It’s a little after 3:00AM now. I’ve been up since 1:30 after four hours of sleep—despite my never-fail sleep cocktail of Xanax and Benadryl. It’s February.
The one good thing about nights like this, when rapid cycling and mixed states turn my days and nights inside out, is that I don’t have to worry about getting up to go to work. I remember, years ago, trying to talk myself back to sleep. Before any diagnosis told me this might be part of my “normal,” before doctors, and my work ethic, and the State agreed that I was no longer employable, I fretted over my sleeplessness and dreaded the morning. I know most of us have had nights where we finally drop off at 5:00 in the morning only to have the alarm go off at 6:00. It’s a horrible, rock-in-the-gut feeling.
Now I just get up. Open the windows to let the cold, fresh air wash the stale taste of insomnia out of the apartment, stick my favorite mug in the microwave and sip chai while I putter on the computer. In a few minutes, I’ll close the windows and pull out my plush throw, rearrange the cats on my chair, and read for a while. When I get sleepy, I’ll go back to bed. It doesn’t matter anymore when that happens.
That freedom is exquisite. The absence of that particular stress is like a Christmas present, an emotional gift card that keeps on giving. It makes the discomfort of this spell easier to bear.
I’m trying to be more conscious of how winter torques my bipolar disorder. Fellow blogger-friend, Kitt O’Malley (and what a foin Irish name, that is) just posted a clinical piece about the relationship between BP and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It was the first thing I read when I sat down with my chai. (Synchronicity is alive and well in my spinny corner of the world.) It’s always nice to know I’m not alone in my otherness, that there are folks who go through the same kinds of extra grief this time of year, that a committee somewhere labeled it.
It’s the little things that help me keep going when I really don’t want to, little comforts, little efforts. I give my light box one more try and sit down to make a card—like the one at the top of this post. I haul my ass to the laundromat, normally a place I love, but now just one more chore I can’t quite accomplish. But I do it, and the gentle rhythm of the dryers, the warm scent of clean, comforts me. I let Richard Armitage read to me in the car, his facile voice assuming dozens of characters in a novelization of Hamlet, and it comforts me.
Now the chai and the soothing motion of fingers on a keyboard, the wandering off to read a bit of Rumi, the quiet trust of my sleeping cats all conspire with the space I’ve made for acceptance. I feel sleep sliding up behind me. It’s 5AM, and I don’t own an alarm clock anymore.
There is always something to be grateful for.