Sleepy skills, social and school


Crystina Gonzales, Staff Writer

School in itself feels like it has lasted an eternity. Just this semester, however, feels like a week. It has passed me by, and out of the many things I’ve done, I have nothing besides my art to show for it. My whole life, I’ve tried to grasp onto whatever I could that might make me stand out. Everyone always has a hidden talent. Everyone always has something they’ve excelled in.

In my life, I’ve picked up so many things, yet never seemed to get past a beginner or intermediate stage. Drawing, trumpet, writing, piano, ukulele, guitar- and electric guitar, ocarina, crocheting, sewing, painting, cooking, marching, dancing, cheerleading, programming, gaming, singing, acting, composing, academics, speaking English, speaking Spanish.There’s definitely more to the list. It sucks. It used to hurt to see people be congratulated or be praised for doing well in a particular area. Even for party tricks.

I felt so envious of what everyone around me was capable of doing without breaking a sweat; and my conscience clutched onto me and told me how awful of a person I was for even having these feelings. Because the people who weren’t born naturally talented still put time and focus on tasks.

Time was what I needed. I recognized that fact at the age of 8. I had trouble sleeping at night, lying awake during the late hours of the night until I could finally pass out. Eventually, when I moved out of my grandparents house with my family, I found myself staying up late by both the forming insomnia and the will to do so. If I could take away two hours of my sleep, I could get in some reading, drawing, or writing. It could be something I’d perfect. Everything I did was either never done or perfect. Including homework.

By 5th grade, instead of daydreaming, I would black out in my chair during class. My elementary teacher’s face was the start of the string of looks I’d receive over the years from teachers. Mrs.Johnson, my teacher, ended up phoning my parents during work hours by probably the eighth time it happened. When I got home, I was grounded with my phone taken up. It hadn’t helped.

My family moved cities by January that year, and the rest of everything up until now had occurred. I’d get through classes throughout the day and pass out with tactics to avoid getting scolded by teachers or my parents. Whether it was propping my head on my upper-arm to look like I was resting it while reading, or bringing a sweater to bury my face into to avoid jaw pains from grinding my teeth. If I wasn’t asleep, I was trying to catch up on homework due that day in other classes.

At that point, I wasn’t gaining two hours to use towards skill-building. The amount of ‘naps’ added up to more hours being lost, and the only solution my head to counter at the time of middle school could think of was to stay up later. From then to 11th grade It increasingly went from 12:00AM to 2:00, to 3:00 to 5:00. When my alarm for 6:20 AM went off, I’d wake up hating myself even more. Eventually I started falling asleep without knowing it. Not at night, but during the day. I’d wake up to either another student or teacher shouting my name. There’ve been times where the bell for class didn’t wake me. Like my sleep debt was finally at the point of drowning me.

Junior year has been the hardest workload wise. I really thought I could handle taking an AP class, something that’s been promoted so much to help students. Just like everything else, I wasn’t good at it, and up till now, I’m still not. The start of last semester had me checking Edugence every week to see whether or not my GPA had updated and whether or not I could make a 4.0. It ate at me to try and focus on my academics, staying up till 4 to finish APUSH assignments.

By the beginning of the 2023 spring semester, I’d run out of any sort of stamina. Sleep surpassed the priority of any work of any kind. No art, writing, or homework. It was like the undead came to life, and I was chugging my way through the halls of the school like an empty shell. 

I missed being able to function, being able to be present. The weeks and months had passed and some days I didn’t know if it was Wednesday or Friday, A day or B day. I ended up walking to the wrong classes and having to beg teachers to give me a pass so I wouldn’t end up late because lord knows nobody can get to class in 3 minutes in this overcrowded school. I missed  meals and sometimes ended up showering in the morning because I felt too fatigued to get up.

One night, I laid awake, dread in me, knowing that it was 5:30, and I hadn’t slept yet. That I would face the consequences of this stupid game with myself. In the last remaining minutes before I finally got my 10 minute sleep, I bawled. I was frustrated. I woke up but kept my eyes closed as I turned off my last alarm to wake me. When I woke, It was my mom opening my door to let me know my dad had left without me. I stayed home that day and did any work I could. 

Over the past months, I’ve come to realize that all I’ve done is damned myself. I realized that time isn’t what I needed. Alongside it, I needed focus. Something I always struggled with. I wish I’d realized sooner, but it’s better than later.

I had a friend who previously recommended I seek assistance from professionals, advice I brushed off and laughed at. I reached out to him that week and told him about my troubles and he kindly gave me advice on how to speak with my parents since we lived similar lives. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ask my parents. I sat down and told them about my troubles. That I struggled focusing in school, and I told them of the negative thoughts that shrouded me. They agreed, my mom claiming she noticed how potential anxiety was dragging me down. They asked me where I would like to go from there, and I told them.

The past three months have now led me towards seeking help from doctors. My mom was right on her assumptions about how anxiety and depression had plagued me. It manifested into chronic insomnia and crumbled stability in my life. I’ve been on a road toward recovering some normalcy in life and have embraced the fact that it’s okay if I don’t have something I’m amazing at or if I come off as boring.