I remember in in younger days having this cavalier attitude towards sleep. Drink in hand at silly o’clock in the morning, I would declare to the world that I would get all the sleep I need when I am dead. A noble sentiment from a young man in the prime of his youth? Or the pathetic ramblings of an idiot?
Thinking back on my live fast, die young, leave a good looking corpse youth. I can see the irony in my attitude. Yes, I did have periods where I would burn my candle at both ends. Yes, I was often to be found at the centre of some drinking madness. Yes, I partied hard. I also know now that not only was it all a facade, but it was to signal yet another self destructive episode.
Back then I really did not give a crap about anyone or anything, including myself. I was running, hiding from myself, hiding how I felt from the world. Lying, cheating, drinking were the norm, I became a chameleon, even I didn’t know who I was half the time. To different people I was a different person. The one thing I know for sure, I was hardly ever me. Me, was a dim voice at the back of a very noisy crowd. Me, was the elephant in the room that even I did not want to acknowledge.
When your world shifts, when day becomes night and night, day, you struggle to fit into the ‘norm’. People think you are a party animal because you stay up till stupid o’clock in the morning and then go off to work. Or people think you are lazy because you sleep until noon, not knowing you were awake all night. Its a slow process but for me a regular one. As my worries grew and the darkness started to descend, it would become harder to sleep at nights.
Lying in bed with all self doubt, self hate, self created problems has always been a problem. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed and just went to sleep. Good sleep is essential to have a normal functioning life. I wish I could sleep. For the last six months I have been on sleeping tablets, Instant sleep without the hours of self analysis. As with all medication induced positives, it also has its down side. The Zopiclone hangover as I like to call it. The next day can be spent in a kind of groggy haze, whilst I am fully able to function on one level, I am also left with a kind of lethargy that leads to a lack of motivation. Lack of motivation then leads to hours lying on the sofa either napping, watching tv or destructive self analysis.
So now, sleeping tablets are used in small doses or as a last resort. I often see two am, sometimes later. I still only manage to average just under eight hours sleep a night but it is disturbed sleep. Right now it is one of my biggest worries. I no longer want to take the sleeping tablets at all, I am lucky to be in a position right now where I have no morning deadlines so I can afford to sleep if needed. However it is such a struggle, battling fatigue most days.
I am sure my story will resonate with many people with mental health problems, sleep disturbance seems to be a common problem for all. Trouble is it does not seem to be a well discussed problem. I would love to know how much my disrupted sleep affects my mental health. I often feel that I am trapped in a cycle, poor sleep leading to lack of motivation. Lack of motivation leading to depression and anxiety which further disturbs my sleep.
The positive now is that I am aware of this problem. No longer do I hide from it, try to destroy myself over it. Now I invite it to the table for a chat, see if we can come to some form of understanding. I am glad that I had the tablets when I was going through the worst times, but now I need to take control and start sleeping with the enemy.