Sleepflower

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I feel like I’m missing/Pieces of sleep…

Manic Street Preachers, ‘Sleepflower’

I’ve been an intermittent insomniac for as long as I can remember. My energy levels are always higher at night (I suspect this is true for many people) and it generally takes a while to get my head down.

Insomnia almost tore me apart during the summer. I’d go downstairs, let the cats in, wrap myself in a throw rug and read on the sofa until dawn came.

Now in the Prozac era my sleep problems have swung far too far the other way. I’m sleeping maybe ten or twelve hours a night and crashing out for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I used to have a good friend who was a narcoleptic – seriously, this guy used to fall asleep in bars, nightclubs, you’d hear a great sliding crash from the bathroom as he fell asleep brushing his teeth – and I’m now aware of the lethargic horror of ME. I know my problems aren’t comparable. But still.

I’ve been wanting to write more personal stuff on here for a long time but, like the protagonist of Chasing Amy, I’ve never had much personal to say. In autobiography I tend to subscribe to Stephen King’s credo: the most interesting things in my life have taken place in my dreams. There are scraps of memories and stories I want to share but they flare in my mind and are gone.

Even now I’m just getting up in the morning and seeing what condition my Condition’s in. It’s winter, it’s fucking cold, it’s dark and frost winks on the pavement like the lights of faraway cities. There’s been a little improvement (i.e. I can now get to my therapy clinic without noticeable tremor) I’m out and about more locally, I have more friends and correspondents and I have experienced a delicious sense of clarity and optimism. It sings like the golden hum of the morning.

It’s an old feeling, the sense of living possibilities, and I used to get it when I went out to meet friends as a teenager. I never dreamed I’d still be feeling this reckless, vivid optimism at twenty-seven. I always thought people hardened as they got older. Perhaps not though, or not in every way.

Other times, of course, you feel haunted and melancholic, generally while sitting in the molten glow of the hangover. I never thought this illness would stagger on for as long as it has, I’ll make beating it my New Year’s resolution, but it’s going to be a fucking long haul. There’s an amazing narrative passage at the end of the movie Blow:

So in the end, was it worth it? Jesus Christ. How irreparably changed my life has become. It’s always the last day of summer and I’ve been left out in the cold with no door to get back in. I’ll grant you I’ve had more than my share of poignant moments. Life passes most people by while they’re making grand plans for it. Throughout my lifetime, I’ve left pieces of my heart here and there. And now, there’s almost not enough to stay alive. But I force a smile, knowing that my ambition far exceeded my talent. There are no more white horses or pretty ladies at my door.

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