The Witching Hour

The Witching Hour

What I’ve learned lately is that there are many kinds of tired. More than people generally accept. Perhaps the language around tired in English is simply not rich enough; perhaps the creation of language and vocabulary is a young, healthy person’s game.

First, there is physical tiredness. This is the best kind by a long shot. After a long day of physical labour, sleep comes like a sweet breeze and is an uninterrupted rest. After that, there’s the tired you get when you’ve gone too long without sleeping; that dizzy kind of tired, the kind that sometimes doesn’t lead to sleep as fast as you’d think it would. Then there’s the kind of tired you feel when you’ve got a bad cold or flu or a fever; that bodily exhaustion, the stuffiness in the head, the grogginess. All generally relate to sleep very directly. You get tired, you struggle (or not) to fall asleep, you wake up and feel better.

That’s not what it’s like when you’ve got thyroid issues.

Walking through a world where air is thick like molasses; sleeping and not feeling rested; too tired to think, to parse words, to imagine things. To tired to remember; being startled by the same coat hanging by the door more than once (forgetting the simple explanation: you’re just keeping it for someone else, it’s not a dark shadow peering in at you).

Why is it that sleepiness seems to stem from the eyes? I’ve seen it in both of my nephews, who rub their eyes when they’re tired. I feel it myself when I feel groggy and slow; as if my sleepiness is stemming directly from my eyes.

This is what I have learned: being tired and sleeping are not necessarily connected. If your sleep is thrown off hormonally, you can get plenty of sleep and still feel tired, both mentally and bodily. What do you call it when you’re not so much tired (though it feels very close), but you feel as if your body missed a step along the way between sleep and wakefulness? There’s that witching hour in the middle of the night when you wake up for some reason (a voice in the hall, a car back-firing, an anxious dream), and the world seems different, dream-like, unreal. Your thought-process is on some other level where the rules of the world are different; walls move, the dean rides up to your office on a horse, you chew through your own broken teeth. And while you’re in that dream-space, the real world is confusing. A dripping tap is an enigma; the feel of a cat’s tail against your shin can make you jump three feet into the air in fear. Sometimes (not all the time, mind you, just once in a while) I don’t think my switch between that world and the normal one entirely materializes. So I can go for hours feeling like I’m about to fall back to sleep at any moment, where things will make more sense again. Phrases contain words but don’t make sense; there’s text on the screen in front of me but I can’t read it. Being unable to keep up with a conversation; asking people to repeat themselves more than once, even though a question was already answered moments before.

Somehow the word “groggy” just doesn’t quite cover it.

Though these days are few and far between. I’m doing pretty well, but I have my occasional rough days (like yesterday and today).

I got my test results back. No more cancer, by the looks of things. I’m in the clear for a while.

0 thoughts on “The Witching Hour

  1. I’m glad to hear you’re clear, and that the tough days are becoming fewer.

    That kind of grogginess is really hard to deal with, especially on those days when I feel otherwise fine, (and know I look okay to others), except for that layer of cotton batting between me and the outside world.

  2. having needed thyroid medication my entire adult life (as well as having a cacophony of other nasty hormonal and chemical niceties like CFS and fibromyalgia), I found this description of ‘tired’ to be akin to something I wish I could stitch onto a pillow or put on a card to hand out when my brain suddenly stops working with no warning or explanation.

    I especially enjoyed your observation that language creation may only be an arena for the healthy and the young – that is spot on. The strangely tired would be well served by a few words that could convey their world before it gets calcified into a misjudgment by the well intentioned, but ever so misguided, who have never been sick.

    how can the chronically ill have a stake in what the healthy and the young take for granted … creating an identity, observing and naming their world, belonging to community, and ergo having some semblance of mastery over their lives, if the world has already been named and claimed by those who have no internal template for that level of vulnerability, and when there is little opportunity or fertile soil for the creation and legitimation of new descriptors? of course I speak mainly of someone in my position, for whom all of adult life experiences were effectively erased by the blank stares that greeted my daily life of exhaustion and brain fog. I’m guessing that if you’ve had the opportunity to create an identity, much of who you are will stick and get you through potential misunderstandings of character when the grog takes your day over (eg. “it’s not like her to miss that”) … in my case ppl expect me to miss things and then view what I do accomplish as a fluke, not the fruit of the talent and toil I know was invested. but then someone else may know better than I do.

    I hope you will continue to explore these ideas and issues …

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