When I was little, I was up watching cartoons long before my parents were awake. I made it up until college without needing an alarm clock; I survived until my second stint at graduate school without drinking coffee. Anyone who has ever woken up beside me knows that I start the day chattering and almost obnoxiously energetic. Last year I wrote the better part of a book manuscript before noon.
Depression rots away little parts of you one by one. Being a “morning person” never seemed like an important part of my identity until I stopped being one. Sometime over the course of this summer, my bed started to exert a stronger and stronger gravitational pull on me. It got to the point where, at the start of the semester, I needed repeated text messages to ensure that I actually got up for the 8 a.m. section I was contractually obligated to teach. I would get up in fits and starts, getting dressed or putting on coffee and then crawling back under the covers three or four times.
When I arrived home to Arizona three weeks ago, I gave up and simply crashed. I hid from the day by sleeping for as long as possible. Subsequently, my morning pattern has changed alongside the pharmaceutical soup inside my brain. Now, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. I watch the morning light accumulate with a steadily growing sense of terror that, no, I won’t be able to get back to sleep, and that, therefore, the respite of unconsciousness has ended.
Depression is irrational, and there’s nothing more irrational than my morning misery. After all, as the day goes on, I almost always feel better, and if I know that by 3:00 p.m., why can’t I convince myself of that at six? Sometimes, by the night time, I am even so optimistic as to tell myself that tomorrow morning will be different. But it never is. What seems like progress is always just another cycle.
I’m about to go to bed in a warm bed in a safe house with loving parents. And I am so, so scared.