14 June 2009

Too Depressed to Commit Suicide

But then suicide's a crime
Don't want to waste the police's time
Just quietly do myself in
Like the guy in that book by Solzhenitzyn
The Pee Cees

It's late here, late for me anyway, and it feels like one of those horrible Sundays long ago when KPFM abandoned me at ten and there was nothing to anesthetize me against the hard reality of the new school week beginning inexorably Monday morning. I don't know why Sunday night was so much more bleak than Monday morning—maybe Monday was busier, less time to concentrate on the horror that awaited.

Maybe it was the dread silence from the radio. I had an FM radio in the days when nobody knew what FM was and the entire dial was a wasteland of small-audience stations—religious broadcasts, niche music, public radio, a few simulcasts, and classical music station KPFM. Twenty-four hour broadcasts of music I actually liked, at least till ten on Sunday night. That's when the silence fell. Sometimes I listened to religious shows, just to keep the silence at bay. I'm sure I listened to other things as well, but the pickings were thin, especially as Sunday night turned into Monday morning.

Insomnia was my constant companion in those days. On a good day—or night, rather—I'd drift off early to the sound of Verdi or somebody like that and sleep through the night till the alarm clock went off next morning. More typically I would lie in bed for hours staring at the ceiling, possibly picking up intermittently whatever book I was reading at the time, or writing a few lines of something or other while I waited for sleep to come. Or maybe not. The sleepless nights were probably not as common as I remember them; more likely they just stand out. Even so I remember vividly the cold feeling of looking over at the clock to see that it had turned three, and knowing there was no way I was going to get enough sleep to keep me going the next day. Those hours felt the worst, I think, since my mind was clear and functioning in a way I knew it wouldn't be the next day. It was after a night like that I fell asleep during science class, much to the amusement of my friends and the concern of my science teacher, who asked me several times if I shouldn't maybe see the school nurse.

During summer vacation I would normally stay up till dawn and then sleep till early afternoon. My mind seemed to function best during the hours of darkness. I was told many times that this was all nonsense—that if I simply maintained a regular schedule I would have no difficulty getting to sleep at night. And I could actually make that work sometimes, with a great deal of effort and determination, and frankly, a lot of lying for hours in bed doing nothing but waiting for sleep to come. The only time I really ever managed that schedule thing was for one year at college when I took two morning classes and was determined not to screw things up, but by then I was adult and had learned such tricks as catching sleep during odd hours of the day in case it eluded me at night.

Silence and darkness were the enemies. Silence, with nothing but the inexorable ticking of that damn alarm clock, and darkness, with nothing to see but the shadows, kept sleep away. Hence the damn radio, and that night light my father installed by my bed. The more I think about it, maybe that is why it seemed so goddamn bleak on Sunday night, when the radio station signed off, and I had to face another silent night. No crutch to help me limp into sleep country. Just the ticking of that damn clock, and the luminous dial glowing fitfully in the shadows.

Ah, memories. But here in the real world it's late and I feel half past depressed and lost in the suburbs of suicide city. I know this mood will pass, and maybe by tomorrow, but as my personal eight ball might say, Outlook grim. Give up.


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