Insomniacs Synonymous

Oh, insomnia, you fickle beast. You are so tricky that I’m going to write a haiku about you.

Ever staring up
Nothing moves but your mind; yeah
Insomnia sucks

Boy, that was so deep that I feel fairly confident it serves as proof that I am sleep deprived. Last night I ran several experiments. All of them involved ways to coax my brain toward sleep. All of them failed.

The problematic thing about insomnia (okay, well, at least ONE problematic thing, for it is a many-headed monster) is that you are too tired to do anything that might help propel you toward sleep. Sure, meditating might put your mind at ease and smooth the way to dreamland, but doing nothing is sure a whole lot of work. Getting up and making some soothing tea could prove nice, but that involves, y’know, ‘getting up’ and ‘making tea,’ and you do not want to sacrifice what sleepiness progress you may have made to get a hot beverage.

That is another insidious tactic insomnia uses. (I just realized I use the word ‘insidious’ more than the average English speaker. I just decided that is okay, because I don’t abuse it and it applies very well to the items I deem so.) (I am a writer, and it is my prerogative to make these judgement calls.) (Even if I turn out to be wrong.) Right. The insidious tactic employed by insomnia is tricking you into putting off the other techniques that can help alleviate the symptoms by persuading you to just stick it out. Just keep laying down and hope that it passes. This, from what I have been led to understand, is not a particularly good tactic when coping with insomnia.

And do you want to know yet another problem with insomnia? It. Is. So. Boring. There really is not much to do but sit and wait for the sleep to come. You can’t chase sleep, because that only makes it worse. In this day and age, with distractions piling upon us from every conceivable angle, it is not easy to just… idle.

Here is an experiment for you. Lay down in a mostly comfortable spot and stay there for, say, an hour. You’re allowed to think about things, but no messing with your devices, no reading, just you and your brain. See how long it takes you to get antsy.

Well, to be fair, if you are a normal healthy person and you are not doing this immediately after getting up from bed, there is a decent chance you will fall asleep. This is not a diatribe on the modern day distraction of electronic devices (which I might do sometime, from a victim’s perspective) but simple biology: when you put your body in rest position without excessive stimuli, your brain gets the picture and conks you out.

I do not have the scientific information on insomnia, because, well, I am sort of in denial about it and thus have not yet thoroughly researched it. (I am actually pretty well read on many other aspects of sleep, which interest me much more because they are actual sleep rather than a deficiency thereof.) All I have to offer at this juncture is anecdotal evidence of a single individual. Perhaps this bears researching for a future post or even a series of posts…

Speaking of future posts, I have been tossing around the idea of ‘dramatizing’ the mental issues in webcomic form. Not the generally unpleasant and unhappy interactions that tend to revolve around said illnesses. Fortunately, I have either first- or second-hand experience with a wide variety of mental problems, so I could make a fairly large series in the end with a pretty accurate portrayal. Now, this portrayal would be like a Saturday morning special, with fun characters portraying the different mental processes. (Think the Oatmeal meets Hyperbole and a Half meets Osmosis Jones… minus Bill Murray.) I can tell you right now that depression is a sinister villain whose alibi typically revolves around the fat suit that fills his apartment. Yeah. That kind of thing.

I suppose that with all of these things, the thing to do is to find the good. Maybe writing a stupid series of comics is some sort of good. Part of what I hope to do is explain what is going on in the background, behind the scenes, to those who do not suffer from the illness and this have no basis for comparison. I have learned over the years that mental issues, often entirely invisible illnesses, are hard to relate to when there is no shared experience. You cannot really comprehend what it is like to be truly depressed, just like I cannot understand mind numbing, crushing anxiety. Sure, you have felt a little depressed, and I have felt a little anxious, but it just is not the same.

I found that I had an easier time explaining to my wife the more hidden aspects of depression after having her read Depression parts 1 & 2 on Hyperbole and a Half. Maybe I can offer another avenue toward comprehension? Or maybe I can at least have some fun trying?

Insomnia does not play well with fun. I will have to write up a concept document when I am not so doggoned tired. And do not fear, I trust that I will be able to remember just about how miserable it is on a decent night’s sleep.

I woke up yesterday morning and have only quasi-relaxed since then, so my writing might be a little confusing. I appreciate you bearing with me as I stumble around in the dim and the dark, and try to keep myself awake until the proper bed time this evening. That strategy is one which I have been loathe to attempt, but it seems the opportunity to try it out has forced its way into my life. Now I just need to manage the self discipline to get up tomorrow morning…

Yay, weekends.

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