What You Don’t Realize About My Habit of Oversleeping

On any given day when my family and friends try to get ahold of me, they often are not concerned with the fact that I don’t answer the phone after three or four calls. They don’t wonder where I am at 6 p.m. when I should be at dinner, and they certainly don’t question my whereabouts at 6 a.m. during a beautiful sunrise. I’m sleeping.

I laugh when people make fun of how much I sleep. I joke with them. Sure, it can seem comical — a 20-year-old who needs 13 hours of sleep a night… plus a nap in the middle of the day? It sounds like someone who’s bored. Lazy. But for me, sleep has been a vital aspect of masking my anxiety and depression for many years. Of course, I don’t exactly mention that when someone says “You can’t possibly still be in bed!” when I haven’t woken up by noon.

When I was battling a relentless war with depression during my mid-teen years, I couldn’t find any escape. There was nothing that was able to shut out the negative thoughts, suicidal desires or overwhelming anxiety clouding my mind. So I slept. And soon enough, without even realizing it, I had discovered my best means of escape: under the covers within four silent walls.

Since then, my need for sleep has become somewhat of a problem in my daily life. Four-hour naps have replaced many moments I could have spent with family and friends. Remaining unconscious until mid-day has stolen countless peaceful mornings from me. These are things I will never get back… time that cannot be returned. Yet, I can’t say I regret burying my face into a pillow and closing my eyes each one of those times. In a world where I often cannot find my bearings, it is all I have.

I am addicted to the feeling of silence and darkness that encompasses me the moment I drift off into a peaceful slumber. I can’t see. I can’t hear. I can’t think. Breathing is no longer a job; it becomes a function that my body takes responsibility for during the time being. Everything becomes nothing as I slip into the dark abyss.

I used to think something physical must be wrong with me. Yet, my blood has been tested for anything and everything that doctors have been concerned about. Still, nothing. Each time I simply get the classic “Everything looks good.” Eventually I came to accept that sleeping is my way of coping, not a side effect of my thyroid levels.

Oversleeping can have negative health implications long-term. However, due to my struggles with trichotillomania, dermatillomania and panic, being awake sometimes just isn’t the healthy option for me. It can mean sacrificing my hair, my skin, and my mental health over something that just isn’t worth it. And I’ve recognized that.

So the next time you call someone “lazy” due to their habit of frequently oversleeping, instead think about why they may want to stay in bed so badly.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Depression

stormy sea english channel

When You Get Crushed by Depression's Wave

It’s like standing in the surf of the ocean. On some days, the sun is shining brightly, the waves are minuscule and the water is warm. On other days, the sun is nowhere to be seen, the water is frigid, and every wave seems to come crashing down on me, submerging my entire being and making my body numb. [...]
Woman feeling so alone

To My Friends Who Don't Know About My Depression

Dear Friends, I want to tell you a story, a story of a battle I have to fight every day, a battle I do not always win. I was at school having fun with you guys, and I began to feel it coming back — the monster that takes over my brain. “No please not [...]
blur background, bookshelf in library with student

To My Teachers Who Wonder What Happened to Me

I came back after three weeks. Some of you knew what had happened to me, and some of you just thought I was really sick. I came back to school but not to all my classes. It was hard for me. You thought I was skipping class. My mind was not the same. It felt damaged [...]
String wrapped around a finger

5 Important Reminders for Anyone Who Has Depression

Depression. There’s hardly another life experience that so many of us go through and yet, while going through it, feel so utterly alone in it. Did you know that according to Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults annually (or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older) with a [...]