by Mark Majors
I don’t sleep much anymore. I’ve grown tired of the pills that would occasionally overpower my senses and force my eyelids shut. It was never quality sleep and I hated that wretched feeling that would always come the next morning. Now I simply rely on pure exhaustion as my drug of choice. It visits me every couple of days, filling my tank just enough to keep the low fuel light off. I’ve actually gotten pretty good at navigating life on fumes, coasting along until exhaustion strikes again.
My insomnia is a byproduct of anxiety and depression, both hardwired into my brain. My anxiety fuels my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I’m not a cleaner, a hoarder, or some of the more stereotypical types you hear when OCD is mentioned. I’m a checker. I make sure that the stove is off when it hasn’t been used in days. I don’t leave a room until the light switch is turned off and it feels just right. The door to my house? I’ve checked the lock on it so often that I’m on my fifth door handle. You might ask yourself why, and you would not be alone. I ask myself that same question, every single check. That’s the torture, and also saving grace, of OCD. It’s torturous to check, check, check and nothing ever feels right. The saving grace? I know my checking is irrational. This is what separates me from, say, a Schizophrenic. I don’t truly believe that the oven magically turned itself on, or that the light switch is stuck in between on and off causing a spark to start a fire, which of course would burn the building down. No, no, no, I don’t believe any of that. I just feel it. A feeling so real of the Obsession, the door unlocked leading to terrible things happening, that causes a Compulsion, an act of checking the door to ensure the horrible occurrence doesn’t happen.
You feel it too actually. However, you probably feel it once, each night when you swing by the door to lock it before bed. Then the thought of uncertainty vanishes. At that moment if you were to stop and ask yourself about the status of the door it would feel locked and chances are very high that you’d be correct. With so little doubt you head off to the bedroom for a good night’s sleep.
Here is where we differ. I’d still be at the door, and why not? There is that one in a million chance that the door didn’t actually lock correctly? Imagine how bad I would feel if it were unlocked and this was the night the bad guys were planning their stroll through the neighborhood, inspecting front doors which were carelessly left unlocked. To save my family from such carnage, shouldn’t I check it just one more time? This time will be the last check, I’m sure of it, because it will feel right. So I check it, and guess what, I’m not feeling to great about this check, how ‘bout another? On and on I go, down the OCD rabbit hole.
My depression is easier to understand. We all get depressed. I happen to get depressed for who the hell knows why. Again, brain chemistry at work. Being depressed is part of life, an evolutionary gift to help us deal with grief and sadness. When you lose a loved one, you have a shitty job, or even something trivial, you get depressed. You are in a funk, and eventually you start to get out of it. This doesn’t mean you forget, but you start to move on. With depression, you stay in that funk regardless of what is going on around you. In fact, all you want to do is checkout from life. Many of us do this metaphorically, with a bed, eight-hundred channels, and hours of staring off into space. Unfortunately, there are those who take life’s exit literally, deciding that the there’s too much shit to handle or there’s no way it will ever end. I’ve thought about the literal way, more times than I care to admit. I wouldn’t suggest that route to anyone, but I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t understand. The boundaries of that understanding have been tested and I’ve decided to live, but living is more than just a heartbeat. Living is having a purpose, and I need to find mine.