It's "the dark night of the soul". Again! I just got up from a vain attempt at taking a nap. I NEED a nap. It's 3 P.M. on a Saturday afternoon and the one thing I really need, I can't have.
The medication is the culprit. Each one has its own signature. The medications that try to keep me at some sort of emotional equilibrium comes with a price. This one I've tried before. But I went slower with it this time. Hoping that I could get the desired effect without the side effects. Wrong! Same thing. My hands shake, my shoulder muscles are tied so tightly around my neck that I hear noises from in there when I twist my head. And of course, the inability to sleep.
Sleeplessness is not anything new to me. All the way back to childhood I used mental images to sooth myself into sleep. As a teenager I could sleep for days. It was my only escape then. In my twenties, the alcohol and the drugs took their toll. The only way to sleep would be to drink until I couldn't stand up anymore and then crawl to bed. It wasn't really sleep, but the closest thing I could get to it. Other nights I just lay in bed, thinking that I could sleep if it was just quiet enough. Or if the coke would just let me down a little, then I might sleep. On the chosen days that I would keep sober, the nightmares would visit me. All night long. As soon as one ended and woke me up in a violent thrashing, the next one would start when I went back to sleep.
27 years of sobriety and therapy. A. A. meeting after A. A. meeting and I'm here on a sunny Saturday in Laguna trying to get some sleep.
The medication. Tomorrow I will take a smaller amount than I took today and then stop completely. Call my psychiatrist, and we will decide on what to do next.
They have such interesting names, these drugs that were built to keep people like myself from hurling off a bridge some night, or hiding in my bedroom for days. The names of some of them even suggest the effect they intend, as if by some unknown power taking Wellbutrin will make me feel "well". Or that Elevil will take me to a higher level of feeling good. Other names seem to have been pulled out of a scrabble box. Zoloft, Prozak, Desyrel. Does the name of a medication that I so desperately need really have to have a catchy, ad agency type name? I guess it does.
My problem with them all is that taking a high enough dose to get the desired effect means that I get the side effects in buckets. Don't know why. Maybe all of the drugs and alcohol I used. Maybe the HIV that's been swirling around inside me for 32 years now, not having yet decided to take root and do it's dance of death. Could be that all of the friends that have gone by keep my mind swimming with the thoughts of my own demise. Then again, it could just be genetic! Any day now another researcher will have dissected enough brains from dead gay men to give us all the answers. Lord knows they have so many to choose from. They can have mine if they like. So often I feel like helping them get it. So often I feel like killing myself. So often.
But I would settle today for a little bit of sleep. Real sleep. With small meaningless dreams. And that nice dozy feeling of not wanting to get out of bed when it's time to. That's the sleep I want.
This morning I was at the Ikea right at opening time. You see, the new mattress that I bought was on backorder and it came in yesterday. There was this hope that I would be able to strap the thing to the top of my car, rumble home, assemble the frame that I got for it last week, put on the new sheets that I bought and look lovingly at my newest acquisition, content in the knowledge that a new bed will be my answer. Well, it was a nice thought anyway. When the man with the black cummerbund style back supporter rolled it out to me on that cart, my hopes folded up and blew away. It looked enormous. "But it's only a full size bed" I kept saying to myself. Smaller than the queen size one I sold to my friends and certainly able to fit atop my little Japanese-American car. Wrong again. So I pushed it over to the next counter where I made arrangements to have it delivered on Monday.
It doesn't really matter that I have an appointment with my lawyer that morning. We are just going to go over the final draft of my Will. But that can wait. Because you see, I'm still thinking of that new bed. That sleek new frame. The colorful new sheets. The possibility of a good night’s sleep. And the chance that tomorrow, God will see fit to give me just a little more hope than I have today. And the day after that, maybe a little more. And maybe, just maybe, a good night’s sleep.