An attack of desire for women
Prior to about 1988, the only period during which I suffered from insomnia was the period during which I worked at Prince Castle (late 1978-early 1979). But from early 1988 to the present, I've been suffering from more or less insomnia, with occasional remissions. The insomnia came on gradually over a period of months. I was at a loss to understand why I was no longer sleeping well. I thought it might have something to do with the fact that my mind was constantly burdened with a lot of things that I had to get done, but I'd already had these things on my mind for some time and they hadn't prevented me from sleeping. During early 1988 I had an attack of desire for women which persisted, with fluctuating intensity, for several years, but I didn't feel that that was the cause of the insomnia.
When the insomnia was really bad, I might go through several nights with less than 6 hours of sleep a night, and then I would get really desperate for eep, and the lack of it seriously impaired my ability to work. Usually, though, I would get between 6 and 7 hours of sleep a night, and nights on which I got between 7 and 8 hours were fairly frequent. At these times I felt that my ability to work was impaired a little, but not too seriously. Yet I felt considerable distress at getting only 6 or 7 hours a night - I felt starved for sleep. But during the last 2 or 3 years I seem to have adapted to the reduced sleeping time. I felt much less distress at getting 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night and felt that there was little impairment of my ability to function. Yet I have strongly preferred to get 8 hours or more when I could.
Now, as I mentioned before, in early 1988 I began suffering from a desire for women. This was not mere sexual lust. What I craved was not just a screw but a love-relationship, children, and all that. Yet it seemed almost hopeless - I was getting old, I had no money, and I was tied down by the work I had to get done. What made it especially frustrating was the fact that I imagined I was attractive to women, that I ought to be able to get a wife or girlfriend but was prevented from doing so by my circumstances and my lack of social skills. When I was occupied I felt alright, but when I was not occupied - and that was mainly in the evening after supper - I was often afflicted with feelings of hopelessness centering around women, children, family, etc.
Since sleep disorders and feelings of hopelessness are two symptoms of depression, I hypothesized that my insomnia was due to some mild form of depression, though I was not aware of having any symptoms of depression other than the two I've mentioned. More recently, though, I've found reason to discard this hypothesis and return to something resembling my original hypothesis.
In early summer, 1993, I attained a major preliminary goal in my work. Immediately after that I had many other pressing things to get done. But when all that was finished in October, 1993, I felt relieved of the pressure to get things done; I felt that, for a while anyway, I could take it easy. Even though I still felt unhappy about my trouble with women, I experience a major remission of the insomnia. For a while, anyway, I was able to get 8 hours or more of sleep on most nights, which I felt was a wonderful luxury. But, of course, there was still a lot of work to be done, and as the necessity of finishing it began to weigh on me, the insomnia returned.
In the spring of 1994, I ventured to talk about my troubles with women to a woman whom I like and trust, Becky Garland, who owns the Town and Country Store in Lincoln. The conversation was brief - 15 minutes or so - and she didn't tell me anything that was of much practical use; but even so I felt immense relief at having talked to her. For many years I had been frustrated by the fact that there was something like a barrier between me and the rest of the human race, especially between me and women. I had of course talked to women often enough about superficial matters, but never had an opportunity to speak with any of them on an intimate level. After talking to Becky I felt that I had finally broken through that barrier. Moreover, I felt that if I ever need advice or encouragement in dealing with women I could go to her for it.
One of the questions I asked Becky was whether I was attractive to women. She told me that in that respect I was "run-of-the-mill." In telling me this she did me a great favor, because once my illusion that I was attractive to women was broken, I no longer felt frustrated at the fact that my (imagined) attractiveness was going to waste, and I was able to reconcile myself to celibacy. The feeling of hopelessness completely vanished and I was no longer troubled by craving for women.
But the disappearance of the feelings of hopelessness had no effect on my insomnia.
The next major remission of the insomnia came in late June of 1995. Then the most important part of my work was done and I felt I could really relax. For a month or so I took it easy - I worked on my subsistence chores but did other work only to the extent that I felt like doing it. And I enjoyed the luxury of beautiful, sweet sleep, eight hours or more on most nights.
After that first month I took stock of the "clean-up" work that I still had to get done, and I realized that there was a great deal of it. I then felt under pressure to get things done again, and the insomnia came back to some extent, but it was not nearly as bad as it had been between early 1988 and late June, 1995.
Now here is a very interesting fact. In my autobiography I informed the reader that at the age of 19 I began having nightmares (3 or 4 times a year?) that were accompanied by a strange aura of fear and disgust. Over the years these nightmares became much more frequent but also much less intense. Also, the times when I was most likely to have these dreams were when I had been under stress and then the stress was relieved - it was during the first week or two after the stress was off that I was most likely to have nightmares. But when I was relieved of stress in late June, 1995, I did not at first have any of these bad dreams. Later, I did have some, but not many, and I was surprised to notice that while the dreams had the same disagreeable aura of weirdness about them, the aura of fear was completely absent. Still later, after a matter of months, the fear did gradually come back into the dreams, but still I think I was less troubled by these dreams than I had been formerly.
Anyhow, to get back to the cause of the insomnia, I have by now concluded that what gives me insomnia is, mainly, a feeling of being under pressure to get things done combined with a sense of frustration at the fact that the work is going too slowly. But I have no explanation for the fact that the feelings did not give me insomnia prior to early 1988.