Ever since I was a kid I've never slept well. I would eventually fall asleep to the sound of my brothers either talking on the phone or watching TV and wake up at the ass crack of dawn when my father would for work. Let's just say from 11pm until 4am (KFWB!!! News 98!!!). That was normal to me until I got older and friends would talk about falling asleep at 10pm and waking up at 8am. That just sounded ridiculous to me. Who needs that much sleep?!
As I have gotten older my sleep has not gotten any better and there have been times where I've had full blown insomnia. I'm not talking about a day or two of not sleeping. I'm taking about days, weeks, and at the worse 30 straight days of living in my own personal Zombieland. In this Five Things I Learned Dealing With Insomnia I'll talk about some of the things I learned during these times. I once looked up hypomania and it sounded like some shit I was going through. Click here to check that out.
Sleep Is For The Weak
There comes a point where I would just accept that I was not going to fall asleep. After a few days of this I would eventually say to myself “Screw sleeping! I'm getting some much more done. Plus, I don't even feel tired!” I would go to work and laugh at those that were sleepy or showed up late because they overslept. Why weren't more people just not sleeping? It was awesome!
Even after a few days of staying up all night writing, drawing, and playing video games I would just not get the urge to lay down and rest. My mind and body were on a new form of cruise control that only I, Dante, could manage. I could use this not sleeping to my advantage and if possible never go back to sleep. I shit you not, these are the kind of thoughts I would have and just a side effect of not sleeping. I could not trust my own thoughts but when in the middle of dealing with insomnia the thought that I may be wrong never crossed my mind.
Everything Feels Weird
When I worked at the hospital there was a point where I would check with people. I'd ask them what color pants I wore the previous day. Why? Because I was not sure. I would check before leaving the house, see my pants from the previous day, and still have to double check. I couldn't trust my own decision making skills but still thought I was fine. Why? Because I was still functioning.
You know the feeling you get when you know you forgot something but can't think of what it could be? Or how about when talking to a friend, you change topics, and you can't remember what you were taking about previously? Imagine that all the time. Every waking moment was me walking around with the feeling that nothing was quite right. I'd say something out loud and not be sure if I just thought it or I'd do something like brush my teeth and not know if I just thought about brushing my teeth or if I really did get up and do it.
Hallucinations Are A Thing
By this point I knew that I was dealing with full blown insomnia and looked up what I could expect. Seeing things was one and I actually looked forward to it. Why? Because I'm an idiot and when you aren't sleeping dumb ideas seem great. It started with seeing what appeared to be shadows in the corners of my eyes and quickly escalated to my eyes moving rapidly. Still. I thought it was cool because I knew what was happening so I didn't think it was bad.
Even when I would be up in the middle of the night with the lights off and the TV volume down I would see weird flashes of lights. I knew that my brain was trying to tell me to take my ass to seep because I was slowly descending into madness. I lived with a girlfriend at the time and would go to sleep and wake up and know that I'd been up all night by the way I spoke. It would take a moment for me to respond to people while in my head it felt like I was talking twice as fast as normal.
Everyone Has Advice
This one bugged me because if you have never suffered from full blown for reals ass insomnia every suggestion someone has sounds ridiculous to you. Yes, I have tried counting sheep, listening to relaxing music, meditating, wearing myself out physically/mentally, and trying to force myself to fall asleep. None of those things worked for me. People who have not slept for a day or two telling no sleep for two weeks version of me just sound like weird, underwater humans that are nagging me.
No, I did not try taking sleeping pills. Why? Because I have strong reactions to medications and hate taking medicine. Plus I have a terribly addictive personality and knowing my family's history I know my body would love nothing more than to get some good drugs up in my system. Also, while going through this once I got past the phase of it feeling awesome to not sleep anymore I started to get sick of being so aware of myself. With sleep you get a break from the world and yourself. For a few hours our brains are in another state of consciousness. When you can't sleep you are existing in a fog all the time. And it really starts to suck.
Creativity Levels Are Off The Charts
Oh, so much creativity! I have written dozens of stories that I still find that were written when I couldn't sleep that I can not explain. Some are really fun while others are insanely detailed. I've tried to finish some of them but my brain is not in that state naturally so I can't. I was reading a book or two a day and drawing more than I ever did before. The downside of it was that with all these ideas flowing through me it made it even harder to fall asleep.
I would be laying in bed watching infomercials and would hear about a spice, look it up, and the next thing you know four hours have passed by and I'm stuck in a Wikipedia hole that will not be escaped until I have to leave for work.
I still have problems sleeping till this day. Last year while away from home I was sleeping for 6 to 8 hours a night. But regularly I sleep for about 3 to 4 hours a night. I can push it and stay awake for a few days like I did with my last job where I had very strange hours (9pm till 7am). Though I don't have the hallucinations or walk around in a fog I do wish I could sleep more just to shut my brain up more often. Please don't suggest weed.
Click here for previous Five Things I Learned.