Community Views: How It Felt to Be Diagnosed With Sleep Apnea
For most people living with sleep apnea, life is marked by a clear "before" and "after" regarding their diagnosis. In that moment of finding out, it is normal to feel a wide range of emotions. It is safe to say that no matter what you felt when you received your diagnosis, you are not alone.
Common reactions to diagnosis
To find out which emotions were most common when you were given your diagnosis, we reached out to followers of our Facebook page. We asked community members to fill in the blank: “When I found out I had sleep apnea, I was ___________________.”
More than 60 people responded. Here is what was shared.
The most common response was to feel relief – that there is a name, a treatment plan, and a path forward. Before receiving a diagnosis, there can be so much anxiety about all the uncertainty. Knowing their problem is sleep apnea helps many people start to make sense of their experiences. Many people find that moment very validating.
“Relieved to know what was wrong with me.”
“Relieved, because now I know where the frightening choking experiences during sleep were coming from.”
“Relieved. I had been wondering what was wrong.”
Several people in the community shared that they had no idea that they had sleep apnea, and their diagnosis caught them entirely off guard. Some were even expecting a diagnosis other than sleep apnea.
“I was really surprised.”
“Very surprised at first!”
An equal number of people in the community shared that they were not surprised at all to be told they had sleep apnea. Through online research or talks with friends and coworkers, many people started to have a hunch they knew exactly what their symptoms were related to.
“Not surprised. I used to have those daytime sleepiness episodes where I fell asleep at stoplights. Those are gone now.”
It is common to feel sad any time we find out something is wrong with our bodies. Learning that your life might now look differently can make us want to cry or feel frustrated, and that is normal. When we allow ourselves to grieve, we release that pent-up emotion and give ourselves a chance to heal.
A handful of people in the community shared that they were angry. Anger can be a very empowering emotion, and it often shows up when our boundaries have been crossed. When it comes to getting a medical diagnosis, some people feel angry when they do not feel their doctor is telling them the whole story or their doctor has provided misinformation. It is OK to be angry, especially since anger sometimes helps us take steps to further advocate for ourselves.
“I was irritated because of the lack of information from my doctor. I ended up doing my own research and discovered that there was more than 1 type of sleep apnea, not just ‘obstructive.’”
For many people, the moment of diagnosis was happy. They suddenly felt hopeful when thinking about the future. Treatment helps many people get a good night of sleep and start to feel like themselves again – which is a truly joyful thing.
“I was happy to get treatment.”
“Happy, because I knew what was happening to my body.”
How did you feel when diagnosed with sleep apnea?
We appreciate everyone who took the time to share responses. Living with sleep apnea can be hard. Sharing the challenges helps everyone feel less alone.
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