Painted Into A Corner

My work ethic has been declining for some time. I have many projects with many deadlines that I could not care less about. I've never missed a deadline before and most likely won't even now, but as I procrastinate each hour, each day, I could come dangerously close to upsetting a lot of folks. There is no motivation, no drive, no urgency anymore. As I type this I should actually be addressing many projects but I cannot bring myself to even think about them let alone immerse myself into them. What I do for a living really amounts to nothing in the grand scheme. Yes, it's essential to have a career to keep a home, family and responsibilities propped up and I'm completely aware of the importance which is why I slave to the daily rituals. At the same time, I've died inside and really don't know how much longer I can play this role. There's no one to blame but myself. I painted myself into this corner with apathy, lack of initiative, self pity and a buffet table of synonyms — just pick one. I cannot lose this job. It would be the final nail in the coffin especially in this economy and at my age. I'm lucky I have what I have but I fear I'll piss it all away.

More Anxiety

Ever since the loss of my friend I've been enduring escalating anxiety. Daily I awake to a swirling adrenaline whirlpool in my chest accompanied by shortness of breath and an overactive heartbeat. Much of the day is spent trying to take a deep, satisfying yet elusive breath. Maybe it's related to my friend's death but I can't be sure. Anxiety surfaces at the most unlikely times. Even though I've sworn off pills, I've resumed taking anti-anxiety meds to calm me and help with my sleepless nights. I cannot believe the futile battle sleep has become.

My marriage seems to continue to unravel ever so slowly. At times we're miles apart as if we both know it's over but can't admit it to each other. When she's angry or frustrated with me it sends my anxiety through the roof. I mentioned this to her but she replied that she cannot assume responsibility for any anxiety she may cause me. I have to own it. I try to quietly manage it so as not to burden the family with my petty weaknesses but it can be so unbearable and paralyzing.

Life keeps piling on more and more complications. I don't know where the breaking point will be or even what that means. Something's going to give some day but how that plays out is completely unknown. I'm so ill-equipped to cope with this and I deeply dread the future. I keep telling myself there has to be an answer somewhere, someday but my head's so foggy I can barely initiate the search for relief. This anxiety is nothing short of crippling.

I went back to the UCLA clinical trials web page and filled out a questionnaire to possibly find something that may offer promise. The attached screenshot illustrates the result. I have no idea why it didn't work. I gave up after that.

My Friend

I've known my friend for about two and a half years. We met through a friend of a friend of a friend scenario. (Actually one of the friends is my wife.) I was told about this fella who was a Lutheran pastor (of all things) who had overcome depression and was interested in meeting me to discuss my situation. I was a little apprehensive at first because I had no interest in hearing any christian clergy getting preachy with me.

So it started with a phone call. I was quickly put at ease with his "down-to-earthiness" and genuine concern for a complete stranger. We mutually agreed to meet in person over coffee. He and his wife only lived 15 minutes away so we found a cafe conveniently in between.

He towered over me. He must have been 6 foot 5. I'm barely 5' 7". He was lanky, thin, early 60s, gray with a gray goatee and glasses. We exchanged the basic pleasantries and filled in all the blanks that two strangers are apt to do when first meeting. By the end of the meeting, we were no longer strangers. He had very interesting insights on life and oozed of wisdom and humor. He was anything but preachy. I immediately felt comfortable with him. Another meeting was set for the following week, and so began our weekly coffee meetings that eventually settled on Sunday evenings.

One of the reasons I was eager to spend time with him was to pick his brain about how he'd overcome depression. I wanted to know how it happened, how he knew it happened, what it felt like and how I could follow suit. Each time I asked him how he knew he was better or what he thought helped him, he would reply with a cryptic, difficult to understand explanation. I had to to ask again several times in future meetings so I could get some sort of clarity. I never did understand what he was telling me and I guess it doesn't really matter. 

My friend had it much worse than me. He was a recovering alcoholic. He attempted suicide on several occasions as had some of his family members. He was brutally honest about sharing some of those instances with me which I appreciated considering how painful it must be to recall such things.

As we got to know each other I was amused by this man of the cloth and his surprisingly foul mouth. I've never heard a pastor or minister or priest or whatever you want to call them curse like a drunken sailor. It actually added to the comfort level for some reason. I found I could confide in him without judgement. He was real. He was honest. He was my friend.

As time went on he would occasionally invite other friends to join us during our coffee meetings. A couple of these meetings were at his home. He was a master at bringing people together. My friend took in strays. I was one of his strays.

He spoke of his desire to establish a men's discussion group because he felt men had a lack of camaraderie. I wasn't warm to the idea at first because many of the people I was meeting through him were associated with his church or other church organizations. I didn't feel it would be practical to create meetings that were religiously based or more specifically christian based. I felt it important that men of all faiths should be welcome and comfortable with the format. I expressed my concerns early on. He was extremely open to that issue and took note promising the entire structure of the group would be at most, generically religious. He wanted to open and close the meetings with a general prayer which I thought was great. We brainstormed about names and locations. I came up with a list of possible names. One of them was MENALOGUE. A hybrid of the words men and dialogue which seemed very appropriate. My friend liked that one so it stuck. I created a logo design and some flyers. Another member created a website and a blog. Yet another offered to provide refreshments and snacks. With all his church contacts, my friend secured a space in the basement of a nearby church and Menalogue was up and running. He often said our mantra should be, "Men doing intentionally what women do naturally."

The weekly meetings averaged anywhere from 4 to 6 men. One evening I counted 11 and a half people (the half being someone on speaker phone who was out of town). My friend envisioned these meetings branching out nationally. With the Internet this was entirely possible. Men getting together talking about men's issues all over the country following our format. I was doing all I could to help, even running a couple of meetings while he was out of town.

Our Sunday coffee meetings included coming up with a Question of the Week for Menalogue. I would then send it in a mass email to the group members and that would be the crux of the discussion for the week. It was a great format and many of the members grew to not only enjoy them but to even rely on the meetings.

My friend and his wife were born in Minnesota and had many family members there. They would fly back for visits once or twice a year. They were building a cabin for their retirement years. My friend was extremely handy and did all sorts of repair and maintenance work on the side. He helped fix a sagging pantry cabinet in our kitchen. He also traveled to many disaster sites to help rebuild homes that were damaged or destroyed including New Orleans (Katrina), Hungary, Brazil, and Alabama. I wanted to go with him on one of his humanitarian missions but could never seem to get away. It was second nature for him to give and give and give.

A couple of summers ago he and his wife went to Minnesota to work on the cabin and visit family. He was on antidepressants but decided to go off them because he felt ok. It was a mistake that caused him to relapse into a deep funk that lasted for months. We talked about it a lot.

He went back on meds, sought help from doctors, and frequented a clinic on an outpatient basis. He would sometimes spend long days there participating in group therapy sessions. At times he seemed to be better, other times not so much. This went on for quite a while. He was very open to discuss it within the group meetings and during our Sunday get togethers. He would speak of a "loop" of suicidal thoughts that would relentlessly run through his mind; how the mornings were the worst time of the day; how much he enjoyed our meetings; how he had lost his faith.

He mentioned the suicidal mindset to his psych doctor which is always a red flag. The doctor urged him to try ECT treatments (shock therapy) right away. My friend complied and checked himself into the same facility that I attended for the TMS treatments. Since I had been entertaining the thought of pursuing this treatment for myself I was very concerned, curious and hopeful. I prayed this might be the turnaround he so desperately needed. I wasn't able to visit him during his stay there but I spoke to him several times by phone. He wasn't feeling any better but he also wasn't experiencing any detrimental side effects. Later on he did have some short-term memory issues but overall, the "therapy" did nothing for him even after 12 treatments. He was not happy with the facility or the program there. He had had enough and came home.

Since it was summer, the Menalogue meeting attendance had fizzled quite a bit. A couple of times nobody showed. We both agreed it should go on a summer hiatus until August. He then extended it into September. We were both going to be busy anyway so it was for the best. He and his wife were set to travel to Minnesota once again to work on the cabin. We had a final coffee meet the last Sunday of June. By then he wasn't the same anymore. Our meetings went from robust conversations about any given subject to basic venting about how miserable we both were. I could see the life in his face was gone. His eyes were vacant. He gazed into space. There was often awkward silence. He didn't laugh or smile much anymore. He was enduring excruciating pain but calmly kept it bottled inside. As we parted that evening I told him I would text him while he was away. A week or so later I sent him a text but didn't receive a reply for several days. When I did hear back, the reply was weird, garbled text that I couldn't make sense of. I wrote back asking what he meant but never got a response. A few days later my lower back flared up and I was in great pain again. I sent him a text informing him of it and asked that he say a prayer for me. A couple of days later a reply text arrived that said, "Sorry to hear. God bless." I replied asking him how he was, but again, no response.

Six days later I received a voicemail on my cell phone. It was his wife stating she had her husband's phone with her and could I please call. She sounded calm so I wasn't sure what to make of it. I also wasn't sure if they had gotten back in town yet. I was thinking maybe they had returned and he was back in the hospital again. That was the worst thing that ran through my mind as her reason for calling.

I called his number as she requested. We exchanged hellos and how are yous and then she proceded to tell me that my friend, her husband, had taken his own life the day before, Friday the 13th, there in Minnesota. "He just couldn't do it anymore."

It wasn't real. I felt light headed as my heart broke. I didn't ask how he did it and she didn't offer. It didn't matter. I was concerned for her. She assured me she had a strong support system there and she was alright. I didn't know her very well but she always seemed strong and solid. She even chuckled a bit as she told me I was the first call that she had received on his phone so she at least knew it worked. She told me how important I was to him. I asked her if it would be alright to notify the Menalogue group and she encouraged that. I told her to please call me if she needs anything, but really, what could I offer?

Since nobody was showing at the meetings and our leader was gone, I informed the Menalogue group of the news and told them the meetings cannot go on without him. That was probably premature and presumptive on my part but that was my mindset at the time. I had no strength to carry it on. A couple of members have since expressed interest in keeping it going in some fashion in his honor. I'm certainly not opposed to that. I just can't be the lead. I can't replace him. Really, nobody can.

The following Sunday after hearing the news would have been our next coffee meet if fate hadn't changed things. Little did I know that that final Sunday in June would be the last time I'd ever see him again. I toyed with the idea of going one last time to our spot in his honor to say goodbye. But then I thought of what a hokey Hollywood cliché that would be. There wouldn't be any sad music playing in the background or a wide shot of me sitting across from an empty chair as the screen fades to black. This is cold reality. It would have just been me sitting there alone feeling sorry for myself making a bad situation worse so I reconsidered the notion. But in life, ironic things can happen and in the following weeks one of the mutual friends/group member asked that we meet at that same coffee shop to discuss the future of Menalogue. As fate would have it, he was late—so I found myself sitting there inadvertently alone with my coffee contemplating life. Though I was fighting the urge, I raised my cup to my friend doing the very thing I swore I wouldn't do. It felt contrived.

I miss my friend. I'm experiencing profound hopelessness and I've been trying like hell not to make this about me. It's about him. It's about his wife, his two sons and the rest of his family. I'm so prone to self pity. I have since been very quick to tears and have had many bouts with anxiety. My emotions have been all over the place. Shock, grief, sorrow, anger, regret, guilt, and so on. I've been particularly angry with God because my friend deserved some sort of divine intervention. After all, he was a pastor. But apparently not even a pastor's prayers are necessarily answered. He deserved a specific help that never came. But who am I to question God? I can only hope that God showed him mercy despite the sin of death by his own hand and that he finally has the peace that eluded him in life. I realize nobody could have prevented this, but nagging thoughts of something I could have said or done keep surfacing. Though neither of us could truly know what the other was going through and neither of us could "cure" the other, there was at the very least, a thin veil of comfort in knowing we weren't alone in this. But now he's gone. This is truly something I did not need. But there I go making it about me.

I have a business card I keep in my wallet. Whose business card is not important. It's what my friend scrawled on the back of it:

"Don't quit 5 minutes before the miracle happens!!"

If only he'd have heeded his own words. Goodbye my friend.

Pity Party

There is probably not a soul on this earth that has mastered self pity to the degree I have. This is not a proud statement by any means. It sickens me to admit it.

Running parallel to this depression has been 30-plus years of low back pain. The lumbar discs in my spine are wearing out before their time for unknown reasons. Degenerative disc disease as it's called. My back is never 100 percent pain free. There's always a dull stiffness at the very least. Around 11 years ago I suffered a pinched nerve which resulted in 6 months of agonizing pain that ran down the right leg into the knee. The most excruciating pain I've ever experienced. I live in fear it will happen again. It goes without saying when my back decides to "go out," it deepens my despair beyond words.

I recently had a flare-up that took me by surprise. It's usually prompted by either bending, twisting, lifting wrong, or simply exerting myself more than I should. This time it just crept up on me in a few days time until I could barely walk. When this happens it literally floors me. The only thing I can do is rest flat on my back on a firm surface and hope that it will subside quickly. It's usually several days before any normalcy returns.

There is nothing worse than idle time for someone who's depressed. I'm not a motivated person. I have no hobbies. Few things interest me. When my back wreaks havoc, I'm more than likely relegated to the floor in front of a television or just stranded in bed staring at the ceiling. Woe is me. Why me? Blah, blah, blah. This is when I'm at my pathetic worst. I don't know how my family stands my presence.

During these pitiful times, I can't help but to ruminate on how miserable I am. I fear the future and what it holds. I question how things will ever get done if I'm incapacitated for long periods. I wonder how many more flare-ups I can endure and will they recur more often as I age? At times, irrational thoughts and worries consume me to the point of tears. Physical and mental pain — hand in hand.

As with depression, I've run the gamut on seeking help for my back. I've seen countless doctors, taken powerful pain killers, used heat and ice, tried various conventional and alternative therapies, even a new mattress — to no avail. Surgery may be in my future but I've tried to avoid it at all costs as there are very few back surgery success stories. I've reached the point where I just literally lie down, close my eyes, and ride it out.

I realize this isn't a back pain blog but the physical pain and mental anguish seem to feed on each other reducing me to a self-pitying, slobbering blob. Some "experts" would say one causes the other. They certainly exacerbate one and other.

At this writing the pain has subsided to the point where I can function again. I should be grateful but I'm just plain afraid of the next time. There are so many people who endure so much greater pain for much longer periods. I despise what I become when afflicted. I hate the powerlessness of being unable to prevent pain. All pain.

Facing Reality

My employer keeps an archive of portraits of all employees for identification and promotional purposes. They recently decided it was time for all portraits to be updated. It's been 10 or more years since mine was originally taken so I suppose it was time.

When my turn approached, I took a seat in front of the backdrop and presented my forced smile. There isn't a more unnatural feeling for me than smiling for the camera. The photographer took about a half dozen shots with my head at various angles. When done, he motioned me over to the laptop the camera was connected to so I could view the results. When the first image was called up I was quite literally taken aback. I immediately and inadvertently verbalized my thought by saying, "Oh god." I was stunned at the face gazing back at me. It looked tired, aged, droopy, washed out, even contorted in a subtle way. The forced smile looked exactly like a forced smile. The very first shot was the worst. I pleaded with him to delete it. He chuckled not realizing the seriousness from my end. I was in disbelief as to how I become less photogenic as the years pass. Reluctantly, I chose the best of the worst and left the room completely deflated.

That evening I shared the experience with my wife who, of course, completely disagreed with my assessment and dismissed it.

I realize we're all our own worst critics and I probably took it all way too literally, but I can't shake that initial reaction I had to that first image. It struck me hard. This is what everyone sees daily.

I can't speak for most people, but for me, I guess I don't realize how my facial expression appears to others. Whenever I see photos of myself I usually look pretty downtrodden but don't remember feeling THAT downtrodden at the time the photo was taken. I'd like to think I conceal my grief but even an artificial smile can't hide the toll that's been taken. I apparently wear my inner sadness on my face for all to see.


I've really been wanting to post something lately, but I can't even put a cohesive thought together. Only words come to mind. A big, dark void. Quicksand. Empty. Dread. Hopeless. Fragile. Dead inside. Soulless. Jaded. Sorrowful. On and on. Sorry, I'm really sorry.


"Hello darkness my old friend."

Not a fan of the song but it's a lyric I wish I had written. It hits home and sums things up neatly and concisely. This place I find myself has never been more uncertain. There is nowhere to turn. Nothing has helped. Nothing works. I have no idea what to do and no more energy to search any further. Complete limbo. It sounds extreme but it's as if all options have been exhausted. Sleep apnea is pummeling me. Sadness and hopelessness rule the day. I wear my poker face as best I can, fooling no one. I have no choice but to plow through for the sake of my family. I don't know how I do it from moment to moment. Numbness may be the key.


It's been a couple of weeks since I left a voicemail for my psychiatrist informing her of my decision to discontinue all meds and the canceling of all future appointments. I closed the message by thanking her for everything and welcoming her to call me if she thought it warranted some discussion. So far no return call. Silly, but I'm a bit disappointed and surprised not to hear back. I've been seeing her for nearly 4 years. She's witnessed a lot of my story and has seen first-hand how antidepressants have proven ineffective for me. One of the reasons I've stayed with her was because I sensed she might actually care to a tiny degree. I'm fully aware that doctors, especially therapists in particular, strive to avoid emotional connections with patients. It shouldn't be any other way. But speaking from the depressive patient's point of view, I think we're all looking for someone who even remotely cares in some way or another. I've been to doctors who treated their patients like cattle literally overbooking and subsequently packing the waiting room so as to see each patient for literally 2-5 minutes. It's humiliating and insensitive but it occurs daily in any given office.

I don't expect to be treated any differently than any other patient but it's given me pause to think that she would — at the very least from a doctor/patient relationship — feel compelled to check on me based on what she may consider to be an irrational decision on my part. Just a professional courtesy. I'm sure she's busy and may have intentions to follow up but hasn't had the time. Who's to know? I've noted in recent posts that my last couple of appointments ended swiftly as she seemingly appeared to be flustered with me. As each day goes by I'm convinced I will not hear from her again. At the risk of sounding like a whining baby, I did think she cared but I apparently misread her.

Executive Decision

After much thought and contemplation I've decided to cease all psychotropic drugs. This may be a huge mistake but I can't justify continuing any longer. I have enough left over to titrate down without quitting cold turkey. It's just a matter of halving the dose over a fews days time, then halving again. I've called the doctor and left a voicemail informing her the decision's already been made and all future appointments are canceled. I invited her to return my call if she's so inclined to discuss this but no reply as of yet.

I'll now have to brace myself for withdrawal symptoms and the sad reality that my drugless self will surface once again reminding me why I take these meds in the first place. But I need a brain cleansing of some kind. I need a break from these chemicals. I have to break this cycle. I've sworn off drugs in the past only to return with my tail between my legs realizing I can't function without being chemically propped up. It's so cruel. It's anybody's guess as to what will happen. I have to see this through and find an alternative before my brain becomes any more scrambled.

The Big Picture

At this writing I'm three weeks into this Saphris crap which has been doing a number on me with its side effects. My mornings have become exhaustive and breathless from sleep deprivation because of this new disorder I've been blessed with. I literally cannot keep my eyes opened after waking. I'm disoriented, dizzy, light-headed, heavy-headed, irritable, exasperated, taxed, spent, you name it. My relationship with my family is strained and stressed. I'm distant from my wife. My wife is distant from me. I don't know why things continue to pile on. What's next?

As with all these damned drugs there's an ironic marked worsening of my depression. Another drug that broke its promise.

Amidst the fog I'm in at the moment, I'm trying to view this god forsaken drug option from the bigger picture:
• Overall, they've done more harm than good.
• The accumulative cost is ridiculous.
• Hopes go up with each new one only to be dashed each and every time.
• A broken jaw is a testament to prevalent side effects verses benefits.
• The idea of depending on a pill to get through life is patently wrong.
• Unknown, long-term physical damage could be realized in years to come.
• Most lab rats die before their time.
• Depression has never lifted.

That's the short list of cons. There's not one pro. I live day to day hanging on a thin thread of hope that maybe this tiny pill ... THIS ONE ... will save my life. It's too pathetic.

I toy with the idea of living drug free sans even aspirin. Is it even possible after all these years? Would my system accept such a concept or would I collapse in a heap of withdrawal?

Somewhere exists a chemical free answer. I long for something natural, age-old, logical, gentle, soothing, warming, welcoming. Something real, somewhere.

God, please help.


My last couple of psych appointments have been very brief if not abruptly ended. I don't think it's because she's tired of me or has given up. It's most likely a realization that she's just going to have to throw darts in the dark until the miracle drug combination bullseye is hit. Other alternatives have proven to be futile. She has an endless grab bag of medications to either substitute for or add on to the ones I'm currently taking. Pure trial and error. That's why it's called a practice I suppose. Sometimes she seems a bit flustered with the situation but I tell myself it's probably because I see her monthly on her once a week late night appointments so she's just tired at the end of the day. Or maybe she's fed up with her career decision. One can only speculate. Wait, who's the patient here?

I tentatively decided to forego ECT for now and reluctantly revealed that decision during my most recent visit. She asked why and I unconvincingly attempted to explain how I have been reading about and researching both the pros and cons of ECT. The cons have me persuaded right now either because I haven't really hit bottom yet or I'm simply too chicken to dive head-first into it. Each time I explain why I won't do it she sings the same tune about how safe and effective it is and doesn't understand why in the world I wouldn't consider it. Somehow I feel foolish with my decision but my gut feeling tells me it would be the mistake of my life to say, yes please, hook me up.

Maybe 7 minutes into the appointment she asks if I've ever taken (insert drug name here) before. Sometimes it's yes, sometimes no. This time it's 'Saphris.' An antipsychotic for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — neither of which I have. She's using it as an adjunct (add-on) to the two antidepressants I'm currently on. Another doctor she talked to spoke of some success he had seen with this experiment. I asked about side effects and she listed the usual suspects. Before I could say "never heard of it," she was off to the sample closet and emerged with a small, brown paper bag of a month's supply. She said it's best to take it at night and I'll see you in a month. Out I went with my brown paper bag feeling like a homeless alcoholic clutching his concealed bottle of malt liquor. I believe it's the shortest appointment yet.

This stuff is different. It's quick dissolving and has a texture similar to smooth styrofoam. Each one is individually seated in tiny bowl-shaped trays, and as an added treat, they're "black cherry flavored." Before bed, I put one under my tongue and let it quickly absorb into my system. Black cherry? I only tasted salt. Twenty or so minutes later it starts to kick in much like the feeling of alcohol. A bit disoriented, sleepy. My mouth gets dry so I grab a water bottle knowing I'll be needing it through the night. With knowledge that at least one side effect is drowsiness, I fall into bed craving a long night's sleep. Minutes later my left leg flinches awakening me. Not again. I've been here before. Many of these meds I've taken somehow have this strange neurological effect on the legs that causes an extremely unpleasant sensation that only a quick jerk of the leg can temporarily remedy. You could set your watch by its cadence. Sleep is completely impossible. I can't stay in bed with my wife as I fling my limbs every 60 seconds or she'll kill me so it's off to the back bedroom again.

God, what a miserable night. Our back room is cold. The drug makes me groggy. I just want sleep. My left leg consistently flinches waking me each time. The neurological feeling that leads up to each jerk is so uncomfortable and disturbing. Now the left arm joins in. I'm parched. Between reaching for the water bottle, stumbling to the restroom and flopping about like a fish I'm exhausted, upset and defeated. This goes on until around 3 AM. Another medication that promises depression relief has yet again pummeled me into abject exasperation. Maybe a shock to the cranium would have been the better decision, dammit.

The next day I awoke with a headache. A really severe headache. I suppose it could be considered a migraine. My wife suffers from them regularly. It progressed through the morning to the point where my vision was affected. I could barely function. I put in a call to my regular GP to see if they could squeeze me in. They managed to set an appointment in the next couple of hours.

I don't know why, but I decided not to tell the doctor about the cause of the headache. I just wanted relief. He prescribed Imitrex which is the go-to med for migraines. I know mixing to powerful drugs like this was foolish and dangerous but I simply didn't care. I proceeded to the pharmacy and waited what seemed an eternity to get the script filled. Finally, I went home and laid in bed hoping to awake to a clear head. After a short nap, the pain persisted. I was told I could take two after a certain amount of time if the first didn't help. Finally, after taking two doses, relief slowly set in.

What a terrific experience this Saphris was. Made everything so much better. That was the last dose of that crap I would ever take.

Sleep, Interrupted

I've just been diagnosed with sleep apnea. I've heard the term but never knew what it was. For quite a while my family has brought my sleep habits to my attention but I thought nothing of it. I'm apparently snoring louder these days and stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night. There's been a few times where I've gasped for air and awoke myself. So I went to my doctor who referred me to a sleep specialist. The sleep specialist suggested I do an overnight sleep study. This consists of staying in a hotel-type room overnight and being wired to computers via many electrodes and wires. The results confirmed "mild" sleep apnea. I stopped breathing an average of 23 times per hour in a 7-hour period. These moments can be as little as a 3 seconds on up to 12 seconds in duration. They are accompanied by the brain detecting the problem and sending a signal to the body to work harder to breathe. This results in the brain and body awaking even for just a couple of seconds. Most of these awakenings aren't detected whatsoever but the accumulative waking time results in sleep deprivation. When I stop breathing the body and brain are deprived of oxygen. It can all add up to many health hazards such as high blood pressure, coronary problems, fatigue, loss of concentration, and depression. Yes, depression. This new revelation is not the cause of my depression but it might certainly exacerbate it.

The treatment options are a "CPAP" machine which is a mask attached to a programmed box that sends a constant stream of air through the nose while you sleep. Another treatment is a custom made dental appliance you wear at night that juts out the lower jaw and allows more airflow. Another option is surgery where your jaw bone is dislocated and pushed forward with braces. It includes a 4 to 6 week wiring shut of the mouth and a liquid diet. Not a chance. Yet another is puncturing a hole through the trachea. Again, not a chance.

I'm not sure what to do at the moment. I'm the worst decision maker. I need to research cost and insurance coverage. None of this is welcome news by any stretch and I haven't the energy to deal with it.

As I've written in earlier posts, sleep is my only escape. Now it's become a possible accomplice to my depression. In rare cases, if gone untreated sleep apnea can cause death. It's not a likely result for me but the thought of going to sleep and never waking up is appealing in a macabre way. Isn't that how we all want to go?