Stand down? I can barely sit up.


I saw this picture on LOLCATS the other day and laughed. Who doesn’t remember nodding off while pulling an all-nighter studying for a big exam or finishing a term paper? That kind of studying is pretty much in the past for me, but that phrase “spontaneous napping” stuck in my head. Because I’ve been doing a LOT of that lately. And it’s a problem.

My usual morning routine consists of seeing to the needs of the cat and The Wonder Dog and then slowly regaining consciousness with a breakfast bar and mug of tea while I sit on the couch with my laptop and catch up on the news. No, I am not a morning person. And there’s usually something in the news that will kick start my adrenaline. But twice last week I was late for work because I dozed off for a half hour in the middle of a news story. And Saturday? I put the laptop aside to “rest my eyes” a bit and woke up TWO HOURS LATER. Yeah, I’ve been zoning out within an hour after waking up. I’ve even had a tough time keeping my eyes open at work. This is not normal.

No, there’s nothing physically wrong. Believe me, I’ve had more diagnostics done recently than a Formula One racecar. I’m the poster child of good health, if not clean living. I think I understand the problem. I’m just not sure about a solution.

For the past few years, and especially the last twelve months or so, life has been sheer hell. No two ways about it. It’s been crisis after trauma after crisis followed by insurmountable problems, without end. And I’ve had to be on constant high alert to deal with it all.

Seriously, I’ve felt like a captain whose ship is under siege — the mizzen mast is broken, the hold is taking on water, the crow’s nest is on fire and pirates are about to swarm over the sides. And the Death Star is hovering on the horizon. The Spanish Inquisition is (unexpectedly, of course) amassing on the other horizon. Along with storm clouds. There’s no land in sight and we’ve run out of limes. Fresh water is being rationed. Clean socks and underwear are a distant memory. There’s talk of mutiny among what’s left of the crew. And the gunpowder– um, never mind about that. You get the idea.

But now, all of a sudden, the waters have calmed. The sun has come out. There are no longer any pirates climbing my rigging, nor even dark clouds on the horizon. The Death Star has vaporized. The scouting party has returned with news of intelligent civilization willing to share chocolate. Birds are chirping. The crew is sprawled out in deck chairs, sipping drinks with little umbrellas stuck in them, wondering why I still have a pistol in my belt, a vigilant eye trained on the horizon and a knife clenched between my teeth.


My personal defenses have been operating at DEFCON 1 for so long, I’m not sure how to stand down. And yes, I do realize that the US military has never gone to DEFCON 1. Or so they say. But they’ve never had to deal with pirates AND Darth Vader AND the Spanish Inquisition all at the same time, now have they? So they say.

It seems my body is compensating by taking measures into its own hands and shutting down into sleep mode every time I sit quietly for more than a few minutes. Spontaneous napping. If only I were a laptop, there’d be a setting I could adjust.

It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I reassure myself that things are Just Fine now. Apparently, this state of super readiness is impervious to reason. I’m still on high alert. “Employing maximum readiness for imminent or ongoing attack.” As they say. And it’s exhausting. I’ve tried, but my mind can’t seem to let go of the notion that all hell will break loose if I dare to so much as blink.

I know, that’s so wrong. I just don’t know what to do about it.

I want to lounge in that shady spot on deck, feel the warm breeze play through my hair and listen to the gentle lap of waves against the hull while sipping a stupid umbrella drink. Any suggestions as to how I can get this damned knife out from between my teeth?


Filed under health and well-being

21 responses to “Stand down? I can barely sit up.

  1. I think a trip to Oregon is in order.
    Beaches, mountains, rain, loggers with green eyes and rippling biceps, who gently carry you off to their cabin in the woods where you can cook and clean and floss the beaver’s teeth so he can cut down the logs properly… wait a minute. This fantasy’s gotten off track somehow.
    Certainly a trip outta town for awhile… and a new job… and a massage… new job… a new boytoy… and a new job… and time to write, sleep, and look for a new job…


  2. Hmmm, I don’t know… NC has beaches and mountains and rain. Probably loggers too. Someone is cutting down all those Christmas trees. Oh, right. Beavers. They floss?

    The rest of it — leave town, find a job, buy new toys, get some sleep, make stuff up — all sound like activities for which it might be a good idea to have a knife clenched between your teeth.

    But what is this “massage” of which you speak? Are weapons optional?


  3. orangehands

    Drugs. They solve wonders. 😉

    No, I actually understand what you’re going through, though on a different (and probably much smaller) scale. I spent three years in college in overdrive, writing paper after paper after paper, and now, even though its been several months since I’ve graduated, I feel like I’m forgetting to do all this stuff. I keep getting anxious and nervous and my stomach ties itself in knots and that’s why I keep getting sick (when I usually get sick once a year). My adrenaline is running but it doesn’t need to so it just zooms through my body, creating chaos. (Along with other worries about Now What, but that’s another issue.)

    Which doesn’t answer your question. My mom is a big believer in breathing exercises; every time you start to feel tense, slowly breath in and out and let it relax your body. And on that note, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, massages…

    Giving yourself an off day may help (a very mini-vacation where you just do enjoyable things). Taking an actual vacation.

    Repeating Merry’s list: A new job.

    Just going for a drive can help some people. Spend the day in some excluded nature spot and let it soak in. Go to the movies or museum or do something else you haven’t done in a long time because you’ve been so pedal to the meddle.

    Find a new hobby (or an old talent like writing) and let it become the focus of all your annoyance, nervousness, and angst.

    Ummm…when I figure it out I’ll let you know?


  4. “…an old talent like writing.” LMAO! Thanks OH, for the perspective.

    And yes, adrenaline creating chaos is exactly how it feels. No outlet, no enemy to fight, no problem to solve. Maybe I should join the army?

    I do need to get away. Right now the thought of getting in the car and driving “till the train, it run out of track”* is very appealing.

    *old favourite Marshall Tucker Band lyric


  5. cbpen

    ‘Right now the thought of getting in the car and driving “till the train, it run out of track”* is very appealing.’ Hooo boy do I know that feeling. Everything that you said resonates so much for me*. Except the part that it is time to relinquish the knife…I still HAVE to be on DefCom1. Or so it feels. Don’t worry. If you DO put down the knife, I’ve got your back. 😉


  6. Theresa

    I was going to suggest that you find yourself a kickboxing class as an outlet for all that adrenaline that has no place to go. But, well, your knees.

    So, hmmm. Swimming? A beginning Pilates class?

    And as OH said, breathing. That’s always good too.


  7. McB

    Well if you stuff enough chocolate in your mouth, there won’t be room for the knife.

    It takes time to unwind. In the meantime, do something to use up some of that adrenelin that now has no place to go. Like slicing limes. You do have limes, right? That’s the most important thing.


  8. Diane (TT)

    Well, my two suggestions (along with endorsing the other ones, especially the bit with the limes and the chocolate, of course) take two opposite tacks: visit a therapist (who is PAID to listen to you talk until you run out of things to say; is it possible that you restrain yourself a lot in an effort to be civilized?) or try a yoga video. I don’t like yoga classes as much (some people love them), because I feel uniquely inflexible, but some videos have modifiers for people with various challenges. I like “Yoga Conditioning for Weight Loss”, not because it actually led me to lose weight, but because I find the background – outdoors in red rock country – very soothing. Yes, the instructor (Suzanne Deason) is frighteningly serene, but maybe it will be contagious!

    Peace be upon you.


  9. annmariegamble

    I’ve been surprised how long it takes me to get out of alert mode, and I would guess your body is working at it during all these naps. Hard exercise and massages and trips also help me change gears.


  10. jenb

    learn and then practice cracking the whip.


  11. CBPen, put the knife down and back away. Slowly. And then c’mon, hop in. I’ll drive. We’ll go see what there is to see at the end of the line.

    So… the consensus seems to be eat chocolate, put limes to good use [grin] and then get up off my rear and exercise. Good advice for just about any situation.

    Oh, how I wish I could do kickboxing. But, yeah, the knees. And I’ve never tried yoga. I’ve always considered myself a bit too irreverent to achieve that degree of– whatever it is. But maybe I’ll give it a try.

    Or I might just keep taking naps. The cat is doing a good job of enabling by snuggling up and purring.

    JenB, I’d love to do lunch! Maybe you should bring your son’s whip after all… sounds very, um, therapeutic. (Email me with a date that works for you.)


  12. orangehands

    Or, if you don’t object to guns, go shooting at a range. Beat the stuffing out of a pillow. Find something you can rip to pieces. Sometimes putting the aggression to something that is aggressive can help. (Like kickboxing, but doesn’t involve the knees.)

    (But do NOT under any circumstances hit a locker. I speak from experience; trust me*, it just really, really hurts.)


  13. Robin S. Sorrentino

    Your body is telling you that you need the rest. Sleep, rest and let your body recover then you will stop falling asleep spontaneously and your body will stand down to a calmer DECON level.

    Listen to someone whose found out the hard way. When your body says sleep–Do it!


  14. Robin S. Sorrentino

    Didn’t read the comments before I commented. If you need a place to get away, I have a very calm cottage on Sturgeon Creek that wouldn’t mind a lone visitor. You could rest, sit on the deck and watch the water, write if you so please. No tv, no internet, no phone. I’ll even go down and change the sheets for you.


  15. Personally, I think that sounds wonderful…
    wistful sigh…


  16. Hmm…all these great suggestions, where to begin. I’ll just pick through the shiny stuff that caught my eye:

    Chocolate and Limes, but not together (Bleech!)

    Getting away is always good but then you end up in hyper drive trying to catch up with crap when you return. Clone yourself. Better yet, find a Celestial Sister Wife who’s willing to do all the chores. (Yeah, I know, it sounds like “crazy talk” to the rest of ya’s but here in Utah…)

    And the Spanish Inquisition is not such a bad thing…if you’ll remember, they tortured that little old lady by forcing her to sit in a comfy chair and jabbing her with a feather pillow. At least in the history lesson I got from M. Python, that’s what they did, and it was unexpected… I figured they’s use an Iron Maiden.

    And if you want to relax, do not listen to Iron Maiden. Try some Yanni (pronounced Yawn-ie, which is also the effect.) Or some Jim Brickman. He’s soothing.

    Wow, I have sooo gone off the rails. What were we talking about again? Pygmy Cannibals? Torque wrenches.

    Ah crap, time for a nap.


  17. Thanks, Robin. Very generous of you. I’m so disappointed I wasn’t able to be there with everyone last weekend. Looks like a gorgeous setting. Someday…

    I’ve been doing a LOT of sleeping this weekend, without The Wonder Dog here to wake me up in the morning. Purposely made no plans to do anything at all and it feels nice. Guess I really needed the down time.

    Of course, the kitchen is a mess now and I have no clean clothes to wear to work tomorrow. [sigh] Time for another nap.


  18. So wear your dirty clothes. Maybe then the boss will get the idea that you need a break. Send him away. Things seem to go better for you when he’s not around.

    I too have a body that just suddenly falls asleep as can be attested to by the poor souls who listened to me snoring in the living room last weekend. It was suggested to me by a professional that I get some relaxation tapes and just go with the flow. The last time I did that I was supposed to listen for a half hour at the Rehab Centre and they woke me up four hours later. No one even noticed that I hadn’t come out to finish my exercises.

    The sound of water splashing up on a beach with a loon calling in the distance is very calming and is sure to allow you to relax.

    You have permission to stand down, sailor. The wars have been fought.


  19. Scope, it may be just that simple — all I needed was permission from a superior officer.


  20. cbpen

    I kinda sorta ran away today. Just tooled around the county with A! Then, I had to take her home and return to real life. I keep thinking about sneaking off to Ky where my friend B just moved. But her sister barely has room for her….
    So I guess I’ll just keep snoozing too. 😉


  21. eidlhe

    I absolutely endorse all of the above suggestions. Massage, mmmmmm. 🙂