TINGOG KABATAN-ONAN: I Sleep in Peace

By Ace Parilla

I can hear the clock ticking. This time, I’m certain it’s not a dream. 2:41 AM – some 3 hours earlier than my alarm. Not having much sleep, I wake up tired: tired after a sleep that merely paused my worries; worries that resume to consume me even in my dreams; dreams that I can’t discern from reality; reality that I just opened my eyes to another day with anxiety as my constant companion.

Three hours past of trying to get back to sleep, I dragged myself out my bed to and start my morning. Exhausted, my nights have been like this for quite some time. A night, which silence supposed to redeem peace, is a vast, idle space for my mind to keep thinking, wondering, obsessing. Some nights are modest enough to allow me few hours of interrupted sleep. Some nights are just too vile that my mind consumes me like a Leviathan devouring its fallen self.

Spoon by spoon I shove food in my mouth mindlessly. I’m eating, yet my mind can’t stop in replaying my mistakes and problems over and over again.  I shouldn’t have said it. Can I still take it back? If I do this, would it fix it? What if things would turn out worse? What if I mess up again? My appetite is as depressed as my soul.

I analyse things constantly; if only I can turn my brain off. Obsessing heightens whenever the things I fear might happen during the day. My voice inside me is deafening that I get dressed in blur,  fix my hair aimlessly, and before I know it, I’m staring blankly on my shoelace as my mind pictures the things I fear to happen.

On the outside, I try to be someone who strives to do their best on their job. I try to be happy and confident. But on the inside, I’m drowning. Anxiety starts when things I foresee turns out differently. When I think I lost control of things happening in my life, worrying crawls in. Day to day, it drags me rock bottom that it is already debilitating and restrictive. Taking steps further feels like a brick is hammering my chest or thorny butterflies are fluttering in my stomach.

I eagerly want to get out from this feeling. Rationally, I know that the only way out is to either quit it or win it. Quitting is an effective short term fix that gives joy for finally being able to escape even though deep down I know it will make my anxiety worse. Conversely, winning over anxiety gives uplifting assurance that I can actually do it, take it, or manage it, but I can’t fight my demons if I’m afraid to fail and be eaten otherwise. After all, to fight is to take chances and all I need is to be brave.

Walking around after work is somehow frustrating. Seeing people my age getting their dreams, buying their first car, playing with their children, and living the life they wanted is making me feel miserable. When I look in myself, I just see a person that has already moved far from the path I once aimed after bargaining on short term fixes in the attempt of moving forward.

Having an ear to speak or a shoulder to rest on might be a great help. But most often, venting off my struggles only lead to losing people. The more I speak, the more I get isolated. Sharing my struggles has been burdensome to others, while others find it pathetic. When people find my burdens easy and invalid, it disheartens me, as what may seem to be easy for them is already consuming everything in me. I often find myself dialling numbers and cancelling my calls just before they may notice it. I don’t want to be rejected by my friends who already gave up on me. Sometimes, all I need is someone to be there as I cry – no words, just a friend to help me feel I’m not alone.

After a long day, I try to get some sleep. But sleep is always a fight inside me. I’m back to bed. I’m back to being trapped in my spiralling thoughts, I’m back to staring at the ceiling, and I’m back to begging myself to shut off and have some mercy. I’m drained.

Do I have anxiety? Yes.

Am I suffering from anxiety disorder? I don’t know.

Do I need help? I don’t want to. I might lose a friend.

Would taking my own life ease me?

And in a moment, the rain stops pouring. The stars shine the brightest. For the first time I hear silence. For the first time I sleep in peace.

***

“You will not always be strong but you can always be brave.”

Beau Taplin, The Brave

(Carl Ace Parilla is a licensed veterinarian from Central Mindanao University practicing in the food animal industry. He was among the top placers of the VetMed board exams in 2016. He hails from Impalutao, Impasugong, Bukidnon.)