You're Snoring Mate!

You’re Snoring Mate!

Unfortunately for a guy like me it seems like health issues come in

threes.  It reminds me of the old age, “celebrity deaths come in threes”.  I’ll never forget the day Steve Irwin died, funnily enough he was a hero of mine.

It’s also the fact that there’s a weird connection in my crazy messed up mind between Steve and my struggle with sleep apnea.

The first time I ever discovered I had a problem with snoring is when my friend Zach and I were watching an episode of the Crocodile Hunter right after Steve’s passing and I fell asleep half way through.  Not because I was bored, (sorry Steve) but simply because I’d been sleep deprived.  One of the many symptoms of the depression believe it or not.  Not all of us depressives simply sleep all day.

Anyway, back to my story.  Zach shook me awake in the middle of the interview and literally the first words out of his mouth were “dude you’re snoring is so loud you could wake Steve Irwin from his grave!”

Mildly annoyed by his insensitive joke, but even more peeved by the fact that apparently I snore like a mad man.  I can’t even begin to tell you how embarrassed I was.  I’ve never been very good with the ladies, but of all the women I’d ever slept next to in my entire life not one of them had ever mentioned that I’m an apparently obnoxious snorer.

I tried a number of things throughout the years to try to fix the problem and honestly nothing worked, or I just simply couldn’t stand wearing these dumb looking snoring mouth thinga-majiggers for more than a day or two.

Sure enough I did a sleep study and I am diagnosed with sleep apnea.  Dr. Blancher says it might have something to do with my depression and the fact that I can no longer play baseball.  I digress and think they are two entirely different issues all together.

Anyway, I decided to give some anti-snoring devices another go and tried Zyppah.  I found a review of Zyppah at this website, and was convinced that maybe I should give it a go.  I mean it’s backed by a dentist right?  It must be legit.   I’ll admit that it was pretty awkward when I started wearing this.  I used an app on my phone that records whether or not I snore and it really seems to be working.  I don’t know if I’ll continue wearing it, but I know that at least for now it seems to be a good temporary solution.

In case any of you guys were wondering here’s what it looks like.zyppah product

It’s a pretty funking looking device.  Reminds me of a frog’s lips.  Anyway has anybody else tried this?  Did it work for you?  If I can at least get one of my problems under control I’m confident I’ll be A LOT happier in the long term.

My name is Mohammed. I had been an outfielder with the Lebanese Catholic Baseball team for many years; twelve and a half to be specific. During the 2011 season, I was placed on the disabled list (DL) because of my emotional mental disorder. This was about two years after the MLB had instituted a whole new protocol of outlining the DL criteria for mental disorders. So, at the time of my diagnosis, the stigma with having this condition had subsided – though a little – and I was sure to get professional help. This bold step by the MLB had been taken in 2009 after Dontrelle Willis, a pitcher with the Detroit Tigers, had publicly acknowledged to having been diagnosed with an anxiety mental disorder.

Before Willis’ public acknowledgement, the stigma associated with mental illness had discouraged most professional athletes from seeking help for decades.

When we are in the pitch playing, to the average American fan, we are a team that needs to just work together to win that particular game at that particular time. But baseball is also a sport that puts a lot of pressure on our own individual performances as players. Very few can actually understand the enormity of the mental and physical pressure involved in all the training we do as well as traveling for long distances – mostly on the road – for more than 80 away games in a single season.

We are expected to spend most of our time reflecting on – and obsessing about – our strengths and any shortcomings on the pitch. Nobody really seems to care that the time we are left with to be in the company of our family or friends who could offer perspective and support in case of any health problems we may have is too little. Our isolation from the relevant support systems could also cause a lot of conflicted emotions and stresses that only serve to exacerbate a mental disorder situation.

My situation was even worse because I struggled a lot to suppress the feelings of anxiousness and depression so that my shortcomings were not revealed to the world, a decision I came to regret later. For seven long years, I was not able to confide in any of my teammates or even try to get help from elsewhere. Therefore, before 2011 I had not tried to get any medical help for my disorder. In fact, I was not even sure it was a problem that needed treatment!

When I was placed on the DL list – though the doctor said I had hopes of returning to normal play – I decided to quit playing altogether and set out on a mission to know why I was a victim of this disorder and also to try to help other baseball players who may be in the same situation as mine to come out and get help. The whole fraternity at New York Lakers* were utterly disappointed by my decision to quit but I held on.

It was not until seven months after quitting that I got a doctor who could trace my condition to – in addition to the pressures and stresses I have mentioned above – a particularly bad injury to the head that I had suffered in 2005.

Today, I run the Souza Foundation – with the help of my wife – where we help current and former baseball players suffering from mental disorders or other health problems get off the stigma cocoon and seek medical professional help. For the few years we have run this foundation, I have seen successes that I had not imagined back in late 2011.

As I conclude my long story, let me say that it is the early intervention and treatment that are key to success in managing any ailment, including mental disorders. It would be very unfortunate to continue hearing of failed relationships and broken families, or even suicide resulting from these disorders when we can help. I commend the MLB for their 2009 initiative aimed at addressing these issues. The end of the world (AND BASEBALL) – not the sky – can only be the limit for us!