Insomnia

One beat. A beat and a half. Three beats. A quarter beat.

Sometimes, there’s a swish to it, like the cloth’s sighing.

Some nights, you sync your breath to this, the sound of metal ringlets on plastic rods, the smear of cloth on cloth, the songs of the curtains.

The curtains go clink clink and you breathe in.

Clink.

Breathe out.

Pause. Silence.

You hold your breath. Ten seconds, maybe more. Your head spins. Not spins, to be precise, more of a curtsy, a delicate bob, in a bright pink tutu and a tiara. If your eyes were open, flashes of hot light would burst in time with music, like fireworks.

One second more, two, and then three. You don’t think you’ll be able to hold out.

One sheep, two sheep, three sheep, you count, just like you’d been taught. The sentence sounds odd in your head. You wonder why, and then you realize: the word ‘sheep’ has no plural. Isn’t that strange? Like fish. But ‘fish’ does have a plural, for types of fishes.

Aren’t there types of sheeps? Are all the sheep in the world cursed with sameness, no name to call themselves, nothing to set them apart?

All of a sudden, you want to cry.

. . .

The sheep in your head are white. So white, you feel more awake just by thinking of them. The word ‘awake’ blazes, and you can almost see the synapses firing, your brain conspiring against you.

No more sheep, you scream, lips pushing out the words in big circles, comically slow, and your brain is way ahead of you. More sheep pop into being, with a distinct plopping sound, like popcorn kernels, like in video games, and there they are: hundreds of them, thousands even, and each one has the word ‘sheeps‘ branded onto their skin, their mouths open, as if in silent screams, or in laughter.

No air, you’re still holding your breath, waiting for the clink, so you can breathe again, but no clink, so no air. The curtains curl up, as if to stop themselves from making noise. They’re mocking you, you just know it, you’ve always known it.

No air, and you feel like you’re drowning, in a vacuum. You wonder whether it would be possible to sleep this way, whether if you hold your breath long enough, you can slip into unconsciousness.

If you bang your head against the wall for an hour, you can burn a hundred calories. You can’t remember where you read that. How many calories would you burn if you choked yourself?

You wish you had the discipline to choke yourself.

Your throat feels like it’s going to collapse. Your finger starts twitching. The word ‘air‘ flashes in red inside your head, like a traffic light.

You look at the curtains, willing them to sing. They look away, coy.

Fine, you say. Fine. If you had the strength, your hands would be raised, palms open, facing front, in surrender.

You wait for a second longer, tease yourself.

Your lungs scream.

Your eyes start to roll up, and then your body takes over and you eat in your breath, claw at it with your teeth. It burns in your throat.

Clink. Swoosh.

Now, they sing. You sigh.

Clink Clink Clink.

Clink.

. . .

Some nights, you come real close. So close, you can taste the sleep, you can smell it. It smells like dripping saliva and warm cotton cloth.

You fake a few yawns then, to push you over the edge, open your mouth so wide, the edge of your lips starts to burn. Stay that way, mouth wide open, until something resembling a yawn tears through your throat. Hot tears fall onto the mattress, salt mingling with the sickly-sweet moisturizer on your skin.

You’re almost gone. So close. That’s it, just relax now, sink in, that’s it, sweetheart. You force yourself to ignore the voice, but it won’t stop. You’re almost gone, sweetheart, you’re almost gone. Gone. Where will you go? When you fall asleep, where do you go?, the voice croons. And you realize that if the voice is still talking, then you’re not unconscious at all, and as soon as you think this, you’ve lost it, you’ve lost all of it, even that precious pretense of sleep.

Some days, you come real close, and you wish you hadn’t. You wish your body wasn’t screaming at you to collapse, you wish your eyelids wouldn’t sag into themselves. You wish you were wide awake, so you could go pretend nothing was wrong with you.

In the dead of the night, the clock blinking at 2:43 a.m., you feel like a corpse dragged out from the grave. Immortality forced down a mortal.

You feel wrong.

. . .

The worst parts are when you go under.

You have no memories of these times, but they must have happened, this time lapse.

The last you remember, it was 2:43 a.m., and you open your eyes,thinking to yourself you’re never going to get any sleep, that people die of sleep-deprivation, and doesn’t that sound nice?, and then you realize it’s 6:00.

You wonder whether you’ve gone insane.

Three hours, seventeen minutes. All gone. You’ll never get them back now. Three hours, seventeen minutes of your life, and you don’t know what you did with them.

Later, your dreams surface as though they’re memories, and it takes a while to comb through them all. Figure out which ones were fabricated, which ones were real. Sometimes, you can go on for a week, deceive yourself into believing in a long-awaited promotion or an apology that never happened.

A fine line there, between a dream and a memory. Subconscious and conscious.

You tread that tightrope between fantasy and reality, and you’re not sure you’ll make it.

Who are you kidding?

You’re not sure you want to make it.

. . .

Photo by Megan te Boekhorst on Unsplash

. . .

PS In May 2019, I will be moving to a new web address. I’m shifting to a personal domain and I’m so, so excited for you to see it.

Buying my domain is giving me so much more freedom for new features, design, and I can’t wait for you to get started there.

But on the downside, all those of you who’ve subscribed to my blog here WILL NOT be notified of new posts anymore.

I’d hate for you to miss out just because I’ve shifted addresses, but WordPress doesn’t offer anything to straighten this out.

So to make sure the change is as smooth as possible, I’d be so grateful if you’d enter your email ID below so we can stay in touch.

You can opt-out any time, no hard feelings. I hate spam and I’ll only be reaching out every two weeks or so for blog updates, I promise. Thank you, again, for all your support.

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107 Comments Add yours

  1. umar rabiu says:

    Talented.
    Well done

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Umar.

      Like

    2. umar rabiu says:

      You are welcome

      Like

  2. Satyam Srivastava says:

    Loved the way you have put those small details. Extremely relatable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Satyam. So glad you enjoyed it! ❤

      Like

  3. Geez these are amazing. Really glad I checked out your blog

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Kayla. Glad you’re enjoying my work! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. sanjay ranout says:

    Intense,,, 🤨

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Sanjay.

      Like

    2. sanjay ranout says:

      👍

      Like

  5. ColdSteam says:

    That sheep-sameness thing can really make you cry! This is serious. What a beautiful explanation of the quarter of my life, awesome!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for the reblog, Michael.<3

      Like

  6. TMH says:

    The character’s experience is so painful–a sign your work is effective.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad it resonated, Tim. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.<3

      Like

  7. Dōhai says:

    Insomnia to a tee!
    Lay off the coffee!
    Lay off the sheep and go to sleep!
    Count your breath, don’t hold it in…
    The wandering mind is naught but sin.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. srijitham says:

    Very nicely written 👌

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I can really feel that, having read it. I hate nights like those.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad it resonated. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.<3

      Like

    1. Thank you, Gayatri. So glad you enjoyed it<3

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for stopping by, this wakes me up to the fact that I found you just in time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha thank you so much, Chris. Glad you’re here as well! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Susi Bocks says:

    This describes many sleepless nights I’ve experienced, Shreya. Nicely done!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Susi! How are you doing?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Susi Bocks says:

      You’re welcome! I’m well, Shreya, and you? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Eh I’m getting by. My sleep cycle’s all over the place so I end up getting nothing done… I feel like all I do is dream about being productive, plan all of it out in excruciating detail, then wake up and forget.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Susi Bocks says:

      Ah! I’m sorry you’re dealing with this constantly. For me, it seems to be occasionally. You described the feeling perfectly though. I’ve had some success with melatonin and LTheanine on those occasions. I hope you experience some relief soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow. You have described the inability to fall asleep in a great way. Beautiful and dramatic. Very impressive writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! This means so much to me 🖤

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Wow. Beautiful and so breathtakingly written in detail.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much. Glad you enjoyed it 🖤

      Like

  14. Anand Bose says:

    It’s marvelous how you cope up with life’s toughies. Anand Bose from Kerala

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Anand. This means a lot 🖤

      Like

  15. gpavants says:

    Sleep is so good. Insomnia is the worst.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Gav says:

    Amazing vision you portray through your words, I love it 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

  17. mahathig says:

    Hey. Beautifully written.

    I don’t struggle as much as you, but I do sometimes have trouble sleeping. As someone with bipolar, this is compounded by the fear that any sleepless night is an indicator of something worse, or that it might trigger an episode. And I know exactly awful it is, that vigil we keep when we’re so exhausted and cannot go under. The torturous minutes…and feeling as if your sanity were hanging by a thread…and everything just seems twisted somehow, wrong.

    Over the years I have found some things that help. I don’t want to give you unsolicited advice – I’m sure you’ve tried a bunch of things – but give me a shout out here or on my blog (https://callarosearose.wordpress.com) if you want to talk 🙂 And I hope things get better for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hey Mahathi, thank you so much for reaching out. It means a lot to know I’m not the only one (we hardly ever are). Heading over to your page…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. mahathig says:

      Nope, never alone 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. theresaly520 says:

    Congrats on the new domain!😊 Beautiful writing about a common problem. Melatonin or other night time aids dont help I see?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! Ah, no. And I wouldn’t want to get addicted anyway…

      Liked by 1 person

  19. now i am afraid to sleep! ><

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Woah! What did I just read? Such expressive language. You certainly have a way with words. *claps like crazy*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Shatarupa! So glad you enjoyed it<3

      Liked by 1 person

  21. A well-written piece, with intense imagery & emotion. Captures the struggle to sleep in a vivid fashion. Appreciate your work! Much respect.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for this. Glad you’re enjoying my work!<3

      Like

  22. sandomina says:

    Wow, the whole plot is so live as if happening to someone in front of you. Lovely.
    insightful.co.in

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it<3

      Like

  23. Beautiful piece of writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. scheska says:

    It is really beautiful

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Sometimes the more you get trapped by how you can’t fall asleep at night, sleep stays farther away…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Definitely. But trying to actively not think about how you can’t sleep is as useful as trying to not think of pink polar bears.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. doctorspen07 says:

    I don’t usually read or like reading long writings. But yours is an exception. Very well painted scenario.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha thank you, Uzal.

      Liked by 2 people

  27. You nailed it, been there, done that!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha thanks, Jane! Glad it resonated.<3

      Like

  28. sandys5 says:

    Those were my sheep, my tears and the minutes that just barely went by, just a few nights ago. I wasn’t alone, it just felt like it. Great post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Sandy. Glad to hear it resonated<3

      Liked by 1 person

  29. I loved this and giggled several times as I read it because I can relate to that frustration and how your mind will wonder to goofy thoughts. As frustrating as it is, I’ve gotten some of my best poem ideas while lingering between sleep and wakefulness.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I can definitely relate. Seems like it’s only when you’re so exhausted that your thoughts simply can’t keep up their filter, that you write straight from the heart…

      Liked by 2 people

  30. Lady B says:

    Ahhh the frustration of insomnia. I can relate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment! ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  31. Magic says:

    This is fabulous! And I can definitely relate.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you! Glad to hear it resonated ❤

      Like

  32. marsreine says:

    Amazingly accurate and written. I also wanted to congratulate you on moving to a new domain aka virtual home. Good luck!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Maura! ❤

      Like

  33. Good read, Practical imagination!

    Liked by 3 people

  34. mywritings21 says:

    “Who are you kidding?” very true. While deceiving or feigned reality is a self-deception indeed, can there be an alternative to that? Can we claim to be living in the ‘reality’ of life? The deeper you go the darker is everything. And, in that, deception is a guise to believe that we exist.

    Thanks for this beautiful writing. Amazing indeed!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. “Deception is a guise to believe we exist.” I love this. Thank you so much for leaving such a thought-provoking comment. Looking forward to seeing you around ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  35. Beautifully said, my friend! I can feel the emotions and frustration in your words.

    I consider myself blessed for not having insomnia. I did have moments in the past when worries kept me up late and still remember the intense feeling of frustration coursing through my body.

    I don’t know if there is a cure for it, but I hope whoever has it gets rid of it, permanently.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you, Andrei. If nothing else, at least I have more fodder for writing. XD

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Well, Shreya, the best fodder for writing will always be personal experience..

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Can’t argue with that…

      Liked by 2 people

  36. Tom Burton says:

    Beautifully written, magical words as always 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Tom! 🖤

      Liked by 1 person

  37. I love this. Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Shannon.

      Like

  38. Inkplume says:

    I love your use of imagery like: more of a curtsy, a delicate bob, in a bright pink tutu and a tiara. If your eyes were open, flashes of hot light would burst in time with music, like fireworks. Beautiful!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it<3

      Like

  39. areilly88 says:

    Well timed – I slept maybe two hours last night. In between, I wondered if the images in my head were scenes from somewhere else, as if I were peering into a movie of other people’s lives. Interesting, but I’ll pay for the excursion. I love your writing. Thanks for sharing your gifts 💚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That was beautiful… I wonder that all the time: everything you think at night seems alien, every thought unfamiliar. Or maybe that stranger we’re watching is actually us, and it takes the sapping of all strength to reveal our true selves without the masks.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. areilly88 says:

      I think you’re probably onto something. In our daily lives we rarely see beyond what we’ve been conditioned to see. For what it may be worth, I have a sense of you beyond the masks. You radiate light, probably even when you don’t know it 💚

      Liked by 2 people

  40. librepaley says:

    An amazing evocation of the condition, so recognisable, sadly. Good luck with your new site!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you, Libre. This means a lot<3

      Like

    1. Thank you for the repost, Casey!🖤

      Like

  41. segalengko69 says:

    I read this after waking up from a night of sleep. I proceeded to dump my coffee down the sink, and have a cup of herbal tea instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha I wish I was strong enough to do that… these days, I live on coffee.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. segalengko69 says:

      Well, as long as the coffee is black, it won’t hurt your stomach too much.

      Liked by 1 person

  42. Very nicely done! I don’t suffer from insomnia very often but when I do, it’s EXACTLY like this! Thank you for putting it into words so eloquently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m glad it resonated, Kristen. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment 🖤

      Liked by 1 person

  43. hmaxwell217 says:

    You are so amazingly talented, yet somehow I believe you truly feel all of this.For this reason I do not envy you. Please keep writing and keep in touch

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Haha thank you so much.❤️

      Like

  44. gypsysoulsun says:

    Current status…… sigh

    Liked by 2 people

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