I used to think nothing could go wrong in my life as long as I was in the bed.
I felt safe there. Surely nothing bad could happen as long as I was asleep. I wouldn’t get any rejection letters. I wouldn’t mind that no one but telemarketers ever called the house. I couldn’t burn anything in the microwave or ruin clothes in the washing machine. As long as I stayed in the bed, I couldn’t be held responsible for any bad that happened.
I was so tired. I would sleep all night, wake up and get my kids off to school, then go back to bed as soon as they were gone. I would wake up around 10:30 or 11 a.m., get dressed and get ready to see my husband when he came home for lunch. While he was home, I would start laundry, eat lunch, and socialize with him until he left for work again.
Then I would go back to bed until the kids came home. Sometimes I would even stay in the bed once they got home and only get up in time to cook supper before my husband came in from work. Then I would stay awake, interact with them all, send the kids to bed at 8 p.m., and go back to bed myself around 8:30 or 9 p.m.
But the truth was I didn’t really need to sleep like that. I was just so depressed that I couldn’t face life out of the bed for very long. Insomnia is listed as a hallmark symptom of depression, but not for me. Depression circumscribed my life to the limits of my master bedroom.
Sleeping fourteen hours a day was an escape from my inner life—the thoughts that told me that I was worthless, that I would never amount to anything, that I was just a waste of oxygen, that I couldn’t ever be the wife and mother I needed to be to my family. Sleeping was the closest I could bring myself to what I really wanted—which was oblivion. But I knew suicide could not be my answer. So sleep was instead.
If you find yourself drawn to sleeping instead of experiencing life as you would like to—if you avoid leaving the house because you can’t face the world outside—if all you want is darkness and heavy blankets—don’t stay there. See a doctor. Talk to a counselor. You could very well have undiagnosed depression that is masking itself as fatigue. Don’t sleep your life away.
Julie Whitehead currently writes and blogs from Mississippi at her personal blog. She has been a university lecturer, a disability examiner, and a freelance writer. She carries a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and blogs to create awareness and help others understand the disease and its effects.