Monday, 25 January 2010

How Do You Sleep?

I write this as a warning. I write this at three o’clock in the morning, my brain humming with activity, up from jet lag. Previously I would have swallowed a handful of little white pills and waited for that comforting glaze to seep over my body, from the feet upwards, and envelope me in a cloud of nothingness. The worries; money worries, relationship worries, career worries, were all totalled by the tsunami of static that washed through my brain every night; every night for years. Sleeping pills and anti-depressants destroyed relationships, sent my life in uncomfortable directions and added an apathetic flippancy to my consciousness. While staring at the ceiling tonight I have already thought of an ending to my novel, made important relationship decisions and decided to take a screen-printing class (this one probably won’t happen but I have been up for ages). Worries are only precursors to miserable events if you ignore them by gobbling downers every night.

An addiction is infuriating in that it won’t listen to reason. No matter how many times I woke up in pools of blood on the bathroom floor having not made it to bed. The embarrassment of having to explain to the doctor as he stitched up the tears in my skin that I didn’t remember anything. Still my hand reached for those pills every night. I would make promises to girlfriends at the end of their tethers and would be horrified by my own creeping and lying. Anything to get the drugs. The sleeping pill I would take was called Zolpidem (Ambien in the U.S.) and I would take up to 70mg a night. A little research shows me that people overdose on less.

I initiated myself into the world of the chemically assisted through what I imagine is a well-trodden route. I had been taking Prozac since I was a teenager which certainly affected my views on prescription drugs and I would persuade my G.P. to send some Diazepam’s my way as a Sunday morning normaliser. Then towards the end of my teenage years record deals, tours, trips to L.A. and Japan and a misguided sense of Rock’n’Roll nihilism persuaded a guilty habit to become a regular life choice.

The stories that exist from those days at first seem predictably funny; Inappropriate nudity of aeroplanes, smashed hotel rooms etc. etc. but it’s terrifying to not have any memory of any of it and it’s humiliating to be seen as an uncontrollable (clichéd) lunatic when all I really wanted was some stability and a cup of nettle and peppermint tea in the evenings. I am sure the numbness to consequence is to blame for some of the more bizarre decisions that I have made in my life and for that I am not sure whether to be grateful or regretful. I certainly wouldn’t have left university to pursue music or agreed to do Big Brother… I hate to say it but I wonder if I would have gotten married to a near stranger however smitten we thought we were.

Anyway. So here I am free of the sleeping pills and on the verge of giggling with delight at the fact. I can, for the first time in so many years, see the expanse of my life ready to be unrolled in front of me. All I can think is terribly sensible and grown-up thoughts of exciting (in that grown-up, sensible, slightly boring but in a good way) career paths that I could take. I am perfecting my studio techniques, Fuck! I am on my way to becoming a skilled labourer. I even went back to school. And my writing, music and art mirror’s this newfound clarity. I have myriad projects in their infancy and each one is a different route away from the WWF-wrester choke-hold pin-down that sleeping pills had me in. Look out prudence, here I come!!