This past week, I ended up many hours short of the sleep I needed. And when that happens, the inside of my head implodes.

It's not just the fuzzy lack of sharpness inside the brain, and the sluggishness - it's everything else uncomfortable turned up to eleven or twelve. Sounds are too loud. My skin fits incorrectly over me. My usually well coped with anxiety and hyper-vigilance come out to play: not only does it feel like I'm noticing any movement or sound, it feels like it's too near to me, often right up in my ear. Dealing with people, having to talk with them, feels like a vaguely hostile game in which I'm all too aware that I'm off my ability to social by a few degrees.

Tired? Yes. Trapped in a world with the filters for my anxiety and sensory stimuli absent? Hell. Absolute hell. The constant awareness that I'm functioning like a twitchy, unhappy, unsmiling wreck never goes away. The feeling of my normal face melting off my own, the inability to properly emote, the wreckage of the usual cognitive structures - I become, literally, a shell of myself, haunted by an angry ghost.

A nap will not fix it, generally, unless I can lay down for a good solid eight hours. For lack of a better term, I feel bruised behind the eyes, fragile. It used to be I could overcorrect with horse doses of caffeine, but I think I've burnt out the receptors. My face can't move. My eyes can't move: they feel as hollow as the face behind them.

The best of all the worst solutions is to curl up on the couch in a dim room under a blanket in a place where no one else is. The current apartment, flanked as it is by residents with relationship issues, is only suitable during the day. Earplugs would work, mostly: I still have sharp enough hearing to get the cadence, if not the full volume, of the yelling.

I want the world to stop, and it will not, and I will not be able to sleep until nighttime. Even then, with my head circling any anxiety-inducing bit of data it can find, often I'll drag myself up to bed, lay down, and stare open-eyed at the ceiling, hoping that eventually I'll just pass out.

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