Sleep is the crank that turns the engine, and mine has long since snapped at the axle.
I don’t blog much anymore, a thing I realized once it became obvious even to me. I didn’t wax nostalgic about turning 40. I didn’t say goodbye to the home where I’d spent the last six years. I didn’t gush about the Porsche Cayman I recently purchased to fulfill an old childhood dream. No espousing about Keto, either recipes or studies. Nothing.
All events I would have gladly documented in great length—likely on multiple occasions—once upon a time. I’ve certainly rambled on about far less interesting topics. I just don’t have the energy.
I woke up at 3am this morning, mentally alert and yet completely exhausted. It’s not the same as being tired; it’s a mind that steadfastly refuses to rest. Even while nary a thought crosses through that vast rift between empty instances, it bides time watching the eons drift by.
It’s actually a feeling I’m well accustomed to. I’ve told the story before, but I’ve never taken a nap as long as I can remember. Even in preschool when the nap mats came out, I figured they just wanted us to be quiet for their own sanity. I was always polite about it, but never really understood that the other kids were actually sleeping. It was an alien concept to me then, as it is now.
One thing I could always take solace in, was that I tended to sleep deeply when I finally managed to pull it off. Multiple times, alarm clocks would fail to rouse me and instead, the infernal beeping or music would incorporate themselves into a dream, and I’d inevitably be late for school or work. It wasn’t ideal, but we work with what we have.
That changed a little over three years ago. I don’t reasonably know the cause, though I tend to speculate it has something to do with weaning myself off of an SSRI around that time. Whatever the case, my one point of solace ceased to exist. Now I can neither nap nor sleep deeply. I awaken at the slightest provocation, and if I do fall asleep again, do so restlessly. I always wake up sore, and never refreshed. I don’t even nod off in vehicles anymore, passenger or otherwise, no matter how long I’ve gone without sleep.
And in the aftermath, I am filled with a quiet desperation borne of dread unequaled by anything I’ve yet experienced. My senses are dulled, and life offers no succor. In many ways, I feel hardly alive at all. The days blend together as my memory fades with the lack of sleep. I’m too tired to do anything, and too debilitated to care. I plod along out of obligation now, rather than desire, or my old steadfast of spite.
And despite all of that, my mind remains online, ever vigilant. No pill has calmed me. A sleep psychologist says I’m doing everything right, the CBTI has run its course, and my sleep hygiene is impeccable. I’ve tried every supplement with even one clinical study that suggested sleep improvements. I adopted mindfulness meditation near the beginning, which I still practice daily. So far, nothing has really worked.
On a good night, I’ve perhaps clawed back half of what I once took for granted. How can someone remain mentally alert and yet completely spent for over three years? They can’t. So I’m left conserving what little acuity remains, each tiny erg of motivation I can muster, just to accomplish simple tasks. So gone are the ruminations, amusements, and in-depth technical pieces I used to share. They are but one of the many casualties caused by this ceaseless malady.
If my brain were a car, someone dropped a brick on the accelerator and fucked off. It desperately wants to rest, and is dragging down every aspect of my performance and enjoyment, but that contemptible brick keeps fueling it with an unholy endurance. It’s not that my mind is racing—though it clearly does that as well—it’s that it won’t shut down.
I just want to sleep again. I’ll do anything. If I had any energy to do so, I’d weep at the thought of being trapped in this hell.
But what choice do I have?