It feels like it’s been sunny for weeks and this morning’s break into chilly rain feels like a shock to the system. Being back on a half night’s sleep doesn’t help either. It’s just a bad start to the day, you know. Dragged unwillingly from sleep by an alarm, dragged unwillingly through a round of exercise which felt like wading in that old treacle river again. I do not need to struggle getting to sleep on weeknights. It’s very unhelpful, and feels like a proper kick in the teeth in a way that still surprises me. The hauling myself out of bed and doing a thing when I can’t sleep is at least giving me more reading time. I speculated that reading non-fiction doesn’t do the right thing to my brain in terms of relaxation. I think it’s something to do with being caught up in an alternative narrative – we feel the flow of story as it hooks us, pulling along to some inevitable but unseen conclusion. I wonder if that’s why it works (sometimes!) for falling asleep – instead of being distracted and trapped by the minutiae and late-night worries of real life which are all aspects of our tedious existences and the story of ourselves, all those concerns and anxieties can be transferred to fictional characters and settings, and while I might worry for them, they’re ultimately fictional and don’t matter. Neat trick! Non-fiction is as bad as real life from this point of view. Mammals gonna rise, etc in The Rise and Reign of the Mammals. There will be many surprises, and even though it’s told narratively, I reckon it’s going to end with humans (spoiler). Instead I plucked David Benioff’s City of Thieves randomly from a shelf in the near-dark. I’m now halfway through it, so that’s something.
I’m thinking a lot about how to evaluate my progress in ditching sleeping tablets. I’m obviously very keen to declare success and pretend I now sleep normally. Of course! Anything else feels like a failure. But I am sleeping some nights and not others, some days I wake up refreshed, other days we’re back in the treacle mines. Is it worth it? I don’t know. I like the feeling of being able to do this trivial normal human thing (like it’s an achievement), when it happens. I don’t think I feel any more clear and unfuzzy, for lack of a better term, than I did while taking amitriptyline. It’s possible that the amitriptyline mostly did just get me to sleep – variously amplified by drinking and not having the best evening routine (actually, cutting my drinking in half has been quite good too) – and the things I’ve been fearing from it like lack of emotional range, libido and being able to enjoy later parts of the evening… maybe they haven’t been a consequence of the drugs, and this is just me (older and *cough* wiser etc than when I started on ’em over a decade ago). What seems likely is that they helped stabilise me at a time when I was spinning fully out of control. Stability’s OK, right? After all, this isn’t something I have to do. I’m voluntarily not taking these drugs to see if it makes a difference. While I’m not anxious in the way I used to be, there are more things in my head by bedtime, which isn’t particularly helpful. I doubt that I’ve ever solved a problem while lying in bed, instead of simply wasting a night’s sleep fretting about things that seemed trivial in the morning. That feels like the most noticeable thing so far. I suspect I’ll need others to tell me if I’m otherwise changed. Despite keeping track daily, what I’m feeling is the natural continuity of self. I probably should have been keeping stats records, but since I haven’t it seems reasonable to apply a range of subjective judgments to the experiment instead! Research next.