Articles

The Problem with Sleep

I’m not a morning person.

Something about weak morning sunlight messes with my depression. Maybe it’s because it means everybody’s out working or having fun, but I have no job and no energy to leave the house. Maybe I know I’m expected to accomplish something during daylight hours and that perception weighs heavy on my shoulders. Maybe I’m just slow to wake up.

Regardless, mornings are a very difficult time for me. When I’m going through a bad bout of depression, the impossibly long moments between getting out of bed and taking my pills with coffee are the most suicidal moments of the day. 

I’m only too aware that this is how I feel almost every morning. The last hour or so of sleep is usually punctuated with alarms going off every ten minutes (which I sleep right through) and vivid nightmares that won’t release me. Needless to say, going to bed becomes a dreaded process when I know the first thing I’m going to feel when I regain consciousness is pain.

When I was little, I used to stall going to bed because I was too excited about being awake. Now I do it because I’m apprehensive about waking up. This (undoubtedly combined with various biological issues) is why I have an unhealthy sleep schedule and vicious insomnia.

Over the years, I’ve been treated with different medications for this problem, and some of them have even worked pretty well. I find my greatest barrier to sleep, though, is my fear of resetting in the night and waking up suicidal again. The medicine is effective, but I put off taking it, until suddenly it’s 3:00 or 4:00 AM and I’ve just ruined the decent sleep schedule I’d been trying to develop for months.

Every clinical psychologist I’ve spoken with agrees that waking up at the same time every morning is one of the most low-risk ways to remedy depression. Circadian rhythms are tied very closely with mood disorders. If I could wake up within fifteen minutes of the same hour every morning, I would have a dependable daily schedule and a more regulated brain.

But it isn’t that simple. I don’t want to go to bed. I don’t want to lose consciousness for even a moment if it means all of my problems are going to come crashing down on me the moment I regain it in the morning. It’s a recurring problem, too: no matter how well I time my sleep, getting up early, easily, or even consistently has never become second nature. My pattern is to have no pattern. I always fall back into chaos.

I know the fix to this issue: treat the depressive thoughts that crowd my skull when I wake up, so I’m not afraid to go to bed. However, that’s a long, arduous process, and the road to recovery is full of pitfalls and setbacks. I’m working on treating the depression. In the meantime, I suppose I’m just grateful to be able to sleep at all.

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