Last updated: March 2023
I’m not sure if I have ever been a great sleeper. But I haven’t experienced anything like this since I was in chemotherapy. This is different. During chemo, I couldn’t sleep because I was either in pain or afraid that I wouldn’t wake back up. When you are dealing with cancer, sometimes you just do what you have to do to get through the day or night.
Why can’t I sleep?
Sometimes my body seems to take itself back to that place...that place where cancer ruled my life. Where it dictated my days and my nights. Where it caused me to think endlessly about how I got to where I am. How I got sick. How I got diagnosed. How I missed the signs. How others missed the signs. The next thing you know, it is 3am and you are still awake.
When I was in treatment years ago, I would just remind myself that some days I had nothing else to do the next day but “rest”, so I would sleep when I slept. But now is different. I work a full-time job, have a part time photography business, co-host the podcast Sips with Survivors, and have a life I really really want to live! So why can’t I sleep sometimes?
That previous life sneaking back in...
Some nights I might watch something on TV, or read something, or scroll through social media and I get triggered. Triggered by something related to the life I once was living. The hell of treatment and diagnosis can easily come rushing back to you when something you see or a conversation you have, remind you that not so long ago, that was you.
When you can’t sleep because of something cancer related, try to remind yourself that you are past that, or not at that moment right now. You are here, right now, living this life because you made it this far. Through all of that. Life has a funny way sometimes of taking us back to where we were. Back to where we fought to make it through each day and each night.
Sleep always seems to elude you at the worst time...
Recently while scrolling through social media, I saw someone I knew post about being in treatment. It took me back to sitting in the chair again, thinking about myself receiving chemo treatments. Quickly I realized I was thinking about how hard it had been and how far I had come. But then I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and then I was still awake at 3am once again.
Those sleepless nights are fewer and fewer these days, but we all experience them. Whether it is thinking about something you need to get done at work, or something you need to do around the house, or things to follow up on. Really the list goes on as to why we can’t sleep sometimes. I am not here to share magical ideas (although melatonin usually works for me), I am here to let you know you are not alone.
No matter what is causing that sleepless night, and it really feels like you are alone, you aren’t. I promise, there is someone else out there struggling to stop their mind, close their eyes and trying to get a good nights sleep.
Do you have things that helped you cope through your ovarian cancer journey?