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29 Mar 2008

The Wretched Life of an Insomniac

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The first thing to go is your sense of humor. Then goes the desire to do the things you used to do, then the desire to do anything at all. Parts of your body ache that you don't even know the names of, and your eyes forget how to focus. Words you once knew aren't there anymore, and there's less and less to say. People you care deeply about fall by the wayside and you let them go. The seconds tick by like the fading memories of yesterday.

Insomnia is a problem that I have lived with for as long as I can remember. It is a problem that I have recently confronted with myself and have tried to understand. Insomnia is a problem that most insomniac's don't want to talk about. "Oh, you know, I had a bad night." is my most common response to friends and colleague's. "Well, Drew, what do you have to lose sleep about? You've got no problems." is the typical response. If I had been up with allergies or a sick puppy, now that's something worth talking about. If I just can't sleep, now that's weird. Anyhow, chronic insomnia is not just "another bad night". It's not like a night when you can't sleep after having too many drinks, or when you are stressed from a hard day at work. Chronic insomnia is a bad night that goes on and on, night after night, all while knowing that you are going to go through it again in a few hours.

Sleep is personal, sleep is intimate. Sleep is interwoven into the fabric of our everyday life. Sleep is something that we need. We all have a relationship to sleep, that is individual and distinctive as we ourselves are. Most of those same people never think about what a good night's rest is, and how much they truly value it.

I am trying to find my own way with insomnia, come to terms with it after all these years and learn what works for me and what does not. I closely observe, and attempt to manage my sleeping patterns, without obsessing about it.

I use the word "manage" with a slight grin on my face. I don't manage this beast. I live with it. I live around it. I toss and turn with it every night, gingerly, cautiously, careful not to provoke it. I do my best to subdue it, dull it's claws, avoid it's fangs, knowing that at any moment it can pounce on me and tear me to bits. But manage it? I wouldn't go that far.