I lie in bed and feel not only the absence of tiredness, but a seething restlessness.

That was something I must’ve felt on some level as a kid. My mum would push the drawers up against the bed because I had a tendency to roll out. But I grew out of it. As a teen, I slept okay most of the time.

At thirty, a psychiatrist prescribed me Aropax (aka Paxil) for panic attacks, OCD, and depression. The start-up side effects were debilitating – dizziness, disorientation, stomach aches, insomnia, hot flushes, among other things. Eventually, some of those side effects settled. Some of them. But the Aropax did it’s job with the mental health stuff, so it became a question of what was the lesser of two evils?

One side effect was to wander out of bed. I’d wake and find I was now sleeping on the floor in the corner, and that I’d dragged the doona with me. Later, I would become cognizant enough to feel myself slipping from my bed – a leg poking out from under the doona, a foot on the floor, half-sliding into a sitting position and propped up against the bed, then lying on the floor. I never recall crawling into a corner, though.

Other times, I’d bounce at of bed insanely early, like at 4.00am, and autopilot my way through getting dressed and making breakfast. I might’ve had no will of my own. I had to teach myself, had to wedge a conscious thought into whatever was going on inside my head, to check the time on the clock radio. Then, seeing how early it was, I’d crawl back into bed, and drift in and out of a restless sleep until a more reasonable time.

The psychiatrist told me these were likely mental health symptoms. Strange. They never happened before the Aropax. And when I finally, torturously ditched them five years later, they mostly stopped – mostly. No more wandering from bed. No more shooting out of bed at obscene times. But I’d often wake early morning, and flit in and out of a restless sleep. That’s still with me (along with a few of the other side effects), eighteen years later.

Now I feel it’s going to be a restless sleep. There’s no tiredness. And my arms and legs might have springs in them.

I vacillate in and out of a light sleep, although I can never tell just where I am. It’s a waking sleep where everything seems real.

Even when it isn’t.

Sometimes, a thought will pop into my head, but when I try to explore it, it evaporates and I have no recollection of what it was. When it first happened, it’d worry me, like it was evidence of some undiagnosed mental deterioration. But I think these thoughts must be occurring when I’m in those light sleeps, and I lose them when I wake. I don’t know for sure, though. And don’t care anymore. Whatever.

This night, I must drift off into a light, troubled sleep, because the next time I’m conscious of my surroundings, I’m discombobulated, like my mind’s been shorn from my physical self and we’re now just out of sync. I can tell it’s later. How much later, I’m not sure. The doona and bedsheet are rumpled at the foot of the bed. Presumably, I’ve kicked them down there, but don’t recall doing so. This has become such a regular occurrence I’m accustomed to it.

Hooking the sheet and doona with my left foot, I drag them within reach, then grab them with my hand and pull them up to my chin.

There’s a comfort being back under them, a warmth and seeming security. You’re safe in bed. I’m sure there’d be some study that suggests these are carryovers from being a baby, from being tucked in and having parents watch over you.

But all I feel is awake.

I lie there, waiting, unsure I’ll get back to anything resembling sleep and, even if I do, knowing it won’t be good. It’s become this horrible thing, the dreaded bed-partner. There’s no peacefulness or security to be found here. There’s nothing but the emptiness of the early morning unfolding into territories that traverse despondency and find horizons simmering with resignation.

Sometimes, I think – I worry – that death will be like this, that there’ll be no “Rest in Peace” and, instead, it’ll just be fitful, a descent into dissonance that offers nothing but an eternity of inexorable restlessness.

This is life now.