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Mr. Sandman, bring me relief. - Sing With Me If It's Just For Today... — LiveJournal
If I should fall behind, Guyster, wait for me.
guysterrules
guysterrules
Mr. Sandman, bring me relief.
As I tried to fall asleep last night, I started to mentally list all the reasons why it is hard for me to fall asleep. It took a good half hour to get the list complete because I had so many other things I wanted to think about in the middle of my internal conversation. The sleeping part is actually quite enjoyable for me but I have always found it difficult to let go of my awakeness. After Billy passed away, my anxiety about sleep reached a whole new level.

I think it started when I was fifteen and found drugs for the first time. I had been arrested for shoplifting - an adolescent pastime - so the court ordered me into a therapy group for troubled youth. There I met Bonnie, the first and only person who burned themselves intentionally with a cigarette in front of me. She would giggle as the smell of burning skin wafted in the air and I was fascinated with her remarkable skills at pain management. Bonnie also introduced me to Dexedrine and LSD.

Once I started to understand how much fun it was to not sleep, the world seemed to open up to enormous possibilities. I could watch more TV. I could finish my homework in record time. I had endless hours to masturbate. I could sneak out my bedroom window and walk the neighborhood for hours all the while discovering the nuances of the sleepy hamlet in which I lived. Why sleep when there was a whole universe out there to explore?

From that moment on, I leaned toward drugs that kept me awake. No Quaaludes or alcohol here. Why bother? They would just make me sleep. Yuk.

After working my way through my various addictions, the notion of non-sleep was residue I never shed. Even when I went to bed on time, there was still so much to think about. Work duties, conversations I wish I had, conversations I wish I hadn't had, random mathematical equations. Anything was more interesting than sleep.

There have been long periods where this was less a problem than a minor annoyance. The two years I was single, before I met Billy, and heavily into bodybuilding, I slept like a baby. Of course I was working out twice a day (morning lift, afternoon CV), eating six meals and taking supplements but I slept with no guilt or worry.

For the 9.25 years Billy was in bed with me, I slept fairly well but it was dependent on my work stress load. I could lay there listening to Billy snore as I mentally wrote memos, had detailed upcoming conversations and continued to write my first novel. Of course I never wrote any of those memos, the conversations didn't happen and not one word has been written down for the novel. But eventually I would fall into Billy's breathing pattern coupled with his spooning warmth, and I would surrender.

Now I snuggle with Bob, try to coordinate his breathing with mine, put on an old movie, set the TV timer for an hour and hope for the best. If I hear the TV go off and I am still awake, then I start to figure out why I can't sleep. Square one.

Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: raindrops on the metal roof of the guest house

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guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 12th, 2003 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
No I haven't tried melatonin tablets. Have they worked for you? Since you suggested them, I assume they have. I have been taking a Klonopin a night. It's Xanex-like. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. The urge to stay awake gets the best of it. I'll try the melatonin. I also used to listen to a nighttime meditation tape but haven't played it for a long time. My current insomnia has a different flavor than times past. It's as if there is a little anti-sleep demon pinching me and reminding me I don't deserve to sleep. I am now in search for melatonin tablets. Thanks for the advice. Much appreciated.
ruralrob From: ruralrob Date: February 13th, 2003 06:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Interesting post - thanks! Hope Bob helps. I know one of our dogs (Bailey) is a real cuddler and even though he takes up more than his share of the bed, he's really helped me in the sleep department a lot.
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 13th, 2003 11:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I know what you mean. It is amazing how far and wide Bob can stretch his 86 pounds. As we start to sleep, he is nice and compact in my arms. My the morning, I am relagated to the left fourth of the bed. When it was the three of us in bed, at some point in the night, he would wiggle his way in between Billy and me, and do the sprawl. But we figured, as long as Bob was comfortable, it was ok.
fabulist From: fabulist Date: February 13th, 2003 08:59 am (UTC) (Link)
Man, can I relate to this subject. Even if you completely ignore the whole sleepwalking issue (an epic tale in itself), I've always had trouble with bouts of insomnia and interrupted sleep. I never did any drugs in my misspent youth or since, unless you count drinking insane amounts of tea, but I always had a sleep pattern that varied obnoxiously from days when I'd sleep for 14 hours to nights when I'd be up and down all night.

It all peaked in '98, when my life was pretty much crashing, when I'd wake up at night with my chest pounding and be up all night, just feeling like I was almost insane from exhaustion and so desperate to sleep that I was drinking Nyquil by the quart in the vain pursuit of a few winks. It was an ugly, awful time, and some nights I'd wake up with my heart racing and sudden stabbing pains in my head that led me to start sleeping fully dressed with my apartment unlocked and a set of spare keys in my car's ashtray because I was convinced I was going to have a minor stroke in the night and wanted to be able to crawl to the car and drive myself to the hospital with a minimum of fuss (and don't think I'm making light of such things, only of my incredible pessimism and bizarre logic, or lack thereof, in those days). I spent way way too many nights rolling around in bed trying desperately to sleep, and suffered too many days of aftermath.

What's helped me (and this may only work for me) is the idea of not resisting these sleepless times, even when it's going to screw up my work schedule and other important things. It's something really useful I learned in therapy and in the course of getting more familiar with buddhist/taoist ways of doing things--the practice of observing patterns with precision. When I wake up at 2:30 AM for no obvious reasons, instead of going "goddammit, not again," and being frustrated, I try to listen to what my body's trying to tell me, and I get up and spend the time doing quiet work, either writing or music or cleaning out the crisper trays in my refrigerator, until I feel like I'm ready to sleep.

Sometimes I'm up all night, and end up going to sleep for forty-five minutes just before I have to get up for work, and sometimes I'm just up for an hour or so, just enough time to write a journal entry or take a bath or take the bewildered dog for a stroll through the back alleys of Laurel. Sometimes pattern disturbances take weeks to settle out and I end up going into work late and being tired at my desk, but generally, I find that my cycles recover a lot more quickly now than at any time I can remember. It's hard to let things play out at times because I've got certain things that just have to be done at x or y o'clock, but I've gotten pretty good at accepting that I'm just going to have to be tired when I'm doing them if that's the way things are going, because all that I'll accomplish by trying to force my body to bow to my will is to be reminded once again who's been around longer--those animal/autonomic parts of the brain or the fussy modern mind.

I'm probably misquoting it a bit, but there's a great taoist parable about a young monk who sees his teacher fall from the bank into a raging river and runs along the bank, hoping to save him from drowning, until they reach a part in the river where the water calms and deepens and the teacher just calmly wades to shore. The student, amazed that he survived, and asks the teacher how he did it. The teacher smiles and answers, "I go down with the water and I come up with the water. By yielding to the water's superior force, I can float downstream to a place where I can escape the current, rather than exhaust myself flailing against the flow and being dashed against the rocks."
guysterrules From: guysterrules Date: February 13th, 2003 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)
The taoist parable is apt and beautiful.

I seem to be on an one-on and one-off pattern. I struggle for sleep one night, wake up tired and then the next night, I have no problem finding peaceful slumber. Sometimes I force myself to wake up absurdly early so by the time night falls, I am naturally tired. This can work on a few levels - getting to see the sunrise, walking a sleepy dog, getting emails out to the east coast at an impressive time and hearing a city come alive.

I have to start listening to my old meditation tape instead of the 40s anti-Nazi Hollywood propaganda films I am drawn to as a sleep aid. I need to start going back to the gym. That would go a long way. It seems no matter how passively suicidal I am, I'll be here for a while and not going to go Home to Billy any time soon. I might as well make this time as comfortable as possible, right?
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