Content warning: references to suicide and depression.
Back when I wanted to kill myself, I could never get to sleep. When you’re expecting – planning – your own death in the very near future, some priorities – eating and sleeping in particular – take a backseat. It was not for lack of trying either. Nights would adhere to the same strict schedule, with the drumbeat precision of a Prussian military parade:
9pm – Fail to see the point in being awake (or alive)
10pm – Get into bed
11pm – Stare blankly at the ceiling
12am – Rue the new day
1am – Continue staring at ceiling
2am – Double my efforts and twist and turn some more
3am – Masturbate, because hey, that’s what the experts say to do
Finally, the silent digital clock by my bedside would tick over.
And it would be four in the morning.
Four in the morning was the defining hour for me during my own personal Blue Period. My clock would sit there in the corner of my room, slowly ticking away. The next minute was always hours away somehow. In fact, I’m fairly sure that when Einstein thought up his Theory of Relativity, he was a dosed up anxious manic-depressive sitting awake in bed at four. And so my little black clock would sit there, watching me as I watched her. It was the world’s worst staring contest (though there are not many staring contests that I would classify as good – with all due respect to any professional staring contest competitors reading). The morning Sun, in utero, would cast a sickly blue pallor across my wall. Picasso couldn’t have done better if he’d tried. It was the blue of a cheap shot you’d find in some resort town, probably named ‘blue heaven’ or ‘tidal wave’. Instead of tequila and curacao, the blue of four in the morning, my blue, was made up of one part Prozac twitchiness, one part Zoloft anxiousness and two parts Seroquel insomnia – with a dash of suicidal ideation to taste.
Funnily enough, none of the pills were blue – the marketing team probably thought it best to pick happier colours, as well as happy names (now doesn’t Valdoxan just sound like a happy name?).
The all-pervasiveness of that fucking blue is bad enough. But the worst thing about four in the morning is that there is absolutely nothing to do. Facebook newsfeeds are barren as the Sahara and the infomercials and evangelists of the world unite to seize control of all television productions. If you’re ever wondering how many ersatz Nutri-Bullets™ are out there, look no further than Channel 7 at 4am (the answer is also four by the way: the Nutri-Ninja, the Magic-Bullet, the Nutri-Fusion, and the NuWave Twister – each of which can be bought with three easy payments of just $19.99 and your eternal soul). If you’re worried about selling your soul for a blender, worry no more! Because next on is Pastor John Swain, formerly of Yellow Springs, Ohio, now proudly of Boonville, Missouri. This gifted evangelist and envoy of the Lord can save your soul and get rid of all the blue for an easy one-off 30-day guarantee payment of only $174.99 and the blood of your firstborn child!
4am is sitting in the blue while watching Pastor Swain. Szymborska totally had it right – four in the morning is the absolute fucking pit of all hours, especially when it comes to the quality of television. So could you really blame me for wanting to kill myself?
But I kid. At some point in our lives, we’re all awake at four in the morning. The only thing we can do is wait. Sit through the fire and brimstone pastors, the shitty ads, the silence, the blue – and wait. Sure, Pastor Swain may not be able to do as he promises and make it all go away – despite his crazy low prices for redemption and his inhuman (possibly eldritch) wide-mouthed toothy smile.
I suppose I get what old jazz musicians mean now, when they say they’re playing the blues.
But I promise you, if you keep on waiting, five o’clock will come.