Well I think I lay down about three hours ago, and those three hours promptly vanished in a whirlwind of thoughts and fantasies, leaving me none the closer to sleep itself. One of the most puzzling thing for insomniacs is how it is possible for time to pass so quickly when you are doing nothing except lying there lost in your own mind. At a certain point, after I checked the clock and realised how much time had passed, I realised my anxiety at wasting so much time had exceeded the minimum level of anxiety required to doze off. So I got up, turned on the computer, and decided to write the very words I am typing now, because sometimes writing is all one can do.
Insomia is a horrific problem, its root cause being overthinking. I just can’t get my mind to turn off, no matter how hard I try. To imagine the hours and hours I have wasted, over the course of my life, due to insomnia, is enough to make me sick; I do think from henceforth, if I don’t fall asleep in twenty minutes, I’ll just get up and do something marginally productive, even if it is something as small as writing a blog post.
The worst part about insomnia, apart from the time it swallows, is the terrible feeling of being exhausted but unable to rest. Right this very moment, I feel positively weak and faint with exhaustion, as though my very organs were tired, yet my brain will refuse to shut off, obstinate, stupid thing. As a child I went through extended, hideous bouts of insomnia, wherein I would replay entire movies I watched in my head, or imagine a host scenarios, on and on, all the way into the morning. Once, I even stayed up for five and a half days straight, to the point where everything I did or said seemed to be in slow-motion, and I even started to hallucinate, seeing a tiny cartoonish lion jump through a fiery hoop onto a pedestal in mid-air then turn into a rocket soaring up with flames spurting from its end, as though my dreams, with no place to go, were superimposing themselves onto my reality.
As for the act itself, well, I’ve always had an ambivalent relationship towards sleeping. On the one hand, it offers much needed relief from the pain and exhaustion of living, but at the same time, as Edgar Allen Poe famously said, sleep are “little slices of death”, and for that reason, it does terrify me to some extent. When you sleep, and then wake up, usually there’s a complete gap in your mind, your memory, a vacuity, very much like the oblivion from whence we come, and to which we will return.
I hope I am not boring you with these words, but, then again, whether I do so or not does not really matter. One of the matters I dwelt a great deal on, as I lay there, was my excruciating loneliness, and sense of “apartness” from other people, not just my age, but society, in general. In the past, I have termed it the curse of the creative mind, something which I still stand by. Having an intense imagination and being deeply introverted, needless to say, is an immense drawback when it comes to social relationships, and “fitting in”, and throughout my school years, I often felt so lonely, so different, so weird, so strange, it was rather like being burnt alive in a pit of invisible flames, just constantly burning, charring, all day long, and unable to scream or cry out, forced to smile and talk along with everyone else. The agony—well, I can barely put it into words. Everyone, everywhere, have their groups, they gather around together, smiling, in photographs, they have their friends, their family, they know where they belong—whereas I, I have never felt that before, not once, and even when I was in a photograph, or did speak to someone, I still felt an incredible loneliness, somehow, as though I were viewing the world through a different pair of lenses than others did, one that distorted pictures most terribly.
You see, in real life, I am actually quite a delusional person. Or perhaps you already knew that, if you have read some of my blog posts. Fantasy is a natural part of life for me, and I see everything from its point of view, to the point where reality itself is painful and jarring. Even when inhabiting reality—by which I mean the outside world—I transmute whatever I see into something strange and wonderful, and get excited by the silliest things, from a drainpipe to a moth. I can’t even put into words how it feels, the isolation, the alienation; all I can say is it is as if I were born with a caterpillar in my brain, this tiny niggling little thing chewing parts of my brain and spitting it back out, changing me and the way I see the world. It’s lonely, excruciatingly lonely—and my only compensation, for this suffering, are the brief flashes and glimpses of joy I derive from creative effort. For me, the price is worth it, though when I was younger, when I suppressed rather than allowed my creativity to flourish, I existed in a perpetual state of painful, confused loneliness.
To try and bridge the gap between myself and the people around me, even though it was one that could not be bridged, I employed fantasy. I “imagined” that a boy liked me, loved me, even, in order to create a false, but comforting connection, without actually having to form a true relationship, to the point where I truly believed it, to the point where I even thought we could communicate with each other, telepathically. I “imagined” people were watching my every move, criticizing and judging every aspect of who I was, because the alternative was to face the reality that no-one cared who I was, or what I did, that I was nothing to everyone. I pretended people did not approach and talk to me because I was mysterious and they were intimidated, when, in truth, it was because I was strange and aloof, gave off a “weird aura”. All my life, I have pretended, and imagined; it is an irrevocable part of who I am, and integral to my creativity, but for problematic for leading a proper life and forming relationships.
My sister put it to me this way: she believes I’m certainly no fool, with a good dose of emotional intelligence, but crazier than a Mad Hatter, crazy and anxious and neurotic. I don’t know if I am crazy—delusional, perhaps, but not mad, not the point of madness—but even if I am mad, so what? Who cares, really. Some people hear voices that aren’t there, or see or notice things other people do not: they’re just different forms of reality, that’s all, and if there was no variety in the ways people viewed reality, then we wouldn’t have any inventions or art or scientific discoveries, any variety or uniqueness, any actresses or writers or painters, innovaters. I find the people who are traditionally considered “normal” and “well-adjusted” to be strange, in their own way. Dig deep enough, and you’ll find that everyone is a lunatic, in some form or another. Life and society is conducive to madness, is what I believe. Half the time I don’t know whether certain people are smiling genuine smiles or not—I know I can fake a smile pretty well—and most of the time I don’t understand how people can be so superficial.
In addition to loneliness, as I lay there on my bed, I also pondered my most beloved of subjects: death. I think about it an awful lot, not with any fear anymore, but with a certain resigned preparedness, the way someone who is forced out into the desert with no food or water might research on ways to survive in arid environments rather than spend their time bemoaning their fate. Which is to say, I have sort of decided how I want to die, and therefore how to spend my life. In fact, I already have sort of an idea how I will die. I don’t know if this is an actual premonition, or my imagination making things up, but I do believe, after spending my life writing several books, at least eight, I think, I will finally die, most likely alone, or perhaps with a sibling or two at my side, very quietly, very scared, with the knowledge that I made the art I needed to make during my lifetime. After my death, all the world will have are my books—and that really is the closest thing to happiness I can get, knowing I sent out into the world what I needed to send out. I think I will die, lonely, too, except, having written my books, I won’t really be alone. I will have touched lives, and hearts, through my words; my true kindred spirits are those who will read my words, and feel delight, or a sense of kinship: you don’t need to ever see or speak to a person to make an impact on their life, or their mind, that’s the beauty of writing. Writing is a kind of magic, a kind of immortality, bridging between time and space and distance, transforming and changing long after you have written the last word. Without books and writing, I wouldn’t be typing these words today, and in return for the writers who brought me such happiness, I want to send my own little bit of happiness back out into the world, too.
Alright, I feel as though I may faint soon, which, for me, is a sign that I have reached the edge of exhaustion and am finally read to sleep. In the morning, I shall have to wake up early, so I’ll only have two hours of sleep—I dread it. I wish loneliness were not so painful, I wish I could have someone look into my eyes and hold me and tell me they understood; and I wish the world would not be filled with such sickness, pain and cruelty; it would do us good, I think, if everyone were a little more empathetic, if everyone were a little more imaginative and thus could put themselves easily into the shoes of others.