There’s something remarkably depressing about being up in the middle of the night. It feels almost unnatural. There’s some studies to suggest that people who are prone to stay up late (often referred to as Night Owls) possess a genetic trait passed down to us by our ancestors who were hunters and gatherers.
While the rest of the tribe slept, a select few were tasked to stay up all night and keep watch over the camp. The watcher could stay on the outskirts of the camp, with a little fire to keep him company- looking out into the desolate dark.
The dark can be a scary place. What was once familiar is now flipped upside down. Sounds once monotonous to the ear now cause anxiety. I can imagine that watcher looking out into the abyss, somewhat unnerved. We fear what we do not understand, but more terrifying still, we fear what we used to understand- but no longer can.
In folklore, the witching hour or devil’s hour is a time of night associated with supernatural events. Creatures such as witches, demons and ghosts are thought to appear and to be at their most powerful. Black magic is thought to be most effective at this time.
In the Western Christian tradition, the hour between 3 and 4 a.m. was considered a period of peak supernatural activity, due to the absence of prayers in the canonical hours during this period. Women caught outside without sufficient reason during this time were sometimes executed on suspicion of witchcraft.
There’s a justifiable reason why we’re afraid to go out at a time like this- namely because its when the freaks are out in show. The deplorables, the people that hide away under rocks in case the sun exposes them.
Another reason is that in many cases tragedy can occur at a time like this. A person can simply wake up one night, in he early hours of the morning, with a Cold Sweat and in a few hours they would be dead. Often by their own hand.
The term nightmare originates from folklore in Europe, particularly England. It was once thought that bad dreams occurred due to an Old Hag sitting on your chest and pouring evil thoughts into your mind. She came on a mare in the night, a Nightmare.
To arouse from a Nightmare is one thing, but to be greeted by another is worse. The Cold Sweat quickly turns hot, like a clammy suffocating room that is closing in on you. Your mind is racing and the pain so unbearable that you would do anything to be released from it- but there’s only one way out- and you can never turn back.
There are no nightmares for the sleepless. No dreams, either.
Do you know what Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams have in common? They’re both accomplished men- but on one fateful day, in the early hours of the morning, both men woke up with a Cold Sweat and within a few hours they had taken their own lives.
I think about that sometimes. I wonder about what was going on in their minds. What series of thoughts in the early hours of the morning lead to their premature deaths. The Mantra of Suicide.
Hemingway had fallen sick on a trip to Spain, both physical pain and loneliness accompanied him on his way back to New York. Soon after that he became very paranoid that the FBI were watching him- which they were, due to the fact that Hemingway lived in Cuba, J. Edgar Hoover thought it was worth having one of his agents spy on him. A pure rational thought from the guy who used to write to MLK pretending to be a black guy and told him to kill himself.
Soon after that Hemingway’s wife moved him to Idaho, where his condition got so bad that she was forced to place him in a Mental Hospital. Hemingway was in and out twice, he was actively given electro-shock therapy. Damage to his brain along side his old age may have contributed to his decision.
On July 2nd, Hemingway woke up in the early hours of the morning in a Cold Sweat. He paced around for a few hours and eventually made the arduous journey down to his basement where his guns were kept. He picked up his favourite shot gun, ran up stairs, sat down by the kitchen table and placed the barrel in mouth in order to aptly blow his brains out.
Anyone who has a decent knowledge about guns knows that to blow your brains out all you’d need is a little side arm. Hemingway on the other hand insisted on making a mess. He wanted to go out the same way that all those animals ended their bleak lives- by the end of that gun.
Williams has a slightly different story. Ever since his antics during the Comedy Renaissance in the 70’s, Robin had been dealing with a drug addiction problem. Unlike most afflictions, Drug Addiction never really fades away. It’s rather like a wound that never really heals.
In his later years he was dealing with early on set dementia caused by diffuse Lewy Body disease. Like Hemingway he wasn’t in the right state of mind, you could even argue that he was no longer the same man.
On the 11th of August 2014, Robin Williams woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat. He had this panicked feeling that he was trying to fight back, like a dog in a hot car. He made it past dawn- but didn’t make it to noon. He strung himself up with his own belt.
He had wrapped a towel around the belt before hanging himself. I’m still a little confused upon why he would do such a thing. Part of me reckons that the towel was used to soften the whole procedure, the hard leather may have been too much to bear- he didn’t want to suffer any more than he’d half to.
But then you realise that you wouldn’t give a damn about how uncomfortable your skin feels against the hard leather, because the sheer agony of your voice box and windpipe collapsing in on itself due to gravity would be much more of a priority to that situation.
No, if anything the towel was used as a support structure. He wrapped it around the belt just to ensure that it wouldn’t snap when he put on his full weight. If this theory is true then it suggests one thing; Robin had a botched suicide. There’s nothing more heartbreaking than being unable to kill yourself.
That’s why Hunter S Thompson blew his brains out one afternoon on the 20th of February 2005. He’d been dealing with a number of health problems and was growing more and more wearisome of senility. He wanted to end it all before he lost control. As one of his friends said;
“He told me 25 years ago that he would feel real trapped if he didn’t know that he could commit suicide at any moment. I don’t know if that is brave or stupid or what, but it was inevitable. I think that the truth of what rings through all his writing is that he meant what he said. If that is entertainment to you, well, that’s OK. If you think that it enlightened you, well, that’s even better. If you wonder if he’s gone to Heaven or Hell, rest assured he will check out them both, find out which one Richard Milhous Nixon went to — and go there.“
I often get fixated on those early hours of the morning. Mainly because these two were both accomplished men, and if you’ve read the blog, you know that I too wish to become an accomplished man. So I set out to uncover whether or not this was a particular affliction that I will encounter down the road.
Arthemus Ward Accord, known simply as Art Accord was a silent movie-star and rodeo champion in the 1920’s. After his movie career ended in the late 20’s, due to a drinking problem and an inability to adapt to the talkies. He’d gone through three divorces, ending due to infidelity or physical abuse on Art’s part. Soon after he was seriously burned due to an explosion at his house, nearly losing his sight as a result.
Afterwards he grew quite depressed and on January 4th 1931 Art Accord woke up in the early hours of the morning in with a Cold Sweat and within a few hours he was dead. Suicide via Poison. Died at forty one.
Stephanie Addams was a former playboy model turned writer, mainly writing about Astrology. She and her husband were going through a custody battle- possibly due to Stephanie’s mental state- she took their seven year old son to the Gotham Hotel in Manhattan, booking a penthouse on the 25th floor.
On May 18th 2018 Stephanie Adams woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat, dragged her seven year old son out of bed and they jumped off the balcony. landing twenty three floors below on the second floor balcony. Police classified it as a murder suicide.
She died at forty seven. It’s something for a a grown woman who had seen the world to suddenly end it all, it’s another for a kid who probably thought he could have survived that fall to end like that. The kid didn’t have a chance to see the wonders and tragedies this world had to offer- that was stolen from him.
Take remorse that it would be a relatively painless death. You’d black out halfway down that fall, heart would give out due to such stress. You wouldn’t even feel the ground come up to meet you. No bones smashed to pieces, no muscles torn to shreds- nothing.
John Berryman was an American poet. He’d been dealing with alcoholism and severe depression all throughout his Adult life. On January 7th 1972, John Berryman woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat and within a few hours he had marched down to the Washington Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis and killed himself by jumping into the west bank of the Mississippi river below.
He died aged fifty seven. Didn’t feel the sensation of drowning as the fall from the bridge would have killed him in the same manner I described above. It’s a good thing too, a fall from that height would tear you apart once you hit the water. Your rib cage would collapse in on itself, impaling your internal organs. You’d die paralysed, literally broken on the inside.
Chester Bennington was a singer in the band Linkin Park. He had numerous health problems alongside a case of alcoholism and various other drug addictions. On the 20th of July 2017, Chester Bennington woke up in the early hours of the morning with a cold sweat and within a few hours he was dead. He hanged himself, died aged forty one.
Kim Daul was a model from South Korea. She liked to paint, even got her own art exhibition in 2007. She liked to collect antiques and write articles for her blog “I like to Fork Myself” I imagine it’s funnier in Korean.
Kim had been dealing with a variety of mental health issues such as loneliness, insomnia and depression. Above all that she was prone to self harm. She was frustrated at her life in the fashion industry, she had little to no control over her own life. On the 19th of November 2007 Kim Daul woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat and within a few hours she was dead. She hanged herself, died age twenty.
There seemed to be an epidemic of Korean celebrities killing themselves. Another similar story I found was about an actress named Choi Jin-Sil. She had a crazy life, her manager was murdered and she was brought forth as a witness, she was almost abducted- twice and she’s been stalked by people constantly.
Her husband was quite abusive but fortunately she got the custody of her kids. A few years later her friends husband died, she was quite shook by it for some reason. She had suffered from depression and other mental health issues. On the 2nd of October 2008, Choi Jin-Sil woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat, within a few hours she hanged herself. Died age thirty-nine.
The last person I want to talk about is a woman by the name of Iris Chang, she’s an American Author and journalist who wrote the book “The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II” she was very successful.
Unfortunately she suffered a nervous breakdown in August of 2004, due to constant sleep deprivation alongside herbal supplements and heavy doses of psychologically damaging prescription medication.
At the time, she was several months into research for her fourth book, about the Bataan Death March. She was also promoting The Chinese in America. While en route to Harrodsburg, Kentucky, where she planned to gain access to a “time capsule” of audio recordings from servicemen, she suffered an extreme bout of depression that left her unable to leave her hotel room in Louisville.
A local veteran who was assisting her research helped her check into Norton Psychiatric Hospital in Louisville, where she was diagnosed with reactive psychosis, placed on heavy medication for three days and then released to her parents. After the release from the hospital, she continued to suffer from depression and experienced the side effects of several medications she was taking. Chang was also reportedly deeply disturbed by much of the subject matter of her research.
She’d grown very paranoid. She believed that the CIA tried to recruit her, but there was no evidence for this. She also felt that she was being followed in the streets by a white van and that her mail had been damaged somehow (probably due to a clumsy mailman) she was in grave fears of her own safety. She felt as if the Government was trying to discredit her.
On November 9th 2004, Iris Chang woke up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat. She drove down a rural road in California, parked her car and shit herself in the head with a revolver. She died age thirty six. She left a few nights behind, I found this one particularly worth sharing;
“When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day — but by the minute. It is far better that you remember me as I was—in my heyday as a best-selling author—than the wild-eyed wreck who returned from Louisville. … Each breath is becoming difficult for me to take—the anxiety can be compared to drowning in an open sea. I know that my actions will transfer some of this pain to others, indeed those who love me the most. Please forgive me.“
There’s something incredibly morbid in researching about people who’ve committed suicide. I’ll often gloss over their entire life story and get to the crux of why I’m there- the final moments. The gasps of breath, the great fall- tragedy with little to no context.
I am a spectre in these people’s lives, accompanying them in their final moments. It is an incredibly lonely act to kill yourself. I wonder if, in the final seconds of their life, they felt some comfort in the fact that I and many other souls came to their final moments. Even if we are not physically there, the victim is not necessarily alone. I wonder if they felt that.
I don’t want to think upon whether or not they were hurt when I immediately abandoned them if they didn’t fit my narrative. They died at the wrong time or they never woke up in the early hours of the morning in a Cold Sweat. Hell, I don’t even know for sure that the people I listed even slept upon the night hey killed themselves.
But for some reason I’m fixated on those early hours of the morning. About the thoughts rushing through those heads. What horrors could they have been privy to that death was the best alternative? I’m morbidly curious as I fear one day I will find out for myself, in which on one fateful day I shall too wake up in the early hours of the morning with a Cold Sweat- and within a few hours I will have taken my own life.
I fear what I don’t understand, or worse- something I used to understand but am no longer able to. The human mind is not designed to make you happy, to give you dreams or nightmares. No, the human mind is designed for one purpose- to keep you alive.
But in this one instance, the minds purpose has been flipped. It is now trying to kill you. Ushering in the Mantra of Suicide. What ever nightmares you awaken from feel more like a sweet dream once compared to reality. You’re already dead, your brain ordained it so- your body just has to comply.
It’s as if that lone watcher on the outskirts of the camp grew fixated on the looming darkness that surrounded his little fire. He abandons his position, marching forward towards darkness- never to be seen again.
Am I and countless others doomed to this fate? Only time will tell. I’ve talked briefly about my own suicidal tendencies in the past, but I’ve never gone through with it. My Ego simply refuses to let me die, my Destiny is too big to fail.
If we truly are mind of matter, then surely we can reach a level where we surpass the mind. Surely we shouldn’t live in fear of our bodies trying to kill us. I don’t plan on killing myself, Cold Sweat or not. I plan to die on January 14th 2099, at the ripe old age of one hundred. I’ll go out as a Centenarian on a Wednesday.
In those final moments, premature or otherwise, we will truly be alone. There are no spectres like me waiting for you. But it’s important to recognise that although we all die alone, we live together.
Now, get some sleep.