I’m coming undone, it seems at the seams.
A thousand things in my head, half of which should be got down on paper and I can’t keep up with them. The other half are things I need to do; some general, more tangiable day-to-day admin that I’m not getting on top of, some others are more important, requiring concentration, dedication and application. Unfortunately I’m not giving much of any of those. Why? Because my insomnia has come back and bit me on the ass. My creativity bubble is being squeezed by the weight of sleep loss. The less I sleep the less I do and the less I do the more of a concern it becomes and the more of a concern it becomes the less I sleep. And the pedal on the bike makes a full turn. And the chain falls off so the bike can go nowhere.
Will the circle be unbroken?
It could be the title of a book, albeit a not very inspiring one. It could but it’s not, it’s a reflection of someone, somewhere. It’s a reflection of me, looking back at me from the glass with shadow-circled eyes and skin paling in the fresh autumn breeze as the rain falls while the leaves take their time to turn from green to brown and the summer (what summer?) looks around, sighs and departs.
It seems a long time since I wrote anything ‘creative’, and by that I mean fiction, my first writing love. I looked in my diary and saw the last entry almost a month ago; that is terrible! Even laying aside a brief bout of ill-health and outside stresses it’s still a long time – too long. Thi is only alleviated by the fact I’ve managed to post poetry on my writing blog since July. I would sometime use the blog to air some of my morning writing exercises, at least those that could be aired. I’ve always used those hours in the morning when I should be sleeping but can’t, to write. Just lately, for a number of reasons, I just haven’t had that get up and go to, well, get up. There’s a correlation between no longer writing in the morning, my most creative period, and not producing fiction. And I have a theory:
Contrary to my fiction-writing habits, my poetry seems to take a peek behind the curtain later in the day. I feel about as disposed to write poetry in the morning as I feel disposed to go to the office… yeah, enthusiasm eh? Although the latter will change from 1st January but more of that another time. Anyway, my theory is my poetic soul picks up on the sins of the day; the tensions, arguments and darkened thoughts. Instead, the writer in me, the storyteller, likes a new white canvas, the first breath of cold, clean mountain air as he opens the window, thoughts untainted and summed up in five words.
The necessity of creativity and how we find it. Creativity is spontaneous and comes naturally and it is effected by the environment in which it finds itself. Some people thrive on turmoil and chaos whilst others require peace I their lives, a stable base upon which to build something. I’ve decided I fall into the latter. Much of what I write is done in those early morning, pre-dawning hours when I should be asleep but can’t. I’ve had my 4 hours or whatever and I lie awake, feeling the pillow become warmer and warmer, then having to turn it over and lay my face on its cool cotton whilst a team of chimps start chattering and climbing about inside my head. I can do nothing except get up; get up and write or sometimes read. I just can’t lay there with my head awhir, brain in overdrive and thoughts good and bad, positive and negative, circle and crash into each other, like 10 year olds in bumper cars.
Peace in my life: that’s the one. Upon reflection, insomnia may not appear to be a peaceful, stable base and, to some extent it isn’t because it becomes host to other problems which manifest themselves later on. However, the tranquillity of a silent flat in a small, silent block down a narrow silent street at 4.30am brings a peace of its own. The thunderstorm and lashing rain of two hours ago have decided to come back.
As I lie awake and listened to the crashing rain I thought of the plants on the balcony; the hardy rosemary, which hates excessive water but this ‘summer’ shows no let up. The delicate Venus fly trap, the only thing he’s catching is probably a cold. The young, reaching olive tree yearning for the sun. If these meteorological conditions occur (and they do) while I’m in the office I just shrug and don’t give it a second thought. This morning in my wakefulness I tried to come up with a plan for recovering them from the teeming torrents of water, and only the fact that I would have got soaked doing so stopped me.
So, back to the chaos or tranquillity question, even though it wasn’t a question.
Insomnia creates chaos in my head, there’s no denying that. It kick-starts the engine of my early morning and keeps revving, whether I want it or not. If it’s feeling generous it will sometimes turn off again whilst other times I need to let the clutch out and take it for a spin. It can and does causes problems later when I should be facing the day with enthusiasm and instead I’m sat, yawning, feeling bags delate beneath my eyes. However, this same insomnia leads me by the hand from my bed to my studio next door, where peace, the true, unblemished silence, is broken only by the scratching of my Caran d’Ache 2H pencil.
We could take this down to a completely new level and discuss the intricacies of what lie at the heart of every insomniac’s problem: however that isn’t for now or this page. A this moment in time my head is full of the consequences of a self-inflicted chaos I’ve brought into my life and now must deal with.
The necessity of creativity. We all have it but sometimes life pushes it out onto the balcony in the rain to be replaced by other urgencies which need to be kept warm and dry.
Living in a daily world of imaginary conflicts, in which the tide of others washed and pushed against him, He lived ever in anger’s twilight. The anger simmered, threatening to boil over but not quite managing to do so. In some ways it would have been better if it had.
In his make-believe world in which everything was a hurt against him, either directly or indirectly, he no longer lived; not in the true sense of the word. Whereas sensibility to his condition was heightened, other important aspects of his character were made obtuse. Happiness was an emotion felt by others. His anger would obtund any sense of enjoyment or achievement and his spiral continued downwards.
The world outside is bright
Spring fills the air
The fields and the trees are colour
Animals awaken from winter slumber
But within him the winter remained
And for him the clocks unchanged
He slivered on ice
where others walked on grass
He shivered with cold
while others warmed to the sun
He withered, his face white
when others danced with new life
He lingered in the shadows
whilst others cavorted in the long,
joyful hours of sunlight
He revered in his head
his sufferance in a world
where hurts imaginary
and conflicts obtusely
Beat him to the ground
into the dust, to be found
Where maybe hope one day
will bring him out;
out into the world again.
Depression can take manifest itself in various guises, this I know from personal experience. Whilst at the height of my chronic insomnia 4 years ago the hospital put it down to depression which, personally, I couldn’t understand as there was no real motive, so I believed. I just thought it was the other way around – that I was shot to pieces in the head, imagining scenarios which weren’t there simply because I didn’t sleep. Thankfully, with loving support and no lack of determination, I managed to untangle myself from the shadow-spectre of this awful and destructive condition.
During last 4 years I’ve started writing, which is a therapy in itself. I still don’t sleep anywhere near the recommended 8 hours but whoever recommends this probably has nothing to do all day. The above, in a very rough form, has been around quite a while, probably written during ‘recovery’ stage. Ordinarily I avoid personally-related posts, but this is different – I want that reminder there. I want to remind myself of where I was and where I am and be thankful for it.
p.s. – Shadowplay is a track by Joy Division from their “Unknown Pleasures” album. It just seemed apt in this case.