Underneath: Sleeping Pills

Shit. Where to start with this one …

The seventh story in Pills.

There are two things that inspired this one.

ONE: Insomnia

I’m sure I’ve written about it before, but I’ll go through it again. I have suffered from insomnia for years. I have been there at 5am, with bags under my eyes, not being able to decipher reality from dreams. I have experienced hows the cumulative effects of a few nights of bad sleep can take a relatively normal, sane human being and reduce them to a jabbering, shaking, paranoid wreck.

Anyway, during my worst bout of insomnia, I was working in an office in Mayfair. The company I was working for had a deal with a private doctors’ surgery around the corner. Any staff member could ring up and have an appointment within an hour. Once at the surgery, they’d be show to a backroom, where this Russian doctor would sit and listen to your troubles and the prescribe whatever he thought would remedy the situation.

So I went along and told him all about my insomnia and how it was affecting my life, and two minutes later he’d prescribed me 28 Stilnoct tablets. ‘Take one a night,’ he said, ‘then come back in a month if you still can’t sleep.’

Well, sleep I did. And the first few nights were glorious. But Stilnoct (or Zolpidem, to give ’em their generic name) are highly addictive, fuck with your head (in a way not dissimilar to the effects of insomnia) and should not be mixed with alcohol (or any other substances, for that matter). And I was drinking a lot at the time.

After the first week, my life was a waking nightmare. I was seeing things that weren’t (hopefully) there, I was still paranoid, but it was not so much to do with the stark reality of London or my life anymore, now I was living in this surreal horror movie and I didn’t know what was real and what was inside my messed up head.

Anyway, the following week, the doctor was arrested. Turns out his only formal qualification was a Batchelor of Arts in French, and that he was just winging it at that surgery in Mayfair, rinsing these companies for as much as he could get.

I stopped taking the pills, and eventually things became stable again.

These days I use meditation to combat insomnia.

TWO: Breaking Up

Ever had a really bad breakup? Ever been so messed up by it, you’ll see your ex winking back at you in the reflection of a shop window? Ever been too scared to walk into a certain part of town just in case you bumped into him or her, but kind of wanted to anyway, because you have this irrational yearning to see them again?

Course you have.

Well imagine that coupled with insomnia and surreal sleeping pill visions.

Sleeping Pills took me a long time to get right. I think it’s my favourite in the collection – and it’s certainly the most bleak of all the stories in there.

Also, The Rats In The Walls were there too.

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