Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Day the ninththth

Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what irony is? 
Baldrick: Yes, it's like goldy and bronzy only it's made out of iron.
I is for insomnia and I am on my second day of no sleep although posting on the internet probably isn't helping.

I have been lumbered with insomnia since forever ago. Thankfully it isn't chronic but like everything else it has both good and bad points. On the plus side it has contributed to my love of books and reading. On the negative side you do tend to be sleepy and lethargic all during the day, leading others to wonder just what is going on. More than one person has asked me if I were on some kind of medication or just assumed I was stoned.

One of the symptoms of my insomnia, I hesitate to call it an attack, for me is something that I call “Heavy Brain” Heavy Brain refers to the point where you are in bed, comfortable and warm, but your brain is zooming round from one subject to another picking up on all sorts of weird things.

Now when I say weird I do not mean weird as is “Ooh isn't that strange?” but rather weird as in trying to attempting to to go sleep by counting sheep in binary and then calculating your own name in an algebraic frenzy. It is Heavy Brain that makes the dark silhouettes of perfectly normal things into dark silhouettes of edlritch terrors that have risen from the murky depths that man knows not, presumably for the sole purpose of keeping you awake (1).

A problem of Heavy Brain is that your brain will frequently trick you into getting up. The reasoning, after all, is sound enough.

  1. You don't feel tired and have gotten bored with just lying there. So you decide to get up and work on the things that you have been thinking about
  2. For a while everything is fine but you'll find yourself needing to concentrate harder and harder, This will wake your body up but only for a short time.
  3. For a time your work will suffer, art will become harder, writing will dissolve into mad scribblings or pages of gibberish. (2)
  4. Eventually you feel sufficiently tired enough to go back to bed and thats when the whole thing starts up again.
Q: If its such a problem for you why don't you seek professional help instead of using the Internet to moan about it?
I have never gone to see a doctor about my insomnia. It's not that I dislike doctors, in general, are fine.  Doctors in specific are not. For some reason they seem determined to stick things into me or draw off samples of this and that. No thank you Doctors of today.
I wouldn't mind a witch doctor. It would be pretty neat if he came to my house and simply waved a chicken in my face before pronouncing me cured and by the way here's a chicken for your dinner (3).

No, as I say I've gone to no doctor about this and I don't intend to. You may well ask why and I can't stop you, short of severing your vocal cords but even then you can blink it out in Morse code along with any messages for the authorities. It isn't because I don't want them poking things into me.(4).
No it's because the medical professions believe that you can fix everything with pills and strange poky things and thats what I think is wrong.

Q: What cures have you tried then?
  • Sleeping pills: Over the counter, not prescription. They knock me out faster than a one two combination from Ali but it takes me forever to wake up again (5). They are in my bathroom cabinet as a last defense against the really bad nights.
  • Incense: Smelled nice but did absolutely nothing.
  • Sleeping Tapes: Don't seem to work on me although I know people that swear by them.
  • Television: At three in the morning there is nothing on that doesn't rot your brain and although you can and will fall asleep in front of the television set, it does function as a white noise. On some level deep in your subconscious your brain cells are dropping dead from seeing the same infomercial demonstrate the same wonder product over and over again while the audience looks on and goes “Wow!”
  • Reading: This was my own solution was to read. Big books little books it didn't matter. Looking back some of them were horribly above my age level but I read them just the same.
    Examples include:
    A tree grows in Brooklyn – I remember mum seeing it in my room and commenting that when she was a girl one of the nurses took it away from her because one of the characters had an abortion and that wasn't any proper subject for a young lady to read about.
    The Great Deception – Brilliant book about a man who meets his double and one of them replaces the other, Or does he?
    Lord Of The Rings, J R R Tolkien – Come on people it's LOTR! Do you need an explanation? The Silmarillion was a different story, reads like the bible and still very hard to get through without taking notes about who is who and why the giant spider is eating a tree (6).Butterfly – Revenge! Simply one of the best books ever.

Q: This is just an excuse to list your favorite books again!  Enough of your moaning get with the good points.
Very well, A memory of school.
After a restless night of reading such heavy material I then returned to school where I distinctly remember the class engaging in a group reading activity, which was everyone reads along while someone reads the story out loud. Of course this class dragged at a snails pace for me (7) mainly because I had David Eddings burning a hole in my schoolbag. The story itself was a forgettable tale of a girl who had emigrated to New Zealand with her family to escape the ravages of war,(8) which is fair enough, but it was incredibly boring, focusing on the impact of different cultures and the fact that things that were different from her country.
I leafed through the pages without much hope. There was no villain (9), everybody that she met was saccharine sweet. There was no task to complete. there was no kind of hook that would make this book interesting and thus it was perfect for students.

I had long given up my attempt to look interested by this tale and not even tried to slow down to the point of the rest of the class who were sitting around page 18. But I did not realize just how far ahead of the class I was until the girl next to me looked over and said “Are you on page 80?” in a voice that was calculated to be loud enough for everyone to hear.
Of course the teacher stopped the class and demanded that I stand and read aloud which I did but spoke so quickly and without emotion that the other students complained that they could not understand me and that I was going too fast for them, I responded with “This is how I read” and continued until the teacher let me sit down.

For all my life I will be warmed by the memory of the dirty look that the teacher gave me. Her punishment of the one who had dared to rush ahead had failed miserably and she did not call on me again, skipping over me when it came my appointed turn to read out loud to the class. I can not remember if there was any official test about the book but I would have passed it easily (10).

From then on the teacher cast a blind eye to my activities reasoning that as long as I was reading something and not actively destroying the classroom then her job was done By the time the class had finished the 100 page book I had finished the first book of The Elenium and was making serious inroads on the second. (11)

I think that one of the reasons for my insomnia is that I no longer have any animals to sleep with. In my younger days I had a cat who would sleep in my room and took great pleasure in stopping me from reading, either by sitting on the book in that smug way that cats do or by insisting that I pay attention to him right now.
Later on Tui the dog, a Newfoundland/Ridgeback Cross, would be next to the couch where I had passed out in front of the downstairs television, yet again.

Right now I am in a a boarding house. Due to space considerations and the rental agreement I have no pets. Fish would be permitted but but I've always considered fish to be rather boring, Although it describes the human condition quite well. Swimming around, eating things and waiting for death does not make for a very interesting pet (12).

Incidentally the longest period, so far, that I've spent awake is four days. Although it was a time of extreme stress and mental anguish all of which will most likely be covered when I do Ten terribly revealing Secrets for the letter T.
In that time I passed through mere tiredness to lethargy and finally to lethargy +1 which is a really fun time for the whole family.
My eyes stopped focusing properly. A fence post would look like a person until I got really close up.
My manual dexterity crashed through the floor.
Concentration levels? Forget about it!
The really stupid part was that I took a couple of the sleeping pills my body rebelled against them! I got very drowsy for about 5 hours but still couldn't go to sleep. After the drowsiness wore off I was punished with the illusion of having more energy.

  1. This is the reason that I never picked up any Lovecraft until I was much older.
  2. So nothing like this blog at all.
  3. Ladies and gentlemen theres an example of heavy brain thinking right there.
  4. I have four tattoos and am working on a fifth so no fear of needles
  5. My awareness level is about the same as a really bad hangover
  6. See what I did there was peak your interest. Now you'll have to read the book to see what I'm talking about!
  7. I was 14 or 15 at the time and you'd think we'd outgrown story time but no.
  8. It may have been Yugoslavia but don't quote me on that. Somewhere in that neck of the woods.
  9. Except for the publisher, ahem
  10. But ultimately would have been marked down for inappropriate use of sarcasm in my answers
  11. To read it out in the open would have been disrespectful, I used the official book to read the unofficial one.
  12. For anyone thinking of using the “But fish are so beautiful” argument I counter with “Yes but I could get the same effect with a dog, a snorkel and half a can of spray paint”

1 comment:

  1. Insomnia is a/an [insert fave expletive]. You know, I used to joke....but, it really did help me sometimes...that people with Insomnia should read "Insomnia" by Stephen King. Bless him, but that book could put anyone to sleep.

    Really nice post.. Note #9 = LOL.