I snapped this morning. Just snapped.
Chronic sleep deprivation is a strange bird, a horrid strange bird. The lights are so blindingly bright, the television so unbearably loud (was it always this loud?) and painful, your movements are jerky and uncoordinated so that you frequently hurt yourself unintentionally doing extremely mundane things. Like walking. Driving is too scary because you simply feel drunk and everything just moves too fast for your brain to comprehend, so you stay stuck at home where things are somewhat (slightly) safer. Eventually, you try going to the store to pick up a few things without a list, and you will likely end up buying a new SUV because you are so confused as to what it is that you are actually trying to buy, and the SUV was something that your brain recognized as having wanted at some point. Then you get home and your husband tells you that what you had actually gone to pick up was Tylenol for your aching back. Oopsies. But now you can’t really tell where the pain is coming from anymore because it seems to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
Occasionally you see your friends, who are now totally confused by you, mainly because you are so tired that you find it hard to properly respond to what they’re saying. You just stare blankly at them, while trying not to say the wrong thing, wanting desperately to say the right thing, which would be easier if you could remember what the hell they were talking about. Your normally quick-thinking brain has slowed to a snail’s pace, so it’s all that you can to do try to make the appropriate noises and faces without letting them know that you are too stupid for them now. But this is your one salvation: the people that knew you before your brain stem fried, and you love them dearly. When they leave, you mentally rehearse what you said and hope like hell that it was not offensive, because now the prospect of seeing these people is all that is keeping you sane.
You’d love a nap, but when you lay down with the baby, he wakes up some 20 minutes later just as you were falling asleep. Which you remember had been used as some kind of torture technique for POW’s (along with playing some Christina Aguilara, who you listen to by choice, but you imagine that listening to Averil Lavigne would elicit the same response in you.), and suddenly the hallway tilts to the side and you feel dizzy and slightly tipsy, and you hope like hell that you can make it down the stairs without dropping the baby. So before making your decent, you consider the positions that would likely keep the baby safest should you fall, which sounds excessive until you remember falling though the screen door, cutting the hell out of your finger stupidly reaching into the diaper bag, and nearly fainting twice at the mall. Which was what happened just over the weekend. Besides, the baby has his whole life ahead of him and you, well, you’re feeling older and older by the day, besides if you hurt yourself badly enough, you’d get to go to the hospital and get some pain meds and finally get to rest, which is all that you really want anyway. When you finally make it down the stairs while clutching the baby for dear life, your husband wonders why you suddenly sprouted devil horns and a tail when he mentions that he’s “tired” and “wants to take a nap,” because to you, all it feels like is being spit at in the face considering that he’s hasn’t gotten up over night to really tend to the baby in many months, so he is fortunate enough to get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep most nights.
Unlike you, who hasn’t slept more than 4 hours in a row in over six months, and that’s on a damn good night. Hell, you consider it a good day when you get to brush your hair AND put in your contacts.
But all logic and rationallity (you can be tired AND someone else can be tired at the same time, without negating each other!) have left the building with Elvis many, many moons ago, so all that comes out of your mouth is some vague sheep-like noises and then the tears of frustration begin, because you can’t even form an understandable sentence any longer, and you suddenly know how horrifying it must be to have dementia.
Daily, you check yourself to make sure that you are not succumbing to The Crazy that runs rampant in your family. You check and recheck your emotions, turning them over in your mind like a cube to ensure that you are properly reacting to things on an emotional level. Try as you might, you eventually discover that you are not in spite of your best intentions.
You have these vague fantasies about leaving the baby somewhere safe over night and walking to a hotel down the road and sleeping for the next twelve hours without telling anyone where you are because they’d come looking and wanting SOMETHING ELSE from you, but you know that your overwhelming guilt would never allow it. Your anxiety has reached the point where you must take sleeping pills to even get yourself to sleep, because if you did not, you would be up anxiously waiting for that sound, the one that has interrupted your sleep for months.
Crying it out doesn’t work, although you firmly agree with it, because it just makes the baby increasingly anxious and frantic because NO ONE IS COMING FOR HIM, so it increases your workload tenfold when you do finally breakdown and pick him up because now you must spend the next twelve hours not leaving his line of sight, lest a tantrum errupt. Besides, it makes you feel badly. He IS just a baby, afterall.
So what do you do when you don’t have the foggiest idea what to do any longer? You yell at a completely harmless baby, you scream and you cry out of frustration for what feels like years of having to cater to his each and every whim. You curse everyone around you for not being able or not even trying to help you more when you are just trying like hell to keep your head above water and someone else wants something else from you NOWNOWNOW! But you have nothing left to give ANYONE anymore. Not one damn thing. You’re drinking gasoline just to stay warm, but where are my socks, Mom, where is my bag, Becky, what’s for dinner tonight?
Then you drink yet another cup of coffee, burn your hands in the process, take a deep breath or thirteen, and promise yourself in vain that tomorrow will be a better day. Because someday, it will be. It just has to be.