John White: Scumbag Brain makes its most unwelcome return

I’ve been suffering from sporadic insomnia thanks to sinus migraines over the last couple of weeks.

I’ve been suffering from sporadic insomnia thanks to sinus migraines over the last couple of weeks.

The pain and discomfort of the headaches are not the worst part; it’s the way Scumbag Brain takes over in the wee hours. The uneven sleep patterns have messed with my psyche, and that’s when SB most often emerges from the shadows.

You might remember Scumbag Brain from some of my previous columns. It’s the part of your brain that gleefully provides anxiety-riddled self-doubt and downright nasty thoughts as it clamours for attention by making you conscious of all of your terrible memories and the horrifying possibilities that may lay ahead.

It appears to draw its most immense power from insomnia. Sleep is likely its Kryptonite, but I currently have no way of knowing. When it truly wants to show me who’s boss, it will also invade my dreams.

The other night I was dreaming that someone was threatening a loved one, and I had to react quickly to protect them. I was lying down on the street in this dream (because of course, I was) and I sat bolt upright to mount my defence. The odd thing was, I sat up in real life. In fact, I jumped up and started walking down the hallway. I was blasted awake by this move and was so startled I just kept on walking.

Yes, it’s quite the hilarious image.

The next night I dreamt that someone was trying to attack me from my right side. I quickly reached out and threw a punch. Again, it was happening. I hurt my shoulder exerting myself in my sleep. You should see the other guy.

My strictly anecdotal evidence is that insomnia causes a reduction in the chemical that freezes your muscles during sleep. If I can somehow dream about doing power yoga, I could lose weight and get toned during these fantasy bouts with dream ghosts.

Once I’ve been jolted awake, Scumbag Brain tends to kick things up a gear.

“I wonder how many spiders we’ll eat in our sleep tonight?”

“Did you send that as a Facebook message or a regular public Facebook post?”

“I’m pretty sure the furnace is leaking gas. Luckily, my trolling is making you feel too tired to get up and check.”

“Remember that time in Grade 11 when you were on a first date with that girl you had always wanted to go on a date with, but like Adam Goldberg (Editor’s note: from one of the best sitcoms on TV, The Goldbergs) you are the most awkward 15-year-old in the history of dating? Like when you didn’t sit beside her on the bus bench because you were too nervous. Like taking your dream date to a movie on the bus. Like when you were too nervous to ask for a good night kiss at the end, and she just kind of went inside and that’s the last you saw of her? Of course, you do, because I make you think about it so often it’s burned into the inside of your eyelids. That one’s going to be in syndication in your internal big-screen theatre until you get some form of memory loss. Oh yes, you’ll also likely get some form of memory loss when you get older.”

Here are some recommendations on the ways to combat this relentless beast from someone who’s living it in stereo:

* Don’t watch the news … So many triggers.

* Stay off of Twitter and Facebook. Screens are bad for sleep, and the infinite nature of social media can be a time suck and keep you activated.

* Don’t use alcohol or other depressants. If you thought Scumbag Brain was dark now, you won’t like drunk or wasted Scumbag Brain.

* If you’re like me, don’t buy things like chips or sweets to have in the house. Scumbag Brain will drag you to the cupboard and force-feed you every chip and M&M, covering you in crumbs and candy-coating shards.


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