Sleepy B*tch Disease
Dark when you go into work, dark when you leave.
Snow mutes every bit of life, turning the world outside into a gray smudge of icy haze that seeps through your skin, threads itself through the marrow of your bones, and drags you heavily into the ground in what feels like never-ending, soul-deep exhaustion.
And to think people call this “the most wonderful time of year.”
Usually the same people that exclaim “up and at em’!” in the mornings and who wear really strong perfume.
(Do I sound cranky? I’m a little cranky.)
I am that person who gets nutty when the weather turns. Being that I’m already a total cluster-fuck of anxious thoughts and their subsequent physical effects, bad weather automatically doubles those symptoms in intensity. When there is snow on the roads, (which is a given seeing as how my town is located right next to one of the great lakes of upstate NY), I see it as a death sentence for me, my loved ones, and humanity in general. The same can be said for high winds and/or heavy rains. I expect cars to spin out of control, permanent power-outages, and for the United States as a whole to turn into a post-apocalyptic wasteland of death.
I’m only half joking. There is a part of my anxious brain that is truly convinced that, in times of severe weather, we are all doomed. The sun will never come back and a horrible demise lurks just around the corner for all of us.
This mentality becomes a semi-permanent state of existence in the winter months, when the weather is particularly out of control and dark. So its really no surprise that I am deeply, overwhelmingly, cripplingly tired. All the time.
A while back I wrote this article about seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and how there are medical reasons that many people often feel “down” in the darker months. Vitamin D deficiencies, genetic pre-disposition, etc etc. I won’t detail that hooplah again here. Needless to say its valid and I’m sure plays a strong hand in how god damn tired I am.
Still, there is a co-morbid disorder that SAD often goes hand in hand with. Something less insidious than the heightened symptoms of mental illness, yet still relevant enough to drag down our moods as well as our eyelids.
And that, my friends, is Sleepy Bitch Disease.
SBD is SAD’s annoying little sister. She does nothing but slouch and pout, pounding her tiny fists into the floor as she flails her arms and legs in the throes of a hissy fit when you try to force her out of bed and into the world.
I’m sure much of what brings her about is the anemia that us humans are more likely to develop in the colder months. Especially in my case, with all my eating disordered fuckery and the bullshit it does to my body.
That said, I’m also sure it is largely brought on by the pressures of living in a doomed state day in and day out. After all, living like you and your family’s lives are in mortal peril all day, every day, can take a toll on your energy levels.
And I blame winter. Winter, and SAD for holding a magnifying glass up to all my disorders (anxiety especially) like a mean kid trying to burn ants.
Its not an uncommon issue, so at least there’s that. I’d say it was unfortunate that this level of exhaustion is so commonplace, but misery loves its company and if I’m honest, I’m too god damned tired to care about anyone’s feelings right now.
Sound familiar? Yeah. You aren’t alone.
So. You’ve got Sleepy Bitch Disease.
What should you do about it, you ask?
I wish I could advise you to embrace your inner bear. Put on your comfiest PJs, eat some delicious food, and then burrito yourself in blankets for the next 6 months. Do not turn on the lights, do not leave the safety of your home, Do Not Pass Go.
But I can’t. What I can do is give the usual gobbledygook about taking some iron supplements to combat anemia (with your doctors approval first, of course). I can also suggest the cliche’s of striving for “regular sleeping patterns,” eating right, exercising, and making sure you take your other meds as prescribed. Its also important to continue finding and using more reasonable forms of self care/coping, which you’re probably already familiar with.
All those things help, truly.
But I also advise that you let yourself wallow in it a little. Let yourself feel the exhaustion without trying to fight it, and be proud of yourself for living your life and managing responsibilities anyways.
Bitch as much as you want.
Really savor that delightful, life giving bean we’ve harnessed and transformed into the magic elixir that is coffee.
Wear big fuzzy socks under your boots, so you can bring a part of your bed with you as you go about your professional days. And if you can’t do that because you’re like me and wear “classy” crap, get yourself a big knit sweater that you can drape over the back of your chair. One that you can pull on whenever your office is chilly, or whenever you want to feel that safe, snug sensation of thick fabric tethering you to the ground as you ride out waves of anxiety.
Or, do like I do and write about being a Sleepy Bitch here on Medium. Because writing is a cure all for pretty much everything.
Humanity is tired. We were not meant to exist in the stark white hellscape that is winter, especially as it throws death grenades at us in the form of snow and ice. Its entirely understandable that exhaustion fuses with our DNA like a symbiote.
TLDR; let yourself be a Sleepy Bitch. Just don’t allow it to hold you back from managing all your responsibilities, and make damn sure you’re proud of yourself for getting through each day despite it.