This drawing was done many years ago. It is from what was a very difficult time in my life. What is most tragic is that it never had to be! Since I was 16 years old, I was most aware of not getting restorative sleep. I went to a doctor back then and his response to my sleep problem, well…I was shocked! He said: “Your poor sleep is the result of going to an all girls school.” For two years, my parents sent me to a boarding school in Florida so I could get braces. We were living in Aruba at that time. This was a big expense for my parents.
Over the years I still did not get any acknowledgement that sleep was really my problem. I was labeled as being depressed. One psychiatrist ran through 13 different meds while trying to get me ‘out of my depressed state.’ My body rejected every one of them. I went to weekly group therapy sessions. Those I enjoyed as we could speak openly about our struggles.
I even volunteered to go to a psych hospital. It was McLean outside Boston. I fell in love with the old brick buildings built in the 1890s, The woodwork was all handmade…stair railings, wall paneling. Can you tell that I love wood? The trees were what saved me there, as the whole campus was laid out by the same individual who planned Central Park. Real slate tiles on the roofs. I met some amazing people…who all had been traveling a difficult road. Their stories put mine to shame.
There too, my body rejected the meds. I even underwent shock therapy. Talk about scary, but if it meant I would be able to get my life back, I was willing to undergo the treatment. I had one of my first sleep studies done at McLean too. What a monster of a machine it was. Various pieces of equipment filled one whole room and the room temperature was freezing to offset the heat put out by the computer.
Wish it had discovered my sleep apnea. Back then, I think what I had were mainly hypopnea, not full obstructive events. It wasn’t until 2007 that I got my first positive sleep study. My primary was reluctant to order the study as he felt is was unnecessary and was most surprised when it came back positive for sleep apnea.
Depression is not a game. It is not a fun frame of mind to live through. Most of us can bring ourselves out of dark periods by various means. For me, if I am in a funk, I just have to step outside and view Mother Nature. Luckily for me, we live near the ocean. A short drive to the beach or the Jetty can turn my whole day around. My partner, Elliot, has his music, his drums. I love hearing the many rhythms that emanate from his practice room
Not all individuals can do it this easily. The pressure that surrounds us in our high tech world can be overwhelming. It comes at us from all sides. What helps many going through difficult times is receiving understanding, and encouragement by family or friends. Yes, I text, use my iPhone for various things besides a phone. It keeps me up to date with all I need to do. That reminder and calendar are set to give me warnings several days and then hours before an event.
Why do I need these reminders? Well, I had what is known as a pontine lacunar infart, also known as a silent stroke. That little ‘computer hub’ as I call the pons (aka brain stem), takes the commands the brain puts out to tell the body what to do. Unfortunately my brainstem ‘computer hub’ is not working properly. Short term memory flew out the window. Balance issues and at time thinking of a word, saying a word is messed up. So I developed a plan.
I take the technology of today and I put it to work. I could easily let myself enter into that big black hole of depression, but decided I preferred a more positive life. Puzzle apps, Solitaire, Mahjong, math flash card app are used to challenge my brain. I see some positive results developing, slowly but surely. Need to get back to yoga. Have to have a chair handy in case my balance fails me.
What I have found most helpful, is laughter. Elliot has a New York sense of humor. I love it. He is willing to be so corny at times. Thank you, Elliot. He also shares my love of nature, the ocean, the river. Below is dawn as seen reflected on the river as I walk to the boat ramp to meet up with Elliot. It is a double dose in my opinion!