As I was going through some notes, I realized it has been two and a half months since this one night where I was so stressed out that I wound up staying up all night. I wasn’t exactly well-rested going into that evening, but I thought I’d be able to handle it without too much of a problem given how frequently I used to be able to go without sleep. While I did, eventually, get through the day, it was not the simple but tiring experience I remembered. Much to my chagrin, given how much I relied on this ability to carry me through my bouts of insomnia, I have slowly but surely reached the age where I can’t function without any sleep. It is an unfortunate fact of getting older, but more unfortunate is that this loss hasn’t come with a corresponding increase in my body’s day-to-day demands for sleep. I still struggle to fall asleep just as much as I used to and the impacts of losing sleep seem to hit me harder. At least until it comes time to fall asleep, again. At that point, it pretty much counts for nothing.
As I looked at everything I’d written down about that week (I track a lot of personal data to help detect and address unhealthy patterns) and the weeks around it, I realized that my sleep cycle has been messed up since around US Thanksgiving of last year. Sure, it hasn’t been great in general during the past two years, but it started down the path that led to my current inability to sleep more than an average of four hours a night. It overlaps with a lot of other stuff going on, including a push for more job applications, the worsening leak in my apartment, the hole in my ceiling that’s been there for 2.5 months now, the announcement by my landlord of drastically increasing rent prices (that shit heap is not worth $1500+ a month), and the entire duration of family therapy with my sister and parents. With all the data laid out before me, it is difficult to not see the signs pointing toward an increase in stress and anxiety as the source of my worsening depression, insomnia, and anxiety.
If only fixing all of this was as easy as finding the reason. Unforunately, it will take at least several nights of an enforced sleep routine to break the habits contributing to my sleeplessness. It will take several more nights of actually sleeping properly during my sleep routine to shake off the exhaustion. It will take a week of being free of sleep deprivation for the last traces of sleep-anxiety to fade and for my mood/mental health to recover. Once that’s done, it will take an unknown number of days to work on addressing all the problems, big and small, I’ve let slide over the past two and a half months because I was too tired to deal with them. Once all the issues are resolved, then I can finally put that effort toward something productive, like more job applications or trying to get back to writing more so I can actually make progress on a book idea or get ahead in my Infrared Isolation chapters.
It is all going to take time and I am going to need that time to be relatively problem free so that I can stick to my good habits. I am on such shakey footing, in terms of my own mental health, that it won’t take much to send all my progress crashing to the ground. I am working to correct this, of course, but there’s only so much I can handle on my own when I start to pick up the pieces from the several (relatively minor but still emotionally major) disasters I’ve experienced this year only for another to show. It’s been stuff ranging from the emotional equivalent of an unexpected slap to the face that leaves your ears ringing and your vision doubled to the complete and utter destruction of a long-term relationship I had hoped to salvage even if it wasn’t currently the most healthy thing for me. Things have been leaning more to the latter, unfrotunately, since that descriptor can be applied to four soured relationships that have largely ended in the past month and a half. Which, you know, feels like a lot all on it’s own.
Some of this weight on my shoulders is seasonal. Once sunlight is more common and I’m not leaving work after dark almost every day, things will improve. Being able to open my windows for fresh air or even just open the blinds for more natural lighting will be a boon. I’m not sure how long it will be until I can do that, given the strange weather we’ve been having, but I’m looking forward to it nevertheless. I just hope I’ve got a week or two of that before I head on that trip I’ve got at the end of March. I don’t know how I’m going to handle the stress of an airport and foreign travel in a country whose primary language is not one I speak (I can read Spanish better than most who haven’t spent a lot of time studying it, but that’s it) if I’m still feeling this worn down and exhausted. I mean, I’ll manage somehow, but I’d really like to avoid emotional breakdowns in airport/airplane bathrooms, you know?
I’d really like it if things could just calm down for a bit. No more news. No unexpected life events. Just a whole bunch of normal days so I can get my feet under me long enough to stand up again. Of course, if I could expect any of the stuff that’s gone on over the past four months or however long it’s been, I doubt any of it would have impacted me as strongly.