How Self-doubt Sabotages Your Success With CPAP Therapy and How to Dig Yourself Out
Last updated: April 2023
I recently wrote about emotions and how they impact your sleep apnea. In this article, I want to address self-doubt or negative emotions, and how they make your success with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy a lot harder than it needs to be. For me, self-doubt tried to sabotage my CPAP therapy until I tried these helpful coping strategies.
My doubts and early struggles with CPAP
I remember when I was first diagnosed with sleep apnea and how horrified I felt. I immediately started to doubt that I could ever put on this mask and use a machine that I needed to manage my condition.
The first few nights with my mask were nightmares and I threw it on the floor in disgust. I doubted myself then and my ability to make the machine work in the way that was necessary for me to get the sleep I needed. Those negative emotions were powerful.
Facing the fears of a health condition
When we have health problems, we are often faced with a lot of fear. The fear of not only the condition but what may be required to manage that condition. For example, a diabetic must radically alter their diet in many cases to ensure their blood sugars stay in the acceptable range.
Doubting my ability to do CPAP therapy
In the case of sleep apnea, it’s the fear of using a mask every night and feeling constricted by that mask.
You have this thing on your face every night and for many, this is a scary thing to go through. You may begin to have self-doubt about your ability to use a mask and often give up before you get accustomed to wearing the mask.
Increasing self-doubt leads to further failure
Whenever you fail to wear your mask on any given night, this often leads to a cascading effect where you give up the next night and the night after that because, well,... why not?
In your head, you get this feeling that you’ll never be able to wear the mask, so you don’t. This vicious cycle can sabotage your ability to get results from sleep therapy.
How to overcome self-doubt
I had initial setbacks with my mask, but I kept on trying, using these strategies to overcome self-doubt:
Changing my mindset
I changed my mindset about using my mask and started to use it more often. Each successful night wearing my mask was a small victory.
I built upon those initial victories with successful weeks and then months. It took time, but it was the determination that helped. I wanted to sleep better.
Writing for a CPAP community
I got involved in the sleep apnea community and began to write about my experiences with sleep apnea as writing is also my career. I found it helpful to create this sort of content. Writing allowed me to express my emotions around sleep apnea and using my CPAP.
Using my CPAP consistently
As I wrote more about my condition, it gave me new inspiration to continue with my therapy. Now I look forward each night to consistently wearing my mask because it provided me with the sleep I needed.
Not allowing failure to sabotage me
Some nights were bad.
One night my machine crashed on the floor. I had a water tank rupture on the nightstand. I got tangled in that damn hose a few times. I didn't allow these things to hold me back. I pressed on, even when I really didn't want to.
Developing an 'I can' attitude
I changed my mindset from I think I can to I can, and I have never looked back. I do have some bad days and get frustrated with my equipment, but I don’t let bring me back down to that negative mindset again.
Talking with others
A good community can help. It’s important to talk about your experiences with CPAP use.
We are all in this struggle together.
When self-doubt sabotages your CPAP therapy, how do you dig yourself out? Please share a comment.
Mental Health May Question: On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to sleep apnea?
Join the conversation