feeling the weight, but only for 60 minutes a day
I slept without sleeping for 42 years. I am awake now.
Initially, the predominant emotion was elation. As I caught up on a lifetime sleep deficit I felt more like Superman every day. That lasted the first few weeks. Depression followed. I was alert and seeing the world clearly for the first time, and I realized how much time I’d lost.
Being medicated for narcolepsy for the first time in middle age is not exactly like coming out of a coma. It’s more like coming out of a very long blackout. You remember the same chronology, same people and places, same choices, but there are enormous gaps of information about the entire time period. Like a blackout, you don’t realize those pieces are missing until you return fully to your mind.
Before my narcolepsy was treated, I never operated at full capacity. I made some good decisions, held down jobs, yada yada, but overall I didn’t do enough research, didn’t ask enough questions, didn’t risk enough, didn’t let enough go. I just didn’t see a lot of things.
I’m also mad at the utter nonsense around me that didn’t come into focus until I’d slept for a few months. In a way the anger I feel for what’s outside and inside me is the same.
I wouldn’t want to be tired all the time again, but at least I was in my own little world of never-quite-sleeping. The fog of Excessive Daytime Sleepiness (EDS) obscured my perceptions of both myself and the humans around me. I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s painfully salient now.
I miss the fog some days, I do. I frequently get pissed with myself for making stupid mistakes, then I look at others and think, “I had an untreated neurological disorder, what the hell is your excuse?” I still love my friends and family, more so actually. It’s like getting to know them all again. There are things I never noticed about everyone.
I also still think humanity at large is basically good, but damn- I woke up in time for Trump. The clearest perception I’ve ever had of my home and it’s this? The fact that we elected a dangerous moron to the highest office in the land is just a symptom of our collective malaise. The problem is deeper.
There is legitimate fake news, but there’s much more fake science on every imaginable subject. Case in point: Cleanses. Oh my god people, stop with this. You can’t cure yourself of treatable conditions by eating less almonds, or only almonds, or making an almond tea that you drink through a flower stem. A basic human anatomy text would help, but even reading the Wikipedia page for kidneys or the liver would help dispel the ludicrous healing power millions of people ascribe to cabbage and vinegar. That’s only the answer to your prayers if you’re looking for a side dish to bratwurst. Cleanses, like Trump, are just a symptom.
There is so much we can’t control, but we can master ourselves, right? To a degree? I have to believe that’s possible. Tell me it is. Lie to me if you must. There are several people I look to as examples, friends and acquaintances that would likely be surprised to know they’re a beacon in my dark new wilderness of awake.
Before I got sustained deep sleep I thought of myself as a beacon, but nothing could be further from the truth. If this reads like contempt for the world, it shouldn’t. When I see someone do or say something stupid, it’s just a reminder of all the stupid shit I did in my narcoleptic blackout, and all the stupid shit I still do now because I seem to have conditioned myself to make choices that don’t serve my best interests.
I’ve done more than my share of Cleanses. And things like Adkins. Yup, I was a disciple of that “who cares if I greatly increase my risk of heart disease, look at my butt!” diet. Paleo is just as inane. Yeah, cavemen didn’t get sick because they died in their twenties. Oh, my fellow wanderers, what the hell are we doing!?
I don’t think that anymore. I only have questions, and observations I trust a little less the more I experience this new awake world. When I share writing these days it’s in the search for informed answers, or insights, or a baseline sense of humanity. A lot of it too, if I’m honest, is habit, with a dash of the therapeutic. The illusion that I can somehow influence the insanity, in even an incalculably small way, is gone.
All I’m saying is, I’ve been away for a while. What the hell happened?