"... the thing where you just fall asleep?"

By definition Narcolepsy is " a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness and sudden attacks of sleep".

The vast majority of people don't know what narcolepsy is, and if you were to ask them about it the common response would be something along the lines of " isn't that the thing where you randomly fall asleep?". I can't argue with that as an answer, technically it wouldn't be wrong, narcoleptics do fall asleep A LOT, however it's not entirely correct.

Narcolepsy is :

  • Insomnia

  • Memory problems

  • Automatic behavior

  • Hallucinations

  • Drowsiness/ excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Sleep paralysis

  • Sleep attacks

  • Type 1 with cataplexy, Type 2 without cataplexy

Some of the symptoms listed above maybe be hard to relate to if you don't really understand what it means. I quite often get asked to explain further when talking to relatives or friends about my condition. Overtime I came up with alternative definitions for my symptoms:

  • Insomnia -despite being tired all day my brain wants to count sheep for 8 hours straight instead of going to sleep

  • Memory Problems - I am Dory (finding nemo)

  • Automatic behavior - My mind has decided to take a nap and my body is still going strong, auto pilot has kicked in.

  • Hallucinations- I see dead people

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness - Imagine jet lag, not sleeping for 2 consecutive days, and having to work a full days shift combined...a coffee will not fix it!

  • Sleep paralysis - I'm awake but my body didn't get the memo.

  • Sleep attacks - " bobble head" "nodding dog" "mini power naps"

  • Cataplexy- Do you remember the viral YouTube video about fainting goats? you scream at them and they faint. That's cataplexy but with any strong emotion, for me personally its mainly laughter.

Narcolepsy due to its nature and the fact it's a rare neurological disorder quite often goes misdiagnosed. The symptoms of narcolepsy are common to many other health conditions, so its understandable that doctors hesitate to diagnose it. If you were to go to a doctor and tell them you hear voices, I would put money on them admitting you to a psych ward. Out of context you'd sound crazy but in reality you know you're not and its medically proven that excessive sleep deprivation causes vivid hallucinations.

Narcolepsy isn't all doom and gloom, I actually find it very entertaining and making light of my diagnosis helps me accept it. My blog is going to share my experience with narcolepsy, my diagnosis and my tips on living with it. I hope that it will helps others with the same condition as well as those not yet diagnosed and experiencing similar symptoms.