Friday, October 24, 2008

I am afraid to sleep. Or, more accurately, I am afraid of the kind of 'sleeping' I've been doing for the past few years. It is a horrible, non-sleeping type of sleep.

It's hard to explain, really, how complicated my sleeping life is. (Some people have complicated social lives, others have complicated sex lives: I have a complicated sleep life. You can probably just shoot me now.)

My sleep life consists of a diabolically complex combination of insomnia and half-sleep, exhaustion and extreme pain. The pain and the exhaustion, pretty easily explained: multiple chronic illnesses, see just about any other post. The other two? Not so much...

First off, there's the horrible, insanely ironic insomnia that comes part and parcel with CFIDS/FM: Having excessive fatigue and an inability to sleep makes perfect sense in some world, just not the one we currently live in. So there will be months upon months were I spend all night looking at the dark, when I hold my breath until those glorious 45 minutes between when the kids next door finally go into the school and the next church bells chime - those 45 minutes seem to be my golden time for sleep, the only real time I can almost guarantee I will be able to close my eyes for a while. The fact that these 45 minutes occur after 8 in the morning does not help to make the nights shorter, I can assure you.

Trying to sleep, dragging myself through the long night listening to calm music, or the sound of the clock ticking, or the absolute quiet that comes from shoving the clock in the closet under a pile of clothes - I've come to really hate that part of my life. I hate the waiting; I hate the games I play on the computer trying to waste the time, the lists I make that I know I'll never get around to. I hate all my pillows, and how they're not soft enough; my bed and how it's not wide enough; my covers and the way I have to keep dragging them onto the bed like an ever errant dress train. I hate how dark it gets, and how it's starting to get dark earlier, as if to say "Night is coming, and you will be alone, again, waiting." I hate when it starts to get light out, and I know I've passed yet another night with only the faintest of brushes with sleep.

Night is really the worst time, because it's just me, and the knowledge that I should be asleep; the want, urge, and compulsion to be asleep; and all the right equipment for sleeping - and yet no sleep.

Even worse than the insomnia, though, is the aforementioned half-sleep. Although it's really more like 1/4 sleep or 3/4 sleep: the so-close-and-yet-so-far sleep. It reminds me of those times that you're exhausted enough to be trying to nap in class, but you can hear the teacher droning on in the background and you're still mostly awake. You're alert enough to know not to turn your backpack into a pillow or let yourself start to snore or drool. You're awake, but in that kind of hazy half-asleep world, and you want to cross over to full sleep, but you know you can't.

It's snooze-button-sleep: It isn't refreshing or relaxing at all. It's full of anxiety and broken dreams. And it leaves me more exhausted than when I started, and certainly not ready to greet a new day.

It's so frustrating to have your head on the pillow, your knees curled up tight, your hip tilted just so and ... nothing happens. While you're waiting, your neck starts hurting more, so you shift and now it's that spot on your back that you can't put pressure on, or the imprint of your sweatpants pocket in your leg, or one side of your body is boiling hot and the other is ice cold.

My sleep is neither restful nor peaceful, and oh how I miss the way it used to be: the way I know it's supposed to be. Just shutting down, tuning out, unplugging, instead of being in this constant half charged, hyperly aware unsleep.

There's a part of me that thinks I've used up all my sleeping: all those early years of illness where I slept 18 -20 hours a day, for months at a time, hoping to actually wake up and feel rested, feel ready. (I'm still waiting, still hoping.) Those periods where I slept at dinner tables, bus stops, dance classes - I used up my allotment of sleep and now there's nothing left for me to use. I don't actually believe this, but during the long nights it is hard to remember that sleep doesn't work that way.

But, if I knew how it worked, than I wouldn't have written this post.

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