I think a substantially large portion of our society would check off a box describing themselves to be "night owls" if asked about their sleeping habits. I'm not sure that there is truly a right or wrong way for an individual to live, but for myself, it has been a very grey area. For the longest time, I struggled with thinking this was how I was meant to be—no sleep at night and zombie through the day. Unfortunately, as I got older and began to see how others thought and operated, I learned that how I spend my nights is not necessarily the average way a "night owl" spends their nights.
You see, I don't actually prefer to be awake at night—or sometimes anytime, for that matter. I suffer from chronic depression and bipolar II. For me, this results in many sleepless nights spent tossing and turning while fighting my way through panic attack after panic attack.
The nights start as any average night does. I wind down from a mediocre supper for one, take a hot bubble bath that I've convinced myself I've "earned," then inevitably, end up browsing the internet on my phone via a variety of social media apps and such while something plays on the television as background noise. Then as a rush of nerves and adrenaline pulse through my veins, I am paralyzed as the overwhelming tasks due for the next day begin to creep up on me. By now, it's likely 9 PM and I am staring at the wall, numb. Silence is somehow calming for the time being, although there is still the television on and the buzzing of my inner demons coming my way to create more than enough noise.
A spurt. Small and almost mighty. A spurt of energy rescues me as I muster up all of my creativity and strength to begin my tasks. I open my computer, make a list, open a new word document and then it hits... the blank screen staring back at me decides to taunt the voices. As if to fight back, my head decides it is prime-time for the little voices to come out and tear down all of the little works I've done all day to be here. It's somehow 11 PM now and I have to be up for 7 AM the next day. "Eight hours," I whisper to myself, if only I were any bit accomplished and could magically fall into a deep slumber at that exact moment. I close the laptop in despair and desperately tell myself tomorrow I'll get more done, as if I ever believe that. The voices are happy with the win they feel they've earned tonight.
But that's not enough for them! Laying in the dark, they feed themselves off of my inner emptiness and scream at me how I'm not enough, how I don't deserve to be sleeping, and how tomorrow will just be another waste. My heart races, my breathing gets shorter and choppier, and somehow I'm unable to disagree with these voices...
"In through the nose, hoooold, out through the mouth." I repeat the breathing that the therapist makes me do when I hyperventilate in a session. The voices don't like this as it creates a divide between us, a void where the world slips away from me and there is a peaceful silence. With the loss of control and power, they scurry back to the darkness they stew in, hiding themselves and somehow, I've fallen asleep.
I wake up to the peace and quiet of a new day, thankful to have another chance to defeat the voices and prove them wrong.