Fumbling My Way Through Life Episode 5

by Noise Pollution

A few weeks back I finally had something done that I’d been meaning to do for months, if not years. I managed to pull myself together enough to get a sleep study done, and the results were… ah… enlightening, to say the least. My snoring is excessive and I feel tired pretty much all the time, so the possibility that I have sleep apnea was always there, it’s just the severity of it that I didn’t really expect.

For context, sleep apnea is a condition where the sufferer stops breathing for periods of time during the night. This leads to the afflicted person not going into deep sleep very often, and leads to symptoms of sleep deprivation. Someone with bad enough sleep apnea could sleep for fourteen hours and still be sleep-deprived. At the tip-top end of the most severe cases of the condition, the sleeper will stop breathing 120 separate times an hour. And I’m talking severe cases here. You’re said to have the condition when you stop breathing about 15 times an hour. Any less than that is normal, and more than about 30 is an above-average number of episodes for a sufferer to have.

I was found to not be breathing an average of 131 times an hour.

Holy shit.

My doctor is a very good one; he’s been working with apnea patients for 32 years. He said my case was in the top .03% most severe cases he has ever seen. He expedited the process of me getting a machine to help me breathe at night. I’ve been using it the last three nights, and the difference in my level of energy is like night and day.

It’s crazy. It’s like I’m like a whole new person. Well, actually, it’s like I’m a whole old person; the person who I used to be. I feel like the person I am inside my head, like who I would describe if I tried to put my personality to words. I haven’t actually been that for a while. I haven’t been myself. As absolutely rad as that is, it has come with a few reminders of things I maybe hadn’t had to deal with for the last while.

  1. I have a fucking insane amount of social anxiety. I mean, this is certainly something I’ve been aware of of, but until I started sleeping, it’s only really been shining through because of my natural reclusive and antisocial tendencies. When made to interact with people, I think I’ve been too damn tired to worry about my “performance” in the interaction. Now that I have a modicum of energy, I find myself constantly worrying that I am fucking up the conversation. I am hyper-aware of every breath I take and every word I say. I can’t figure out where to put my fucking hands again. I remember that. I remember not being able to figure out if it was more natural to have my hands in my pockets or to just have them at my sides. And god forbid I’m wearing a jacket; that just complicates the equation even further. I worry that I’m breathing too heavily, or too irregularly. I get hyperactive when a conversation is going well, the way you would if you were winning some high-stakes competition. It’s this horrific mix of excitement that I’m managing to speak to another human normally, and this worry that I’m going to fuck it up because I’m trying too hard.
  2. I also just straight-up have depression. It’s just a part of my life. I had this thought that maybe it was all in my head, or that the sleep deprivation was secretly the cause, but no. I do just have these self-esteem issues that won’t go away, I have problems with motivation, and I don’t like being around people. And I feel fucking sad a lot. As it turns out, no amount of newfound energy was going to instantly cure this thing. It’s a part of me and going to stick with me through thick and thin.

I thought there were more things, but I guess it’s just that those two things were kind of nuanced and had a bunch of little pieces of them that made them seem like a whole lot of things.

Regardless of those… kind of negative discoveries, this new/old me is a me that I am a lot more comfortable being. At least when I’m not around other people, I feel much more comfortable in my own skin than I have in a very long time. This is a good thing. I now have the tools at my disposal to make some progress. I didn’t realize that before all of this that I just… I was trying to build a wall without any materials. Now I have something to work with. It’s not like the wall instantly appeared for me, but it sure seems a lot less hopeless and futile than it did when I had nothing.