anxiety · life · social anxiety

Midnight City

I am tucked away comfortably under my blankets as the hour nears midnight. Out of habit, I have the lights off in the room and my phone screen is set to the lowest brightness. That’s probably not good for my eyes but I still do it anyway.

Outside my room, I hear the going-ons in other parts of the house. The front door has just been opened downstairs. My brother is home after a long day. For a moment I wish I could block out the noise. My heart pounds in sync with the sound of his footsteps as he comes upstairs. I assure myself that I won’t be disturbed. I am not, although part of me feels guilty for the deception. Having my room lights off and my door closed gives others the impression I have already gone to sleep, however, I do this on some nights to give myself the privacy of being awake for a little while longer and not wanting other people in the house to know I’m still up.

Paranoid much? Yeah, that’s me. Mostly I don’t want to be asked the following morning about how late I stayed up and when I went to bed. These are questions my father asks me, not out of strictness but just in casual conversation. It’s not an interrogation, yet I get paranoid about what kind of conclusions he may draw if he knew I didn’t go to sleep right away. He and my mom have definitely known about my past bouts of insomnia, although I never explained to them the reasons behind the issue. I wouldn’t know how to begin such a conversation. Maybe I owed them an explanation then since I was still just a teenager at the time, but I’m an “adult” now (twenty-seven-years old) and I feel like I should be able to deal with my own shit instead of burdening them.

Am I a night owl? I don’t know. It’s probably not in my nature to be one since my body seems to always know to start feeling drowsy and sleepy around this time. Whether I actually fall asleep is another matter entirely, depending on if my anxiety acts up and I’m stuck laying in bed thinking about something (or many things) I am unable to put to rest in my mind. I do think I have improved on this somewhat, albeit not 100%.

It’s comforting to listen to the hum of cars and even the occasional roar of a motorcycle passing by outside while it’s absolutely still in the quiet of my room. Traffic is not heavy in my neighborhood this late at night. Even so, I am not bothered by the sounds (except for the dreaded car alarm) and can fall asleep once I’ve put in my ear plugs. It’s interesting to think about how, for me, my night is coming to a close as bedtime rolls by, but for other people, their night is just beginning.

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10 thoughts on “Midnight City

  1. I too like the isolation of being in my own room at night, with the lights turned off and door shut and others in the house thinking I’ve gone to bed. So it’s not just you 😀 I’m every bit the late night person and love it when everyone has gone to bed and I am still up. My brother has a habit of scaring me and making me jump by making sudden noises at night, and it does not help with my anxiety at all. So when he goes to bed, I cherish the quietness of the house.

    But unlike you, I hate having earplugs in my ears. The distant “ding” of trams outside my place is always comforting to me – knowing that the world still goes on without me being in the spotlight. Yes. For me, nighttime is only the beginning for me too 😀

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    1. Cool to know I’m not the only one out there in the world who does this. I have so many habits that might be considered “weird” but maybe I’m not weird after all.

      I like the secrecy of being awake. You could say it satisfies my drive for living dangerously, lol, since I never do anything crazy or wild. Sometimes it can be comical trying to maintain the pretense of sleep. A few nights ago I was catching up on a new episode of a tv show before bed and I was using my phone to watch it. There were so many moments during the episode that made me laugh and I had to make sure I wasn’t too loud.

      I can still hear the whoosh of cars passing by outside even with ear plugs in, except the sound is considerably lower. I don’t mind hearing the cars but I think having the noise at a lower scale helps me relax. I use cheap earplugs, and I’ve heard the better ones can drown out noise entirely.

      One thing that always keeps me up is during the spring and summer nights when I can hear people talking outside on their porches. So many times I’ve opted for just closing the windows so the noise gets muffled.

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      1. I hope you get many more comfortable nights watching TV shows on your phone in bed, alone in your room. And in the dark, I’m guessing… Lying on my bed in the dark after “going to bed”, watching YouTube is my guilty pleasure.

        It’s not just at home that I like to be left alone. When I’m outside going about my day, sometimes I’d avoid walking a certain direction if I see people coming my way. Or if a shop assistant is watching me, I may not go into the shop. This used to be pretty bad; now it’s better but I still have those days.

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      2. It is nice to unwind for the day and watch something nice before bed. I think what works for me is to not overdo it and to not spend more than an hour on it. What used to be bad was I’d binge watch stuff into very late hours of the early morning after midnight and not actually be paying attention. I would just do it because I felt bored but too restless to sleep.

        I feel surprised to know you are so similar to me in the situations you described. Many times I am too intimidated to go into a shop or browse a place if I see the employees studying me. Walking down the street can be a challenge too because I don’t know if I should make eye contact with the people I pass or not.

        Blogging about my social problems has given me the opportunity to see that I’m not alone and other people face these issues too. This virtual community is helpful but I still feel alone with my problems in the real life sense because I don’t know how to talk with others about my struggles. I’ve had the chance to go to a facilitated meetup group where like minded people can discuss their struggles but I was too scared to actually show up.

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      3. I avoid those kinds of meetups like the plague, even if it is like-minded people with anxiety like me 😦 Just can’t bring myself to do it and I have come to accept it. Recently I was on a work trip and oh dear, I think I put people off with how un-social I am. Oh well :”D

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      4. Yeah me too with the avoiding the meetups. I don’t know if I can accept that I can’t go. I’m afraid but at the same time I feel like I need real life support with my problems, despite how scared I am to open up. The biggest thing keeping me from going (besides being afraid) is everyone there is supposed to have a turn speaking about their issues. I am the worst when it comes to public speaking. It’s not like I’ll be made to stand up as I talk, but even having people looking at me for a long time as I speak during regular conversation is frightening for me.

        I haven’t had the experience of being on a work trip. What was it like? Did you go alone or with coworkers?

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      5. I feel you again. The moment people start staring at me when I’m about to speak, so many times I hope the ground will open up.

        I had to fly interstate for work events attended by quite a few people. The first leg of the trip I went with a colleague. The next leg I was on my own but later was joined by someone else I never met before. Felt like I kept to myself for most part and I think my colleagues noticed :/ Oh well. Interestingly enough, I felt energetic on all days except the last.

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      6. I have often envisioned myself melting into a puddle of nothingness when people are staring at me lol.

        Yeah, I can see how it would be uncomfortable to travel with someone you don’t know. I’d probably keep to myself too if I worked with people at a job. It’s super hard for me to feel comfortable making small talk in a work setting.

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