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When You Can't Escape Depression by Sleeping

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I am a sleeper; when I feel stressed I sleep, when I feel overwhelmed I sleep, when I want to relax I sleep, when I feel lost or when I feel the world is too loud, I sleep. It’s no wonder I love my bed; it’s the place you will most often find me, hiding from the real world or just sleeping.

I’m aware this sounds like the opener to a speech on white middle-class privilege and the implications of that weigh as heavily on me as the thick duvet in which I wrap myself to sleep in.

But something has happened to my sleep. It hasn’t left me as such — I am not experiencing the overwhelming insomnia so many people live with. I can’t say it’s worse than not being able to sleep but I can attest to the fact it’s just as tiring.

Every night I suffer, and I don’t use that term lightly, from terrible dreams. Lucid, fierce and frightening dreams; dreams so realistic I am not even sure they classify as dreaming. I spend my days trying to sort out the real from the unreal and it exhausts me — it renders me incapable of concentrating on anything else.

I’ve come to hate going to sleep and consequently I feel like I have no escape.

I’ve been here before. I remember this place with a certain kind of trusted familiarity. It’s recognizable to me like the pillows on my bed or the fetal position I assume when it descends.

It doesn’t start at a certain time. It’s not hooked to a certain event. It’s not caused by something I do or don’t do and it’s no fault of the people around me. Like a cell that divides in the body, it happens without awareness, without heralding, seemingly without care.

And before long I am plastered in it like a thick, sticky suit of misery which does nothing to protect me but everything to expose me. And I don’t have the strength to think about picking it off.

I don’t consciously feel myself falling but at the bottom, I know a few things that happen for sure.

I try to write but I feel like I am in treacle and the effort of getting my fingers to make contact with the keyboard is exhausting. I try to communicate with people but that damn treacle stops me getting close and when people talk to me they need to do it through that filter of gunk which distorts everything they say.

Surely it’s the filter of treacle that makes everyone sound like they couldn’t be bothered talking to me, surely it’s this that leads to my paranoia. But I can’t know for sure because maybe it’s not paranoia — maybe I have managed to push everyone away.

The “xxx” I usually end a text on my phone autocorrect to Xanax. Even my iPhone wants an out.

I cannot remember anything. The simplest details evade me and I feel like I have lost my mind.

I can’t read. I have unopened unread books next to my bed. I can vaguely remember a time that would excite me. Now the thought of reading so many words is actually frightening and alien to me.

I walk slowly, my steps seem smaller and weaker and I hate people who walk slowly.

I write pleading, angst-filled emails to my psychiatrist and I spend hours trying to find hidden meanings in his short meaningless replies.

My eyes hurt.

The only thing that feels worse than the heaviness is the guilt I have at feeling like this.

And so I try to write my exhaustion and my sadness because writing is the only thing I know how to do.

One day I will sleep again; one day the dreams will leave me and one day I will get the chance to live in the real world again. At least that’s what they tell me.

I can only dream.

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Thinkstock photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: May 11, 2017
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