At 4am

I seem to be spending an inordinate amount of time wishing myself dead at the moment. Don’t get me wrong I’m not suicidal. I don’t even consider myself depressed. It’s just that I wake up at three or four in the morning feeling like hell, with the most dreadful negative thoughts swimming around in my head. Often I can’t even recall what I may have been dreaming about, but if I do then it’s probably something pretty grim that doesn’t make any rational sense at all. It will be something like that painting, “The garden of earthly delights,” by Heironymous Bosch.

Then there’s the physical stuff. My whole body feels as though it’s on fire. Every joint and muscle seems to be aching and my head feels like it’s in a vice. And let’s not mention my irritable bowel, (Oops, I just did; so apologies to the delicate reader). If I’d had a drink I’d say I was hung over but these days I barely touch a drop. Honestly if someone came into my room and put a gun to my head I wouldn’t even protest, let alone try to fight them off.

The bedtime routine starts off normally enough. I climb the stairs between ten and eleven, clean my teeth, strip off, (I’ve always slept in the buff, so I can’t understand why I get so hot) read my book until I get drowsy, turn off the light and my head hits the pillow. I drop off fairly quickly and seem to go into a deep sleep. These days my bladder is on a ninety minute cycle so I have to get up for that, but I do drop off pretty quickly after my trot to the loo. Then sometime between three and five is when I start to come round with the nightly misery swimming around in my head.

Occasionally, very rarely I’ll have a really lovely dream. Sometimes it’s so beautiful I’ll practice remembering it throughout the day. Almost desperately trying to hang on to the imagery and feelings. However, it seems to be in the nature of dreams that they inevitably fade away. And I guess one shouldn’t try to live in them anyway. The real world always beckons.

I know what I need to do is shift my attention to something else, but at that time in the morning it’s really tough. Occasionally I’ve got up, picked up a book and read for twenty minutes. Most times that tends to work, but the gravitational pull of the black hole I’m caught in is often just too strong, so I don’t even get that far.

More often than not I will drift off back to sleep. Waking up again between six and seven. Sometime between seven and eight I’ll force myself out of bed. By no stretch of the imagination could I ever be referred to as a morning person. I have the metabolism of a reptile. Which is not good, particularly as I’m married to a bunny rabbit. My spouse hits the ground almost running, not just physically but mentally too. The problem is that, at that time in the morning, my brain function is pretty well twenty to thirty seconds behind any normal persons; so it’s not a good time to fire information at me or ask difficult questions like, would you like toast or cereal?

A lot of the physical distress I have is explainable given my age. At 71 my joints and musculature aren’t going to be what they were at 10 years of age. So overnight everything is going to stiffen up and will need warming up gradually in the morning. The mental fog and general sense of being hung over may be down to a blood sugar issue, and that generally improves when I’ve eaten and had a couple of mugs of tea. Although I don’t rule out the possibility that the state is in some way connected to where my mind has been while I was sleeping.

Now this brings me to a bit of a dilemma, which is, how the hell do I bring my sleeping unconscious mind into my conscious mind? And do I want to anyway, given what I may be presented with? I have heard that some people can control their dreams. I think it’s referred to as Lucid dreaming, where they are able to consciously take over the narrative of their dream and steer it in the direction they want it to go. Now there’s a skill that, at the moment at least, I can only dream about.

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