My Experience with Depression and Narcolepsy

My Experience with Depression and Narcolepsy

Personal Story
Ten years ago I never would have said I was grateful for Depression and Narcolepsy. I felt like they were ruining my life.  I was the victim and there was nothing I could do about it. But today I am living a completely different story.  Depression and narcolepsy were catalysts that forced me to take a harder look at what I’m doing in life. Eventually they propelled me to create a life worth living.  It didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t magic.  But it has lead me to live a magical life.  Diagnosed with Narcolepsy But let's start at the beginning. I have had narcolepsy, a chronic neurological disorder that affects the sleep-wake cycle for as long as I can remember. When I started full-day school, it was hard for me…
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Paula’s Story of Living with Narcolepsy

Paula’s Story of Living with Narcolepsy

Personal Story
Keeping Illness Invisible "In 1979, fresh out of high school living in Atlanta, I was ready to start my life," says Paula.   "Going to school full time, working part-time, and enjoying a full social life, I never felt there was anything wrong with sleeping every moment I could. It was even okay when my friends started teasing me for always falling asleep."    As far back as college, Paula remembers sleeping a lot. "Back then I blew it off as being young, clubbing, and drinking too many Pink Champales."  Paula worked part-time, did her school work, and didn't think anything of spending her Tuesday nights enjoying Ladies night at Cisco's on Campbellton Road, in Atlanta.  As they piled into the car, her friend Veronica would say, "Paula is going to…
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Accepting the Changes to My Sexual Identity

Accepting the Changes to My Sexual Identity

Personal Story
And being okay if others don't Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash Kisses scatter across my long, pale, leg as I hurriedly tell my friend I will have to call her back at another time. His dark hair tickles my thigh as he moves lower, kissing me next to my knee. I feel so ticklish and giggly and 100% completely in love with this man. But there are things I miss about my identity when I was dating a woman. Being LGBTQ I miss my individuality. I miss being recognized as an LGBTQ person by outsiders, even if I never felt accepted by the community. It may be shallow but know its true because every chance I get, I slip it into conversations. “You know, before I met my current partner, I was…
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Why I’m So Grateful for Gratitude

Why I’m So Grateful for Gratitude

Life Coaching, Mindset, Personal Story
It helped me stop feeling like a victim! My alarm was blaring and I reached around clumsily, my eyes still closed trying to make the noise stop. I was angry and frustrated with my poor night of sleep. I had a horrific dream about someone I loved being tortured, and I stayed up for an hour trying to change my thought process to avoid going back into the same nightmare again. The images were fuzzy and dark, but I knew they would be stuck in my mind all day. I stumbled to the bathroom, stubbed my toe on, and slipped in water on my bathroom floor. My partner had left the shower curtain outside the tub, and the whole floor was soaked. I was lucky I hadn't hit my head,…
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I Got a Daith Piercing for Migraines

I Got a Daith Piercing for Migraines

Personal Story
And accept that I don’t need to be cured to be okay Knowing that others have been “cured” of chronic migraines makes me feel like there is something that I should be able to do that would “fix me.” I already follow a ketogenic diet to manage narcolepsy. I stopped using artificial sweeteners, and quit drinking alcohol. I practice mindfulness and use energy therapy like EFT, the Emotion Code, and Reiki. What more do I need to do? The answer is nothing. I don’t need to be fixed. I’m not broken. (Neither are you.) Pain is a part of human existence, and everyone experiences it in one way or another. My version is no better or worse than anybody else’s. So what I need to work on is acceptance. I need to…
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Relationships with Narcolepsy or Without

Relationships with Narcolepsy or Without

Narcolepsy, Personal Story
Building relationships with narcolepsy or other chronic illnesses can be a challenge due to a limited social life. I'm standing outside a huge fancy house with a glass of red wine in my hand staring at a sea of people I don't know.  I feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of people at the party, but at least half of them work with my partner. My partner has not even made it to the drink table due to so many people wanting to stop and chat.  I escaped, knowing the formal handshakes and cheek kisses that are obligatory in these social situations tire me out quickly. How I Handle It I gravitate toward the one woman I know, a friend.   We chat for a while until she also finds…
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Meeting a Princess Burmese Python

Meeting a Princess Burmese Python

Personal Story, Travel
I was expecting just another Burmese Python Sweat drips from my brow as I dismount the motorbike that has carried me from one side of Bago, Myanmar to the other. There are no expectations of meeting a princess because, to be honest, I haven’t done any research for this trip. Bago is just about an hour and a half away from Yangon, where I live.  My partner had to go for work and I tagged along. When I saw a place on the map labeled Snake Pagoda, I looked at the images and decided to go. It's easy to feel the greatness of the place the moment my feet are on steady ground.  In Southeast Asia, a pagoda is a cone-shaped monumental structure constructed in memory of Buddha. In Myanmar, one…
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Choosing Life

Choosing Life

Personal Story
Choosing life didn't even feel like an option when I was depressed...  One morning I heard my alarm ringing. I buried my head under the pillow, like covering my head in cotton would make the day dissipate. My roommate threw a book at my legs to get my attention. I regretted that the sound was also disturbing her rest, so I sat up and turned it off.  As I hunkered there below the ceiling taking shallow breaths, exasperated before even leaving my lofted bed, I vowed to myself this wouldn’t go on much longer. I was 18 years old, and for the previous months, I had been applying to colleges. But I didn’t see myself [caption id="attachment_976" align="alignright" width="225"] This was me in April 2010[/caption] there. I didn’t see myself…
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Letter From a Person Living with Narcolepsy

Letter From a Person Living with Narcolepsy

Narcolepsy, Personal Story
Dear friend, Do you remember that time we had big plans to do something amazing on the weekend? I told you at the last minute that I really wanted to go but I just couldn’t do it.  Well, I remember it. Because it was hard for me to make the decision to take care of myself instead of going to do something fun that I was really looking forward to. What did I do that day? Instead, I spent the day making sure I had healthy food lined up for the week. As part of my self-care routine, I took a few short controlled naps. Focused on physical and mental health, I drank a gallon of water and meditated. I arranged my calendar for the week so I would not…
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From Self-Hate to Self-Love

From Self-Hate to Self-Love

Mindset, Personal Story
Her small hands hesitate just the slightest bit as they brush over the thick pink scars.  Brown eyes meet mine and then immediately flick back down to the rushing water of the pedicure chair. Her eyes pry, "What happened to you?" or "Who did this to you?" I can't be sure which. (more…)
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Breaking up with Keto – Stopping the Ketogenic Diet

Breaking up with Keto – Stopping the Ketogenic Diet

Mindset, Personal Story
So, I've got a theory about stopping the ketogenic diet.  It is a theory that I am ready to test out; my mind is more powerful than my body.  You see, my whole life I've worked to try to fix my body, trying to do things to it to make it better, to change it.  For as long as I can remember, I have fought with my body. Today I've decided to surrender. Narcolepsy My parents and I searched for something to explain my insurmountable sleepiness and lack of energy. When I was about 13 years old, I was diagnosed with narcolepsy.   Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder that disturbs the sleep-wake cycle.  But little did I know, its more than just feeling sleepy.  I took that diagnosis and wrapped it…
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Cataplexy in a Cathedral

Cataplexy in a Cathedral

Narcolepsy, Personal Story, Travel
Sharing a plate of fried watercress, a heaping dish of tea leaf salad, and a bowl of eggplant curry, I found myself saying more about my chronic illness than I ever expected to disclose on a first encounter. I heard myself explaining things my body does in words I had never strung together verbally before. Maybe it was the second glass of wine, or maybe it was the humid air, the colorful Myanmar decor, and the attentive listener on the other side of the able. He seemed genuinely interested in how a person with narcolepsy had come to travel as a lifestyle choice. (more…)
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Scared of the Dark: The Narcolepsy Symptoms That Nobody Talks About

Scared of the Dark: The Narcolepsy Symptoms That Nobody Talks About

Narcolepsy, Personal Story
One night around age eight, I was lying in bed thinking of the fun I had had that day with my family. I opened my eyes slowly to see a huge, hairy, manlike monster hovering above me on the ceiling. His appendages stuck to the plaster effortlessly, like a giant spider, and I could see his gigantic teeth waiting to sink into my flesh. I was completely paralyzed. So much that I couldn’t even scream. I lay there on my Care Bear sheets, trapped in my own body, unable to even clench my fists, or turn my head away from the terrifying sight above me. He dropped onto my chest, and I could feel the enormous pressure of his weight. The next thing I knew, it was morning. As a…
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Digital Nomad or Hobo – Which label fits?

Digital Nomad or Hobo – Which label fits?

Mindset, Narcolepsy, Personal Story
Am I a digital nomad or hobo?  The label of "Digital Nomad" generally calls up images of social media influencers, relaxing on the beach, posting pictures that make everyone jealous.  While I do enjoy sharing my travel experiences, I am not quite on that level. But am I a hobo? I am an English teacher who just happens to work online. I use that advantage to travel as much as possible. But how did I get here? Was it a choice? Which phrase fits, digital nomad or hobo? (more…)
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