Many years ago, I was asked to design a shirt for an exhibit. Because my art skills are practically nonexistent, I used what I’ve always used: words.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” my life motto, stenciled in white, cut across the otherwise black expanse of the shirt.
And that really was my life motto. I was young, full of energy, eager to do everything, everything all at once. Sleep was a waste of time, I believed. And so I tried to avoid it. I could function for days on end with no shuteye. Sure, the sleep collectors came barreling through the door sometimes, demanding I pay my debt, knocking me off my feet, causing me to crash for hours and hours only to wake up later not knowing where I was, what day it was.
Fast forward to now. That shirt is long gone and, along with it, my youthful energy. If my younger self could see me now, she would be shocked. I used to shun sleep. Now, I embrace it. Cling to it, like a desperate toddler clings to her mother. Some days, it feels like all I could do is sleep. I sleep even when I know I don’t need sleep anymore. I sleep even when there are things I should, I could, I want to be doing.
They call it hypersomnia. I call it a goddamn curse.
I don’t know anymore if it’s still a side effect of my medication (but why? all the others have faded away), if it’s a symptom of depression, if it’s a coping mechanism, or if it’s just become who I am. Maybe it’s all of the above.
I’m a sleep monster. Sleep has become my superpower. I would sleep forever if you let me.
And then I’d feel guilty about it.
The last time I was at my shrink, I brought it up.
“Doc, I can’t stop sleeping.”
“Maybe you’re tired.”
“No, it’s really too much sleep.”
She wants me to stop feeling guilty about sleeping. She wants me to be kinder to myself. She wants me to listen to my body. But sometimes, my body is an asshole who lies.
Depression makes me sleep too much. Sleeping too much makes me depressed. It’s a vicious cycle I need to end. I actually have a plan. Now if I could only stay awake long enough to carry it out.