The darkest evening of the year was yesterday, though for most people, it was just the longest evening of the year. Winter solstice. The shortest day. Here, in L.A., dusk came along around 4:30. That’s too soon for me.
Going to bed has, for nearly forty years, been a reckoning with the shadow that comes at night. Every evening of my life, around seven o’clock, I fear. It’s a rattle of dread. One question, always, will I sleep? Insomnia, for a manic depressive, is the first death knell. One night of little sleep will put me on the edge of the vortex. Another night will pitch me in.
For years I battled it with harsh exercise to wear me out before dusk, followed by a night of a few stiff drinks. That caught up with me. Now I take pills, a dose of Trazodone that can knock out a horse.
It’s the ongoing mania that makes sleep nearly impossible, the prickly little devil that lives just under the skin. He’s always there. He’s helping me write these words. But he gets rambunctious this time of year, in this black hole of holidays. As Christmas approaches, he pitchforks my brain.
The pattern begins in early November, right after we set the clocks back an hour. I brace myself, as though it’s possible, with sheer will power, to undo the seasonal attack of mental illness. As the days darken, the panic comes on earlier, at six thirty, then six, a little sooner each day, until yesterday, when the horror lit up the moment I opened my eyes in the morning.
I write today’s post for all those who suffer similar seasonal mood swings, or who simply hate the materialism and forced-merriment of that ungodly day called Christmas. I don’t wish you a merry Christmas, at all. I wish you days of few shadows. I hope that you, like I, can once again, in this most psychotic time of the year, endure.
SUBSCRIBE to The Writing Bull to receive emails on the latest posts.