Homework assignment: Sleep

Someone linked Robert Sapolsky’s marvelous lecture on depression at Stanford some time back, and I was completely floored by how well it matched….and explained! so many of my symptoms.  Yes, it’s a seven year old lecture.  I cried as I watched it, even though he’s funny, because finally someone articulated all those things I couldn’t explain to people about where I am right now.  (And have been, over and over in my life.)

When I was about 19, my boyfriend at the time expressed complete exasperation with my constant state of exhaustion.  He told me I needed to get checked out, because lots of people managed a lot more activity than I did without being so tired all the time. (Here’s my middle finger for that guy.) I wasn’t tired like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome tired, but constantly sleepy and often just unwilling to move.

It’s really been a long time since I’ve felt truly energetic.  I probably haven’t felt energized since junior high school.  Now, I’m not a slug.  I’ve run a half marathon and all three times I went to college, I worked more than one job, did some kind of collegiate activity and took a full load of classes.  But yawning is my default mode.

Actual sleep, however, never comes easily, and I rarely stay asleep for eight hours.  I usually wake up anywhere from four to eight times during the night.  Even if I “sleep in,” and stay in bed for ten hours, more than half that time, I feel like I’m in the shallow pool of unconsciousness, and the slightest movement will wash me up into wakefulness.  And I’m usually right.

So this week, my counselor asked me to work on sleep.  If I use a sleep aid, such as Tylenol PM, I’m to do it for a full ten days, to make sure I obtain the normal sleep cycles and habituate them. I haven’t done that yet, but I’m thinking about it.

(Nope, no Ambien, thanks.  I’d be one of those people sleep driving to work at 2 a.m. and ending up in the river.)

For now, I’m doing lavender oil and starting a bedtime ritual.  (Jammies, wash face, teeth brushed, lavender oil on feet and back of head, read, then out.)

No change yet and I’m still exhausted.  So I’ll probably begin the sleep aid thing tomorrow.

I hope it helps.  It would be nice to have something help for a change.


Two people asked me about my Facebook account:  my brother and a friend.  My brother assumed I had blocked him.  The friend guessed correctly I had deactivated the whole account.

It’s been almost two months now and I don’t feel the void I expected to find.  The only time I’ve even considered bringing the account back is to retrieve my Spotify playlists, but once I made a new account, emailed Spotify, and verified my identity, that problem was solved.  Facebook is a timesuck and a hotbed of tribeseeking.  It fosters those who need others’ validation, and gives them space to find permission for cruelty, racism, hatred and ignorance.  So I pulled the plug and left.

My husband tells me, however, that people miss the “chicken stories.”

I’ll be honest–I’m not sure I want to bring those back, or even continue them in a different venue.  I learned something about people in this last election season, or I should say, I relearned it from my days long ago at MIPB.  People think they can control your content, your stories, your words, and your art, by restricting you to the things they like about you.  When you challenge them with things they don’t like or agree with, they will demand that you “stick to” or “go back to” the “things you do best,” the things they like.  As if you were a puppet they were playing with that suddenly spoke on its own.

Artists, writers, actors, singers and dancers are people–not products.  I know that’s a difficult concept for most Americans to grasp, since they think they can buy or boycott anything.  But artists do not STOP being people when they do their art, and they do not stop when they are not doing their art.  People have a right to feelings, emotions, opinions and expression, even if they are uncomfortable for you.  Even if they disagree with you.  ESPECIALLY if they disagree with you.

And if art does not disturb you on some level, if it is just rainbows and sunshine, it is not doing its fundamental job.  Art exists first for itself, and secondly, to make you a better human being.  You cannot be a better human being if you are not challenged, if you are not made to see injustice, if you are not shown your hypocrisies, if you are not confronted with all of who you are, if you are allowed to hide behind “niceness.”

So, yes, my chicken stories are comforting, cute and amusing.  They make you happy and you like them, even when you don’t like what else I might be saying.  But they are not all that I am, and I will not be restricted to them just because you think my words, my stories, my opinions are a product that you can choose to buy or not buy.

I have been withdrawing for some time, because America is full of bullies right now. Full of bullies who don’t think they’re bullies at all, but who are cruel, nasty cowards who honestly need a Ralphie rage-drumming in front of the whole school.  I have been nice.  And I have written chicken stories.  And I’ll probably continue to write chicken stories.

But they aren’t all that I am, nor will I be restricted to them.  I’m going to challenge myself, show myself the injustices, expose my hypocrisies and confront both you and me with all that I am.  I won’t hide behind the niceness.

If you come along, fine.  But I have no time for bullies, liars and cowards. I blocked my first non-sex-spam follower on Twitter today.  I can do it as many times as necessary.

Time Away

I’ve been gone a long time. About the time I stopped posting, my father found out his cancer had returned and he had only a little while left to be with us. It seemed more important to spend the time with him, rather than to post about food, fashion and crafts here.

He died January 7th. Only now am I beginning to feel my time is my own again.

I fell off the Primal wagon. I may try to jump back on, but right now, I am just keeping track of what I eat, EXACTLY how much (as in, I’m weighing it), and how I feel after. I’m running every other day, close to 5 miles each time.

My world is pretty small at the moment. I’m concentrating on good habits and discipline. I’m still not in a place where my emotions do much soaring, but they’re also not doing a lot of plunging.

For now, that’s good. I have plans. I have big plans.

But for a little while longer, I need to live minute by minute.