I learned a new word yesterday the day before yesterday, for an affliction that thought didn’t even have a name.

an Old English word from uht for predawn and ceare for worry. This describes waking up at 4AM anxious and depressed with the mind racing about all sorts of things.

Most people have experienced or at least heard of the traditional lying awake at night, whether tormented by thoughts of money, of public speaking, or of nuclear war. Uhtceare (pronounced oot-key-are-a) instead happens early in the morning. The crowing of the proverbial early bird, the whoosh of distant traffic, or even just the first tickle of the rays of the sun are enough to stir the consciousness from the carefree fantasia of dreamland. “Oh, yeah,” says some unhelpful part of the brain, “There’s a current thing to worry about.”

And before one can even say “Shut up, brain!” one finds one’s mind once again taken over by questions and doubts, one chasing the next chasing the first, in a dizzying loop, like a cat chasing its tail.

animated cat chasing its tail

One might then roll around one’s bed in futile hope of dozing back off. Then, with a sigh, shower and get dressed.

I think some people just have naturally worry-prone minds, myself among them, always asking “what if?” and “what then?”, never finding a simple “I don’t know,” to be satisfactory.

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One thought on “Uhtceare”

  1. It’s not something I’m prone to, but my 20-month-old helped me get a taste of uhtceare yesterday morning… she woke me up around 4 am, and once I put her back to sleep, I couldn’t. There was an owl outside somewhere, and there were my own racing thoughts. I *did* fall asleep maybe an hour later, in time to get another hour of sleep, but like I said, a taste of uhtceare.
    JohnSherck recently posted..One of those nights (and days)

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