When Nighttime Prevails
Last updated: May 2023
During a daydreaming session one day, I realised something. My depression is worse at night, especially when my restless legs syndrome (RLS) is reducing me to tears. Sounds obvious. Although my mind is not focusing on my RLS symptoms.
Reconnecting with an old friend
The week prior to this revelation, I had spent one night walking around my apartment in floods of tears. Not because I was awake at 3 AM and the television programmes were terrible that night (I mean, who wants to relive the 1980s in the middle of the night?!), but because my brain had dredged up a memory I rather it would have shredded.
Reviewing the item from my past, the contents are not important; rather, the timing is the issue. At the beginning of the week I was contacted by an old friend I lost touch with after leaving high school. We had both gone on to get married and have children, except my outcome was very different to hers.
Hashing over things I had tried very hard to bury, trying to explain the reasons why I made decisions she was unsure about, the judgment came across vividly. Once again I was banging my head against a brick wall. I doubt we will speak again.
Sleepless nights and an RLS flare
That is not the issue here, though. Whilst the rest of the week progressed, my RLS was flaring up more and more. Despite me taking medication towards the end, nothing cut through the twitching and burning contained within my legs.
Friday rolled around, and I had endured 3 sleepless nights — making me red-eyed, irritable, and generally unapproachable — when, at approximately 10:30 PM, the twitching started with gusto. To add insult to injury, my arms began to burn, and my inability to stop the movements left me resembling Mick Jagger on stage with the Rolling Stones! Arms and legs moving of their own free will, unable to sit still... RLS can be beyond frustrating at times.
Remembering a traumatic argument
Then, an unwanted thought popped into my head. It was triggered by an item on a channel I had flown past while hopping on the TV. Damn the repeats on during the wee small hours.
All of a sudden, a graphic incident, long-time misplaced in the depths of the filing cabinets contained within a dark room somewhere in my prefrontal cortex, made itself known: A horrid argument with a loved one that obliterated our relationship, and we had not spoken since.
It seemed like removing that file let loose a deluge of unwanted sections of my life. For weeks after, I found myself in the quagmire of depression; it was pressing down on me like a tonne weight. Either that, or it felt like I was towing it along attached to my leg, making every part of my life a slow, dangerous walk into unknown depths.
Having no outlet for depression and RLS
Thanks to my RLS keeping me awake, I had no outlet for my bone-crushing sorrow. All hospital departments were closed. Organisations like Samaritans were bogged down with others in a similar situation as myself looking for that someone, that anyone, who might listen, guiding us through our filing cabinets to make sense of this life that we lead as RLS sufferers.
If you struggle with depression alongside your restless legs, our community is here for you. Share an experience with us in the comments, or see our General Mental Health Resources page.
What do you wish for the most when it comes to RLS awareness?