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Mental Health Track 034

I’ve rarely felt so grateful for scraping seven hours sleep out of this gritty meat husk and into the deep dark pool of unconsciousness. They do say we should reflect on gratitude and consider those things for which we are happy (I’m not doing the “blessed” hashtag), and while I did wake up with my alarm feeling pathetically grateful for not having been present in the world for most of the night I’m not certain who or what I’m expressing gratitude toward. This feels more like a fight with myself, which only threatens a greater sense of dualism, whether it’s between mind and body or a range of shadow selves hiding behind each other in this skin suit. I suppose that’s why I’m so annoyed, vexed and stressed about not getting enough sleep – I’m pretty damn sure I’m doing this to myself. While I’m fully aware that my mind is definitely a part of my body ­– even if it’s just some supervening cloud of sparks infesting the hunk of grey jelly in my skull – it’s intensely annoying that it doesn’t respond in the same way as the rest of it. I wanna walk, I walk… Except for the billion autonomic processes, of course. Like breathing, which I’m bad enough anyway, let alone having to think about doing it for myself. Which is, I guess, to say that although yes, this body and mind are mine, they aren’t mostly under my control. They do their own thing, hence the dualism, hence the sense of disassociation from both meat and spirit.

So what was different yesterday? If I’m going to push myself through this learning to sleep by myself nightmare, I really ought to be doing the learning part. It’s hard to escape the idea that simply having had about six hours of sleep from Sunday morning to Wednesday night wasn’t a big part of it. Not helpful though: it’s fairly reasonable to assume that if I go without for long enough, then eventually I’ll crash. I did have a horrible moment at around half-eleven last night when I returned from town of being fully and wide awake. That, followed by a sudden pin-bright moment of panic. All very pleasant pre-sleep stuff. But yeah, running on fuck all to the point where I had to cry off work because I just could not focus or do anything is not a sensible way to get ready for bed. A truly loathsome state of affairs. So it’s hard to tell what does or does not work, because at the moment I am lurching from sleepless state to crash-out night. It’s already hugely disrupted my precious morning routine, because acquiring one extra hour’s sleep when I am sleeping is worth it. So yesterday I was up just after eight, did exercise, did some writing, accomplished crucial work tasks (failed at many others), wandered around town at lunchtime; lay dully conscious with my eyes closed for several half hours, stared at email; cycled back into Nottingham to perform in a show I probably ought to have skipped but I think I had fun, had a couple of glassy-eyed drinks, cycled home; heavily chilli-saturated noodles and a nice mug of Horlicks. So who knows what that would have done after a regular night’s sleep.

I’ve got no baseline, no half-blind study to compare myself to, other than now-emerging flashbacks of just how atrociously I’d sleep when I was younger. And those memories aren’t grand – a couple of nights of terrible sleep, working in a busy-ish office, going swimming in the morning or lunchtime, somehow cycling way up into town and going rock-climbing then back home again. I’ve no idea how I didn’t die. Plus there was all the heat stroke from that stupid fucking office too. I hate the feeling that this is what I’m sleepwalking myself back into, despite having a sense of control and routine I utterly lacked then. Because what if all the control and routines are worthless if sleeping like shit is just my natural sleep pattern (I hesitate to call it a pattern, but on a chart run long enough it’s probably entirely predictable and regular, if shit). What then? I discover what I’m like without sleeping tablets and the natural version of me is just broken. I like to think that there is some underneath version which functions within acceptable parameters, but perhaps there are just too many layers to excavate to find that one, would be too disruptive to get there (and this is proving pretty fucking disruptive right now).

However, I’ve had the bare modicum of sleep which gets me back to remembering words like “modicum”, so I am renewed (a bit) with hope that I don’t need to abandon this project. Maybe I should set myself a time limit to either be sorted or return to some kind of reinforcing meds. I do worry though, that if I set a time limit it’s just like dryanuary or Lent – anyone can not drink or eat chocolate for a month, knowing that it’s going to end and one can relapse brutally after that.

Mental Health Track

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

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