In Fight Club, the movie, not the book, because I didn't feel like leafing through my copy to find a quote, the narrator says "With insomnia, nothing is real. Everything is far away. Everything is a copy of a copy of a copy." This isn't exactly true.
I've had insomnia since I was in high school. As you might imagine, at this point I'm reasonably adept at living with it which, if you look at the time stamp on this entry, is pretty much what I'm doing now. It's 3:39AM and I had planned to get up and go swim at 5:30. Pretty sure that's not happening. Instead, I've decided to write a blog entry rather than get too far into the second book of the evening. I'm rereading West of Jesus, by Steven Kotler. Even if you don't surf, take a look at it. It's a pretty cool story and raises lots of interesting questions.
The reason I'm writing this is that I'm hoping to expend a little mental energy, shut down my brain so that maybe, if I'm really lucky, I'll be able to carve out a 90 minute or 2 hour power nap before I go to work. Sadly, the days are gone when I would have these attacks and just power through the day on caffeine until the sun went down and I added whiskey to the cokes to slow down and hopefully get some sleep. And I used to wonder why I would sometimes go three or four days with only an hour or two of sleep. The equation seems pretty simple now.
My record run is 10 days. That's not 10 days with no sleep, mind you. That would have had me in the padded room strapped to a table freebasing NyQuil and asking the nice orderlies to please get the spiders off me. No, it was 10 days with no more than 2 hours a night. I was a freshman in college, which was a bad time all around for me, but this two week span, ugh. I went to the student health center where they advised me to go to bed earlier and to try not to get stressed out before bed. And they wouldn't give me sleep aids because I might get hooked, but was I by chance depressed? If I was, it might be a cause of my insomnia, and they could probably prescribe something for the depression. If you've ever wondered what it would feel like to have Joseph Heller write your life story, that appointment was it for me.
I can't sleep, so I want pills. I can't get pills unless I'm depressed. I'm not depressed, so I can't have pills, but not being able to sleep is depressing...Sorry, that doesn't count. No pills. Come back when you're wearing all black, listening to Morrissey for hours on end and have developed a fascination with razor blades.
Enough of this rambling. I finally ended that run because my body just shut down. I remember I slept for something like 16 hours straight and then got to be kind of functional, but it took a long time to get back to an even keel.
So what do insomniacs dream about? We dream about sleep. Most of the dreams I can remember involve waking up, only to realize at some unconscious level that I just woke up in a dream, which is usually followed by waking up in real life, which can sometimes trigger more insomnia. Like a snake eating its tail, very slowly...because it's fucking exhausted.