Why you should care

It’s OK to talk to strangers. 

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Karen Lopez
Toronto, Ontario

I woke up very tired. As usual. I don’t get to sleep very much in the night. Normally I get maybe three to four hours. Officially, it became insomnia April 20, 2005. That day, I went through something traumatic. I knew I’d have trouble sleeping for a long time.

I lost my partner. He passed away in his sleep. We were both young. I was 29, and he was 33. I was in the same bed as him. After that night, it’s been … yeah. I’ve gone to a doctor. I just did a sleep study on Wednesday. I canceled the appointment three times, I guess out of fear of the unknown.

At night I try not to think of my partner. At one point I had to take sleeping pills or melatonin to sleep. I was trying to exercise a lot and make myself exhausted so I could sleep at night. I’ve tried reading. At night I pray. Most times I draw digital art on a tablet in the night. That’s what helps me lately to relax so that I can fall asleep. I started off more with shapes and then I moved on to cartoon characters. Now I’m drawing illustrations of people. It’s improved my artistic abilities — which is a good and a bad thing, I guess. At least I’m using my sleepless time constructively.

I like to walk at night, but being a woman and walking at night is a safety risk. That’s why I don’t do it. There are some nights when I take the risk; I feel like I need to be outside. I walk off whatever energy it is.

There’s a part of me that doesn’t mind this. I’ve always been a night owl. In my family, a lot of us are up late. I was raised by my grandparents, and even they stay up late. A lot of my friends stay up late naturally. I can call at 2 a.m. and they’re bright-eyed.

Having insomnia — it sounds really bad. It may even have a stigma attached, but it’s where I get my inspiration. I create goals for myself at night. My mind flows.

But I’m hoping it does get better. I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 60, 65. I don’t want to go to sleep at 4 o’clock in the morning anymore. I suffer from depression. Generally, it’s a battle to be happy. I take it one day at a time. If that’s too much for me, I try to take it one hour at a time.

I always say to people I feel like I’m living in a cloud. I think at this point I’ve mastered living with tiredness. It’s become a part of me.

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Good stories from around the globe. Essays and immersion, into the harrowing, the sweet, the surprising -- the human.