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We’re Not Lazy

Before I was diagnosed with sleep apnea I felt the stigma that I was just lazy.

The lack of restful sleep caused a list of negative side effects. Waking up late, falling asleep at work or in class, not being able to concentrate while studying or reading – these side effects are the traits of a lazy person. If you’re someone who’s dealt with a sleep disorder, have you experienced something similar?

Sleep apnea stigma

We live in a fast-paced world. We are constantly being judged and valued based on our output. However, when dealing with a sleep disorder, our output is diminished. We can’t perform at our peak when our tank is not replenished at night.

I dealt with this stigma, especially during my college years. I would always be fighting to stay awake during class. Unfortunately falling asleep became commonplace for me.

Constantly fighting sleepiness became an embarrassment. My classmates would make a joke when I fell asleep during class. Professors would walk past me and give me a pat on the back to wake me.

Stigma carried from college to work

This carried on into my first job. I worked in a sales office. My desk was in the back of the office. On the days when the office was quiet it was a struggle to stay awake. The owner of the company caught me sleeping a handful of times. This was embarrassing for me. I knew I was being judged. I sensed some people thought I was lazy and just didn’t care.

This was not who I was. I am someone who has always taken pride in my work. This sleeping disorder was getting in the way of the person I wanted to be. People who fall asleep at work will never be the ones who ever get ahead. We are looked upon as liabilities. We are branded as lazy people.

My sleep disorder diagnosis

If my story resonates with you, you are probably dealing with a sleep disorder like I did. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in my late teens. After my diagnosis, my doctor prescribed a CPAP machine. I struggled with this diagnosis and really didn’t give CPAP a try. I’d use it for a night or 2 here and there. Most times I gave up before falling asleep.

The costs of not using my CPAP – labels and stigmas

Looking back I wish I learned to use CPAP right away. Falling asleep in college and at work cost me. It cost me opportunities, money, and most importantly it cost me the label of someone who is lazy.

The benefits of using my CPAP – physical and emotional

Labels can be hard to overcome. Now, I have been using CPAP for over 20 years. It has improved my life in so many ways. Obviously, I am healthier because I am sleeping without apneas. That’s the physical benefit. The emotional benefit is just as important to me. Anyone who meets me now would not catch me sleeping during the day. I am able to function at full capacity.

If only my old professors and boss could see me now, I know they wouldn’t view me as lazy.

Don’t make the same mistake I did. If you have sleep apnea seek treatment as soon as possible.

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