I hate these hours of the night sometimes. It's when I'm awake, because my circadian rhythms were apparently installed upside down, and I've pretty much adjusted to that and made my peace with the fact that most of the world thinks I'm some kind of psychotic. I just can't be an "early to bed, early to rise" type. I've tried. If I go to bed before 1am I just lay and stare into space while my brain does acrobatics of anxiety and dread. But that's not what I tell people – I tell people it's because I'm a genius.
It's not new. In high school and college I used to stay up all night listening to the local alternative/new wave station on my little pink boom box and reading until I heard my dad flip the kitchen light on at 5:30am. The overnight DJ always played the best music anyway.
But it's lonely some nights. The AIM Buddy List dwindles down to nobody, and Twitter and Facebook stop updating, and suddenly I'm very aware that it's just me and iTunes and whatever web pages I haven't already read or a book or whatever. And my brain.
I really can't be left alone with my brain. Too long without something to distract it and it turns on me. Little voices filled with doubt and self-loathing creep in at the edges and start to whisper the kind of thoughts I try to keep buried under constant noise. Nightmares get remembered, anxieties and paranoias analyzed into madness, and little nighttime noises turn into horror movie scenarios waiting to be played out.
When I'm alone I rarely bother trying to sleep until I'm utterly exhausted. The longer I lay there without something to do, the more I start tying myself in knots. Half the time I don't even bother with my bed anymore; I just sit at the computer until I'm literally nodding off and stumble over to the couch. It beats letting myself think.
Are other people like this? Are there other people who need some kind of external chaperone to keep their own mind from hacking them to bits? Who have to constantly find ways to compensate for the fact that they can't just sit the fuck still and think without it all going sideways?
This is sort of a downer post, I know. Sorry about that. But I'm somewhat fervent about being open about my depression because I feel like mental illness still gets such a stigma that any little tiny bit of light I can shed might help somehow. Plus sometimes all that really helps is exorcising the stupid thoughts from my head into some external format – it's a temporary purge because they always come back, but when all you've got is a Band-Aid, that's what you put on the bullet hole.
Anyway. Sometimes I miss that little pink boom box and the assurance it offered me that someone else out there was awake too and that I could think about something else for a while. But one way or another, the mind always catches up.