annotated at a disadvantage: insomniac

Not me, for once. I’m talking about Heath Ledger, who passed away yesterday. The preliminary investigation shows that he was at least in possession of, among others, Ambien, Ativan, and Xanax; his family and friends say he was having trouble sleeping, on top of a walking pneumonia and, um, having to get inside the Joker’s head.

You’ll stop using euphemisms someday. By the time you’re me, you’ll simply say “He died.” Because he did.

The consensus appears to be that the man just wanted to get some damn sleep. God, do I know how that feels.

Possibly you’ll understand, as the years go by, just how tempting it can be to go to sleep and never wake up. But you won’t do that. I’m here to tell you as much.

Insomnia isn’t really funny, folks. When your sleeping patterns are off, everything changes. I have more nightmares when I’m more stressed, more anxious, and therefore in need of slightly elevated benzodiazepine doses. (Nope, SSRIs never helped me there.) I’ve had days on end where I’m unable to sleep longer than four hours at a shot, so I’ll take maybe half a milligram more Ativan–bear in mind that I’m small and process drugs efficiently, so what seems like a tiny dose is actually therapeutic. My psychiatrist marvels at my body’s ability to differentiate between fifteen and twenty milligrams of Celexa; although the pills come scored, she seldom sees patients who cut them into quarters.

Not surprisingly, your doctor also put you on Klonopin to try to control the inevitable hypomanias. You won’t piece together your med reactions until you meet Astrid n’ha Eldridith.

I once went a whole weekend without any REM sleep at all. I had to let myself run down enough so that the drugs worked, and even then, I was taking a little extra every day. My father took me out shopping just to see if I’d wear out–ha, right. I felt more drunk than sleepy, complete with lowered inhibitions. (“Yeah, hockey pads are great for combat–oh, your son’s actually joining a junior hockey team? Oops…”)


So it’s personal for me, this young man’s death. I grieve not because he was twenty-eight or a fantastic actor, but because I understand, very personally, how this could have happened. There but for the grace of God go I.

And you don’t know how close you’re going to come.

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