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Anxiety in the middle of the night, how to get past it?

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Background - I think I know why this is happening ..... 3.5 years after diagnosis. The why is because a close friend just got diagnosed with a rare, lethal cancer, bile duct cancer. The stats are not good. He had an extensive surgery and is recovering but the long term outlook isn't good. I am scared for him and his wife, who is also a good friend.

At least I think that's why, it's very upsetting and disheartening and I guess it stirs up all my angst again. I was just starting to feel better.

Does this or has this happened to any of you? I suppose it's normal. It's all of a sudden, I wake up, and I feel this huge wave of despair come over me. It passes in a few seconds but it is the most awful physical sensation.

I try to remain calm, wait and pray. Remind myself to stay still and breathe. I manage to go back to sleep but this is bothering me.

I'm hoping in time it will pass. It seems my anxiety rears back up anytime I hear of a friend being diagnosed. It sucks. It's so lonely too.

Anyone else go thru this?

Comments

  • 7of9
    7of9 Member Posts: 474
    edited February 2022
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    yep. Our friends daughter fought a long downward spiral with a childhood cancer. It pulls you in like a riptide. Ambien and Attivan are my traveling partners those nights. 1/2 attivan if too late at night or early morning to get back to sleep. Exercise and reading benign stuff, shows really helps too. Best of luck and prayers to your friend.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,077
    edited February 2022
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    kks - Sorry you're going through this. it's important to talk with your MO or PCP about this. They can advise if some medication for anxiety might help at times.

  • gb2115
    gb2115 Member Posts: 553
    edited February 2022
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    I sometimes get middle of the night insomnia. It's like my brain wants to try to solve ALL the problems at 2 a.m., which then makes it harder to fall back asleep as the anxiety soars. I have no trouble falling asleep on the sofa at 9 pm when we're trying to finish a movie for the 4th night, lol.

  • ctmbsikia
    ctmbsikia Member Posts: 752
    edited February 2022
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    There's a thing called anticipatory grief. There's also survivors guilt. It could be when hearing this news it triggers one of these reactions. Good that you noticed it can stay calm and get back to sleep. I hope it is short lived as I feel processing bad news sometimes messes with your body. My usual sign is ear ringing. That's when I know there's too much stress going on inside and I need to calm myself. Best wishes to you.

  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
    edited February 2022
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    It could be really helpful to have a guided imagery recording ready when you wake up like that. Belleruth Naparstek has some great ones for various situations; for example sleep, anxiety, health problems. Doing one could rein in your emotions and calm your body. The recording will partner with you in your effort to be calm, wait and pray.

  • monarchandthemilkweed
    monarchandthemilkweed Member Posts: 151
    edited February 2022
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    I can relate. My cancer diagnosis came 6 months after my sister’s. Then a few months after my own, my dear friend’s husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We are all in our 40’s. It felt suffocating. It felt like everyone had cancer. So I had some sleepless nights too with each one. After cancer, it just seems we feel things so much more intensely. At least I do. After my diagnosis, I worked with a therapist who limits her practice to cancer. She was amazing and helped me process my cancer. And my sister’s. And my friend’s. I don’t have any magic words. Just that I’ve been there. I think this will pass for you. It did for me.

  • nopink2019
    nopink2019 Member Posts: 384
    edited February 2022
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    Or it won't pass....without meds. Have you tried cannabis? A little goes a long way when you are not used to it. I've found listening to a "beach read" drone about nonsense will help calm me down some.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited February 2022
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    When I have trouble falling asleep, I name the toes on my right foot. Yep, sounds ridiculous, but it works for me. I start with the big toe and think of all the names I can for it, starting with the letter A. Or all the fruits/vegetables, or all the other plants, or birds, or all the cities/states/countries. All the something starting with the letter A. I don't ponder a lot. When I run out of steam on A, I start with the 2nd toe and find all the names or whatever for it that I can think of starting with B. If I am still awake after E, I start back on the big toe with F and just keep going. If I get to Q or X or something and can't think of anything, I just skip it. You get the picture. I think the sheer ridiculousness of it is why it works. Just keep going, push your brain to work on something else that's really meaningless. There isn't any meaning attached to it, so there isn't any need to be emotional or stressed. I figure, even if I don't go back to sleep, I am soothing my systems again. But I always go back to sleep.

    Good luck.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
    edited February 2022
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    I sometimes use the Headspace nighttime stories to help me fall asleep or fall back asleep. I also have a stash of ativan that sometimes helps depending on the nature of the wakeup/anxiety. It's short acting and low dose enough that I don't worry about taking it even if I don't have long before wakeup. When things were really bad I'd keep a journal next to my bed and just try to write away all the thoughts, or the disturbing dreams I had. Sometimes Youtube videos about things of mild interest to me work well too - for me it might be product reviews.

  • kksmom3
    kksmom3 Member Posts: 101
    edited February 2022
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    It happened again last night, I know I need a lot of time to unwind before bed, and I stupidly worked on a work problem on my laptop at 10:30, so it's no wonder. I will pay more attention to my sleep hygiene. I am not real good about that. The whole thing only lasts a few seconds, it's just so darn weird.

    When I was first diagnosed, I handled it semi ok, but when my pathology came back, I got upgraded to stage 1A from stage 0. A minute amount really, 3 mm, but it really threw me for a loop. Hearing that in the surgeon's office was brutal. I thought that meant I was going to die. I hadn't looked up invasive cancer, I had been diagnosed with DCIS. I didn't have any idea even, that it could be upgraded. I know that compared to most of you, it probably sounds like I'm a real whiner. I know that I am very fortunate to have caught it when we did, and I am extremely grateful for that.

    We no sooner got home, from the surgeon's office, when my adult son called me with the horrible news that my best friend's husband of 40 years had died suddenly in his sleep that morning.

    Such a terrible day. I had a lot of trouble with anxiety after that, so they gave me a script for clonazepam. I only needed to use maybe 5 or 6 out of the 30. It works, but no way do I want to really take that stuff again. I don't live where cannabis is legal but we occasionally visit in a neighboring state in which it is legal. Maybe I could try some gummies?


    I just need to destress more. Ugh


  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,077
    edited February 2022
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    The thing that made all the difference for me is breathing techniques that I learned in a Chair Yoga class for cancer patients. I do 'box breathing' & most of the time, even when I'm sure it will never work, I can go to sleep - or back to sleep.

  • ShetlandPony
    ShetlandPony Member Posts: 3,063
    edited February 2022
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    My current fave is recordings of rain. There are whole albums of rain to help you sleep.

  • sondraf
    sondraf Member Posts: 1,579
    edited February 2022
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    Last week I think Saturday Night Live did a musical sketch about waking up in the middle of the night for various reasons and not being able to get to sleep. Search for it on YouTube (Now Im Up) if you need a laugh.

    For practical reasons, I love either waves or gentle thunderstorm rain sounds. It got me through hospital stays on wards and annoying neighbors! But lately I just read a book when I wake up and accept I am not going back to sleep. So long as it isnt anything upsetting or laptop I will eventually fall back asleep.

  • serendipity09
    serendipity09 Member Posts: 769
    edited February 2022
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    I use thunderstorm as well. That paired with some breathing (inhale through nose, exhale through mouth) and I fall right back to sleep.

  • Kikomoon
    Kikomoon Member Posts: 358
    edited February 2022
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    we have white noise on to help, although I don’t seems to have any sleeping problems at all, I think it’s from the low dose remeron prescribed for low appetite. When I used to have trouble I also played the alphabet game, or went over a past vacation from boarding the plane, to remembering meals and the order of sightseeing, everything I could remember and that knocked me out pretty well. Also ASMR helped- Gentle Whispering on YouTube has some good ones.

  • bcincolorado
    bcincolorado Member Posts: 4,696
    edited February 2022
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    OTC melatonin gummies work for me. A dose will help me go to sleep and not get back awake worrying about things.

  • salamandra
    salamandra Member Posts: 736
    edited February 2022
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    Why don't you want to use the clonazepam? It's a great drug for this purpose, and probably better studied in terms of safety and side effects than cannabis or gummies.

    That said, there are other pharmaceutical options that could help.

    I'm also not clear if you have a therapist, but if you have access it could be a great idea. The combination of all the surprising bad news all at once could test anybody's coping mechanisms, and a structured and sympathetic processing environment can make a huge difference.

  • kksmom3
    kksmom3 Member Posts: 101
    edited February 2022
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    About the clonazepam - I don't want to get hooked on it. When my diagnosis/death of my friend happened, I did see a therapist. I went for a few months. That's when they gave me the clonazepam. They put me on an anti-depressant, and I already take Ambian (zolpidem.) So, I don't want to start another drug.

    I am going to get off of the zolpidem, after I retire this June. It will take awhile of tapering off but I'll have time to do that. Ditto on the antidepressant, which is mirtazepine. I take a really low dose and I'm not sure it does anything, therefore, I'm going to taper off of that one slowly.

    So, anyway, I will try all the other suggestions. The last couple of nights have been better, which is surprising, since Sunday nights I get work anxiety a little bit.

    And don't get me started on the AI's! I hate those too. I already am a very healthy eater and I exercise but I'm looking forward to retirement so I can pay more attention to those areas of my life.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857
    edited February 2022
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    It's a hard time for you, kksmom. A lot of sorrow and concern, it's no wonder you're struggling a bit. I'm glad you slept better for a couple of nights, and hopefully you can string together a few more. For me it seems to go in cycles of pretty good sleep for a while, and then not. So maybe you're shifting back to better sleep. I hope!

    One other thing I do sometimes, especially if I am fretting about a person (difficult relationship, not worries so much), is I make them wait on the porch overnight. I tell the person that I didn't invite them, but I know I don't control when they show up. But I don't plan to entertain them overnight while they're around, so they'll just have to wait on the porch. No, I won't give them a drink or snack. No, they can't come in for the bathroom. Once I've acknowledged them and told them to wait, usually they go away just fine, and I sleep reasonably well. Again, it's a weird trick I play that might not work for someone else, but it works for me.

  • minustwo
    minustwo Member Posts: 13,077
    edited February 2022
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    Mia - that is Great. Hope you don't mind if I steal it. "Wait on the Porch"

  • homemom
    homemom Member Posts: 830
    edited February 2022
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    I take a Zzquil every night, just one. I'll be asleep in 15-30 min after I climb into bed, the tv helps too. I like to watch House Hunters on HGTV. If I wake up in the middle of the night (usually between 2 and 3) I'll also try to solve the world's, aka as my family, ills. If I focus on relaxing my shoulders, that starts to help. Then I think of something mundane, like opening my car door, or taking a walk to the corner. Those are the kind of things your brain shows you when your "mind wanders" just before you go out. If I have to pee or blow my nose, it'll take longer!

  • gailmary
    gailmary Member Posts: 426
    edited July 2022
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    kksmom, I have been having a hard time of it too. So much anxiety , pain, depression, insomnia. Expetimenting with different sounds now. I try meditating without much luck some nights. Now I've got elevated blood pressure. I agreed to try antidepressants only to be hit with side effects. No surprise there. Back to experimenting with drugs.

    Gailmary

  • peacetoallcuzweneedit
    peacetoallcuzweneedit Member Posts: 41
    edited July 2022
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    I have dealt with the same thing since my diagnosis in 2017...and just like how I have processed the grief of losing someone I feel this is the same --> comes in waves (meaning I have good periods without it) and then periods of continual waves at 2am-4am....and I literally have to sit up in the bed and loudly say NO STOP! - it is everything, watching others pass in support groups, watching others get diagnosed and not make it one year, it is a crap load of crap.... the past two years with the pandemic and being in health care has been another crap load of crap...so I just keep going and pray the wave subsides until the next wave....I don't know how else to do it... you just get comfortable with "this is how it is" and keep moving.... until the next load of crap gets dumped at your feet, and you just figure it out from there...