Insomnity (January 20, 2011)

I have had extra nocturnal time on my hands lately, so I started inventing new words. “Insomnity,” a combination of “insomnia” and “insanity,” pretty much conveys my physical and mental state. Feel free to use it.

It was a week ago that I wrote about finding the clarity needed to take myself less seriously. May I ask where that all that quiet calm went?

I am so frustrated. Back in December, I understood my sleeplessness when I actually had something to cry about. After being unfairly terminated, I went on interview after interview with no results. My father continued to weigh down my sister and I with increasingly odd and unlawful behavior. My husband disappointed his parents to an extent I found psychologically intolerable, and of course the holidays always bring a modicum of distress, no matter how ultimately enjoyable.

But the continuation of this now weeks-long battle to sleep just doesn’t make sense in the New Year. I am employed again. I secured a full-time temporary business writer position with a consulting firm located in downtown Chicago. Of course there is no guarantee that I won’t find myself back on the market at the conclusion of tax season, but I have a better than 50% shot at being asked to stay. I used to like those odds in my 20s. It brought out my competitive spirit. But now? I spend so much time worrying about the lack of security that I may ultimately render 2011 job seeking a self-fulfilling prophecy. Who wants to hire a strung-out looking curmudgeon?

I have had other blessings come my way in this new decade. Last Friday evening, I received a pleasant surprise in the form of being asked to edit the quarterly newsletter of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. This is a board level appointment, and though no monetary compensation is involved, a job well and dependably done could open a wealth of doors for me. The association is largely run by female writing professionals of retirement age, and the current President made it known that selecting me represented a huge effort to engage young blood. It’s a terrific opportunity.

Yet five minutes after I accepted the appointment, I was on the verge of peeing my pants with anxiety. Apparently I have come to associate career openings with contingencies for failure. What if I flop? I do not even need to be told that this, to quote Al Franken’s legendary Saturday Night Live character, “Daily Affirmations” host Stuart Smalley, is “stinkin’ thinkin’.” But awareness that one is self-destructing and being able to control it are two totally different matters.

I have seen a doctor, several times in fact. Ambien was a nonstarter. Anti-anxiety meds seemed to help calm my system for awhile so I could get some shut eye, but I tend to grow immune to medications rather quickly. Rather than covertly up my dosage, I thought about Heath Ledger and Michael Jackson and gave it up altogether. A night or two a week I am managing six to seven hours with Nyquil or OTC sleeping pills, but really? This should not be necessary. My doctor recommended therapy, which is fine and all, but I’ve been there, done that and am not going to talk my way into a restful state. If that were the case, I’d be passed out at the conclusion of every blog post.

I am impatient and disenchanted with my own neuroticism. I am as bored with it as everyone else in my life is. Sunken eyes, blank stares at loved ones who wish to engage, and running behind on daily tasks is not sexy. Nor does this condition demonstrate a tormented artistic spirit in the style of Edgar Allen Poe (though come to think of it, some opium might be handy). It’s nonsense, and until recently, I never considered myself to be a frivolous person.


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