It’s time to do this thing-called-sleep

It’s 2am. Friday 19th February 2016. And I’m still awake. New mum? I should be so lucky. I had a bath, I relaxed with my husband. He fell asleep; and I woke up more. I tried, I really tried, to sleep. I gave up. I made clean-raw vegan “chocolate”. I made my mums also clean, raw-vegan birthday cake. I am determined to eat better. I’m not vegan or even vegetarian but I’m determined to rid my body of refined sugar. I contemplated going for a run, but after all the baking I finally felt tired again. I knew I probably wouldn’t sleep though. I wish I had run before I’d baked because I need to shift the weight.

This is how my previous 24 hours-or-so went:

I’d had a good Wednesday. I’d had a good week. I’d run, I’d walked, I’d had great yoga classes and was feeling stronger again. I’d seen friends, had fun, talked, laughed and loved. Giggled and was free. I had plans for the future and I was making more. I was excited about them. I’d had *the* nightmare once but it was just once, right? My sleep wasn’t horrendous. And I was doing all I could to tire myself out. I could read again. I’d read 2 books in the last week or so. I was elated at that level of concentration having returned.

And then it hit. On Wednesday night when it was time to try and sleep, I couldn’t. I gave up and, for once, was sensible – I didn’t go out and run; my instinctive reaction when I still seem to have insurmountable energy at absurd times of the night – I switched my light back on and tried to read myself tired. I was about half way through a new book. Works for most people, right? Often works for me. I finished the book. At 1:50am I tried this-thing-called-sleep again. Shouldn’t I have mastered this sleep malarkey by 28? 

Eventually, I managed; roughly 6, broken hours. The nightmare enveloped me 3 times with its different complex layers. My husband kissed me goodbye at 6.30am. My alarm rang at 8am and I refused to waste any more of the beautiful day. I got up and out the house pretty quickly. I took the dog for a walk. It was a real struggle. I felt overcome with despair as I struggled to grasp the energy to put one foot in front of the other and walk on flat land. I stopped and sat on benches every so often because I felt too exhausted to continue, yet battled internally with myself that I needed to burn the calories, needed the exercise. My iPhone says I still walked over 6 miles that day. I don’t know how or where. It cannot be right.

I raced home to drop the dog with my mind still in overdrive. Thoughts whizzing around. Berating myself for arranging to meet a friend and her gorgeous girls for lunch because I just didn’t have the energy – telling myself off for something me from a week ago had no control over. Me from a week ago was happy. I could have cancelled. I will never understand what part of me still manages to go through with events just like this that I still have planned. An hour before I’d been contemplating walking into the river and wondering if it’s current would be strong enough to just carry me off. I’m only realising now that this is still old Karen – Karen doesn’t cancel or flake out on people – and so deep down she is still there, fighting by not doing so. Just when I thought I had lost all fight and couldn’t fight anymore, there’s a little reminder that Karen still exists.
Lunch was fine. Lovely. I think I pulled it off! I’m glad I went because I was able to think and focus on something else for a couple of hours and it really, really helped. It was what I needed, but then I went home and couldn’t bring myself to take the dog out for another walk, or to go for the run despite the perfect weather conditions. I tortured myself watching fascinating yet heartbreaking programmes on mental health. For some reason our bedroom smelt like white musk; the smell reminding me of my Mum and comforting me into an almost 2 hour nap. I never nap; it’s not allowed.

And so now here I am. Sat on the cold kitchen floor in short Pj’s at 2am, waiting for the cake to finish baking, and still contemplating that run.

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Depression

Where does it come from? How does it creep up on you so suddenly and randomly? No matter what kind of day you have or what kind of day you had the day before. Irrespective of what the weather is doing outside. That black hole deep within you just opens up and swallows you into it whole. Every negative thought you can think or slight niggling worry you may have perhaps had a glimmer of before, becomes all you can think about. It drains you of all your energy. Simply walking the dog feels too much even on the calmest most beautiful of days: on the days when you just want to curl up and no longer exist, but knowing you should be making the most of the day, the weather. You don’t want to eat, breathe, live, laugh or love. You don’t even want to cry despite those tears falling from your eyes.

You argue with yourself. You know those thoughts aren’t necessarily true – or not all of them – that they are just out of reach of you being able to sensibly control them. And you wonder what difference all the therapy in the world could possibly make when you feel this way, to stop you feeling this way. And then you give up and just allow them to envelope you because you have no energy left to do anything at all, let alone fight yourself.

You discover that you aren’t as strong as you think you are. You’re no longer glad that it’s you struggling with this and not one of your friends – because you are strong enough to fight this – because you realise that you are not strong enough. You wonder how much more of this you can take, how much more you can keep fighting. You have plans to meet a friend that you just cannot handle, but you don’t cancel. You push yourself through it because you refuse to be one of those people who cancels or flakes out at the last minute. You refuse to let anyone down. Anyone accept yourself. Making further future plans feels like an impossibility because what if you feel like this and just do not want to leave the house?

You struggle to function. I have no idea how I have not had a serious accident. How I haven’t hurt myself or someone else because I am completely and utterly dissacociated from life, the world, my own body. This morning I actually drove on the wrong side of a (fortunately quiet, country) road – because for a minute I completely and utterly forgot that that was not the side we drove on. It didn’t hit me until another car headed toward me pulled into the passing point that I was about to pull into; because it was on their side of the road, not mine.

And yet the day outside is beautiful and still. The world carries on around you, unawares.