Present Day, July 4th, 2017

10 p.m.ish to 6:30 a.m.ish

10 p.m.ish to 6:30 a.m.ish

10 p.m.ish to 6:30 a.m.ish

Eight straight days. Something I had not experienced for almost 24 months prior, and have not experienced since. Not for eight straight days. Not for even three straight days.

Being hospitalized for a mental illness is a few things. It is a chance to hit the reset button. It is an opportunity to learn some coping skills. And it is most definitely an opportunity to get rested up. It is NOT the real world. Especially my real world. Or most anyone’s.

My real world goes to bed around 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday. Around 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

My real world wakes up at 3 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. 6:15 a.m. on Wednesday. 5 a.m. on Saturday. And when I fucking feel like it on Sunday.

My real world is NOT 10 p.m.ish to 6:30 a.m.ish. And if there is one single thing I miss most about the hospital…or possibly one single thing I disdain most about my job…it is this reality. The routine. The peace. The quiet. The calm. The restfulness of a circadian rhythm with a common time to bed, and time to arise. An occasional up later here or there. Sleeping in a bit longer on the weekends. Enjoying the splurge of a few weeks vacation, some holidays, and a personal day or two each year. But sleep.

I was talking to someone the other day whose path I cross in the manner of daily business. They have stayed in their position (or a similar one) with the same organization for roughly 15 years. Their longevity has earned them eight weeks of PTO (Paid Time Off) per year. They suggested that I had to consider that it was all inclusive. That was holidays, personal days, sick days, vacation days…you name it. I suggested they had to consider that was two months out of 12. One sixth of the year, less weekends. Paid.

I take off one day a week. It costs me $90 to have someone cover a portion of the tasks I would do if I worked that day. Were I to take a vacation, it would cost me a payment of $300 per day to the company that I am a distributor for. Yes, I knew this going in. No, it was not the brightest part of my decision to become an independent operator.

Why this post? Why today? Because it is July 4th. Independence Day. And American holiday if there ever was one. My hometown firework display is scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. by which point I hopefully will have been in bed for roughly three hours, and asleep for no less than 2.5 of those. I awoke at 6:30 a.m. today and headed out for a few hours of work. It would have been earlier and it would have been longer except for the fact that my wife is a champ and rose at 5 a.m. to handle a couple more hours of the work that awaited.

In days, and jobs, gone by I would have scheduled a vacation or personal day for yesterday. Gave up one day of time off to buy a four-day weekend. I even put seven years in at one company that gave off Monday when the 4th fell on a Tuesday. Why have people work on a day when you know you aren’t going to get much out of them?

Rhythm. Sleep. So critical to my mental health. So easily attainable. In the hospital that is.

Present Day, March 27th, 2017

Insomnia is an awful thing.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday my job requires that I wake up at 3 a.m. Saturday…5 a.m. Wednesday…6:30 a.m. Yeah, I know.

Sunday is my sleep-in day, but you can imagine how well that works for a body conditioned to these other alarm times. There are options, such as Tylenol PM, to try and get a good night’s sleep heading into my day off, but there is also the yang of the yin which is attempting to wake up on that day without having to fight through a fog in my head for the first two or three hours. So there are evenings I choose to take nothing.

(CONFESSION: the best weekend remedy I have found is a couple quick hits of the mari-ju-ana. Knocks me right out and I feel great in the morning!)

So what is worse than your everyday insomnia? Well, there is the insomnia when it is 8 going on 9 o’clock and you are still awake knowing the alarm is going off at 3 a.m. Because nothing makes it harder to go to sleep than the awareness that you damn well better get to sleep!

Or there is the insomnia that this is your one night a week, one of your four every month when you actually can get a good, long, full night of sleep…and here you lie wide, fucking awake.

Or there is the insomnia on Saturday afternoon when the week of sleep has been pretty off the rails but now you can get a good nap and reset yourself for the weekend, but you can’t fall asleep and are aware that you will be crashing out at 8 p.m. on a Saturday night when the rest of the family is looking to have a great time.

Or there is the insomnia that reminds you that this is your life and you will never feel rested, never feel in a circadian rhythm and that the god’s of time changes, sun cycles, and moon phases have a personal vendetta against your existence. (Yeah…even I am aware of the fact that one is fairly irrational.)

I am working on accepting my reality. Working on it. One, because of my work schedule, it will likely always take some type of medication schedule and/or prescribed drugs to sleep. Two, healthy sleep numbers will almost always require a combination of napping with my nighttime hours. Three, guilt over my sleep schedule and its impact on family life will do me no good. None. Zip. Nadda. Four, living by strict sleep hygiene rules will always be imperative to my existence. And five, all of the above mean I need to quit being a little bitch about it and just accept that it is what it is.

All of which are a lot easier said than done when you are staring wide-eyed at the ceiling, knowing the clock reads 9:27 p.m. and the alarm 3 a.m.