Friday, February 21, 2014

You Have Everything You Need

There hidden within the scope of our personal universe, we can find our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual entirety and it is all of this 'stuff' that in the end makes us uniquely who we are.

Anxiety and its shadow, depression is a clown disguised as a 'monster' that takes great pleasure in persistently riding a person like they're a jackass.

Kick, buck and toss this fool into space every single time you see it coming your way.

This double-sided Joker, Anxiety and Depression has been constantly working at living within me for quite some time now. More often than not I manage to keep it secretly tucked away, closeted, out of sight, and undiscovered by people with whom I come into constant contact. But as I've grown older, much like an old home, my body and mind is not as attractive, durable, flexible, protective or sturdy as it once was. Those cracks in our walled surface once thought to be finally settled have grown larger and are now deep enough to be counted as additional storage space. There within these spaces you will find compartments that house our emotional baggage, physical limitations and vulnerabilities.

Those items hidden from plain sight include chronic insecurity, bipolar disorder, moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and as if there's room for anything more, arthritis.

My natural inclination is to try to hide these things away from others for the sake of appearing invincible. However, nearly two years ago I reached the point in which without my permission these troubling conditions ceased to remain invisible. The fear that emerged as a result of their falling into view caused me to produce buckets of sweat with the slightest increase in excitability?

If you have never experienced a meltdown I tell you it can be terrifying and it makes you think that you have lost all control over your person.

Of all the places to experience a feeling of public nakedness it had to emerge for me at work, fully visible to my peers and my boss.

It made me look and feel like an incompetent fool. I never knew when I might appear de-clothed , socially disconnected, and grossly out of touch in the context in which I was working.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms

A person who has obstructive sleep apnea often is not aware of the apnea episodes during the night. Often, family members witness the periods of apnea. For me, it was my wife that alerted me to the fact that I would stop breathing in my sleep.

A person with obstructive sleep apnea usually begins snoring heavily soon after falling asleep. Often the snoring gets louder. The snoring is then interrupted by a long silent period during which there is no breathing. This is followed by a loud snort and gasp, as the person attempts to breathe. This pattern repeats throughout the night. This something that can kill you. A couple years ago, a very good high school friend of mine stopped breathing in his sleep and never woke up.

Many people wake up unrefreshed in the morning and feel sleepy or drowsy throughout the day. This is called excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). I was experiencing the following symptoms on a daily basis.

People with sleep apnea may:
  • Act grumpy, impatient, or irritable
  • Be forgetful
  • Fall asleep while working, reading, or watching TV
  • Feel sleepy while driving, or even fall asleep while driving
  • Have hard to treat headaches
Problems that may occur with this condition:
  • Depression that becomes worse
  • Hyperactive behavior, especially in children
  • Leg swelling (if severe)

The biggest problems for me were and continue to be irritability, being forgetful, and falling asleep while working for brief periods that occur so quickly that I don't know that they have even taken place.

As I am sure you can understand, this puts a limit on the kind of work that a person with this condition can be expected to do without presenting a risk to self and others.

On a few occasions, I made more than one hundred thousand dollars a year during periods of great performance. Today, I find myself working on average just eight to ten hours a week for $17.50 an hour. This has resulted in a major shift in lifestyle.

One day in my last job when my problems were mounting I took advantage of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and began seeing a psychologist. I recall the psychologist telling me at the end of my sixth and final session that "You Have Everything You Need."

Well you know what? I decided to believe that. I belief that God has blessed me with a beautiful mind. What I intend to do with it is exactly what my Grandpa told me to do at 12 years old when I was faced with a problem and that is to "figure out for yourself a way to make the very best of the situation."

Let's be clear, I didn't choose this situation for myself nor would I wish it on someone else. It is what it is. I can't out run it anymore than I can runaway from it.  Instead, I am running to it in anticipation that it has a much deeper meaning and purpose for my life than I could ever have thought possible.

When you get tripped up, knocked down off your horse or lose your A-game edge it is still your choice whether or not you intend to get back up and continue to move forward by making a further contribution to your life and that of others.