Sleep is for the Week

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, because I think I need to share things. A year ago I was in a swamp. I was depressed, tired and stressed out.  Right now I feel more energetic and driven than ever. I’m shedding weight (not gaining hair unfortunately). I want to share what happened, because writing is therapy… though not always is it easy.

Dreaming is a luxury,
Like stopping-staring and beauty sleep.
I’ll stop when I’m finished,
And sleep is for the weak.

Frank Turner, ‘Vital Signs’

Sleep…

At work I felt I was completely stuck. I didn’t have the energy for anything, couldn’t face any conflicts and genuinely was terribly unhappy in the place I was at. Years of conversations with people that had the best intentions for me didn’t seem to yield much and though I learned a lot I remained stuck. I decided to pursue a teachers degree. It seemed a good idea at the time and a way out of what I thought was a dead-end street, a proverbial rope to drag myself from the swamp.

I started having pain in my arms and after various consultations with the doctor, I received some braces for what must be Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Right, that seemed logical… I had overworked my hands in combination with stress and weight gain and that was probably the issue. I went to see a company doctor, I talked to a psychologist, the whole shebang. Some told me that it might be deeper, others told me to worry less. I decided that it must be the environment and that I needed something new. I was very wrong about what I thought was the problem.

I didn’t sleep… Well, not in the sense where you get a full nights rest. What I have is called obstructive sleep apnea, which basically means that I stop breathing in my sleep and then wake up slightly… sink back into sleep, stop breathing and wake up again…and so on. So what are some of the effects and causes for sleep apnea.

Apnea

Some of the effects of apnea that I experienced are the following:

  • Exhaustion
  • Problems with building up a condition
  • Pains and other random complains
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches
  • Anxieties
  • Weight gain

In the long run you can even get damage to your intestines, like your liver and heart because the body simply doesn’t get the rest it needs. There is an extensive list of causes and they’re not things you can easily ‘handle’.

So why didn’t anyone find this out years ago (I might have suffered from this for 15 years or more)? Because like most people around me, I thought snoring was simply that… snoring. I never connected it to anything health related. I wouldn’t have even found out if it wasn’t for the work-related stress, which combined with weight gain to make matters worse. The basic cause for my issue is genetic, which is unfortunate since I have quite a severe version of apnea.

A solution and a different self?

It’s weird, the thing that happens when you suddenly get a rush of energy. When you sleep through a whole night again and wake up refreshed and full of spirit. That’s what happened to me when I got a CPAP machine. The machine operates at night, with a face mask, and pushes air through my nose and keeps it open so I breathe. I breathe and sleep deep sleep. I’m now like a resting Darth Vader (better try to see the fun in things right?).

And then I started to work out again. Not like before, where I was dragging my weary body all the way to the gym. No, I train with energy and drive again. My muscles are sore the next day, not just tired. That was also a new experience, to feel physically well. So what next? I get to revisit pretty much every decision and feeling I had. My habits are in a clash with my mental state, which is hard and exhausting, but exhilerating at the same time. I don’t feel the need to keep people on an arm’s length, but my behaviour isn’t easily changed. I don’t want to think doom, but my mind is so used to that road. Changing is going to be a challenge, but as I get my rest I’m not worried.

So what the hell do I do with this info?

I have to live with a machine pumping air into my throat for the foreseeable future. If I travel, I need to specially contact the charter company to discuss this and sleeping in a tent is no longer a real option. I hope to get healthier and qualify for a brand new treatment later, but it’s all good. The feeling of being well I would not trade for anything in the world… I feel the energy to pursue my dreams now.

I want to write. I want to write professionally every day, because it is what I love. The shaping of text, the creation of content. That is the dream I pursue now. And I’m very grateful for the fact that I can do that with all my energy and heart.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, if you do snore, get it checked out. There’s a huge taboo on the whole snoring thing. It’s embarrassing and annoying to have to cope with that in itself. There’s a solution though and it has its downsides, but they are outweighed by the good. Get this checked out!

 

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