Actually, I didn’t sleep for five years.
My journey with depression began at some point in college, with several losses and a great deal of change I wasn’t exactly pleased with. Eventually, I looked up and realized I hadn’t had a proper dream in months, and wondered what that was all about.
I didn’t think too much of it. I’ve always been kind of a light sleeper; so when I found myself waking up three or four times in the night, I didn’t really notice. Eventually, it came to the point where I hadn’t had any decent REM sleep in years, dozing in and out through the night; but it had spiraled downward so slowly, I couldn’t really remember if I used to get that good sleep or not. I kind of figured that this was just part of being a tired, disillusioned adult with things to do, like everyone else.
A year ago, I finally checked myself into a clinic. I did their week long program, and came out with a diagnosis and a prescription. To go with it, I was also prescribed a low dosage of the drug trazodone: an old school antidepressant, inasmuch as its hard to be depressed when you spend 20 hours a day in a deep slumber, it was explained to me. Based on the symptoms I had described over the week, it seemed to the doctors that my particular flavor of depression inhibits sleep, and that a few nights’ extra-drugged sleep could provide the rest needed to help kick-start my actual medication.
They prescribed me the lowest available dosage of trazodone, and strongly advised me to cut each one in half. This stuff was scary.
And for the first time in literally years, I slept. Solidly. For eight hours straight.
On the third day, I dreamed. I don’t remember what I dreamed, I just know that I did, and that it was euphoric.
On the fifth day, I was so drugged I really should not have been at work. It was time to ease off the trazodone, for it had done its job. I’ve slept properly ever since, and it has affected everything I do.
I can’t remember what my dreams were like as a kid and a teen. It was a long time ago. When I was 16, I bought dream meaning deciphering guides and attempted to keep a journal, but I suck at that. The way that dreams have of talking us through our most pressing problems by means of gnarly abstract art fascinates me, so I’ve tried to pay attention to them. Especially on the weirdly rare occasion that I have the same dream, or kind of dream, more than once.
Like the other month, when I kept dreaming that my teeth were falling out. Painfully. While I was trying to speak, then call out for help. And then the panic that my parents had effectively wasted $4,000 on braces for teeth that were doomed to crumble and fall out of my mouth someday, anyway.
It doesn’t help that in real life, my gums appear to be receding, and the dentist commented last visit that it is common among people who had braces as kids. Thanks, doc…
People having the same dream over and over again, like the universe trying to tell them something important, is overrated. I’ve never experienced it until recently, so maybe getting my ability to dream back has proven to be more than I had bargained for. Gotta say, I don’t care for it.
At least the teeth thing means something — it symbolizes loss, much of the time, as well as transitions and changes. That certainly sounds right for me about now, as I continue to grapple with old greif, and attempt to convince people that I can assist them as a writer. This article is a nice meaty one on the subject. Neat stuff.
This week’s theme has been swans. Porcelain swan statues. Ponds for swans to swim in. Swans perched atop telephone poles with the crows and pigeons, like duh, that’s where they’ve always been. When did this start? What started it? Why? I guess we’ll find out…