I basically gave myself an anxiety disorder to finish my masters. 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.

White knuckles

I wrote this on the 27th April and then rode the subway car on into the abyss without a backward glance.

Lately, life has been feeling like riding on a rickety subway car, with no seats and no glass in the windows, along an old derelict tunnel. I’m sort of white knuckling the handrail as I’m shaken incessantly, really quite unsure whether the whole thing is about to crash into a barrier, fall through the floor or maybe just derail and skid along this subterranean passage for a while until it grinds to a slightly mangled, overheated halt. But on it trundles, at an impressive, somewhat alarming speed. Relentlessly. Constantly. Somehow still not there yet.

I don’t totally know why.

I’m in the last leg of my masters, and I’m certainly contending with the fact that I’ve allocated my time poorly up to this point and thus have given myself more of a slog to overcome than would be ideal. But I’ve lived through far more catastrophic levels of procrastination relatively unphased in the past.

Perhaps the pandemic has just frayed my nerves a little too much to cope with self-orchestrated academic crises.

(Runaway) trains of thought

There are two main things I worry about unnecessarily. The first is my parenting decisions (especially the largely insignificant ones). The second is the wording of emails I send.

Last night I probably spent 3 hours wondering and/or researching whether refusing to give my son a bedtime snack when he said he was hungry was wrong. He’d had supper 15 minutes earlier. He seemed like he was stalling. But he hadn’t eaten much of his lunch and he didn’t have a big tea. So maybe he was really hungry. But it wasn’t going to kill him. But it might stop him sleeping well. But he was asleep now. But maybe it was bad quality sleep. But, worst case scenario, he might feel a bit tired tomorrow and he can have a big breakfast. But if I’d just given him a biscuit maybe this whole thing could have been avoided. But then I’d be wondering if the sugar in the biscuit was ruining his sleep. He couldn’t be actually hungry, he’d just had supper. But maybe he didn’t get enough calories throughout the day. Maybe I need to rethink my whole approach to preschooler sustenance. Oh shut up, he’s fine, give it a rest.

Then I woke up sometime around 3am and started thinking about how I was going to word an email I need to send today. Should I apologise for not sending it earlier? Because I really did mean to send it earlier. Or should I just explain why I didn’t send it earlier without apologising? Can’t always be apologising for everything, explaining is probably enough. How much detail should I go into in the explanation? Should I even explain at all or should I just ignore the fact I was going to send it earlier? As long as I send it now it doesn’t really matter, no point making a deal out of nothing. Should I outline everything I’ve done, or try to be as succinct as possible? I could save the details for the meeting. Should I estimate when I’ll be finished by or stick to where I’m up to so far? I’m going to have to estimate to schedule the meeting. Should I suggest a time for the meeting or wait to see what they suggest when they know where I’m up to? For the opening, should I include any details about my Christmas or should I just keep the niceties vague? IT’S NEARLY 4 IN THE MORNING AND YOU’VE BEEN WRITING AND REWRITING THIS EMAIL IN YOUR HEAD FOR MAYBE AN HOUR. WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT? IT’LL BE FINE, GIVE IT A FUCKING REST.

I’m not always neurotic, but when I am, I am it well.

The Doom-legume

I ate something with soy in at the weekend. Soy is my own personal doomfruit. I know it’s not a fruit, but I feel like if a foodstuff is going to be prefixed with ‘doom’, it’s going to have to be a fruit. Although, okay, I will grant you, there’s something quite charming about a doom-legume.

Between six and forty-eight hours post-doomfruit-consumption, I begin to notice the onset of a pervasive dread descending. The physical telltales normally show up sooner, but I prefer to write them off under other explanations if possible. The doom-dread, though, is definitive.

I have built an arsenal of many coping strategies by this point, so the doom-dread comes in waves, and sometimes I fool myself into thinking I’m managing it fine and maybe soy doesn’t have the same effect on me as it used to, or maybe I was wrong all along and, despite the very substantial body of evidence to the contrary, eating soy is actually something I can start doing more regularly.

And then I realise I’m lowkey panicking that I’m never gonna have any money and my life will continue to be nothing but a long-drawn-out trudge across a field of desolation and lack. And I think, hold on, that’s a bit extreme, things aren’t that hopeless. And then I remember that I have two grand in my current account right now, and all of my bills have been paid, and all of my needs are met, and I’m totally comfortable, and my savings and investments are growing, and there’s no reason whatsoever not to be sitting here with a shit eating grin on my face. And then I think, fucking doomfruit!