Tuesday, 26 June 2012

To sleep: perchance to dream...

My sleeps have not been peaceful ones lately. It often takes me hours to fall into a slumber, only to wake every few hours with a cough, a low blood sugar... or to be startled awake by some uncomfortable dream. After tossing and turning, after the night sky I can see through the gap in my blind slowly turns violet to grey to blue, after silly scenarios run through my head, I eventually drift off... only to be woken again by a cough, or a low blood sugar, or the padding about of next doors kids. As these tiresome nights drag out in front of me I hope so much that sleep will just come and engulf me and whisk me away to a silent restful haven. I used to wish to have lovely dreams, but now I just wish for an almost deathly silence where my thoughts are locked away allowing me a blissful, tranquil rest.

I don't normally get this wish. The other night I dreamt I got my call from Addenbrookes, but somehow I worked out I had half an hour to kill footling round the house. After 25 minutes had passed on this little countdown timer I placed in my room, I suddenly realised I hadn't even packed! Then came a frantic 5 minutes trying to work out what to bring, but I was in a mood (that I can only compare to having a low blood sugar) where I couldn't make any decisions, and just ended up following my mum about in some hazy crazy daze. I woke up all worried (because to be honest, I haven't really packed everything...) and it took ages for my heart race to return to normal.
I have a poem that I wrote out about 6 years ago blu tac'd to the wall right beside my pillows. It's called 'To Sleep' and it's by my favourite poet in the whole entire universe - Keats. After nights and nights of reciting this poem I know it off by heart, and even though the felt-tips have long faded away, I still look at the pale outlines of the letters and repeat it; the mantra of my bed-time routine.

O SOFT embalmer of the still midnight!
  Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower'd from the light,
  Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
  In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
  Around my bed its lulling charities;
  Then save me, or the passèd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
  Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oilèd wards,
  And seal the hushèd casket of my soul.

It's this silent sleep that I so crave. I love every line of this poem - Sleep is this embalming figure, completely wrapping you up and protecting you by locking your soul away from wiggling moles of conscience who bury and dig their way into your mind as you sleep, filling you with thoughts and worries. How beautiful does a hushed casket for a soul seem?! I see it as a warm and cosy den filled with humungous marshmallow pillows and fluffy sumptuous duvets and hanging purple gold and maroon drapes, completely cocooned away. Forgetfulness divine!

Of course, sleep never quite seems like this. Maybe once in a while Keats' poetic vision will materialize, but you always take a gamble. If you manage to dodge the nightmares however, a dream filled sleep can of course, be just as wondrous. "To sleep: perchance to dream... ay, there's the rub". "For in that sleep of death what dreams may come?" - take away all the suicide and death, and Hamlet has a point. He of course was pondering whether his mortal anguish will dissolve in death - me, i'm just wondering whether my mortal anguish (if you'd like to call it that) will be left in reality as opposed to my dreams. I'd love to not have to worry about transplant stuff in my sleep as well as in my waking life. You hope your dreams will be an escape from day-to-day life, but in reality, it's not always like that. Boo.

No matter how weird my dreams are, you can always tease out an immense amount of truth from them. Dreams can seem so muddled, random, distorted, odd... but in the early morning post-mortem of these weird visions, they paint such a clear picture of your mind. It fascinates me. There are no lies within dreams it seems. The tangled, if not chaotic sub-conscious thoughts weave themselves into an even more chaotic tapestry, yet through the seemingly tangled strings, you can tug and tighten them until the most detailed and precise picture emerges.  You can pretend to feel certain ways, but my dreams always point out exactly what my mind feels. I always say i'm not very worried about the transplant, but going by the number of unsettling dreams i've had regarding it (there was one where they were going to put rashers of bacon in me...), obviously, I am! I just wish they'd calm down a bit. Leave me in peace. If anything, so I at least I have the strength to deal with it the next day...

...And to get over this wee cough that's creeping up on me. Nasty bugger. I had an amazing nursery tea of gammon, bacon, chips, and topped with a fried egg, so hopefully all that salt and calories and fatty goodness will boost me up, especially after days of feeling pretty crappy. Knock this little infection on it's head before it's slimy mits take hold good and proper. POW.


  1. Another interesting post! I think theres a slight difference between sleep and dreams. I see sleep as a physical state of rest and recuperation, which is what we all require. Dreams on the other hand is an extension of our sub conscious thoughts. Hence our dreams will depend upon what we are actually thinking (or trying not to think about). In short, think happy thoughts!

    1. Thanks! Yes, I agree. I suppose the ideal is when and if your dreams can aid your sleep - letting your body as well as your mind recuperate simultaneously...

  2. That's a beautiful poem, I haven't read much of Keats since we never studied him at school.
    I'm the same, whenever I'm stressed I have trouble sleeping and mucked up dreams. I'm not in your situation so I can't really say 'Try not to worry about it!' but I do hope you get a good night's rest soon! You seem SO positive all the time but of course it's natural to worry so you're right...your dreams are where all these worries are let loose. I hope maybe letting some of these worries out on here is a bit helpful? I know my blog can sometimes help me.
    Talking of dreams, remember your post where you spoke about your Nan's house in Canterbury? After I read that I had a dream that me and my Mum were going to buy that house but we kept getting lost in it and couldn't escape...it's was so scary haha! xxx

  3. You write so beautifully Laura! Have you ever considered writing a book?!

    I'm sorry to hear that you've got a lot on your mind- it's completely understandable though. Do you ever voice your concerns to people? Whilst I understand that you try and keep positive all the time, it might ease your mind a little at night if you get it off your chest during the day. Of course, I have no idea what you're going through so am in no place to advise- only based on experiences of being anxious over much less scary things!

    On another note...the dreams about them sticking bacon rashers into you made me laugh! Although how dare your subconscious incorporate on of your loves into a nightmare!