Evil Nighttime Brain (a repost)
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. This is not a terrible tragedy or even particularly strange. I went to bed at ten with the hope that I would actually fall asleep. When one am rolled around, I got up and got a glass of water and a snack. I watched entirely too much tv, trying to lull my brain into shutting off.
It didn’t happen. The myriad thoughts wouldn’t stop or shut off. My mind was relentless and relentlessly annoying. This morning, it’s raining. I’m sleepy. And the coffee isn’t helping. I repeat: THE COFFEE ISN’T HELPING. So, I’m reposting an appropriate piece, called Evil Nighttime Brain.
You never realize how trivial your brain is, until you can’t fall asleep at three am. Thoughts emerge from under rocks of Shame and Mundane and Excitement and Panic. These thoughts range from the banal What did I do? to Did I turn the light off downstairs? to Tomorrow’s my birthday! to What am I doing with my life?
When I can’t sleep, it’s as if my brain goes into hyperdrive, cataloguing and parsing out everything that a) is wrong, b) could go wrong, or c) I’ve done wrong. It’s a smorgasbord of anxiety and ridiculousness. In the middle of the night, all those little worries become insurmountable demons, monsters with teeth and terrifying What-Ifs. What-ifs, I know, will kill you dead if they can – paralyze you until you can’t even breath without feeling them in the air. I try not to deal in them, because they don’t help.
But the Evil Nighttime Brain? Loves What-ifs. It loves to indulge in missing, concluding, blaming, fearing, and feeling an extreme sense of OH.MY.GOD – what is wrong with you? Because in the dark, it’s always so easy to blame ourselves. It’s so easy to give into the doubt and the worry. And whatever else seems to lurk in the shallows and recesses of our Black Lagoon-like minds.
Of course, I always marvel at how absolutely ridiculous my brain is when I can’t sleep. Occasionally, I’ve had an internal night monologue that goes like this:
Man I don’t like clowns. I wonder if it’s because of It, or that episode of Buffy with the nightmares. There was a clown in that. But there was also the time what’s his name got hit by a clown [true effin’ story, btw]. I mean, you only really see clowns at the circus, so I can just avoid the circus. But the have snow cones. I love them, damn it.
At which point I realize that not only am I NOT sleeping, I’ve having a discussion with myself about clowns and snow cones. Clowns, btw, are not cool. I am like Booth from Bones. (Remember when he shot the clown on top of the ice cream truck?)
I don’t know why worries seem to pile up at night. Perhaps it’s because we, as people, tend to push them away during the day, in favor of getting whatever we can/need to done. Then, when we finally give ourselves a break and try and get some rest – we can’t push that stuff anyway, anymore.
You know that Alanis Morrissette song? “Did you think about your bills? Your ex? Your deadlines?” That is what happens. I think about all that stuff and more, when everything is finally silent. I know this happens to other people. We are a nation of people who cannot sleep, because of a thousand reasons (bad economy, ahoy!). So, people take pills or drink too much.
We think, foolishly, that there’ s a magic cure for everything. Take a pill, and the bad things in the world go away. Instead of dealing with the issues, we’re just putting them off. Like switching off a light. Poof – it’s gone.
But it’s really not. It’s still there. And whenever you’re vulnerable or in crisis, the Doubts come out. So, I suppose the moral of this little story (not that I am one to speak of things like that. I’m not Aesop) is to drag things out into the light, when you’re better able to battle them. Don’t back away. Don’t keep biting your tongue. Don’t take a magic pill to solve your problems. (But, by all means, pick up a few magic beans. I’ve always wanted to see a giant and a golden harp.)
Don’t let your Evil Nighttime Brain get the better of you. Someone, please put that on a coffee mug, won’t you? I think another cup is certainly in order.