I’m really sleepy right now. That’s not really anything new for me. I tend to stay a bit on the drowsy side most of the time anyway. Tests ordered by my doctor showed I have low testosterone, so I’m getting a shot every two weeks for that. I can’t really tell they’re doing that much good, though. I also recently tried a prescription for a drug that is supposed to curtail restless leg syndrome, thinking my twitching limbs might be robbing me of a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, I haven’t noticed much difference from this either.

I’ve always heard that there is a link between depression and sleep, but that link seems murky and difficult to define. For some, the amount of sleep each night can greatly improve or worsen the effects of depression. For others, it robs them of sleep and causes insomnia. Then there are those who feel the urge to sleep nearly constantly, fighting the urge each day to simply remain in bed. Of the three camps, I align most closely with the third, as the prospect of a nap seems to nearly always be a welcome one.

I’m sure there are complex biological reasons for the way depression interacts with the human body to influence sleep patterns. Depression can cause other physical symptoms, so why should sleep be any different? In the same way depression can inflict soreness in the joints, surely it can also steal away alertness, awareness, and the sense of being fully awake. I am not a physician and do not even pretend to know how any of this works. I can only mention these things because I know they occur.

medoffAs strong as biological forces may be, however, for those who find themselves sleeping too much, I believe there is another more basic depression-related cause. You see, when someone is asleep, the rest of the world stops. Of course, it really doesn’t stop; events still occur and time passes as it normally would. For the person who is asleep, though, nothing is happening. They are sheltered from everything else that is occurring because they are unaware, blissfully resting and ultimately avoiding the world they are confronted with every day.

In sleep, there is safety. You will not be disappointed that your phone doesn’t ring or beep or chirp because you will not be awake to hear it. You will not yearn for that person you miss so very, very much because they will not be at the front of your mind. You will not fret over money or bills because sleep is free. You will not think of the missed opportunities, guilt-inducing decisions, or traumatic events in your life because your conscious mind will be closed for business. You might dream, but at least the dream will not be real, so the protective cover will remain in place.

For many a depressed person, sleep is a safety valve. It provides the type of solace that few physical activities in life can. It offers a chance to slip the bonds of worry, doubt, fear, exhaustion, and pain for hours at a time. I have used it as my own personal escape hatch many a time, sometimes because I just could not stand being awake and aware for one more moment. The only downside is that it never seems to last long enough. It seems to end in the blink of an eye. That is why the temptation is always there to overindulge in it, to try to stretch its benefits as far as humanly possible.

And, with that, I wish you all a good night.

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Don’t forget, you can email me now at info@lightsinthedarkness.net. I’d love to hear from you!

One comment on “The Only Safe Place

  • I can completely relate. I try not to nap because it isn’t good for me, but sometimes, when I’m in a funk, sleeping is the only thing that helps. I hope for no bad dreams and when I wake up, I feel refreshed and my symptoms have decreased.

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