How low can you go, the insomnia edition

Brain sand.  When you move your eyes or sometimes even when you are still – flip, flip, the sand moves through your head and it feels like a little seizure.  Many can happen in a row.  Then none for a while, then many.

Even as you lay down you know it is only to feel sick, not to sleep.  Sleep is nowhere in your brain.  It has left the building.  Your eyes want it;  they can barely stay open.  But your brain, your brain is flicking on all nerve ending cylinders – frantic, desperate.  Rescue me.

Rescue me.

Hysteria is more at the door than ever.  When you do lose consciousness around who knows 4 am, 5 am, you have terrifying and frantic nightmares about you being somewhere doing something and no one able to help you.  You scream for that help over and over and in your dream your mouth guard keeps being pushed out of your mouth only for another one to come from behind it, making you gag.  You wake with your mouth guard halfway out of your mouth.  You know you have actually been screaming help but no one has heard.  Just as well as that would be awkward, wouldn’t it?

How the fuck are you going to make it through this day – standing up takes an effort; by the time you are in the shower with the sand somewhat violently shifting in your brain you know that today is such an impossibility.  You are hot and sweating even after turning off all of the hot water radiators.  Everywhere is stuffy.  You open a window wide and gulp in the fresh air.  Fuck, fuck, fuck.  How will you get through this day.

Exercising doesn’t seem to settle the beast (make no mistake it is a beast) so sometimes you give in and just lay about in your room and watch Netflix after Netflix.  You read, you try you try you try.

All of the trying.

You are to meet a friend and her lovely squishy squashy loves everyone baby and you look forward to this and you will go despite feeling like you can’t even handle walking the 15 minutes to the bus stop.

Nauseous, dizzy, verging, always verging on hysterical.

Short term memory?  Forget that.  Yesterday you forgot your bag in the computer lab at the school where you sometimes teach.  Luckily, when you returned, no one had stolen it.

You make so many mistakes too in paperwork, in almost everything.  How do I . . you wonder.  Poof, it is all gone.

Verging hysteria.

You take sleep medication all ready – a combo pack, a cocktail.  It works sometimes, other times not at all.  It would knock out an elephant if that elephant were not as addicted to it all as you are.

Try natural remedies, they encourage.  Have you thought about writing down  your worries, suggests someone else.  Go all natural, says someone, those pills are not good for you.  When I had insomnia, well I . . .

It is apparently your greatest sub conscious and conscious fear to be left alone with no one to help.



Your insomnia is familial and familiar all at once – your late mother took the same pills you do and yet you know she lay awake for hours or woke up early.  Your sibling has found a pill that works for her and that changed her life because when it doesn’t work it is a bit like breaking down.

Don’t focus on it, some say.  It won’t kill you, they tell you.

Oooh, not sleeping is bad;  that will affect your heart eventually they want you to know.

Near terror is what you feel.

Getting out into the pouring raining world will help some – surely cuddling that baby will go a short way to releasing the hounds.

All  you want to do is sleep and it is the one thing you cannot do except in bits and pieces with nightmares of no one helping.

What insomnia does give you is piles of nervous energy – more than you could ever know what to do with in this lifetime.  You could pace the floor at your 50 minute hour but you just saw her and your insomnia didn’t seem as intense that day so you didn’t focus on it.  She wouldn’t have given you direct advice anyway – instead you would talk your nervous energy out while she asked you how that made you feel.  She has revealed that she herself has the beast – you can imagine so with two little kids and a history of all nighters training to be your 50 minute hour.  The two of you do seem to agree on hating people who brag about being able to fall asleep anywhere.  Yeah, well, fuck you and the sleep you rode in on.

You try and put your focus elsewhere – surely riding the bus with strangers and cuddling a baby and later tutoring a 15 year old you enjoy will go to some length on that. It does, it will, it has.  But mostly while you are existing there the sand will continue to shift and the surreal feelings will continue and you won’t be able to eat the sandwich you ordered with the bacon you like oh my god it is so good.  And your brain will continue to ride the nervous energy train.

Tonight will eventually come and you will lay yourself down and beg your brain not to just fade into light sleep and then wake up always wake wake up wake up in the middle of the night – who knows maybe 3, maybe 4 – and then there is no more sleep to be had or none that won’t result in absolute nightmares of being left alone to fend for yourself in an impossible situation.

What parts of the brain light up during all of this.  Why can’t you just go to sleep and sleep well.  Two hundred nights of well sleep would go a long way you think.

You remember more than 10 years back how you desperately sobbed to a walk in doctor who prescribed the first blue pill.  No, no meds for me you said;  I won’t be in control.  But then you took it and you slept well and long and you realized that what you had avoided for so long would save you.

But now, now nothing works with consistency and you know about building up tolerance and how terrible it all is to be dependent and how you would let someone hit you over the head with a hammer, a mallet, hell, a television, if only it offered you a chance to sleep over this latest bout of it all.  You could start fresh.

How low can you go.














Ages and ages

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So it has been ages and ages since I’ve written anything on here.  Hmmm.  My 15 year old tutee cancelled our session for this afternoon just this morning and so now I am unmoneyed and unstructured.  Noon time and I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet – that kind of thing.


She’s an honest girl though and hardworking and I do know that she actually does have a meeting that she didn’t know about until this morning.  But still, ugh.  What shall I do do do do do.

I guess I should be grateful because my weekends are pretty full on – two hours on Friday, six! on Saturday and four on Sunday, for now, until cancelled at random.  So for me I am always happy to see Monday coming around as it is like my weekend although I have been doing a bit of work on that day as well – an hour and a half at the downtown school, doing intake interviews for new students.  It’s not much really and I have to get up early for that 90 minutes but it does give me a sense of routine which is good.  There was some afternoon subbing there this week but I can’t do that due to aforementioned cancelling tutee.  Uh well.   I stick with this particular downtown school because it is a ‘cut above’ most schools out there and has a union so the pay is not too bad.  And I know the routine and etc.  I always enjoy intaking and doing the short speaking test (5 minutes) with each student.  I’m quite efficient at it and so they seem to like using me to do that.  The students are often quite nervous, poor things.  The easiest are the ones who have so little English that I know what level to put them in right away.  No need to prolong that torture for them.  If there English is quite high level then we have a good chat.  I had a great little chat with a woman from Saudi Arabia this week – the Saudis usually study in Canada for years at a time and switch schools every few months.  The women are very often smart cookies who are becoming scientists, doctors, or lawyers.  I think I interviewed one once who was a psychiatrist.  So spoke to her for 50 minutes and called it an hour.  I joke, I joke.  Joking.  But she really was a psychiatrist.

Wow, so as of this month I have lived in Vancouver for 29 years (minus the 3.5 years in Medicine Hat, Alberta where I was a reporter of arts and entertainment and it felt like a real job!) and also 16 years that I have been teaching ESL.  Sixteen years! and I am scrambling to make enough to pay rent every month.  Sheesh and etc.  I remember moving here in 1987 – fresh out of having lived at home and no idea how to boil an egg – I can sometimes boil an egg now. I remember looking up at Grouse Mountain one evening and thinking, gee, I’ve been here for seven weeks.  Now when I look up at Grouse it has been completely turned into condos.  I joke, but just barely on that one.

But thank goodness for my young Chinese students – I get on average about 11 hours a week from these young folks at quite a good wage.   Christmas was slow and dead really as they all went away but they are back now so that is good.  It does leave me with most of my days completely free which is . . . annoying.  I become less and less motivated to do anything on these days!  I enjoy most of the students and a few I downright love and feel protective over.

C’est la vie.

What else what else.

Oh and my two Langara evening courses are not going to run – not enough students signed up!  First time that this has happened that both are cancelled.  Craziness.H

Hmmm . . . only four more months until the pool in the picture opens.

I went to the expensive physio yesterday and was told that I have a rotator cuff injury due to misusing the weights at the gym.  Uh huh!  I said.  She showed me all kinds of pictures of a skeleton’s bones and then she added in muscles in red and I still did not understand what exactly is where.  “We really are just skeletons,” I said, “And all of our effort to make our skin and fat look nice and there we are.”

Seems the physio turned 50 last year and she has no kids either.  Make your last few months (before turning 50) all about you, she said.  I wondered how this was different from my last 49 years and 10 months.

Later at the pharmacy there was a mom and her little girl ahead of me getting like 20 bottles of pills for their mother/grandmother.

“I’m three and three quarters,” announced the little girl.f

“And I am 49 and 10 months almost,” I said.

Oooh, a small bit of sun is in the sky just now.  Hello, sun.