Mystical Night, Michael Z Tyree
And then insomnia happened to me.
To be honest, I've never been a great sleeper. I mean, the first few months of my life I was a colicky baby. And I've never slept soundly or for any extended length of time. I was never the sleep-til-noon teenager and I've never been able to sleep in moving vehicles, in strange places or in the presence of other people. But insomnia was never part of my repertoire until recently. And never has it been so severe as the last month.
The catalyst of these bouts vary. Anxiety sometimes. Other times it is during a phase when I'm more creative than usual. Sometimes it seems to come out nowhere. But insomnia isn't what I expected.
The first couple of nights are alright. I read or write or listen to music. But as the sleepless nights accumulate, my brain becomes less and able to function. By the fourth night, my brain power is seriously waning. I lie staring at the ceiling, sighing and looking at the clock obsessively. Nausea sets in. During the day my appetite is compromised and my thinking is muddled and slow. Last week I took the metro south, all the way downtown, when I was supposed to go north. After a week my body feels cold and weak and numb. My heart races with dull panic. The lack of REM causes strange things to happen. In the dark silence of night, colours and shapes invade my vision, creating a psychedelic show that lasts for hours. I am a passive observer, in awe of the randomness of my own fucked-up neurons.
When I think I'm too tired for another sleepless night, another sleepless night happens. And then another. Lately, just the sight of beds makes me anxious. The wee-hour sleepless sessions create such frustration and despair that I work myself into an agitated ball of messy self-pity. This can't go on, I think. And then it does.
At around five, sleep tends to move in like a wall. Then not sleeping is impossible, despite noise or light. And when the alarm goes off, a different form of torture: trying to wake up.
Glass Animals front man, Dave Bayley, claims to owe his career to insomnia. The claymation world depicted in his music video Pools from the album Zaba is strikingly familiar--the psychedelic imagery, movement and colour. I know this world; it is strangely comforting.
In a Guardian article called The Upside to Insomnia, Bayley says "When my insomnia started I got anxious, checking the clock every 15 minutes. Eventually you stop caring. Now if I can't sleep I get this peaceful excitement. I know I have time to try something out and have some fun."
I'm obviously still a rookie insomniac, still wrought with frustration and lacking the necessary sensibility to just accept it all. With time, I'll learn to relax, to embrace the extra hours and the magic of the night that is currently eclipsed by anxiety and physical discomfort. If I surrender to it, maybe I can gain access to this "peaceful excitement" and channel it into something beautiful. In the meantime, Zaba is one hell of an album. And where did that florescence green cat come from?