I’m starting this at 2.25am. Totally a good idea.
I need to sleep, but I don’t want to go to bed. I need to talk. I have too much to say and if I go to sleep then I’ll lose these thoughts along with all the others and I might miss something important.
Every night, until I fall apart. Repeat.
My sleeping pattern screwed up considerably when I dropped out of school. The new-found level of inactivity combined with no need to get up early meant that within a year I started sleeping from 4am to around 1pm. What was the point of getting up early? All my friends were at school until half 3.
I also started drinking coffee when I was 13. Sometimes I needed to stay up all night if I had to get the first train to London so I had a kettle in my bedroom and I used to make myself cups of black coffee throughout the night.
This is definitely where the problem started.
When I left home, I had to get a job. In fact, because I was only 16 and there was no minimum wage, I had to get two jobs. I was exhausted. I lived on cigarettes, caffeine pills, energy drinks and alcohol. People noticed that I didn’t eat. I was too fucking poor to eat. I needed the last of my money for caffeine, cigarettes and booze. I got a boyfriend who shared his weed, and I started to eat a bit more. I started to sleep a bit more.
I lived in Nottingham for three years and I barely remember it. I kind of imagine this is similar to what other people experience when they go away to university, except I didn’t learn anything.
Then I moved home. I was only supposed to go back for the summer but because I had taken a shine to turning bridges into flaming wrecks I didn’t actually have anywhere to return to if I decided to go back to Nottingham. So I stayed at home, and it was probably for the best because my grandad suddenly got really ill.
I have a phobia of blood. It’s the most useless of all the phobias and I can’t control it at all. Vasovagal syncope knocks me to the floor and even if it doesn’t get that far, I still get tunnel vision and tinnitus and cold sweat and heart butterflies. It doesn’t matter whose blood it is, I will still react in the same way… unless the wounds are self-inflicted. I have no idea why that is. I’m not about to tread back down that sorry path to find out. I just find that a bit strange.
I won’t go into detail about what happened, because it’s 2.50am and I don’t want to faint because no one will find me for ages. But let’s just say that giving old people aspirin and warfarin during a heatwave is really REALLY bad.
So my grandad went to hospital and I stayed at home and, for the first time, I started looking after my nan. She’d had strep throat as a kid, which turned into rheumatic fever, which damaged her heart valves. She had open-heart surgery in 2000, so three years prior, and when she sat near you in her nightgown you could hear the mechanical valves ticking in her chest. I will never forget that sound.
In a rehearsal for dark times yet to come, I immediately failed at my attempt as a carer. I didn’t sleep until 4am, I had to get up around 6am, and I didn’t get a day off. I couldn’t do it.
One day, my dad came over. There were two beds in my bedroom back then, because my mum and I used to have to share a room back in the days when I was tiny and she hadn’t yet abandoned me like someone who realised they didn’t want a cat once it stopped being a kitten. My friend was there, and he gave us both speed. My friend went home, creeped out at my dad hitting on her, and he slept in the spare bed while I lay in the dark, with a tingly scalp, playing Snake on my phone.
And suddenly, I was fucking awesome at being a carer!
A conversation my mother was having, overheard by chance, meant that I soon discovered the joys of ephedrine, and although I’m sure the pharmacist knew I was using Chesteze to get as high as a kite to keep my momentum going, this was before it was outlawed so he could never really say no to me.
The side effects of ephedrine and amphetamines are insomnia, anorexia and anxiety. In exchange for this assault on my body, I thought I bought myself some extra time.
I really, really hope I can I trust you. With everything.
Now I’ll find a notebook for all my stupid unoriginal late-night ideas and then I’ll ruin that too. I can’t compete. I wish I hadn’t uttered a word.
3.25am and however many mistakes.