Its 2 am. Thats a mantra I said almost every night. Its part prayer part optimistic pep talk, “I made it until 2. I should be able to make it to 3.” Thats not a stretch folks. When the big crazy panic attack engine is in high gear, making it an hour seems like a long range goal. I have used several coping mechanisms in the past, but, the most effective was to write. I would write a story, poem, hopes and dreams, letters to my kids, etc. Anything that could focus my mind on something other than my physical/mental self.
Sometimes, the writing would be a few minutes every ten minutes, all night long. I spent years dreading nighttime because it meant one or two hours of sleep and then hours of gut wrenching terror until time to leave for work. I lived like this for years. I must be kidding, right? Nope.
For many years I never had one full night’s sleep. Sometimes, I would go days without sleep and several times for a week. (My personal record is one week and a day.)
My learned friends say,
“You cant go with out sleep that long.”
“Even if you could, it would make you depressed and crazy.”
Yep, thats what it does, alright. But if you are already depressed and crazy then you hit normal after a day or two. Then it goes down sharply after that. Spiraling into a depression and moment to moment aggravation with the world that is just torture. Strangely, thats not so bad and here is why: When you have not slept and you feel like crap and you are short with everyone and basically a waste to be around, every one (including you) are ok with it. It makes some kind of sense. You did not sleep = grumpy and crazy. Everyone is pretty ok with that equation. I know something horrible is happening to you but at least it has a cause. A cause we all think is ok.
But you’re not ok.
At this point, you would think its obvious to get some help. Heck, it should be obvious to a stranger, but, no. Having been depressed (which is the general thing I am going to call this illness) since the 9th grade has given me years of coping practice. I can lead an inspirational meeting on marketing, dazzle rooms full of people, and be a caring parent all while my insides are being ripped out by terror, sadness, loneliness, and emptiness. I am good at it. Like I said, I have been training for the depression olympics since 9th grade.
My main training tool is writing. I have been journaling since about 10th grade. You can tell the few times in my life where things were OK because I was not writing much. But, I always fall back to drawing, writing, doodling in my journals. I even did so at lunch today. Its how who I am deals with being me. That may seem like a crazy sentence, but if you lived my life its almost perfect.