One night in college, after a series of relatively minor but unfortunate events, I found myself unable to go to sleep because I couldn’t stop checking my alarm clock. I was sitting up in my bed, lights out and sound machine on, unable to put down the clock, no matter how sleepy I got, or how crazy I felt.
The thoughts and behaviors I was experiencing back then are often associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, BUT I am not assigning this diagnosis to my situation, because I never actually sought help for the issue, nor received a professional opinion. Also, I do think that the label is casually tossed around way too often, and I don’t want to contribute to that.
This post started out as a regular ol’ narrative, but I soon found myself wanting to make a poem out of it. If you’ve read my previous poem, you’ll know I’m no poet – but I have fun with them anyway, even when they’re relatively serious 😉
Once upon a time
During college – junior year
I developed a nasty habit
That sprouted from a fear
I overslept one morning,
And this bothered me to my core
Because I would be very late for class
By the time I walked out the door
I fretted my professor would hate me,
Or at least find me careless or daft
I made up my mind to be more careful
And this is where the universe laughed.
You see, as “fate” would have it,
I had set my alarm wrong again
What kind of person makes this error TWICE?
That thought got under my skin.
I knew that I was only human
And humans make mistakes
But I was really angry with myself
And I refused to give me a break
The habit started simply enough
At night, I’d double-check my alarm
Then “just one check” grew to two, then three
I didn’t think it’d be any harm
I’m sure you can tell where this is going:
My “checks” snowballed to 50+ times
I couldn’t stop thinking about my alarm,
And I became anxious at every bedtime
What if the time is set wrong?
Or what if it’s set to p.m.?
What if the clock somehow turned off?
…Maybe I’ll just check it again
I’d make myself exhausted
I’d cry from the aggravation
My rational side tried taking power,
But the logic train had left the station
My body’s primal need for sleep
Would finally, blessedly, take over
But should I awaken in the night
The thoughts would just carry right over
Anxiety is its own kind of torment
A prison from which there’s no escape
I often felt I was holding myself together
With Elmer’s glue and pieces of tape
With some time and a lot of effort
I broke myself of the madness
But I still get nervous that it wouldn’t take much
To just slip back into the practice.