Every guy deserves a breather-River City Counseling

First, an update: due to vacation schedules for group members, the start date for my next ten week, men’s counseling group has been moved back two weeks, from July 30th to August 13th, in Midtown Sacramento. I have two spots remaining. If you or someone you know might be interested, email me @ steve@rivercitycounseling.com. Thank-you!
For those of you who have followed my blog, you know I’m all about self-care: meditation, yoga, napping, journal writing, working out, etc. Sure, it can be mildly uncomfortable doing down dogs and forward folds, and running hard can tire you out. Still, your return can be significant when compared to your energy output. Other times, what’s supposed to be self-care can feel a bit like throwing-up after hours on a roller coaster or doing crunches for hours while watching infomercials. I’ve faced such a situation recently and wondered what I should do.

I recently spoke to my doctor about how I am always exhausted. No matter how many hours of rack time I get, I wake-up feeling ready for a nap. Coffee helps, but is it a good thing when you’re on a first name basis with the baristas and have a tab at all the local spots?

Her solution: go to a sleep doctor to see if she could tell me why I’m so exhausted. Since I knew what was coming, I delayed. I lost the number. Unfortunately, my wife was in on the conspiracy and reminded me to make an appointment. Oops, my insurance shifted and I couldn’t see that doctor. Damn, I got the name of a new doctor. I danced around and delayed, but eventually I made an appointment.

After literally five seconds of getting to know each other, my new doctor got out his scalpel and went for my jugular, which is another way of saying that he asked me if I snore. My “yes” led to him saying, “Yep, you have sleep apnea.” I wasn’t surprised, but I had an uncharacteristically strong reaction.  Without delay, I told my wife that I didn’t want her to tell anyone: not my parents, her mother, our siblings, our best friends, NOBODY! I felt ashamed and let her know it was my story to tell. And I wasn’t going to tell anyone.

Fortunately, he had a solution and talked me off the ledge. Go on a diet and see what would happen. Relieved and motivated I beat-up the treadmill and became best friends with steel-cut oats and hard-boiled eggs. I’ve lost 30 pounds, and am in the best shape I’ve been in since Nirvana and Pearl Jam ruled the airwaves… And I still snore like crazy, which wasn’t the least bit surprising. Even though I hated myself for agreeing, rather than face a lifetime of exhaustion, I held my breath and agreed to try a C-Pap machine.

I know some of you are saying, “Dude, what’s your deal? I got the machine and feel like a new man. I’ve lost weight because I have so much more energy, and my wife loves me LOTS more. It has been all good. If the company wanted a spokesman, I’d do it for free.”

Well, that’s not me. On top of how it made me feel awful about myself, the damn thing is just uncomfortable. No two ways about it. Have you ever tried to pick your teeth through a garden house? How about scratch your cheek through Tupperware? What about breathing raspberry jam in a wind tunnel? That’s how they feel. If you were me, you wouldn’t use it much, right?

And I didn’t. Although I didn’t admit it to anyone I was ready to cook the books. If I didn’t use the machine an average of four hours/night, the insurance would take back the machine. I then could say, “I tried it and it didn’t work.”

The problem is that when I used it, it helped, which left me with a dilemma. Avoid it due to feeling ashamed because of body image issues and incredible discomfort or give it an honest try. After going back and forth and getting a more comfortable mask, I decided to go for it. I was (almost) all in.

But the story didn’t end there. The pesky insurance company wanted to take the damn machine away for non-compliance. Although there was still a small voice celebrating the possibility, I learned that I’d get to keep it if I stepped-up my game. I suited up and played my game, and I went from last place to winning the wild card game. Today, I learned I will be able to keep the machine (which I still really hate).

By sharing this, I’ve gone out on a ledge, risking judgment. But as we therapists say, doing so has helped me “let go of the shame” I’ve been feeling. My secret no longer has power over me, and I’m willing to talk about it openly. If you stop and think for a moment, I imagine there are parts of you that leave you feeling hurt, sad, and/or ashamed and have power over you and the decisions you make, and you don’t want to share with others. I encourage you to take a minute and think about what could happen if you did share them with somebody? Do you think it might lose its power over you?

One Response to Every guy deserves a breather-River City Counseling
  1. elizabeth
    July 29, 2015 | 8:30 pm

    Excellent article. It’s good that it is helping you. Wonderful inspiration for others who may be considering treatment for sleeping issues.

    It’s interesting how everyone is different about things they don’t like to share or what they are ashamed of. One women I know was ashamed that she never graduated from college although she has been successful in life. In later years she has jokingly told people about it and it’s no big deal. It is sort of interestingly unique in her very educated circles. This same women also had some fears and phobias which she was very ashamed of sharing. Felt something was wrong with her. But that too she no longer is concerned about mentioning it. Not the first thing in a conversation, but recently mentioned it to 3 other women and no one seemed really that interested or concerned.

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