Bruce Springsteen’s song called “Restless Nights” seems more apt than ever after reading an excerpt that seems to describe akathisia in his newly released book “Born to Run.” After a bout with medication that left him weepy came something altogether harrowing:
“I had an attack of what was called an ‘agitated depression.’ During this period, I was so profoundly uncomfortable in my own skin that I just wanted OUT. It feels dangerous and brings plenty of unwanted thoughts. I was uncomfortable doing anything. Standing…walking…sitting down…everything brought waves of an agitated anxiety that I’d spend every waking minute trying to dispel. Demise and foreboding were all that awaited and sleep was the only respite. During waking hours, I’d spend the day trying to find a position I would feel all right in for the next few minutes. I was not hyper. I was too depressed to concentrate on anything of substance.
I’d pace the room looking for the twelve square inches of carpet where I might find release. If I could get myself to work out, that might produce a short relief, but really all I wanted was the bed, the bed, the bed, the bed and unconsciousness. I spent good portions of the day with the covers up to my nose waiting for it to stop. Reading, or even watching television, felt beyond my ability. All my favorite things–listening to music, watching some film noir–caused such unbearable anxiety in me because they were undoable. Once I was cut off from all my favorite things, the things that tell me who I am, I felt myself dangerously slipping away. I became a stranger in a borrowed and disagreeable body and mind.
This lasted for six weeks. All the while we were overseas. It affected me physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually, you name it. It all went out the door. I was truly unsure if I could ever perform in this condition. The fire in me felt like it had gone out and I felt dark and hollow inside. Bad thoughts had a heyday. If I can’t work, how will I provide for my family? Will I be bedridden? Who the fuck am I? You feel the thinness of the veil of our identity and an accompanying panic that seems to be just around the corner.
I couldn’t live like this, not forever. For the first time, I felt I understood what drives people toward the abyss. The fact that I understood this, that I could feel this, emptied my heart out and left me in a cold fright. There was no life here, just an endless irritating existential angst embedded in my bones. It was demanding answers that I did not have.
And there was no respite. If I was awake, it was happening. So…I’d try to sleep; twelve, fourteen hours weren’t enough. I hated the gray light of morning. It would mean the day was coming. The day, when people would be waking up, going to work, eating, drinking, laughing, fucking. The day when you’re supposed to rise and shine, be filled with purpose, with life. I couldn’t get out of bed. Hell, I couldn’t even get a hard-on. It was like all my notorious energy, something that had been mine to command for most of my life, had been cruelly stolen away. I was a walking husk.”
If it can happen to Bruce Springsteen, it can happen to anyone. We’re thankful he offered this raw description of an insufferable drug side effect, and thrilled he pulled out of it and feels like himself again. Unfortunately, far too many others don’t. This is why MISSD continues to carry out its mission to make people aware of how serious and life-threatening this condition can be.