They were in the crow's nest. The man smoothed Michael's shirt where he had grabbed it, then placed both hands on Michael's shoulders. Welcome, my friend, he said quietly, but with enthusiasm. Insomnia is a common side effect of anxiety, not a full-blown type of anxiety. However, if you've had anxiety for some time, you will know that sleep is for the weak. This is what I would tell myself as I sat at 3 a. My days consist mostly of feeling tired all day, sluggishly making it through work in a haze of seemingly self-imposed exhaustion. I get home and promise myself that this will be the night that I get an early night. Inevitably, I lie in bed staring at the ceiling either pondering the most absurd things: Do dogs think in woofs? <a href=''>Would</a> the human be playing with the corpse of one of their friends and they couldn't do anything about it? <a href=''>This</a> is brilliant because not only do you have to relive embarrassment first-hand and third-hand at the same time, but you get to lie there for hours thinking up every possible scenario that could have happened if only one tiny element of the story had changed. <a href=''>For</a> some reason my anxious brain comes alive at night. <a href=''>I</a> have spent months living on two hours' sleep a night. <a href=''>I</a> have a difficult time crying when I feel sad. <a href=''>The</a> tears do not seem to come. <a href=''>Sometimes</a> I feel like a robot instead of a person. <a href=''>I</a> feel hopeless, helpless, and like a victim. <a href=''>Fragmentation</a> <a href=''>I</a> tend to lose things. <a href=''>I</a> start multiple projects at the same time and tend not to finish many. <br /><br /><a href=''>I</a> find it difficult to follow directions or instructions. <a href=''>I</a> find it hard to stay disciplined and keep a regular routine. <a href=''>I</a> have difficulty falling or staying asleep. <a href=''>I</a> am most honored to make your acquaintance. <a href=''>And</a> your name is . <a href=''>My</a> name is Michael, Michael Holder. <a href=''>Ah,</a> Senor Holder. <a href=''>May</a> I call you Michael? <a href=''>Yes,</a> of course. <a href=''>Are</a> you hungry? <a href=''>No,</a> not really. <a href=''>We</a> have very little to eat, and what we do have contains wee bugs! <a href=''>Michael</a> winced. <a href=''>I</a> started developing a twitch in one eye due to lack of sleep, which just makes you look like a maniac when you're trying to hold an important work meeting and you keep inadvertently winking at people. <a href=''>Insomnia</a> isn't as cool as the movie Fight Club made it out to be. <a href=''>You</a> don't get an imaginary friend who starts a successful soap business with you (Fight Club spoiler alert, but if you haven't seen it, it came out about like fifty years ago what is wrong with you). <a href=''>Insomnia</a> leaves you as a shell of a human. <a href=''>Or</a> just more of a shell of a human than you were before. <a href=''>The</a> only bonus of insomnia that I can think of is that if you are going for thegaunt Christopher Lee circa 1980 look' you've got it nailed. I tried everything: meditation, not looking at any screens (TV, phone, laptop) for hours before bed to avoid stimuli, valerian root, those sprays you put on your pillow that make your pillow smell like your gran's house and that is in some way supposed to be relaxing - until eventually a very nice doctor gave me sleeping pills.

The one drawback with this was that as a human who wasn't used to long bouts of sleep, I then felt perpetually befuddled. The pills worked for a few months before my body got used to them, but for those few months I would sleep like a baby. Which is a terrible expression if you think about it, I don't know much about kids, but I know that they don't sleep at all. I tend to get constipated. I notice that I have a hard time sitting still when I have a lot on my mind. There are times when I feel like my mouth is dry and I can't quench my thirst. My mind thinks about certain thoughts, topics, or events even when I don't want to. When my mind wanders, it's hard to bring myself back into focus. It feels like my mind is constantly analyzing what is happening in my life. My mind is always going, and I have a hard time focusing on one specific thought. I have to be on guard all of the time. I feel people can't be trusted. I am easily agitated. But there is no problem, the man said. You will see. Our journey is almost at an end. Despite the darkness, the reflection of the stars from the water illuminated the crow's nest in a soft glow. Michael could see the man clearly now. He had reddish-brown hair, very curly, that fell almost to his shoulders. A triangular, green felt hat was set far back on his head, the forward point jutting toward the sky.

The rest of his clothes, except for a stout canvas jacket, were in tatters. The man's pants fell in strips around his ankles, and his shoes were virtually nonexistent--hard leather wrapped around his feet. What's your name, sir? In fact every new parent I know looks like I did when I had insomnia. But cliched sayings aside, I obtained some sleep by drugging and drinking myself to unconsciousness, somewhat unsuccessfully4. The last major ingredient in my anxiety cocktail is dermatophagia, or, in its simplest form, biting your fingernails. I have bitten my nails since I was a kid; As I got older and my anxiety became all-encompassing, I started chewing the skin around my nails - my nails were by now barely visible due to a high amount of rodent-like gnawing, and this was the next step. Whenever I felt uneasy or uncomfortable, I would rip the skin off my fingers with my teeth. My fingers were permanently bleeding and I would get through several layers of skin until the colour went from red just underneath the skin, to the purple layer under that, to the light pink layer under that. And every time they bled, I bit more. Every part of it was painful, but my brain ignored it, it was a masochistic coping mechanism. I spent years with my fingers covered in bloody plasters and bandages, I made excuses for why my hands were like this - An accident at work' orI trapped my hand in the car door again' - but really I was cannibalistically punishing myself. I don't notice when someone enters the room. When watching sports, I have a difficult time tracking which player has the ball. I wouldn't be able to match the color of a sweater in a shop with the color of my pants at home. I have difficulty finding people in crowds. I can't hear very low frequency sounds, such as low voices or the bass in music. I don't pick up on subtleties when someone else is speaking. My hearing is fine, but I still often don't notice when someone calls my name.

I have a hard time distinguishing the words in songs. I don't feel it when someone touches me. I have a very high tolerance for pain. Michael asked. Why, yes, of course. The man put a hand to his head. How rude of me! I am Capitan Colon. Capitan Cristobal Colon, master of the Santa Maria, at your service. He gave a little bow. Santa Maria? Michael asked. You are Christopher Columbus? I don't do this when my mind is calm, and my mother now knows how I am feeling by simply analysing my fingers. If they are smooth and barely scarred she knows I am coping, if they are bleeding and covered in blood blisters she asks me how I am. Most of my digits are permanently scarred from this. My thumb on my right hand no longer has a crease at the joint, the skin has been removed so many times it's now a smooth ugly sausage that lives just off my palm. Anxiety manifests itself physically in bizarre ways, always masochistic. The incessant pulling of your own hair (trichotillomania), a complete lack of sleep, twitches and tremors, or even self-harm. This is effectively what I had been doing.