Covid Diaries January

Jan 14th Clifton

Been raining for the last 3 days and now just starting to clear. Subtle alternations in the light keep taking my surprise. I feel a bit like I’m hallucinating. I didn’t sleep much last night. The old enemy within. I have allowed myself to slip into a near constant routine of taking sleeping pills to get to sleep. I seem to have tried everything and this is the only thing that really works. It’s so much easier.

Yet I now realise I’ve reached a point where I seem to take one thing or another pretty much every night. Never the same thing all the time. I don’t know why that should make a difference. Perhaps I think I’m less likely to become addicted if I do it this way..Red and white capsules. Blue pills. White pills (two of those). White oval pills. The notorious ‘bars’ that street dealers now sell (Xanax). I don’t know why I’m not more worried about it. Perhaps because that the experience of not sleeping just seems so much worse than any other negative impact that I might be (invisibly) experiencing and because it has gone on for so long.

The first time I remember it happening in the way that I experienced it last night was over 20 years ago when I had to do a VTR Operating Course that I didn’t really understand. Thinking back on it, it seems like the last job in the world that I would enjoy or be any good at. I still managed to do it for a few years before chucking it in to go travelling in 2001.

At that stage it only reared its ugly head when I had quite significant levels of anxiety about doing something the following day – an exam, job interview, etc – but then of course I decide to do training in a job that would push this level of anxiety up the scale but also ensure that this anxiety was always there as I struggled to plan, deliver and evaluate lessons while also keeping track of all the paperwork you need to do when training to be a teacher and the multiple other roles and skills that I was trying to get good at. The result was a kind of system overload, a constant flooding of adrenaline through the system. I think this came from a long routed fear of forgetting something important like I used to get accused of a lot at school. I have always been slow and I don’t have a great memory (an even worse memory now) so I was asking for it I suppose.

I don’t want this to be a sob story. It’s supposed to be self healing! The irony is I’m a great teacher – I have the empathy, tone, knowhow, creativity, rapport, character, etc to do a great job and I do, but it made me ill and somehow I have got myself into a pattern of behaviour that I can’t seem to get out of.

Anyway, I must be more determined and find another way. I have made breakthroughs. I established long ago that cigarettes are an absolute nightmare for creating that jangling feeling especially a couple of days after that and too much alocohol. I gave up a couple of months ago now and got a vape instead but still smoke a couple of joints on the weekend. Clearly some habits are dying but there are some that still need to be addressed. Alcohol. Cannabis. Pills.

Wow, that was my introduction to saying that last night was my first night without a sleeping aid in a while, I think. I went to sleep at 11. Read a bit of PLF by Artemis Cooper at about 1ish. Got up about 45 mins after that to have tea and toast and watch a bit of telly. Then back to bed..2,3,4…5 and finally nodded off at about 5.30….only to wake up again half an hour later. I can just about put up with the staying up all night and starting to feel irritable but it’s really demoralising that my brain or body or both won’t allow me to stay asleep once I’ve finally got there.

It all seems much worse at the time. Tonight I know I will take a blue one because I’m teaching tomorrow but I must try and do without if I’m not….

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