Friday, April 27, 2012

In the Haze

I woke up this morning with the idea that I wanted to describe what the haze of living with sleep deprivation is like for me. If you've lived like this, then I would love to hear about your experience too.

At first, I thought about it in the same way I thought about fog: thicker and thinner in places, obscuring my view of what I normally know is around me. I knew that writing was there. I knew that running was there. And sometimes I attempted it anyway. A lot like driving when you know that the road is there, but can only see about 15 meters ahead of you.

I hate that kind of driving. Living that way isn't great either.

But that was what it was like in the beginning of my sleep deprivation. As time wore on, it was more of a haze in the mind. Haze takes over everything. It made thinking and planning harder. My concentration was gone. I lived in the moment, planning for not much more than I could see in front of me.

The effects of sleep deprivation have been compared to alcohol consumption, and the comparison is not pretty. If this is a concern for doctors who work long shifts, what does it do to ordinary people who are driving, cooking, and managing their lives? How does a person work?  I can tell you that it's not easy. As a freelancer, I've watched as my business falls to pieces around me, because I can't plan and pursuing clients is almost impossible.

In this haze ideas flit away very quickly. Words that were once easy to access are stuck in the hazy brain. As a writer, without words and ideas, I am not able to perform for my basic tasks. It would be like an accountant who can no longer remember how to add.

There have been days where I stood there, telling my kids to get ready for school and couldn't remember the word toothbrush. My sentences dying in my mouth. Not being able to access basic vocabulary is frustrating and scary.

It's not just an ineffective way to write, it's an ineffective way to live. This is haze. This is four years of sleep deprivation.

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