Living with narcolepsy


When it comes to knowing a person, how much do you truly know? Do you really know the person, or do you just know of them? We as people tend to assume that we know a person when we really do not. You may not even realize it until they question you about their birthday or just something generally important  that you were supposed to remember. Those types of things do not seem like a big deal at first. We get caught up in the moment and may be enjoying ourselves too much to even try to remember.

I am a junior here at Madison County High School. Even though I am a very isolated and reserved person most of the time, I do have many friends that I socialize with while I am at school. I am closer to some more than others, but that just depends on how much time I spend with them. The more I can be around them, the more I feel that I can trust them, which can depend on how much they may know about me. All of my friends know that I can be quiet and shy sometimes and silly here and there. But a majority of them do not know that I have narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is a type of sleeping disorder where you tend to be very drowsy and you can not help it. No matter where you are or what time of the day it may be, you will get tired. In addition though, at night, you will find yourself having trouble trying to sleep or staying asleep. Narcoleptics also have the ability to experience hallucinations or paralysis while falling asleep or waking up, and sudden losses of strength. The worst part about it all is that there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. There is no cure for it.

I know what you may be thinking, how do you go to school? How do I get through each day without falling asleep? In elementary school, I used to  be very active and I loved going to school to learn and play with my friends. I made straight A’s and life was just great! In the 3rd grade, I noticed that I would always get tired after lunch, whenever it was time for the lesson. At the same time though, my mother was concerned because I would always fall asleep literally every time I got into the car. Whenever someone tried to wake me up, I would get grumpy and upset. I did not know what was wrong with me, and to be honest I never even really thought that there was something wrong. All I know is that I just wanted to be left alone whenever I went to sleep. Sometimes when I went to bed at night, I remember feeling like something was touching me, but I could never move to see if there was. When I finally could, there was never anyone there. So eventually, my mom took me to the doctor to be seen about, and that is when I was diagnosed with narcolepsy. Ever since then, my life has never been the same. I remember having hope that I would just grow out of it, but it only got worse. They put me on medication and that is how I am able to stay awake during the school day.

Narcolepsy is basically like sleep apnea, minus the snoring. Sleep apnea is caused by breathing issues while narcolepsy affects how well a person can control their sleeping patterns. By using a CPAP machine, sleep apnea can be medically treated but there is no way to treat narcolepsy. Changing some of your lifestyle can be helpful, but there no actual cure. It is one of those things that you have to accept and learn how to live with. The condition was passed down to me from my dad’s side of the family.  Even though it is not fun to have at all, it is also something that is out of my control. 

Life has been very difficult for me. Sometimes, I am never able to do things that I desire to do because of my condition. I just feel like I do not belong most of the time because I know that there is a possibility that I may get tired. Having narcolepsy has affected my social life and relationships. I tend to stay to myself most of the time because I fear being embarrassed and humiliated. If I am not at work or at school, I am most likely in bed. I hardly ever hang out with friends and do stuff like that. I feel like it has also affected me in school. My grades are very good, but they could be better. Narcolepsy has caused me to be very lazy and if I am not doing anything, I get very bored. Whenever I don’t take my medication, all I want to do is sleep. Sometimes people may think that I am on drugs, but I am just extremely in need of a nap. If I do though, I am very energetic and it makes me feel like I have ADHD. I have to be occupied when medicated or I become irritable.

To sum it all up, you never really know about a person until you actually get to know them. So the next time you decide to pick on some random kid at school because they are “different,” take a second to be considerate. Everyone is unique in their own way and it is about time that we as a society accept that. My name is Jayda Mitchell and this is my story.