I hit my fists against the wall several times to stop the frustration and anger I felt inside. At least I didn’t hit my head against it like last time. It was better than finding some other imaginative way to stop the emotional turmoil. I sat down and held my hand, thankful I let it out, but I knew this was the wrong way. At least I felt better, for now. It was the only way I found that was not noticeable to attract attention.
Some people say I need to stop being negative, or think differently, or pray more, or get out more, or my favorite, quote scripture against Satan. What they don’t realize is, it is not something you can change quickly or pray away and then go on with God’s plan for your life. The self-abuse has been around for a long time; I just do all I can to hold it in. Why have I held it in for so long? Why doesn’t anyone know, let alone, understand? I have asked myself those questions often. But the answer was always there. Every single time I tried to harm myself in some fashion, or think dark thoughts about myself: it was because I did not find myself worthy of love, nor of any one’s time to help. I didn’t want to consider myself that poor pitiful person. Yet I lived in it because that is how I accepted myself, all I knew.
My parents had their problems while I was growing up, but I thank their love for God and each other that they made it through. But all my issues were not of their design. I do remember some parts of my childhood, like anyone else. Yet there are memories which I will never find, and feelings I will never fully experience. It’s like a void, a timeless moment where an experience wanted to exist, but couldn’t. I asked my mother and father often of moments in my young years, and even of my birth. One time, I sat down and made a timeline of my childhood. It gave me some sense of fashioned design to my life, placing memories and events in order has helped out. But I now know, what the problem was, even still is.
I was born with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (O.S.A.). It was not discovered until the ripe age of 18, right after graduating high school. My Ear, Nose and Throat specialist was concerned about some symptoms I had been experiencing: snoring, extreme tiredness during the day, and depression. So he recommended seeing another specialist. It was then this was discovered. My sleep study showed even more surprising results. I was shocked, but not surprised. I stopped breathing between 35-40 seconds for each apnea episode; apnea meaning, “Without breath”. This happened over 1,000 times during my sleeping.
I remember this new doctor explaining to me 3 different treatments: A tracheotomy, using a bi-pap machine or a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). I tried using the bi-pap machine, but the pressure was not tolerable for me. Here’s an example of it, as I have told many people before: have someone drive you down the highway at 70 miles per hour, and stick your head out the window and do your best to breath normally. That’s what it is like. The UPPP is a procedure which is performed to remove tissue from the throat or mouth. Unfortunately, a CPAP machine was required after this procedure is performed, and the risks were high enough, plus a tracheotomy would still be required. So I chose the first option. I am happy that I chose the tracheotomy, yet there are plenty of drawbacks as well. For example limiting the type of jobs that I can apply for, and, unfortunately, it can be a relationship killer. Some people are uncomfortable with someone who has something they don’t understand. Or maybe they’re afraid they’ll have to take care of me or take care of my tracheotomy. Whatever reason, I know from these 15 years, and one of the most difficult aspects I have encountered from my sleep apnea as well as having my tracheotomy, is realizing that I have the strength and responsibility for such a burden on my own.
The personal changes that life and even God have required me to undertake are amazingly similar to others. The required truths are like anyone else’s. Know thyself, forgive, know your own strength, move on and let go of the past. My approach has just been different. That’s one of the reasons why it’s been difficult for me. I’ve had no way to share similarities with others. But that hasn’t stopped me from learning about my past, moving on, or even finding the strength I need inside, and even outside of myself.
To give myself has always been an important aspect of my life. Yet the big issue is how can I give myself, if I do not know who I am? This was an aspect of my thinking that I had great difficulty understanding, let alone looking beyond my O.S.A has been a difficult accomplishment. Yet with learning, patience, practicing good things and even choosing to accept myself and guarding my heart and mind of negative things, it is possible.
My recovery from the loss I grew up with has been slow, but it will not fully be captured. All I need to do is let go, move on and know that I have a future. This future has been affected by my past, yet it only has the control I wish it to have. It comes down to knowing I can use it to push forward and help others. This is only the beginning.