a man holding his CPAP machine looking nervous and holding it out of view of a group of people

Overcoming Fear of Using CPAP Around Your Friends

I am writing this article with younger CPAP users in mind. If you haven’t been following my story I am now in my 40s. My sleep apnea diagnosis came when I was 18. Because I didn't know better, I refused to use my CPAP during college for fear of being “different.”

I didn't want to be seen as different

Let me fill you in on a part of my story that I haven’t shared. I’m disabled. I have a form of muscular dystrophy and I use a scooter to get around. So I would think some of you are laughing at the fact that I was embarrassed or reluctant to use a CPAP because I would be looked upon as different.

I want to encourage everyone, but especially younger people, to not worry about what you think others might say. Life experiences have taught me that people really don’t care.

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I purposely left my CPAP behind

In my early 20s, my friends had a shore house that I would go to on a regular basis. I remember once I started using my CPAP being reluctant to use my CPAP when I would go to their shore house. On my first trip down that initial summer, I didn’t take it with me. This was the first time I wasn’t using my CPAP since I became adjusted to it.

I can say now this was a mistake. The whole weekend I was very lethargic. I was waking up with a headache. I would fall asleep while watching TV and when we went out at night, I was constantly yawning. The other struggle was driving home that weekend. It was a struggle to stay awake behind the wheel.

Pushing aside my pride

I was using my CPAP for a considerable amount of time at this point. There were positive results. I was mad at myself that I let my pride get in the way of that. After that weekend I made a promise to myself to never let pride affect decisions that could negatively affect my health.

The next time I went to the shore house with my friends I brought my CPAP along. I had a little anxiety about what some of my friends or their friends might say. On a typical weekend, there could be 20 of us down there and most of us would sleep on the floor wherever we could find a spot.

A surprising and valuable lesson

That weekend, to my surprise no one even asked me about my CPAP. It felt great reaping the benefits of my CPAP that weekend. I enjoyed hanging out with everyone and never felt tired or suffered headaches from lack of proper sleep. There might have been a headache or 2 from the beer I drank at the bar the previous evening, but that’s a different story.

I learned a valuable lesson, that we overthink situations in life. Being teased or questioned about using a CPAP was a fear of mine. I think most younger people experience this anxiety too. My advice is don’t worry about it. If you’re a young person who uses CPAP, don’t let social situations cause you anxiety that you don’t use it.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SleepApnea.Sleep-Disorders.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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