Don't pick a fight with sleep. It will kick your ass.
That’s was a big read - I don’t know how to like praise your openness (and immersive writing) without sounding like a dick. But I’ve just realised I’ve been glued to my phone reading this while sitting on the gym floor “stretching”.
It’s not much consolation (and a bit of a funny link) but my mum is a neurologist and she regularly practiced movement tests on me while she was training and I lived in fear that one day she’d discover I had epilepsy or MS or motor neurone disease. I was convinced I was dying of something because I would have movement issues and splitting head pain occasionally - thankfully it was just migraine.
I hope you’re taking some time for some helpful-self-care after writing this - it can be exhausting.
Til next time!
You're a really compelling writer! Thanks for being brave enough to share this really personal experience with us, I bet that wasn't easy to do.
Shit man, I'm sorry about your hat
What a read though! Damn.
I have wondered on and off what had happened about the epilepsy, but somehow the moment never seemed right to ask.
There's something about newborn sleep deprivation that's different, I reckon. I get 2-day migraines if I burn the candle for too long (oh, to be one of those 4-hour migraineurs!) and, of course, I still stay up late too often with scant regard for future me. I get the migraine, I swear I'll go to bed at 9pm forever, rinse and repeat. But I don't think I had a single one in at least the first six months, possibly more. By rights I should have. Maybe your brain manages to make the most of the bursts of sleep it does get, or maybe you spend so much time couchbound it counts as rest on some level.
Either way, that was a compelling read, especially when I already knew most of it.
That’s me in the corner, losing my religion. I’ve been there too, but less spectacularly. I feel there needs to be ‘programs’ for those transitioning out - like addiction. Perhaps there are. I’m a fledgling trainee counsellor, this is an area I’m really interested in. I had nightmares for over a decade about my ‘backsliding’. I had to create my own value system as I’d never built my own (they call it arrested development’). There are thousands of us muddling through as we shed poison. One thing I have found heartening in the study of different theories (one I subscribe to) is the idea that we each have an urge toward healing, growth, actualisation. Everything we do are our admirable (if sometimes misguided) attempts to heal ourselves. Look how hard you were and are working .. Thanks for sharing, I hope it helps you, it helped me to read it!
Love your honesty, compadre.
Thank you for sharing this story. I felt like I was in your shoes. I even pictured myself, on the field beside the university I went to, remembering so vividly how it felt to be an utterly lost 20 year old.
I very much hope that life has improved significantly since those terrible days.
There are far too many similarities between our stories (obviously many differences too, but still, wow) for me to not feel all the empathy in the world -- even if this wasn't very well-told, which as a bonus, it is. Thank you so much for sharing, especially the bit about how it's been years, we're okay, we can breathe now. I needed that :)
Wow - a great read - eerie similarities with things I and close friends have experienced (being a Waikato grad all the more close to home too). Looking forward to the next installment and what helped you. Keep it up mate!
Oh wow, that's quite a traumatic experience. Thank you for sharing that, it was obviously a very difficult time in your life. I can whole heartedly empathize with your loss of Jesus and Christianity - that happened for me around 18 for various personal reasons. Also was an absolutely sudden cut - from one day to the next I suddenly no longer believed. The loss of that community, and the comfort of believing there was a powerful God on your side, did a huge number on my psyche.
Interesting that you experienced the start of your trauma around age 6-8 including the Serious Sam or whatever his name is with the sleep advice. Around that age we are particularly vulnerable to negative, scary or traumatic experiences, and these CAN haunt you for the rest of your life. I attended an excellent (self help) workshop that taught exactly this, and had an exercise for people to root out and share these experiences with others, as it can be very healing. I really hope that sharing this has helped you heal some of it, and release the hold it's had on you your whole life.
That was incredibly open, I had to read it, breathe, sleep, exercise and re read it. I have experienced one suspected fit of epilepsy. Likewise I have left a church*, I understand.
Another author/person who experienced temporal lobe epilepsy and synesthesia wrote about their awakening experience, I imagine it may have been a tonic-clonic seizure, as their experienced involved liquor, a car accident, sunset and some new/altered beliefs. The author's sign off usually was along the lines of "Beware the Obvious - Suspect the Reality".
It's really quite disarming to know that light can play havoc with our mind & body. Thank you for writing about your experiences.
*not of my own volition
I feel you on the waking up covered in blood thing and trying to piece together what happened. I’ve got epilepsy and that sort of thing has happened a few times over the years.
The weirdest one was when I woke up with 2 massive black eyes on the morning I was supposed to go out with my future in-laws to try on my wedding suit. They were convinced I’d been fighting the night before.
Well done on getting that all down though- it can’t have been easy.
Like Amy I was engrossed. Not stretching but sitting still enough for one fat cat to leap on to my stomach and just about wind me. Have worked in mental health for a number of years and realise how hard it is for men to tell their story. Not to say that woman find it easier.
It take great strength of character to speak your truth as you experienced and remembered it.
I could see this in your asides, like, can I really put this out there. We need so much more of this openness as it allows others to reality check their own experiences. We often think we are the only ones screwed up when really it’s a human condition to struggle, sometimes for years, in between the good bits. It was other women sharing their concerns, what they saw as weaknesses and inability to cope that helped me through some tough times. Thank you so much for this Josh.
I will now displace the cat .
Thank you for writing this. Little, Autistic, poorly me was terrified of dying and bad things happening generally. I was so scared after the fire service came to school! I also grew up in an alternative reality household. Good times /s.
I just wondered if you’ve come across flicker vertigo? I experience it and I thought it sounds like you know flickering light through trees feels off and like maybe you’re about to have a seizure. I may be over-reading though.
I’m glad you’re still here. Thanks again for writing. There’s a lot of value to be had in sharing our experiences of things less often discussed. I’d feel so alone in life if not for the internet. And I wouldn’t have known I’m autistic (official diagnosis just a few weeks ago!) without the internet either!
Hooah Josh. Thank you for sharing this! We don't think, or ask, enough about the repetitive behaviors that some of us can "faithfully" do to ourselves, day after day, and year after year, until kaput! We crash out. It's like you /we are Type A personalities (hustle, hustle with over the counter meds or Starbucks to keep us going) and our minds can override our body signals for years. Mentally, we are tough, right? Lol. Then the brain chemistry (or whatever) pulls the plug on us since we can't stop ourselves. Glad you found your self-help book and have the ability to reflect back on your experience. You are even so kind as to share this very personal story with others! Great read. I, like others below, read all at once, even if I needed to get up and do something (the trash will come another day, right?), lol.
Thanks for sharing your story Josh and I’m sorry it felt so hard to share. It’s certainly not something to be embarrassed about - if anyone is judging you for being young and making mistakes they’re just an asshole.
I have a close friend who has epilepsy and she found out in a similar way. Lots of late nights partying, while working and studying. One night (early morning) she had her big seizure in her bathroom. Smashed up her face in the toilet seat. Thankfully she was staying with her parents at the time and they heard the crash. She has had it under control for many years now - exhaustion is her trigger and she has learnt the triggers in her body (and mind) when she’s playing it too close to the line.