Just a Little Oblivion Please?
I have made valiant attempts at achieving oblivion every night. Sleep is the holy grail for most people with mental illness, and I am in no way unique.
Sleep is so hard to come by, and good sleep is even harder. Please do not mention melatonin, it sucks for people like me. I once took 15 out of curiosity and literally nothing happened. I supposedly had good drugs to help me sleep, what one would call the good stuff: Drug A for anxiety (trying to squash the stepping-out-in-front-of-a-bus scenario) and Drug B for the supposed night-time oblivion (never happens).
As things got worse and worse in my brain, I would slowly add a few things into the mix. Usually this meant some Drug C, Drug D, and if I had an inkling of a cold, some Neo-Citron nighttime. This should be enough drugs for most people to sleep through anything. Like one of the characters in movies who slowly wakes to realize they have slept through the zombie apocalypse. Wouldn’t that be the best sleep of your life? I digress (#ADD).
It is mostly accepted that depression is hard to fight, and even harder to fight if you can’t sleep. If your brain can’t rest, it is not going to help your serotonin levels. As your depression worsens, so does your sleep. To add fuel to the fire, this tends to worsen anxiety because as you are trying to rest, which is nearly impossible, you are worrying about tomorrow: “How the fuck are you going to survive, if you don’t get some sleep?!”
Unfortunately, my pharmaceutical combo was barely taking the edge off Stan, setting me up for more nights of extremely mediocre sleep. Meaning at least four trips to the bathroom, reading with my flashlight in the middle of the night until my husband would wake up in frustration that I, checks notes, woke him up by reading? (Not sure I buy that one.) Usually by then, I would just give up completely and go downstairs to watch something boring on Netflix. It had to be boring because hopefully boring will help you fall back asleep. At some point, a child would wake me up in the morning looking for food which would force me into the vertical position which became a huge accomplishment.
So, sleep was bad.
This is normal for clinically-depressed people. Every survey you take will ask you about sleep, and here is the BIG BUMMER: You can’t sleep but you CAN’T WAKE UP EITHER. Most mornings my husband would say, “Just get up, you are up anyway”. This is so crazily irritating because A) it is true and B) is NOT true.
Explanation: When my husband says this, I experience it as: “Get up, you lazy ass. What is your problem?” It is not his fault; he is just a very practical person. My other, gentler voice just starts begging, “Please, please, just let me rest. If I just keep my eyes shut a little longer, maybe I will want to get out of bed. If I can doze just a little longer, maybe, just maybe, my brain will steer towards life, and living, again.”
And most importantly, I will want to open a wallpaper book again.