We never think that we’re missing much, til… – Final post for 2014

Hey guys, I thought I should pop in and let people know that I’m still alive and kicking. Truth be told, I’ve been meaning to post something for a while now, but have just been having trouble getting motivation. I’m not going to make excuses, I’m not going to promise more regular updates. Instead I’m just going to talk about what’s been happening in my life, both recently and over the last year or so (quite possibly longer). I’ll keep it brief, but I just wanted to get this off my chest. As one of my friends says, it’s important that we be able to talk openly about this kind of stuff, so that others going through similar situations can know they’re not alone and that there’s help out there, no matter what the problem.

If you’re wondering about the title of this post, it’s a line from a Chevelle song, called Sleep Apnea. It came up while I was trying to think of something, and it seemed appropriate. I’ll explain that later though.

So, what’s been happening? Well, if I’m being completely honest here, the last year or two, and quite possibly even longer, haven’t really been great for me. Nothing in particular was wrong, I just didn’t feel like myself anymore. I’d go through phases where everything was fine, and then one day I’d wake up wanting to just pull the blankets back over my head and pretend the rest of the world didn’t exist. It wasn’t work, my friends, or anything like that. I just didn’t have the energy to deal with life. I’d wake up, drag myself to work, come home, go to bed early, and repeat the next day. I kept playing in a few games with friends now and then to keep up appearances, but sometimes I couldn’t even do that. I’m not saying I was completely miserable, like I said, there were good points, but things clearly weren’t quite right with me. This year, things just got worse, particularly as time went on. I didn’t notice at first, or if I did I thought it was just a temporary thing, that things would improve. But no, things kept going downhill, and I couldn’t even keep up the appearance of being okay anymore. I was going into micro-sleeps in meetings at work, I’d come home and sit down on the couch at 7:00 PM, then suddenly wake up even more tired at 1:00 AM and not be able to get back to sleep. I was angry and depressed, liable to snap at people for no reason, and just getting unpleasant to be around. If you’ve dealt with it, you know that’s a pretty dark and lonely place to be. I’d dropped out of all my games except one (which wasn’t running regularly at the time anyway so it probably doesn’t count).

It wasn’t until I wrote the beginning of a draft post about how I was feeling (which I couldn’t finish, and probably never will), and went back in there one day to find a message from Jimbles saying that he knew something was wrong, that I realised how bad it had gotten. Around the same time, one of my coworkers pulled me aside to talk and see if I was okay, if I needed some help. I kind of brushed it off at the time, because even though I knew something was wrong I still wasn’t really comfortable talking about it… but it meant a lot to me, that both of them had noticed and cared enough to try to do something about it. So I decided to try to get myself sorted out.

Now here’s where the relevance of the song I picked becomes evident. I went back to my doctor, and explained what had been happening, the sleep issues, how I’d been feeling, everything. I’d been talking to someone I’d met working on a friend’s Tropfest short film, and he’d explained about mental health programs that doctors can help with, so I’d kind of half expected to work something like that out. I’d also been speaking to my pharmacist though, and he’d recommended I complete a questionnaire about sleep apnea symptoms, and show the results to my doctor. One look at the answers I’d given, and I was referred to a sleep and respiratory specialist. Two studies later, I was told by the specialist that I had severe obstructive sleep apnea, with an average of around 120 apnea events per hour (for those who don’t know, this essentially means that on average I was stopping breathing twice a minute for around 16 seconds at a time. Which caused my brain to jerk back awake, meaning my sleep cycles were constantly disrupted, so that I rarely reached REM sleep, and never for any particularly long period of time). Which, you know, explained a lot. Like the fact that no matter how much I slept, I never felt any less tired. Or that I was constantly feeling down. That was a little over 6 weeks ago. For the last 5 weeks, I’ve been trialing a CPAP machine, and the results have been unbelievable. I’m down from 120 apnea events an hour to an average of 2.7, and I can feel the difference. I don’t start nodding off at work anymore, I don’t fall asleep on the couch (unless I’m intentionally laying down for a nap), I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face anything thrown at me, and I generally just feel amazing. I’m not saying things are perfect now. I still have to work on my actual sleep patterns a bit, and I still have my moments where I get down, but I’m nowhere near as bad as I was.

To cut a long story short. A large part of why I haven’t been posting recently is that I’ve been trying to sort my life out. I think I’m on the right track, and all things considered I seem to be through the worst of it. I still intend to talk to someone at some stage about some issues I have, but the fact that I don’t feel like I’m half dead anymore is certainly a good start.

So, before I move on from this topic, I guess what I’d really like to say is thanks to Jimbles and Rob, for being there for me when I really needed it. Not that my other friends weren’t there for me, but without these guys I don’t know how I would have made it through this year. So… thanks guys. It means a lot, and I’m grateful, even if I didn’t really say so at the time. Oh, and Emma, thanks for not minding when I invaded your house at odd hours to hang out with you and Jimbles, and for checking in to see if I was okay when I posted that song which, in retrospect, I realise did have a somewhat concerning title when posted with no context, especially if you were already aware that things weren’t going so well with me at the time. I’ll try to not do that in future.

Well… other than that, what have I been doing lately? Recently (over the last month or so) I’ve been getting involved with a community radio show that my friends run, talking about movies. I’ll post more about it later, but once it resumes next year it sounds like I’ll be taking a more regular role in that. It’s a lot of fun, and gives me an excuse to get out of the house on Thursdays and hang out with friends, as well as going to the movies with them more often.

As for where The Grassy Gnoll is going in 2015… well, like I said, I’m not going to promise more regular posts, but I will try. I’m considering taking a break until my birthday (the 11th of January), but we’ll what happens once I get back from visiting the family between Christmas and New Years and have a couple of weeks of downtime on my hands. Might be that I get back into it. First post will be me finishing off all of my CIFF 2014 film reviews, though they’ll be short reviews… probably just something like the summary I gave for each of my previous CIFF 2014 reviews. I just really want to let people know which films I thought were great, which were mediocre, and which were god awful pieces of shit (Spoiler: Green Inferno is the latter). After that… well, we’ll see where things go. I’m going to rejoin the Pathfinder groups, start running some more games if I can find time, and hopefully I’ll find some inspiration for my writing along the way. I’m also hoping to get Jimbles posting more, and maybe find another poster or two. I’ve been idly tossing some ideas for some actual design work for RPGs around with a friend who does freelance game design too, so there may be some posts about that.

Anyway. That’s it from me for 2014. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas (or other celebration as appropriate to you) and a happy New Year. Take care, keep the dice rolling, and I’ll catch you all in about a month.

—————————————————————————————–

Written while listening to Chevelle, if you didn’t guess from my discussion of the song Sleep Apnea. If you’re interested in having a listen to it, it’s the first track on their album Sci-Fi Crimes. You can find it here. Full lyrics are below: 

There sat a new test
Much harder that you bought in
As for the unseen, just take care of what you will
Light the silent alarm
We never think that we’re missing much ’til

I gasp and hold my breath
These needs have changed so deep
To face you, oh let’s say
I’ve been awake for

I need a new test
Then I set out to choose someone to
Light the soul like a kiln
Just imagine us chasing this with
Eyes gone from sleep apnea
A slight of tongue as the seas are empty

I gasp and hold my breath
These needs have changed so deep
To face you, oh let’s say
I’ve been awake for

Ever

Try to read off a letter that’s falling apart
The sun and the moon I can’t cheat
Escape like an animal ready for my sleepless stroll

I found these shifting hours mistakenly used up

So I gasp and hold my breath
These needs have changed so deep
To face you, oh let’s say
I’ve been awake for years

I gasp and hold my breath
These needs have changed so deep
To face you, oh let’s say
I’ve been awake for

Ever

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