A couple of years ago, I bought a white noise machine for the bedroom. I’d heard about them for years but never saw the point. I like to sleep with quiet, not noise. Ivy’s dad bought one years and years ago, before Ivy was born. It wasn’t white noise though, it was rain and forest sounds. That was fine but then there would be a random cricket or a bang of thunder and I’d pop awake.
But I bought this machine anyway, probably on a Black Friday sale or something, I don’t recall. What I do recall is that by about day three, I couldn’t sleep without it. It shut out all the other real life noises, like dogs and cats jumping off the bed, or Sugar Glider barks, or crickets in the bathroom, or neighbors driving by. And mostly, it quieted the noises in my head.
I won’t go so far as to say there are voices in my head, because that sounds too much like insanity. But there is a lot of noise all the time, a lot of my own thoughts, and replays of songs, or television shows, or general music, plus the sound memories of a million different experiences from the day going a thousand miles an hour. There are endless what-if scenarios running on all the time, being played out layer after layer. Sometimes the white noise machine isn’t enough but it certainly takes the edge off.
I bring this all up because about a month ago I decided I needed to give up added sugar. My weight has gone up and down a bunch of times since I started this blog. I’m on an upswing now. I’m pretty heavy but holding fast and not gaining. I gave up eating meat about six months ago and gained weight because I was eating a lot more carbs. I’m sticking to being a vegetarian but there’s no excuse for all the sugar. Plus, as I age my cholesterol is going up. I’d never read labels for sugar before and certainly never really thought of it as anything but my harmless and much-adored drug of choice.
The first few days of not having sugar were miserable. I was shaky and so hyper even I wanted to slap me. Seeing the effects of withdrawal sort of woke me up to how addicted I truly was. After that initial adverse reaction though, I became calm. Too calm. The noise in my head was gone. It was uncomfortable for me, this silence. There was just…nothing. I felt depressed, which is not like me.
As moods go, I’m mostly zippy and bubbly all the time. I’ve been likened to Winnie the Pooh, Pollyanna, and Holly Hunter’s role in Broadcast News. But suddenly I was flat and sad. I took some vacation time from work to use up days and binge watched TV. I didn’t write at the same time or work on my dollhouse or read. I just sat. I was worried I was actually “depressed” and not just blue. Then I became concerned that maybe this was the new normal. Maybe this is how regular felt and I was usually so (sugar) high all the time I didn’t know it.
I craved the erratic chaos in my head, the wide-awakedness, the creativity I couldn’t staunch. But it was just white noise inside. I had physical energy. Too much really, so I was still jazzed up that way. I did a ton of yard work and carried 130 bags of mulch, some in the rain, to spread. I laid weed barrier and hurt everything in my body. I weeded the hill and sliced my dirt-packed finger on a palm tree and kept working. But the frenetic mental self, the crazy Carly inside, she wasn’t there.
I met a guy in an airport once who asked if I was Hypo Manic. I said no. He said he was and he took meds for it and it changed his life. He explained that most people hover a little above and a little below the normal mood range. And people like us, we’re almost always up up up. It’s not as drastic as bipolar. It’s like mini bipolar. But without as much down. At least that’s how I understand it. Back then I questioned why the heck I’d want to tamp down my constant happiness.
But after the last few weeks I kind of get it now. Part of me was sad because I missed the high, the explosion of mental positive energy and creativity that NEVER SHUTS DOWN. And the other half of me was so damn relieved to rest. To shut down and stare at the TV and binge watch Netflix shows. That side of me dreaded when the next wave of super energy would come back because I realized then how utterly exhausting that can be.
It’s been a month since I gave up added sugar, or at least knocked it way down. I feel okay now, not sad, not excited just kind of even. I still get a little burst of happiness from hugging Ryan or the pets, or looking at the flowers in my garden, but I’m not Roger Rabbit happy, and that’s okay.
Maybe as time goes on my brain will continue to readjust to the lack of sugar, and will rewire. I will be super hyper all on my own, driving everyone around me to drink. Or maybe the little white noise machine in my head will keep running, and I will know how it feels to feel quiet, to feel placid.
This is my first blog in a month or so and I guess that says something about my emergence from the “drug” withdrawal. I made it through Easter without Cadbury Eggs which is a feat all on its own. Today I picked up a Snickers three times in the store and set it down. I then picked up a Three Musketeers. I set that down too and left with fresh strawberries.
I’m not saying sugar has shaped my personality, only allowed it to flourish and go unchecked and unbridled. Maybe I won’t be writing a book a year, and writing screenplays and stories and trying to learn Spanish and renovating the house and volunteering and working full time…but I’m good with that.
For the first time in my life, I think I’d be good to just sit for a while and be content and hear…nothing.
To accepting tranquility,