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Inside the Mind of Someone With Insomnia

Say you’re lying in bed. It’s a Tuesday night, 3 a.m. For some reason, although you usually retire around 11:30 p.m., you’re wide awake.

Unsurprisingly, there’s nothing on TV. No one online. You don’t have any good books to read. We, as humans in today’s society, have not been taught how to adequately entertain ourselves at three in the morning. However, we (as humans in today’s society) have also not been taught how to handle boredom — at all.

As a result, you begin to cycle through a range of emotions. First, you are confused at your lack of sleep (despite our exhaustion). Next, you begin to feel angry, verging on infuriated. (Why can we not sleep? What control do we even have over our bodies, anyway?) After that, you experience a sense of desperation and self-pity. You may begin bargaining with you inner monologue for even an hour of shut-eye before the sun rises. After these seemingly inescapable emotions, you (…as a human in today’s society…) inexplicably feel a sense of defeat, and give up. You lie awake, dutifully accepting your fate as a sleepless zombie until further notice.

The issue is not giving up. Instead, the issue is what begins to happen once we have done so.

You brain begins falling through thoughts, growing deeper and deeper the longer you linger in the strange sense of awake that’s somewhere between helpless and apathetic. You think of things we actively avoid throughout the day, not out of ignorance, but rather out of self-preservation. Melancholy can’t even touch you as you wade further into the depths of your own subconscious. You recognize fears and doubts and realities in a way you will never be able to fully shake off.

You begin to brainwash yourself.

Your brain is now held captive by what might-as-well be a Somalian pirate in the Tom Hanks movie that is your life. Negative thoughts and anxious concerns are flying through the air at 100 miles per hour, yet your brain seems to catch them all without hesitation. You are your own dream catcher — trapping the nightmares in a place you seem to be unable to access. It’s as if the thoughts have a mind of their own, and in a lot of ways, they do.

As you watch the sunrise, you realize the lines start to blur between “yesterday” and “today.” The thoughts that plagued you throughout the night seem have called shot-gun for the day ahead. You did not get to stretch and yawn as the sun came streaming in through your blinds, shaking yourself free of the dreams you experienced the night before. Are you supposed to go about the next day like the hours between midnight and 6 a.m. didn’t exist? As if you didn’t spend the last eight hours watching your fears and worries grow legs and manifest themselves in front of your face? As if you weren’t just locked in a room with nothing but yourself and your own psyche? How do you put yourself together to face the day without this baggage dragging behind you?

The answer, unfortunately, is you don’t. Because the “you” you knew before the past eight hours is no longer there. The “you” you knew before crying in bed, rocking yourself to (what-should’ve-been) sleep, doesn’t exist. Those evolved fears and doubts took on a shape, a face, and they bear a striking resemblance to the you-that-used-to-be.

So, you get out of bed. You start your day, realizing you can’t un-think, un-hear, or un-learn anything. You can’t go back and give yourself those hours of sleep, or take back any of the waking-nightmares you seemed to have faced. No matter if you never have a sleepless night again — those hours you missed will never be replaced.

You have insomnia. And there’s no going back.

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