Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In the wee small hours of the mourning...

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. 


  1. I'm exactly the same way. Don't feel too bad. There are alot more of us than you think.

  2. I have a friend who is like how you described yourself. She spends all night looking for some sort of stimulus, whether it be from a friend or from something on the internet. As long as it kept her mind from wandering and making herself think about everything, it was fine.

    I think its because of that that I myself keep a schedule where I don't even consider sleep until around 3am. Of course, I'm the sort that can spend days without saying a word, and contemplate whatever I wanted without issue, if I was allowed. But my friend doesn't ask for much, so I'm cool with staying up to near morning, conversing with her.

    Anyways, just thought I'd share that. Hope you can find something to think about tonight, before you drift off to sleep.

  3. Funny story. If I'm up at 3am, I will automatically be up until 4am. Why, you ask? Because I'm a moron.

    More specifically, because every Halloween my college used to host famous ghost hunters who'd give a speech about their work, and they said that if you were ever going to be attacked by a demon it would be during the 3am hour for some reason.

    To this day if I am already awake or wake up and see a 3 on the clock, I just don't even try. Because I am a moron.

    Thanks for the comments, fellow nocturnals. It's nice knowing someone's out there. :)

  4. Oh god can I relate to this. I was just refreshing all the websites I am on like a loser hoping for updates.

    Yes, I have that voice. The one that sits there on the edge of your mind waiting for you to try and sleep, because to sleep you must stop the distractions and without the distractions it can creep in. It's not an uncommon thing to have it seems.

    Oh, and if it makes you feel better about the 3 AM thing, a girl told me in first grade that if you flush the toilet in the dark bloody mary comes to kill you and I still can't do it without freaking out. Which really sucks because the light in the bathroom is totally broken right now.

    If you are really incredibly bored you can bug me on AIM or something (crazykatwalk) because god knows I am not doing anything really useful, and can always use distractions. I'll draw you a pony or something.

  5. I used to always be up in college until 3 or 4. Usually I'd just be searching around websites for a while or watching videos or movies. Over time, mostly by getting a job I have to be at at 8ish pretty quickly after college, I cut it back to 1AM on most nights (Monday is usually an exception for obvious reasons and weekends, all bets are off).

    My depression usually comes from my side job. The one that also keeps me sane in a way. When I review horror movies, it's something that I like that I really enjoy. I'm not a weirdo or anything...I'm really a nice guy, I've just found a connection with a misunderstood genre that never seems to get any respect and always gets trashed by bullies...maybe I see myself in it. Unfortunately, I have next to no physical friends near me who appreciate them to even remotely the same way I do and always, without fail, have to watch them alone. If I hate a movie or I love a movie, the good or bad feelings are there but I can't share them with physical people because no one I know really cares. I have a friend who I text sometimes about them and I appreciate her being there very much...but she's also states and states away, so she's not there to physically talk to. She's also unable to take the "guest" ability that I always have when I get invited to screenings in NYC...I always go alone which sometimes leads to darker thoughts as I walk back down city streets alone.

    I can share my thoughts with people on facebook or twitter sometimes...which helps because some of the best people in my life are there (yourself included, Tara)...but then I have a weekend like last weekend where I liked a movie the entire world seemed to hate and get to watch all of Twitter thrash me indirectly. It was not a good time for my mental well-being.

    Over time, I just try to wait for the waves to pass when things like that happen...sometimes it gets to be too much and I've definitely had a few breakdowns. But mostly I'm able to live a seemingly normal life. It's just the general being alone that gets to me...usually at least once a week on some level.

  6. I am sort of like this, only for me it's more of a problem of if I try to go to sleep before I'm exhausted, I'll lie there being paranoid about what's in the dark. I'm kind of afraid of everything, including a lot of things that may or may not exist, and I will start having panic attacks if I'm not distracting myself from those thoughts somehow.

    It's not quite the same, but it's still a negative reaction, so I feel I can sympathize.

  7. Actually I am similar. I have nor will i ever really be a morning person. I have found that exercise (as much as it sucks) tends to help with depression and sleep. With the way my job works I have to answer the phone constantly to talk to people that either ignore me or are apathetic. I work for a IT Helpdesk for a university. When a new semester starts I tend to take up seem sort of strange hobby to keep my mind relatively sane. Last year at this time I was drawing constantly ... This year its Loom knitting.... Hell if I know what it will be next year... I tend to play hell going to sleep if on Sunday nights before the week starts back up.
    My depression comes from being alone. I'm one of those people that wont like a woman until Ive met her and talked to her. While I may find her appealing physically I don't know her so there for I may never say anything... Its a odd kind of shy. As a whole im not a shy person either.

    I may not work the same way but I defiantly understand

  8. This isn't a downer post, it's a beautiful and contemplative one. Thank you for sharing your thoughts: Candid introspection isn't as valued as it should be.

    In many respects I'm the same way. I've always been a night-owl and are far more likely to stay up all hours of the night than not. Because I'm a writer, oftentimes this is due to me burning the midnight oil to hammer some piece out. Many other times though it's just because I can't settle down and have nothing better to do. I wouldn't say I'm depressed, at least not anymore, but I can definitely relate to lying awake at night consumed by worries and self-doubt. There was a period in my life where that was a nightly occurrence-it's definitely not just you.

    As I've gotten older the time I finally do fall asleep has been consistently pushed back: Started out as 11 or 12, then moved to 1, then 2 (where it was throughout most of college) and now I usually don't call it a night until 3 or 4, if not later. You've really captured the essence of how lonely that can be: After awhile it does just become you and your thoughts and you know there's absolutely no-one else around to talk to (if there even was to begin with).

    That's a lovely story about your boom box and the alternative station. I wish things like that still existed, but they don't really anymore. On the rare occasions I turn the radio on these days I might get lucky and hear something interesting on overnight shows like Coast to Coast AM, but that's typically a gamble. I have my iPod and YouTube, but that's really not quite the same thing.

    Really though a lot of it for me comes down to the fact I actually like the night. It is terribly lonely, but I'm actually used to being alone now (I've had a lot of experience). I wouldn't say I necessarily enjoy it, but I'm at least sort of at peace with that now and come to expect it. I almost look forward to the quiet and stillness as the cacophony of the day finally dies down and I'm allowed to clear my mind and focus. It doesn't always help, but it's a blueprint for me at the very least.

  9. Wow. Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate all your honesty. It's nice to know us night owls/worriers aren't alone.

  10. You're not alone in this. My husband and I both find sleep difficult. He has a form of panic disorder that means sometimes he wakes up convinced he's ill and needs to see a doctor, his heart racing and parts of his body aching so I talk him down or we call a medical helpline. Also the fear of this happening can affect him too, meaning he roams the flat trying to get himself into a calm and sleep-friendly frame of mind.

    And I've always found sleep a trial. My brain takes a very long time to switch off and my vivid imagination and old fears plague me. I suffered regular nightmares all the way until I was 18 and now only get them occasionally. But they're still lurking in my mind. I can remember all too clearly how terrified I was. My brain cycles on way too quickly and just won't let me sleep. Then I start thinking about the concept of sleep itself and my brain starts turning on itself and yeah...sleep does not happen.

    I'm around on Twitter when it's early morning where you are due to the time difference. Feel free to shoot me a message if you wanna chat. I'm happy to talk.

  11. It is VITALLY important that you are distracted at 3AM. I always thought I was weird feeling worst at that time but a friend of mine who was institutionalised for depression a few years back said that the place went NUTS at 3AM.

    As for running out of internet, move over here. I can regulary go to bed at 6-8AM and only moved because I was falling asleep.

    1. ...is that true about the institution? That's creepy as hell.

    2. I only have the word of a self-admitted inmate of the place to go on, but she was pretty convincing about it all and it's kind of hard to fake being genuinely depressive.

  12. Yes, there are others like this. I could name several.