I had been having various sleep related problems for years, but had always associated them with something else – I was a high school student, they’re always tired; I was a uni student, they’re always tired; I do late night gigs, that’s why I’m always tired. I didn’t really notice just how much sleep was taking over my life – any chance I got was nap time, I would always leave early from parties and get togethers, I would even close my eyes while playing because it hurt to keep them open. It wasn’t until December 2008 that things changed.
I fell asleep at the wheel while driving to work. Alarmingly, this is something that I had been doing quite a lot of in the past – closing my eyes, dozing for a few seconds at the lights etc. I was at a set of lights at the time, but the traffic was still moving, very slowly. I closed my eyes… and then was suddenly awakened when the car jolted after hitting the car in front of me. When I got to work I spent about half an hour trying to deal with it all in my head before I said, “I hit a car this morning. I need to see a doctor.”
After about 6 months, seeing a neurologist, a sleep specialist and finally doing a comprehensive sleep study, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy (my specialist said it was one of the worst cases she had ever seen. Yay!). Since then I have been dealing with adjusting to different drugs, changing my diet and exercise and seeing how work and social life can fit in with as much sleep as possible. It’s difficult, but now that I know, it’s much easier.
I have a blog – narcolepticgirl.weebly.com – where I chronicle my efforts in not letting sleep completely take over my life anymore. Narcolepsy is something that I will have forever, but that doesn’t mean I have to define myself by its effects. I think people with sleeping problems, no matter what they are, should speak about them with their doctor and make sure they’re not linked to something more serious, like mine were.