like. My bigger issue is that all the activities I do are evening ones which end after 9.30, all pressing hard against the sleep time counters. Brain whirling from even fun activities makes it harder to wind back down again and achieve sleep time fade-away. I don’t want to miss out on the social time after the improv drop-in on Thursdays – it’s a positive activity and end in its own right which makes a big difference to my overall state. Plus the Malt Cross has some really good beers these days. We skipped out straight after the show ended last night and got home around 10.30. Even after three days of a few hours sleep and being knackered, I was still wide awake, so I did my chaser in hopes of accelerating the wind down. It worked last night, got me in bed by 11.45 and fading out before midnight but it’s likely to be that bourbon chaser that woke me back up at 4am… Swings and roundabouts etc.

I’ve been working on the drug-free routine since mid-January, aiming for zopiclone to be the final resort and a snuggle blanket of reassurance. I’m not sure it’s working. I think if I was getting seven nights good, one night bad, I’d be OK, but once I’ve had one bad night it’s followed by at least two more and that’s a real twatbastard. I don’t really know where to go from here. Inevitably when I’ve been back to the doc’s it’s been when I’ve felt fairly chipper and couldn’t really access or relate how I’d felt on those days that were not so good. In part, this keeping of a diary again will help. It can be as hard to remember the bad stuff when I feel OK as it is to remember that everything isn’t irredeemably fucked when I feel down. Our brains lie to us and are really bad at existing out of our immediate present.

And now, half a day off, popcorn and watching Us at the cinema.

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