You don't have to understand the world. You just have to find your own way around in it. - Albert Einstein

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

sleepy Koala

I'm so tired today. The day is mostly over and I still haven't really woken up yet. I'm just too tired to stand up for any longer than it takes to put the kettle on or go to the bathroom. I'm too tired to keep my eyes open long enough to read more than half a page of a book. This post is being typed in short bursts with lie-downs in between.

There's no apparent reason why I should be so tired. I slept fine last night, and I haven't been overdoing anything. I'm not experiencing any other symptoms related to depression or to the epilepsy. I feel fine. I'm just so tired.

It's really quite annoying. I did have plans to do some good things today. But it turns out that nothing more eventful than putting a DVD in the player will happen today. I resent this, all this time lost to nothingness, time that could be spent doing or learning all sorts of wonderful or creative things... if only I could wake up.

I'm not like this every day, but enough of them. I just seem to be tired almost all the time. I very rarely have the experience of feeling 'full of energy.' There is no official medical theory as to why I'm so tired all the time, though it fits in with the general theme of chronic depression and epilepsy. It's often been suggested to me that I might have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It certainly fits. My GP once asked me if I wanted to see a specialist to get a diagnosis of CFS but I figured it wouldn't really matter anyway, I'd still be tired all the time, only I'd have to pay for a specialist.

I've also noticed that my extreme tiredness meets a lot of disapproval from acquaintances, family members etc. It seems to be the least socially acceptable aspect of my condition. There's hardly any stigma left around epilepsy anymore, and great advances have been made in the general social awareness around mental illness since I was a teenager. But still, if people find out how many hours a day I sleep (average 12), or that I've been too sleepy to get out of bed for the last day or two, I hear a note of something unpleasant in their voices as they tell me how lucky I am to be able to lie around in bed all day if I want to. Ahem. Cough, choke, splutter. This is so rude! I would never say to a person in a wheelchair, "oh, aren't you lucky, you never have to walk anywhere, you can just get people to push your chair for you everywhere." People seem to think it's laziness rather than neurobiology, and resent me for the fact that they have to get up every morning and go to work, while I don't. Well I can assure those people that I would swap my 'cushy' disability pension for reasonable health, and enough energy to do half the things that I would otherwise be able to do, any day. I have the skills, talents, inspiration and motivation - I just really don't have the energy.

Everyone has an opinion, a different theory as to why this might be. I might need certain supplements, or more exercise. Ahem, cough choke splutter. If it were that simple, I think I would have worked it out by now. I'm very active in staying conscious and informed about my medical conditions, and I have had a lot of success in overcoming many unpleasant symptoms and getting on with life anyway. It's extremely insulting to suggest to me that maybe it's really simple, only I just haven't tried the right 'fix' yet.

My own theory is that it's more related to the epilepsy than anything else. The way I see it, in a very simplistic way, is that basically, the way my brain is wired up, with all its hyperactive synapses, it takes a lot of energy to function normally, so it needs more sleep. Well, that's an explanation I can live with.

Once, when I was 19 years old, I was talking to a new friend, an older, very spiritual man, about my sleepiness. He suggested that perhaps the koala is my totem animal, and smiled as though this was a beautiful thing. Koalas actually sleep around 20 hours a day when they're perfectly healthy and normal. There's just not too much pep in eucalyptus leaves, clearly. This is the only time in my life that someone has expressed this aspect of my life in a positive way. It's something I can smile about, to think that I'm like a koala, oh how cute and cuddly, squish.

Though I am extremely appreciative that I get a nice, soft, cozy bed to sleep in, nestled among doonas and pillows, rather than hanging out up a gum tree all my life. I can't imagine how they can get their big, heavy, soft bodies comfortable in the limbs of a tree.

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