I’m having trouble sleeping. And by that, I mean I am not sleeping. At all. I suffer from a low-grade degree of manic depression. Many entrepreneurial and creative types live with this malady. They are slightly off – it is the mother of double-edged swords. Our joy/sadness pendulums swing like everyone else’s – ours just do it like a boss because we are nothing if not hot committed to the situation at hand. Here is what the cycle looks like for me – starting at that glorious point when my factory setting is YES!
Day One – Here comes the sun
And what a bright shiny sun it is. Because my synapsis are still firing and I haven’t begun to see The Care Bears in my peripheral vision I can use this glorious energy to knock out the work of ten men while remaining coherent and civil. Ideas come at me like shooting stars. 99 out of 100 of them are ridiculous – like the one that resulted in my trolling Etsy for an adult sized stick figure costume (if memory serves, glow in the dark was a must.) I can’t recall what I planned on doing with it or if I found one.
But then there is the one idea. It’s usually pretty cool. The best projects I have ever started and finished were the love children of my mania and insomnia. I enjoy the jagged brain sizzle of that first all nighter while working on a project(s) and binge watching Netflix. It feels “a little outlaw” to me – especially when I hit a 24 hour BP for a 64 oz. fountain diet at 3 am. My husband says during these times that I talk a lot, I talk fast and I talk loud about my grandiose plans. “You’re scaring the children,” has been said to me on more than one occasion. I know the crash will come. I know it will be bad. But this yellow mist of joy is too glorious to pass up. Call me Icarus…
Day Two – Storm Clouds
This is the day I start to wear a baseball cap and eschew washing. It’s during this night that I am present enough to know that I NEED SLEEP. I pray to baby Jesus, meditate, sleep with my dogs etc. Panic starts to set in. I am now irritable and frustrated – like a dog trying to shake off a medical cone. Take a sleeping aid? Child’s play. If I took enough for them to actually work, I would be within weeks of requiring a liver transplant. Apparently, my brand of mania produces insomnia that requires a tranquilizer dart like the ones they use on careening circus animals. If I mention my problem, there is always one person who will suggest that I take a nap during the day. To be honest, I wouldn’t know a nap if it walked through my soup. I can’t do it. I am envious of those who can. This is when the pendulum swings toward the opposite direction. My brain starts to go cold and dark, like my 51 year old womb.
Day Three – I say “sh*t”. You say “show”.
If I were sane enough at this point I would choose to be where others are not until I can get a solid 8. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case – because by now I have pretty much lost my mind and am operating in full on lizard brain mode. This is when I accuse my husband of being a Nazi and sleeping with my sister. This is when I ruminate on past mistakes that had previously been flung to the far recesses of my brain. People who want to adore me are dissuaded when I complicate things by inserting myself into the equation. Basically, I start to fall apart. And I will say, at the risk of sounding sexist, when a woman falls apart she really throws herself into the it in a way that can actually inspire just by the level of her commitment.
At this point it is difficult for me to process the world as others do. I know I am off track so I hide away. But here’s the thing about that: The more I choose to be alone, the more everyone else decides to leave me alone. Isolation makes me paranoid. My worst fears about myself and everyone else fill all of the silence that I create, making me fearful and hyper sensitive.
“Solitude can be an engine that produces its own fuel, sending you faster and faster into the quiet.” Will Storr
Day 4 – Sweet Slumber
I don’t believe anyone has ever actually died from lack of sleep. Eventually my body succumbs and allows my tattered brain to begin the process of healing itself. The difference in my outlook can be jarring. I often don’t realize how off I have been until I achieve a degree of equilibrium again. This lasts a few weeks and is boring and lackluster. Until something in my brain ignites, a smile comes over my face. Wait! Is that Joey Scarbury singing the theme to The Greatest American Hero? Why I do believe it is… And once again, I am superman.
Rinse and repeat.
I have tried countless medications, most of which leave me with a flat effect. A feeling of nothingness. But I continue to search for how best to deal with this new phenomenon, as it only became a part of my life in recent years. I will keep you posted…