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Mental Health Track 021

I begin today with a titanic meh. I have not slept, again. At least I got an OK night’s sleep in between these two, though that looks like an increasingly poor ratio of around 8 hours a-snoozin’ in the last 72. I’d sort of forgotten how much I loathe the sensation of realising I’m not going to sleep. It’s always worth a shot though – you’ve gotta at least give it the old college try and all that. I thought it was going to be alright when I pulled my sleep mask on and snuggled down, but after an hour I just wasn’t going anywhere. My usual trick for getting to sleep is not the counting of sheep but thinking about whatever I’m reading and trying to place myself in the story somewhere. As an exercise it has a nice cognitive distraction element, and it doesn’t really matter what the book is, because it’s all a distraction from contemplating the existential dread of not falling asleep and its knock-on effects, and from getting lost in the various inevitable worries and things that require consideration from the daytime world. I was rather expecting I’d have experienced spikes of anxiety by now, which is one of the things that amitriptyline has always hammered away rather neatly, a subtle erosion of the desire to care about a range of things when sleep is on the menu, its serving imminent. Sure, I had a jumble of bits and pieces, but nothing I was actively fretting about. So I waited, white noise doing its gentle thing, massaging my brain into peace… and nothing.

I’ve long learned that the worst thing I can possibly do in that situation is to remain in bed. Can’t wait to get annoyed or stressed about not sleeping, can’t lie there beginning to overheat until the bed becomes unbearable. There’s a whole lot of sleep hygiene thought about using your bed only for sleep, and other partially horizontal activities, so that all of your associations with bed are of good things, like sleep. Everything else can be done somewhere else, especially being awake. Cup of tea, more book, more lounging the nice dimness of the library. After an hour or so, and after finishing my book (the rather wonderful Authority, second in the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer – it’s a surreal and disturbing account of losing your mind to an invasive phenomenon, which I found quite comforting and engrossing) and then finally reading through the rules for a Kickstarter boardgame I backed three years ago (Tiny Epic Dinosaurs; maybe one day I’ll even play it…) it was clear that my body wasn’t slumping toward slumber, even if my heart and mind were definitely on their way down.

So I stayed up all night instead. More reading, did some graphics stuff I haven’t had time to sort out, bought a couple of books online. Then fucking dawn came again. I vividly remember despising the sound of the dawn chorus when I was a teenager and struggled massively with getting enough sleep. I don’t know if it’s their chirpy racket, resenting their being all awake and bright, or if it’s the final concrete slab that you run into, affirming that there is no longer an opportunity to sleep at the proper time. I did force myself to lie down with my eyes closed for half an hour, just to give them a chance to get lubricated. Did some exercise, had a shower, I’ve brought breakfast up with me for this writing time since I’m now ravenous. As on Tuesday, I feel basically alright at present. I don’t feel angry or depressed, I’m perhaps mildly hysterical and a bit jittery, with an excellent quiver in my hands today. Lots to do: work, swimming, I’m running the improv drop-in tonight too. The only real anxiety I’m feeling is that I want/need to be reasonably well-rested and functional this weekend so I can have a good time with family folks. But then this is why I still do have amitriptyline, so I can knock myself out if I need to. The problem is I need to take it hours before heading to bed, and I don’t necessarily know that I’m going to sleep until I’m lying in bed. That’s probably some kind of catch-22 in action. Ah, fuck it. I knew this was likely, which is why I’m not freaking out about it yet. Stay strong, stick to the programme, sleep… sometime…

Mental Health Track

A purposeful daily attempt to track how I feel and what I’m doing.

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