Taking Back My Life

“It’s been a long time comin’, but I know a change gon’ come. Oh yes it will.”

These words come from a favorite song of mine, aptly called A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke. It’s a song filled with inspiration and hope, a desire to push forward and hold onto your dream. It holds a very significant message in relation to the Civil Rights movement, and also holds a personal meaning for me.

For the last 3 years, my dream has been to holistically feel good. Through many discussions, percussions, appointments, disappointments, tests, prescriptions, preclusions, struggles and victories, I am glad to say that change has finally come.

A little back-story: I’ve always been a particularly emotional guy. Mostly I’ve attributed that to a no-puppies-and-rainbows childhood and subsequent early adulthood. However, as things got better, and more breakthroughs were had in relation to that speckled past, I wasn’t feeling better. Once I was able to sit alone in my own head for awhile and get rid of all the external excuses, the internal brokenness revealed itself.

I started working at Heuristic Solutions in July of 2015. It was a great opportunity to work in test engineering, which I believe truly came about thanks to the likes of Matt Groves, Seth Petry-Johnson and Calvin Allen, all friends who worked there at the time.

Why did I just state all that? Well, it was a work-from-home position.

That’s great, right?

Yes, of course it is. Let me explain.

When working from home, you get the benefits of not having to travel much, which saves quite a bit on maintenance, gas and time. You also get to dress and organize your office as you see fit, which is pretty awesome as well. The downsides though are, if you’re not careful, you might forget to see the light of day for quite awhile. That lack of Vitamin D-forming sunshine can cause one to feel a bit sluggish and low. I did this, and felt low. REALLY low. Just to be candid, I was having significant relationship issues, was overworking, was feeling extremely inadequate in pretty much all areas, and it all culminated in not wanting to live anymore.

I take a moment to thank my wife, here. Jen, if you’re reading this right now, thank you for saving me. You didn’t have to, but you did, and you’re the most beautiful person to me for that.

My wife struggled and fought with me for a long time until she convinced me to go to the doctor. It didn’t take long to diagnose me with Manic Depressive Disorder and start the long and arduous road to figuring out what medications work for me. There are a lot out there, since depression is an odd beast with no silver bullet.

We also took some time to go to a marriage counselor. To note: if you’re going through any sorts of health issues, your loved ones are, too. They’re trying to help, trying to figure out what they can and can’t do, wanting badly to fix you but knowing they can’t, and all the while trying to understand while not getting frustrated. Counseling helped to bring these topics out and bring about more understanding and suggestions on what can and can’t be done.

With these things in mind, we had a battle plan. Slowly, but surely, I started to feel more level-headed, more energetic, more at peace with myself. Improvements were made, and it was great. But I noticed I wasn’t completely healthy still.

I felt tired all the time, like I didn’t get very good sleep. From mid-2017 to early 2018, I started to feel like I was getting no sleep at all. I’d yawn all day long, I couldn’t focus on anything, my mind was a cloud and I was floating through life. My work was slow and sloppy. I stopped knowing what day of the week it was, or sometimes even what month it was. I started having trouble remembering fairly common English words, and would often look to others and try to describe what I’m trying to say so they could fill in the blank.

Back to the doctor. He’s not a sleep specialist, so I was referred to a sleep lab. After plenty of complications there (which I won’t go into for legal reasons), I was diagnosed with sleep apnea. EXTREME sleep apnea.

I’m gonna explain this a little. If you’re not interested in it, skip ahead a paragraph.

A person with sleep apnea has a series of things going on at night that cause them to get poor sleep due to breathing issues. Everyone is familiar with snoring, but there’s also moments where the person stops breathing at all, and then the body forces a large gasp of breath to stay alive, which wakes up the person for just a moment. When a sleep study is done, these events are recorded. If the person has at least 5 of these events per hour, they are considered to have sleep apnea. If the person has 20 or 30 per hour, they’re considered to have severe sleep apnea. Once I had my sleep study, it was found that I had about 60 per hour. That means that I, on average, stopped breathing and gasped for breath once every minute while sleeping. Essentially, I wasn’t sleeping at all.

Fortunately, there is hardware to help solve this. I received a CPAP machine, which blows air into my nose, keeping my windpipe open to prevent it collapsing, causing the stop in breathing. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks now, and I haven’t felt this good in so many years.

Before all of this happened, I didn’t like going to the doctor, didn’t trust them, didn’t want to take medication, and just wanted to make my body work like it should. But at some point, I put away my pride and did what I needed to do to take back my life. I’m still taking medication and getting regular checkups, and I’m fine with that. It’s all in the name of turning me back into stubborn-as-a-bulldog Mike.

I’m starting to get back into things that I’ve been missing out on for so long, and probably things that many of you attend that you might have noticed I haven’t been going to for a while. I’m gonna start speaking again, and am in the process of getting a streaming channel going. I’m getting back into fixing things and woodworking. Getting back into being me.

Damn, it feels good!

Seriously though, if you’re not feeling good and you’re hesitant to talk to someone about it, don’t wait. Don’t put it off another second. Call your doctor. Schedule an appointment. Go to the appointment. Be honest with the doctor. Follow through with the prescriptions. Be diligent about finding the solution. Your loved ones want you to be you. Life is far too short to feel like crap. If you wanna talk through anything, my DM box is open at https://twitter.com/McBowman.