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The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Dreaming Is Serious Business

August22

Last night I had a nightmare.

This is nothing new or unusual for me. I’m a very active and vivid dreamer who routinely sees in color and can taste, smell, hear, feel, etc everything that’s happening. I can feel the change in texture of a painted iron fence, from smooth paint to rough rust spot. I can feel the dry heat of the sun on my head and back and the cool lapping of lake water on my legs, complete with the feel of rounded pebbles under my feet, toes digging in and gripping them. I once had a very pleasant dream where I was just sitting in a field of tall waving grass, dry and golden, rattling seed pods, while the sun set. The sky was brilliant colors, the air cooled, the stars slowly came out. It was peaceful.

But most of my dreams are pretty awful.

They’re complex, with convoluted plot lines. I have a lot of anxiety dreams about being lost, losing something, having to find someone or something. I’m never where I need to be. Sometimes I can read in dreams, and I have read the most amazing stories and histories. Other times words and letters are a shifting jumble and I need to read them and I can’t make sense of them. I frequently have dreams about needing to call someone and being unable to work the phone, tension and anxiety mounting as various things go wrong.

On top of that, I also have nightmares. Often. Frequently. Several times a week. Sometimes several times a night.

I’m chased through dark woods by slavering beasts who want to rip me apart. I’m traveling through ruined cities, looking for supplies and evading bad guys who want to kill me. I’m hiding someplace small and dark hiding from something lurking right outside, waiting, being absolutely silent. I’m on the run from people, from things, who want to torture and kill me. There are spiders on me. There’s something under my skin. My spouse/parent/child is possessed by a ghost/demon and nobody knows but me and I have to fix the problem before it kills me. Something or someone is trying to smother me and I can’t breathe.

I live with terror.

And that terror usually involves bodily harm- protracted bodily harm.

I mentioned that I can feel things? Cool water and round stones and breezes and grass? That I can feel the soft flutter of a cotton skirt against my bare legs, or the tickle of a dry leaf falling and brushing my cheek? I can feel pain, too.

I lie with chronic insomnia. I have a hard time falling asleep and I have a hard time staying asleep. If something (or someone) wakes me up, it can literally take hours for me to get back to sleep. I’m tired all the time, I enjoy lounging in bed, but I hate sleeping. I need to sleep, but I hate it. I wake up exhausted, often no more rested than when I lay down, and frequently more emotionally drained. I realized when I was in high school that I had a lot of delaying tactics around going to sleep and wondered if it was because of my dreams, and I think that’s true. There’s 6-10 hours a night where I’m not in control and horrors come out and play, and that is very stressful.

Sometimes I realize I’m dreaming, and I try to take control and direct things. Sometimes that works and I can change things or switch to a different dream. Once, while having an anxiety dream, I got very frustrated and exclaimed that this was JUST LIKE an anxiety dream and I was OUT OF HERE and I literally walked away and into a different dream. But other times I freak out and think “Oh, this is JUST LIKE a dream” but then lose that thread.

The first time I went on Wellbutrin I started seeing results very quickly. One result was that I got tired and went to sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. I stopped taking Wellbutrin for reasons I can’t remember, but took a generic form years later that sadly did not have the same effect.

I don’t know why my brain goes into overdrive while I sleep. It’s not related to physical activity or what I eat or if I’m depressed or what I’ve been watching or reading or anything. It just… bam.

Bam.

posted under dream, health, insomnia, life | Comments Off on Dreaming Is Serious Business

Another sleepless night.

July13

I’m tired but can’t get to sleep.

I hate having insomnia.

I did, however, seize this chance to write a new Secret Chicago piece, so check it out.

I’m also working on an essay for a contest. It’s 1500 words, completing the thought “I never thought I’d…”

My first thought was “I never thought I’d utter the words “Don’t eat that, it’s no longer food!” ” and then talk about being a parent of a toddler. Then I thought that might be too trite and not inspiring enough, so I’m going to write about how I never thought I’d enjoy math but I had a (female) teacher who didn’t assume I couldn’t do math because I have a vagina, and who encouraged me to tutor other students in Geometry, and now I’m an adult and am tutoring other adult women in basic math so they can get their GEDs, go to college, improve their lives, etc and for the first time in their lives they feel that they CAN do math, they CAN understand it, they CAN use it… that they are smart and can get math things done even though they are lady-types and lady-types suck at math. Math is beautiful and elegant and I wish teachers had SHOWED ME that as a kid.

I might write the “no longer food” essay anyway and post it online someplace.

posted under crazybrain, insomnia, life, secret chicago, writing | Comments Off on Another sleepless night.

Secrets (and lies)

June26

It’s 3:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep.

It’s more than just insomnia, this time around. It’s pain. Physical pain. I’m so tired I’m dizzy and list to one side when I walk, but I can’t sleep because my tooth hurts too badly. I’ve been eating excedrin like candy, and I’ve taken so much my stomach hurts (also it’s hot, which makes my stomach hurt, and I’m exhausted, which makes my stomach hurt) but I still want to claw my face off. I’m really hoping my mother in law can take Nick today or else I’m basically fucked.

I hurt so badly I want to beat my head against a wall until I’m unconscious.

And I haven’t, you know, I haven’t felt like this in a long time. And the last time I felt like this, the pain was mental and not physical.

Because it’s the tiny hours of the morning, and because if I don’t have something to focus on I will do nothing but rock back and forth while whimpering and sobbing (note: I spent an hour whimpering and sobbing and folding laundry and watching a travel show on Peru, around 1:00am), I’m going to tell you about that trying emotional time.

It was my last year of college. I spent the second to last semester of college holed up in my room, incredibly depressed and overwhelmed, suffering from massive whomping panic attacks every time I left my room. This was a problem as both the bathroom and cafeteria lay outside my room, but I was able to push myself to use both facilities. I was not, however, able to leave the dorm and go to class. I went from all As and Bs to failing. Everything. Note that prior to this I had been in group therapy for a full scholastic year, and had basically given up talking about my depression, suicidal ideation, self harm, and sexual assault because it just seemed to really bring everyone else down.

My last semester got really bad. I was cutting pretty much every day, was obsessed with thinking up ways of killing myself, was hardly sleeping, and was beating my head against the floor. Literally. I was also on academic probation, but still couldn’t bring myself to go to class. I was paralyzed with fear and pain. I eventually got so bad that I scared myself and went back to mental health services and made an appointment to talk to a shrink.

I spent the 45 minute interview talking about my problems: how I was failing school and was going to get kicked out; about how I wasn’t handling my sexual assault (when I was 17) well; how I was overwhelmed and depressed and riddled with anxiety; how I was actively suicidal; how I was actively harming myself; how I was afraid I was going to kill myself; how I was out of control and terrified and a failure and incredibly depressed. I mentioned that I’d been on prescription antidepressants previously, and that they’d done me a world of good. I talked about my abusive past. And the guy I saw folded his arms tighter and tighter across his chest and leaned further and further away from me, his body language growing ever colder and more distant.

And at the end of the interview he told me I was “very self actualized” and that there was nothing he could do for me.

In point of fact, there was a hell of a lot he could have done for me. I probably should have been hospitalized; I definitely should have been medicated. He could have interceded with the school and gotten me on a different form of academic probation which would have allowed me to stay in school and graduate. He could have guided me in healing. But he didn’t. He essentially kicked me out of his office.

I was so angry, so furious (I, uh, also used to have serious rage issues that thankfully have calmed down as I’ve gotten older) that it shook me out of the worst of the suicidal feelings. I packed my shit up, and made arrangements to move off campus with a friend of mine. I think that moving in with her saved my life. At the time, my dad was still unmedicated (and hence irrational and abusive), and if I’d moved back home I probably would have killed myself. I’m not trying to be dramatic; I was in a really bad place.

I never graduated. Because I failed two semesters in a row, my financial aid was canceled. In addition to student loans, I also owe UIC thousands of dollars in tuition and fees. I can’t transfer my transcripts to any other school until that’s paid off. It will be very hard for me to get back into college, because my GPA is ass and even if it wasn’t I owe a lot of money and I don’t know how soon, if ever, I’ll be able to pay it off. And I still grapple with depression and anxiety although it’s never been as bad as those two terrifying semesters.

Usually, when I talk about why I left college without graduating, I’m evasive. I feel like a failure because I flunked out. I feel like a failure because I’m mentally ill. I’m ashamed. If I’d gotten mono and failed two semesters, or been hit by a truck and been unable to go back to school, or something else physical had happened I wouldn’t have anywhere near this sense of shame and failure. But mental illness is so stigmatized, and so associated with weakness, that I do. And carrying around a secret like this is hard.

My dad has a “congratulations, graduate!” card that he keeps in his office to send to me when I “finally” graduate. Why yes, this is manipulative and kind of abusive! Why yes, I’ve essentially lived my entire life unable to live up to his exacting standards! Why yes, he HAS often made me break down crying and wishing I’d never been born! Why yes, he HAS made it clear EXACTLY how disappointed he is in me! And I haven’t told him WHY I left school. I don’t know how, or if I can. I never told my parents I was sexually assaulted by a co-worker when I was 17. I’ve never told my parents that I self harmed from the time I was seven years old until fairly recently. I’ve never told my parents I’ve been suicidal. There’s actually a lot I’ve never told them.

I have a three month old baby, and I’ve been thinking a lot about parenting and my life lately. A lot of really bad shit I thought I’d dealt with apparently wasn’t dealt with very well; a lot of shit I thought I’d buried has been popping up. I don’t know how to deal with all of this. I am so incredibly scared of fucking up as a parent, of hurting my sweet boy. I’m afraid sometimes that I won’t be a good mom; that I can’t be a good mom. That I’m too flawed and broken to give a tiny human being what he needs. I come from a long line of fucked up, abusive people and I don’t know that I can buck that trend.

All I can do is try.

I’m kind of contemplating getting a pair of pliers and pulling this fucking tooth out, though. You know. In the meantime.

Hungry like the vole, not the wolf.

March31

I’m back on antidepressants and that’s basically the only reason I’m alive right now.

Wait, wait. It’s not as dire as it sounds.

Basically, one of the ways my depression manifests itself is through brutal insomnia. It’s hard for me to get asleep. It’s hard for me to stay asleep. My quality of sleep sucks ass, and after what most people would consider a good night’s sleep I wake up groggy and exhausted. I have dreams about being tired and trying to get to sleep, ok? So I’m on Wellbutrin again (more precisely, the generic form) and… my sleep problems aren’t entirely solved, but it’s way easier for me to get and stay asleep and my quality of sleep is much improved. I can get by on seven hours of sleep a night instead of, you know, thirteen. Which is nice, as OMGTHEBABY recently decided that sleep is for CHUMPS and he’s only going to sleep for two hour stretches at a time, interrupted by feeding sessions that last for half an hour. Half an hour is about how long it takes to wake up completely, even in a dark room snuggling a baby.

So everything’s good, right? Well… no. One of Wellbutrin’s side effects, which is sometimes used as a main attraction, is that it’s an anorectic. In laymen’s terms? I keep forgetting to eat. Yesterday? I hate a half cup of jello, a glass of grape juice, and a half cup of cottage cheese. That’s all I had until dinner, when I ate like a normal person with Nesko (spinach lasagna, hot bread, and a lemon square). That’s not really enough to survive on, you know? Especially as I’m grappling with the beast known as BREASTFEEDING which requires approximately 500 extra calories a day on top of a normal diet.

So I don’t feel hungry most of the time and when I do sit down to eat, Nikola wakes up and decides he is hungry also and I tend to him and sometimes forget that I was about to eat something OR feel hungry and head-achey.

I’ll get used to this. I’ll manage it. But it’s frustrating right now. And more frustrating is the fact that my state-sponsored insurance (that, you know, my taxes pay for) runs out 60 days after Nikola’s birth, so I don’t know what I’m going to do for brain drugs after that point. Maybe my doctor will be willing to write a prescription for 12 refills or something to get me through a year. I’m not suicidal without medication, but when I’m on it I’m much more productive. I mean yesterday I folded laundry, cleaned the kitchen, made lasagna from scratch, made lemon squares from a mix, and did some other stuff. And took care of a two week old infant. Without medication? I’d mostly sit on the couch blankly. Not in some dark well of distress or anything, just… blank. Lethargic.

In other health news, I haven’t taken omeprazole in two weeks and my stomach is fine. No indigestion, no heart burn, no searing pain and projectile vomiting. HURRAH! Cutting out an incredibly stressful job and then being not pregnant have apparently done the trick.

Today Will Be A Bad Day

November15

I had the hardest time falling asleep last (Wednesday) night. I finally drifted off around 11:00 or so, and then Nesko came home around midnight after a family thing and fell down loudly, which woke me up. I tried to talk to him, but my voice is almost completely gone. The cold I’ve been fighting off for a week or so has apparently set up base camp. After trying to get back to sleep for about two hours I got up and I’m still up. It’s not quite three in the morning and I’ve had maybe an hour of sleep and I don’t think I’ll get back to sleep before it’s time to get up for work. And even if I can get to sleep, I’ll only get a few hours of sleep. I feel like crap and my stomach hurts.

I don’t want to go in to work today. And it’s not that I want to avoid work. It’s just that I’m going to be fucking WIPED OUT all day from, you know, not sleeping. Thanks insomnia. And I’m going to be shaky and nervous and anxious all day. Hell, I already am. So… not looking forward to work.

My insomnia:  let me show you it.

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