My Words, My World

First drafts – A few pages in the large wilderness of the world of writing

Archive for the tag “insomnia”

Back to that old chestnut

Sleep no longer came around so often;

it shied away like some embarassed first date,

or a cat that slinks away under a moonlit sky,

or the thief leaving the scene of the crime.

Ah, fuck it!

There are still a million words to write.

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Nightly battles #3

The lines were drawn
the enemy position made clear
I was becoming surrounded
but was surrender an option?
Really?
Was I to give my all,
myself to myself
like a Pagan sacrifice to knowledge?
What did I learn?

But the enemy retreated
and I slept the sleep of a clear conscious
(it is)
and I slept the sleep of an innocent soul
(it is)
and I slept the sleep of a hard day’s toil
(it was)
and I slept the sleep of a body and mind broken
(they were)
and so, finally,
I slept the sleep.

Nightly battles #2

I thought black was black
as in: the night was pitch black
but when I close the windows
and pull down the shades
I see shades
of black:
pure black,
light black,
eerie black and
rich black
which is not pitch black;
the night tattooed on my mind
With my eyes closed
I see black
With my eyes open
I see black
As I wait to see
the grey of day

Nightly battles #1

Awake. Again.
Counting down the small hours.
Counting out the night.
“Come to bed, baby.”

No one sleeps anymore.  Have you noticed?
Curse of modern man.
Stress of modern life.
Stress?  Ah yes, that new old chestnut.

It’s not exactly the same as being kept awake by the crackle and spit of the fire you need to constantly tend as you peer into the darkness looking for the reflected firelight in the eyes of a predator; a sabre-tooth tiger, for example.

The caveman knew stress.
Did the caveman sleep?
Did his weary body recover after a day traipsing across the plains, spear in hand;
looking for soul food and a place to sleep?

“Oh, I haven’t slept in years”.
It’s the arse-end of 2017.
What’s my excuse?
What’s my sabre-tooth tiger, baby?

Song of the morning

In the dark,
a candlelight in my head
as I’m pulled from infinite dreams
(of what?)

Eyes closed but the mind
opened to a thousand possibilities
in the coming dawn
(at least I hope it is)

I want to hear the morning’s chatter
among the birds
and their song of the morning

The silent scream of pain

Tortuous night
in pain, in the dark.
Piano wire nerves scream
in a white-heat silence,
searing through me,
blazing as I lie
longing for the morning
to bathe me in light
and chase away
this tortuous night.

The man who counted the dark

He knew how long he lay there. He never had the problem of keeping time in the dark. He would lay with his eyes closed and his mind would toboggan along the cold hard slide of his twisting thoughts but he would still keep time. He loathed the fact he could keep time in the dark while others slept and he couldn’t.

He didn’t have this problem during the day. During the day he would yawn and lose track of time if he didn’t look at his watch. Minutes could drift into half-hours and hours. If he didn’t have his watch he wouldn’t know the difference. Minutes ran and stumbled into each other as he yawned his way through the waking hours until he wound down for the evening until around midnight where, after a drink and a read, he would sleep. He would sleep until the night, cruel and vengeful, would wake him and the process would start over again, as surely as ice will form on a mountain lake in winter, and he’d lay there keeping track of time.

For ten years now he’d lain awake in the dark counting the minutes that ran into hours and he guessed that it would now always be like that until the darkness could no longer be counted.

Dark morning

Morning
Dark, dark morning
If you were an emotion
you’d be despair
If you were a state of body
you’d be fatigue
If you were a state of mind
you’d be confusion
At this hour my brainwaves
should be delta or theta
but I’m full-blown conscious
brainwave beta
If you were a book
you’d be Skeleton crew
because we that walk the corridors of night
are few
If you were a song
you’d be The Sound of Silence:
Hello darkness, my old friend.

3am weather update

3am,
the devil’s hour.
The wind shrieks through the trees
and on a balcony
(mine?)
sends a flower pot flying.

Horizontal rain
sprays the blinds
in a machine-gun scatter.
With heavy head
and heavy lids

I sit
and wonder why.

A little piece of me

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.

Night kiss

3am, Sunday morning.
Dragged from dreams,
where feet walk on frosted blades
as a million stars fall from the sky,
which shivers
over silent faces hidden from me.
I reach out, they turn away
I call out, and they fade
 
The day,
still hours distant
is crawling round to meet me
 
I stand in the moon’s shadow
as the snow peaks stand hard and white
against black sky brushed with sweeping cloud,
the air cold on my skin
and I awaken under its kiss.
Nocturnal sighs in the blackened boughs
and, once again,
I have been tossed out into the night.

Lugano night, 3am.

Lugano night, 3am.

Green numbers

The hand reaches for the button

that flashes the green numbers

counting down the hours

of a night that is endless; and awake,

as I long to fall into sleep,

be it restless and haunted,

sleep it remains.

I envy it.

Cat’s eye

I’m not a cat;

I can’t see in the dark

yet it’s always dark

when I awake

and draw the line

under another night’s sleep.

The crawling night

The cheap quartz wall clock ticked its way through the dark minutes and hours in the studio.  It wasn’t loud yet he was convinced he could still hear it, even with the door closed.  He turned his face from one hot side of the pillow to the other. Still sleep evaded him.

The mind plays its darkest games in those still hours, when fears are more real.  The swoosh of the scythe, like a knife through silk, is only a stroke away, and death stalks those wakeful thoughts.  Car crashes become unavoidable.  Work-related accidents a matter of time and media-induced paranoia of acts of terrorism places packages in every hidden shadow.

He flicked on the small book-light under the duvet and read a chapter of his latest acquisition, a paperback fiction bought at the station when the tannoy announced the cancellation of the train, and the drizzle continued unabated.

Satisfied, he flicked off the light and closed his eyes.  He twisted.  He turned.  His brain churned.  Damn it.  His ears strained for the faint sounds of the wall clock but this time he could hear nothing.  Content, he tried the new breathing exercises he’d been shown and tried to relax.  No good.  His mind shifted up to fourth.  He was awake.  A sigh passed his parted lips and, rising slowly to avoid making noise, he got out of bed.

He sat at the desk in his studio.  He opened his notebook, took a pen from its holder and listened to the clock tick its way through the dark minutes and hours.

So you keep writing

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

You lie awake in the darkness waiting for the morning sounds; the crows in the fir tree, the far-too-early church bells, the Harley Davidson that surely must have an illegal exhaust system stuck on it. And so you lie awake and you write, except it’s all in your head. You know you should get it down on paper lest you forget (and you will) but you don’t want to disturb the part of the bed whose soft breathing confirms she has finally found sleep, so you continue writing in your head.

Enough! You ignore the hour, you defy the fact the crows are not yet even moving, let alone crowing in the treetops. You’ve anticipated the church bells and the (no doubt fat, short-legged) Harley Davidson owner is probably still tucked up in bed, riding noisy dreams.

The pen and paper await you like dogs waiting for their morning walk. You ignore the need for coffee as you rush to put on paper that which was rushing through your mind, lest you forget.

Sat at the table on the balcony breathing in the cool morning air with pen-scrawl for company. A pink-blue sky crawls out from under a dark cloak. A small bank of cloud above Mount Tamaro resembles the first huffs and puffs of a volcano, cars hiss along the distant road and birds chatter their morning stories.

The words on paper reveal themselves to you in the cool, blue light of day and have taken on an aspect and meaning different to that which came to mind, lying there in the darkness. The words that ran like liquid silver now seem lead-filled, dull and heavy.

So you keep writing. At least, you try.

The night, the chemical night

Every now and again my long-term sleep problems find their way onto the written page; it’s how I feel when I pick up the pencil. I can’t tell of flowers when I see monsters.

***

The night;
star-less, aimless.
Fitful twists and turns and sweat on the pillow
tempted by sleep, made
hidden in foil
just within reach,
enticing, seducing.

The night;
I give in,
because I’m damned if I do
and I’m damned if I don’t.
Irrationality becomes normality
as sleep descends:
a benzodiazepine dream

Daydream
The day is for dreaming
What you could be
or want to be
What you could have been
or will be

The night
I avoided its darkest depths
lest from my pharmaceutical dreams
I returned; empty.
Trapped
in their batwing-leather embrace
to wander alone.

The night,
the chemical night.

Ernesto, has the sun risen?

The sun also rises.

Donde esta la fiesta Ernesto?

The sun also rises. It rises on a new day, in a new way, earlier than yesterday and later than tomorrow, when the sun also rises.

The sun also rises in a cloak of washed pink, when the blue finally lets go and after the black has given up the ghost.  Eventually it will shine a light on the eastern-facing peaks 5,000 feet above my right shoulder as I sit.

The sun also rises on new hopes and old fears.  Hopes are always new, even if they’re the same hopes you had yesterday, last week or even last year. Hopes are renewable, and like solar power, and are renewed with the coming sun.

The sun also rises on the birds that sing in the new day. Each voice different, discernible from the others.  If I was a cat I’d be at my wits end figuring ways to go and catch one. A swift bite to the neck and it would sing no more. But I’m no more cat than I am prehistoric Auroch, and the birds fill me with pleasure. I can leave them to their song. What do they sing anyway?

The sun also rises on a short night of discarded dreams. Dreams, and drugs to make you sleep, but don’t. The sun also rises on tiredness, which I fight with everything I have to hand; my 2H pencil and notebook. I write.

Fear the night

Sleep eludes me, deserts me
It skirts my nighttime like a seige
Sleep seized from the grasp of the sleeper
Who should now be in deep slumber
As I fumble for words
(I write)

“Sleep sir, sleep!” I hear
As once again I fear
To go to bed
Lest nightmares awaken me
Awaken me?
And dreams haunt me
Dreams? Ha!
You have to sleep to dream

Sleeps eludes me, deserts me
My night perched on a precipice
A night-borne orifice
Black and deep
Like the narcotic sleep
(I crave)

Shadowplay

Living in a daily world of imaginary conflicts, in which the tide of others washed and pushed against him, He lived ever in anger’s twilight. The anger simmered, threatening to boil over but not quite managing to do so. In some ways it would have been better if it had.

In his make-believe world in which everything was a hurt against him, either directly or indirectly, he no longer lived; not in the true sense of the word. Whereas sensibility to his condition was heightened, other important aspects of his character were made obtuse. Happiness was an emotion felt by others. His anger would obtund any sense of enjoyment or achievement and his spiral continued downwards.

The world outside is bright
Spring fills the air
The fields and the trees are colour
Animals awaken from winter slumber
But within him the winter remained
And for him the clocks unchanged
He slivered on ice
where others walked on grass
He shivered with cold
while others warmed to the sun
He withered, his face white
when others danced with new life
He lingered in the shadows
whilst others cavorted in the long,
joyful hours of sunlight
He revered in his head
his sufferance in a world
where hurts imaginary
and conflicts obtusely
Beat him to the ground
into the dust, to be found
Where maybe hope one day
will bring him out;
out into the world again.

Depression can take manifest itself in various guises, this I know from personal experience.  Whilst at the height of my chronic insomnia 4 years ago the hospital put it down to depression which, personally, I couldn’t understand as there was no real motive, so I believed.  I just thought it was the other way around – that I was shot to pieces in the head, imagining scenarios which weren’t there simply because I didn’t sleep.  Thankfully, with loving support and no lack of determination, I managed to untangle myself from the shadow-spectre of this awful and destructive condition. 

During last 4 years I’ve started writing, which is a therapy in itself.  I still don’t sleep anywhere near the recommended 8 hours but whoever recommends this probably has nothing to do all day.  The above, in a very rough form, has been around quite a while, probably written during ‘recovery’ stage.  Ordinarily I avoid personally-related posts, but this is different – I want that reminder there.  I want to remind myself of where I was and where I am and be thankful for it.

C.

p.s. – Shadowplay is a track by Joy Division from their “Unknown Pleasures” album.  It just seemed apt in this case.

Become

Here am I
Who am I
In the mirror
My eyes
The eyes of someone
I no longer know
The eyes of someone
Who no longer shows
A light
A smile
I revile, myself
And who I’ve become
No longer one
Who was someone
To care
To share
To bare his soul
Insomnia has left a hole
But hope will not desert me.

The war, Baby.

The lines.  So many of them it seems, interconnected and weaving a spider’s web of expression (exhaustion) on my face.  My face.  My Insomnia.  My card.  I present me and myself to you, my expression (exhaustion) for you to see.  Is it not enough to just get through the day without having killed or been killed, to keep your job, to love your wife/partner/mistress/friends?  What does the world want from me at this hour – always?  Why does it not let me sleep?

We went through the war, Baby.  Almost 15 years, you and I.  Our war.  Troughs deep as trenches, trapping body, poison, blood but offering shelter.  A temporary escape?  Choose the sniper’s bullet or machine-gun mow-down.  The result’s the same.  Bleeding, twitching body on the ground.  Life-draining.

The war Baby.  Those truces. Those long (but not long forgotten) truces.  Not a trough or trench in sight.  Poppy-field sunrise.  Blackbird reveille.  No scars, bullet wounds or barbed-wire kisses. Just us: and the world.  When did you realise that Baby?  Just us.

What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

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