And it’s extremely unfortunate how true that statement actually is. Let me explain.
I want to start off by saying that the reason I’m hesitant to write about my personal struggle with insomnia is because there’s very little empathy that’s expressed when it’s brought up. Now, I’m definitely not looking for that in any way, but people just don’t really grasp the scope of the issue. Everyone’s first thought when they contemplate living life with this condition is always, “I would get so much stuff done!” Well, I’m here to tell you – You don’t. The problem with it is not just that you can’t sleep, but it’s the exhaustion that comes with it. I’m just as tired and worn down as you would be if you only had three or four hours of sleep on any given night, but this has been my reality for the entirety of my adult life.
Living the life of an insomniac is honestly just… strange. Like I said in my last post, I haven’t had any Fight Club moments or anything like that, and the actual mental issues have been relatively mellow so I don’t really have much to complain about. That, along with the health issues, are an entirely separate story, which I’m sure we will get into with a later post. The aspect that I’m writing about today is what I believe to be the worst thing about insomnia… The fact that it’s SO. DAMN. BORING.
That’s the scope that I was referring to previously. Even though I don’t sleep much, what a lot of people don’t realize is that I kind of can’t be overly productive either. I do everything a normal person does, I’m just usually awake while you’re not – That’s pretty much the only difference. I’m sure you’re thinking I’m wasting my time by not accomplishing anything while I’m awake, right? Why not get something done? Well, here’s why: If I’m up and active, whether that be making some food, cleaning the house, walking my dog, (writing blogs) or something to that extent, I’ll stay awake throughout the night without fail. Doing that leads to those Fight Club moments that I’m trying to avoid. The way things are now normally allows me to sleep every night, so it could be much worse, but it’s still very limited and I have to basically force it.
The most effective way for me to fall asleep is to smoke a little bit of weed (sorry) and lay there with only a fan or the air conditioner on. However, I will admit, I do usually mess around on my iPhone for quite a long time while I lay there (which is why all of my friends know I watch LITERALLY all of their snapchat stories every night). I’m basically doing everything I can to keep the boredom away, but it’s inevitable. After I’ve placed my phone on my nightstand and made sure that my alarm is set, about 649 times, I meet her again. It’s that ugly ass bitch, Insomnia, just staring me right in the face. There’s nothing to look at, listen to, or watch (or I’ll get too focused and stay awake longer), so I literally just lay there doing nothing for hours on end. Meanwhile, my pitbull is sprawled out right next to me, snoring and taking up three quarters of the bed. When I’m laying there, I definitely mock his ability to sleep regularly, solely for my personal entertainment purposes. Things weren’t always like this though. I was 19 years old during my first year of the rivalry with insomnia. I didn’t even notice it to be honest with you, I was just pumped that I could stay awake and party all night without ever slowing down. That’s all that really mattered to me at the time.
Actually realizing that I had developed insomnia probably took a little over a year for me to notice. I know that sounds kind of crazy, but look at it this way: I’m 19 years old, just moved out of my parents into my own house, and was going to college at The Ohio State University, and working full time, on top of having a social life. I had a lot going on. I was the first of any of my friends to get their own place too, so obviously all of the homies are at the house all day, every day. I remember a point within the first week of being there, my neighbor came out of his house at 2:00am and came up to my porch where we were all hanging out. His name was James. He was in his late 20’s, I’d guess, and honestly a pretty cool guy overall. He said, “Look guys, I know you’re excited to move into your first place, but it’s fucking Tuesday. This has been going on for four days now, and the ol’ lady won’t quit bitching… Can you please keep it down?” Hahahaha! It made me laugh and kind of felt like an accomplishment at the same time, but he was respectful about how he approached the situation, so we went inside and tried to remain at least somewhat respectful in return from that point forward. With all of this going on though, on top of living the typical college freshman bachelor life, I didn’t really realize I wasn’t sleeping very often. I had full days of being a productive student and having a full time job, but then I had full nights with friends just doing a ton of dumb things also. (I’m going to skip those stories right now though because they’re generally not appropriate. I’ll let you paint that picture yourself).
About a year after moving into my house on Wood Street, the partying started to mellow out. Life definitely starts to catch up with you quickly right when you enter your sophomore year of college, and I’d like to think the majority of people who’ve experienced that would whole-heartedly agree. As much as I hate to say it, I was forced to grow up a little bit when we ran out of food a few times and struggled to pay the rent. My roommate and I both worked at the local sandwich shop (okay, it was Subway, whatever), and all of the sudden, both of our hours were being cut rapidly. Things quickly flipped from a fun college lifestyle to, “Oh shit, we don’t have any money to eat for another three days.” I was stressing about bills, hoping the electric isn’t cut off for a 3rd time, and selling anything in my house of value I had. Sleep deprivation + hunger + college + utilities being turned off every month does not make for a happy young adult. Clearly this would trickle into my school work as well. Right around that time was when I did a ton of self-reflecting and was basically the point that I started to take notice that I was only sleeping an average of about three hours a night. At 20 years old, I had no energy and would just drag my body around with me, struggling to make it through those long-ass days. I was also living in Mansfield, Ohio, which is known around here for the amount of heroin addicts you’ll see in any given day, and surviving purely off of naps and ramen. Ya know, living the dream life. That was a long time ago though, and things have changed quite a bit for me. I’ve finally escaped the trap of Mansfield after six years and am in a very good place in life, mentally. In the five years since then, I’ve been able to adjust to it, but that still doesn’t make the lack of sleep any less stressful. Do me a favor and look at it this way:
Currently, all of my days are all roughly 21 hours long. Think about that for a second. Doesn’t that kind of blow your mind? That’s my life. Daily.
With all of that being said though, the issues I faced after that fun honeymoon phase between me and the insomnia are things I would never go back and change. I want those hardships. There were an uncountable amount of times that I had to steal food from Walmart to make sure I ate something that day, but these are the struggles that I am most thankful for. I believe those tribulations are the only true way to become a great man and know the value and contributions you can bring to this world. Not that my parents didn’t, but having to go through that for at least half of a year made me very appreciative of every little thing that I earn myself, or anything that is given to me, no matter the size or price. I learned more from those struggles in that one year than I ever have since, and I’m pretty damn proud of who it’s made me become.
– Adam –