Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Despair, I don't like you very well

I don't like you very well.
You don't suit my clothes or my cigarettes.
Why do you locate here
as large as a tank,
aiming at one half of a lifetime?
Couldn't you just go float into a tree
instead of locating here at my roots . . .
--Anne Sexton

This has been the month of mistakes. It began with a huge error in our newsletter. Yeah it happened while I was out of commission, but I had never sent off the changes before I left. Thought I had but I had not. Then there was the surprise of finding our website migrated before I was ready. Oops—no software to update it. I went to see my therapist only to realize I was there on the wrong day. I rescheduled an appointment with my psychiatrist only to miss it. Now I owe $99 for a missed appointment. Ouch.

I don’t know if I was on a downward slide and that’s why I’ve been walking around in confusion, or if a few mistakes threw me so off my stride that my reaction only resulted in more mistakes. I’ve never been an insomniac. In fact, I usually feel like I never get enough sleep. Lately it’s dawned on me that I may not be sleeping as soundly as I think. I often wake up with headaches. Sometimes I wake up feeling overheated. Sometimes I have bad dreams, according to Dear Husband. On top of this, Firecracker often wakes up scared during the night. In fact, lately she has wakened screaming at the exact same time to the minute for several nights: 3:02 am, the hour of deepest sleep and night terrors. I also can’t help but remember that stupid Amityville Horror story in which the husband woke up at 3:15 am to do scary whacky stuff. I think it’s also called the Devil’s Hour, which is kind of silly when you think about time zones. One person’s devil hour is another person’s lunch. But I'm highly suggestible and when I see it's 3 am I'm careful never to look in a mirror or other reflective surface, since I'm sure I'll see something I won't like.

Speaking of sleep, I try never to sleep on my back now. I used to have spells of sleep paralysis. Not very often, and the first few times I didn’t know what it was, but I gather that they are more common if you sleep on your back. If you’ve ever experienced this phenomenon you know it can be terrifying. I always felt pulled to the bed, as if a magnet held me there. I would hear buzzing, humming and scary, garbled whispering in my ears. I would finally snap out of it feeling frightened and uneasy. Once I was certain someone had broken into the house, even after I went through it room by room. The last time I experienced it I was certain there was an evil presence standing just beyond my left shoulder. I’ve read that people think sleep paralysis is behind tales of succubi and hags visiting in the night.

But the upshot of mental fog and not enough sleep is that I am depressed. Or maybe the mental fog and lack of sleep is the result of being depressed. Whatever. By now I should be used to living in an endless loop. I feel aimless and hemmed in. What, I wonder, am I supposed to be doing? Do I feel passionate about anything anymore? In college I was passionate about studying literature, from which I gathered the mistaken idea that I would really like a career in publishing. I used to be passionate about writing poetry. Until one day I woke up and found I couldn’t write anymore. Really. It turned off like a tap, and I finally gave up on all the Artist’s Way type methods for jump-starting it or writing through it. It was like knowing a language and waking up unable to speak, and then finally the language became remote and unfamiliar and awkward.

So I’ve drifted along riding whatever current I fell into, for lack of any better ideas. I know my mother felt much the same. She pondered what she was supposed to be doing until she died, which I guess was the most definitive answer she ever got.


  1. Sleep problems can really impact one's life. I was a walking zombie before I was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea and got treatment for it. Do not minimize the importance of good sleep. Not every Doctor will recognize when you have a sleep problem. Take care of yourself.

  2. I drift, too, Alice. But have made peace with it! I have been practicing, in fact, at stinking at things because I find it is more fun than having to be good. Maybe parenting taught me that I will never again be perfect at anything, LOL.

    I hope your sleeping gets better.

    PS: When I wake up in the middle of the night, I imaging that God has tapped me awake and I pray.

  3. ive been thinking about this sort of thing (passion and zeal for things in life)for awhile now. i never know if my depression was the cause of my loss of zeal or if the loss of passion caused the depression. i do get the funky sleepy frozen feeling thing at least once a week; and it's with the thought of someone or something in the house; there's not too much that can scare me more than that kind of thing.

    poetry really is like another language, and it's puzzling how it can come in droves and then vanish so abruptly.

    you really are a gifted writer, and you always remind me of anne lamont :)

  4. As someone who has not had quality sleep this week, I can sympathize. Hope you feel better.

  5. It's obvious, your house has demon occupation in it. Maybe it's built on top of an Indian burial ground. I had that once, saw those Choctaw types digging around in my bedroom looking at me. Scared my mule! I had to get a divorce, quit my job, move to another state and that seemed to cure the problem.