Furtner Notes on Being an Insomniac

***Potential Trigger Warning.***

I’m going to write about something that should, ultimately, be a private thing that others don’t really need to know about. Something that most of you will never be in the room for, never know happened, and in fact that you’ll probably sleep right through. I’m going to address how I sleep at night. Or rather WHY I don’t in the times that I don’t. I want to talk to you all about my insomnia.

Some of you are already blowing me off. I can feel that when you do it. It’s a bitter-cold wind.

I’ve written about it before. But at that time, I wrote the following sentence…  “I do think I know what causes it.  I am not comfortable sharing it with everyone on the Internet.”  Okay…well, Internet…  It’s two years later.  We’re all a little older and a little wiser and I’ve already shared the heart of the problem with you in pretty full detail before…but you just didn’t know I did.

So here we go…  I’ve been getting a lot (that means SEVERAL–so if you’re one of them, I’m not singling you out) of probably well-meaning people who’ve been pissing me off pretty bad lately with suggestions of, “…since you’re up anyway.”  Why don’t you get an overnight job, since you’re up anyway?  Why don’t you do some household chores, since you’re up anyway?  I wish I had that problem–it must be great to have all that time to read and watch TV since you’re up anyway!

No.  Stop.  No.  I know you think you’re either being funny, or maybe some of you are naïve enough to think you’re being practical.  But when you say that to me, you are being deeply hurtful and it takes all of my willpower to remind myself that you don’t know better and don’t deserve the onslaught of vicious insults brewing in my heart.  I have my moments when I don’t hold it in, and I’m sorry about that…I should use those moments to educate instead of vilifying.  This post is an attempt to correct some of that…

If we’re going to make this work, you need to understand the following concept.  Please pay attention to the following sentence.  My insomnia is deeply tied to my depression.  There are nights–weeks, even–that I sleep just fine and I’m basically healthy and happy.  Then there are nights when I don’t sleep…  And to those who’ve mocked it in the past, I wanted to take a moment to let you know what “up anyway” looks like for me.

I feel it about midday.  “This is going to be a bad one.”  I’ve already been moody.  I’ve already started thinking about dead friends and family members that I miss.  I’ve already thought about mean things pretty girls have said to me (I know…shut up).  I’ve already thought about my failures and how I’m not anywhere near the person I thought I would be by now.  I’ve already felt ashamed for running from what I was so sure was God’s calling for my vocation when I was in college.  And by lunchtime, I know how the night is going to go.

I try to ignore it.  Try listening to more upbeat music or hanging out with a couple of friends, or posting something on the Internet hoping the “Likes” will pile up quick enough to convince my brain that, “See? It’s wasn’t a colossal waste of time and money putting out all of that music over the past couple decades!”  But it doesn’t work.  By dinner I’m either conspicuously quiet or I’m so overbearingly loud that people retreat either irritated or hurt by some stupid thing I said to them because it’s already building…

Then I get into bed.  And that’s when it get’s really awful.  I’m not usually up until all hours watching TV or reading, or whatever else you imagine.  I’m lying in bed, under the covers, lights off, TV off, phone on silent, etc.  The only thing in the room making any noise is my desktop fan that I keep going to drown out the house-settling noises that might otherwise creep me out because I saw too many horror movies in my early teen years.  And roughly the following monologue happens in my brain for several, uninterrupted, quiet hours…

“You’re a failure.  You’re pathetic.  You’re alone and you’re going to die alone.  No one loves you, and those of us in the cerebral cortex have discussed it and are pretty sure we understand why.  Here’s a list of everyone you know who died young.  Here’s the sub-list of “suicides” and the details of your specific relationships with each of them–the database search for “correlations?” is still cross-referencing.  I bet if you fall asleep, some more people you love will die while you’re blissfully dreaming.  You’re going bald, by the way.  And you’re fat.  Here’s a list of people who’ve probably noticed both.  Your dreams were a joke–no one wants to hear your stupid fucking songs.  You aren’t worthy of the good things you get and you’re a terrible person for taking them for-granted.  You’re one paycheck away from being poor–ONE.  You’re so unbelievably shallow that you’re up at four thinking about all this when people you know and love are dealing with MUCH more serious, real, problems–and THEY are sleeping like babies!  This is what you deserve.  Good luck facing the sun in a couple hours, asshole!”

…and meanwhile, Jesus is somewhere off to the side trying to softly whisper that those are all lies or at best half-truths and I shouldn’t believe them.  That He’s there.  That I’m not alone.  That I will get through this and I WILL sleep again.  And the only truth I know is that I HAVE to stay awake until I can hear him, otherwise thinking this way IS going to kill me some day…  But why is he WHISPERING when I desperately need him to SCREAM???

…and that’s what “up anyway” is for me.

So…yeah…maybe I won’t take that overnight shift at Kinkos, if that’s cool with everybody.

As I said two years ago…sweet dreams.

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2 thoughts on “Furtner Notes on Being an Insomniac”

  1. Derek, I want you to know that I read this. I want you to know that I won’t waste your time with insulting platitudes like “but you ARE talented, you ARE loved, you ARE worthy, you ARE important to me” because deep down you do already know that. I want you to know that I appreciate your honesty and willingness to put yourself out there. There is courage in your words and I appreciate that. I appreciate you. Lorraine

    1. Thanks Lorraine. Sorry it took me so long to approve/reply. I don’t log in to my blog unless I’m about to write and apparently I’m not getting e-mailed on new comments. Anyway, I appreciate your kind words.

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