Once in a while I look back over my previous writing just to try and gauge whether, over time, it’s improving. I think it is. I also look for patterns. Patterns reveal the state during a certain period. My writing of late, especially the poetry, has taken a darkened path.
10 years ago I started having massive sleep disruption. This quickly grew into chronic insomnia, which I chose to ignore at my peril for a few years. 6 years ago I went under the ‘care’ of the local hospital, following visits to psychiatric specialists who tried to fathom out what the problem was. I was depressed, apparently. No shit, Sherlock. A few years of sleeping no more than 4 hours a night was conducive to wiping the smile off my face. They put boxes of pharmaceuticals in my hand and sent me away.
During this time I started writing. I was trying to read a book, unfortunately I can’t remember the title, which was so bad I gave up after 20-odd pages, which is something I never do. One dark morning I decided I would try and write something, surely it couldn’t be as bad as that crap I’d just given to the charity shop?
Writing became a regular in my life and it helped me where no amount of Benzodiazepine or Escitalopram could. In fact, I stopped taking anything after two years, against the hospital’s wishes. Fine, the pharmaceuticals help you sleep, but they leave you feeling hollow, devoid of emotion. I decided I’d rather not sleep. So here I am, not sleeping.
For anyone who doesn’t know, insomnia is a bastard. Mentally, it’s a dark and lonely place that leads ever downwards, where you will eventually come to your own private Niflhel. It cleaves you open and wrenches your tortured soul from your body while leaving you running on empty.
You stop telling people. You have to, because all you hear is “Yeah, I had a terrible night as well.” What? You can’t explain and they can’t understand so your interactions become sullen standoffs. You spend the day with a head full of cotton-wool; thinking becomes laborious and even the most banal of tasks requires consideration and reconsideration. Clear thinking is a reality enjoyed by other people.
Physically it leaves you hollow, like a wind-blown wheat husk dried in the summer sun, light and directionless yet always hoping for a respite, a resting place from its torments.
On the other hand, creatively it has been a wonderful input and output, where my notebook, 2H pencil and I join hands in the early hours and together we chase away the demons that frequently slip the pillow out from under my head. Those deep still hours of the morning welcome me, absorb me in their serenity and give me time and space to write. Ideas form and become words because of this. The majority of what you will find here was written while the world outside slept.
I hope reading this blog gives you at least a little of the pleasure it has given me.