I basically gave myself an anxiety disorder to finish my masters thesis. I knew I was doing it. I knew I could fix it afterwards. I figured that’s what I’d use the month between submitting and results for, and it’s taken a little longer but it pretty much worked out. I didn’t like that I had done it to myself but it seemed the lesser of two evils. What I failed to reckon for, though, was the fucking sleep disorder. Another example of a side effect obvious in hindsight but completely overlooked by me in the planning phase.
I am ridiculously susceptible to sleep disorders. If I was to total up my childhood memories, most of them would probably be of night-time. In my early teens I became aware of ‘sleep phase delay syndrome’ which explained my night-time wakefulness and reluctance to rise at an acceptable hour. At university it progressed into full insomnia, which I honestly probably didn’t believe truly existed until I experienced it – night after night I’d just lie there, all fucking night, totally awake, bored out of my mind but scared to disturb my partner. The days were totally surreal, just like Fight Club had warned me about.
Then, after my relationship broke down, the exhaustion syndrome kicked in and I slept at every opportunity. For about six months it felt like all I wanted to do was sleep. Then the years that followed were just a chaotic haze of disorganised sleeping, a feature of the disorganised way I was living as I let everything I had built liquefy and tried to find a new path.
Years later, for sure oriented on a new path, hello pregnancy insomnia. And ever since, of course, I have enjoyed a more than standard level of parental sleep deprivation due to my new inability to sleep through any fucking noise at all because, as far as my body is concerned, I am on call and must be immediately prepared for anything should I hear a rustle in the night. So not only am I awake but I am fucking ready for action, adrenaline mobilised and awaiting instructions.
I had a few blissful months last summer where balance was restored and, oh my fuck, life was beautiful.
And I relinquished my peace to attain. Because that’s all I know how to do, really. That’s my unfortunate default mode. Achieve. Impress. Prove you deserve to exist. And I knew I could handle a little anxiety and depression; I have all the tools I need to see them off these days. But the sleep. I am not good at sleeping. It’s the sleeping I should have been worried about.
It’s 2:42am. I am not good at sleeping.