Avoiding Emotions with Narcolepsy

Years back, I had gotten really good at avoiding emotions with narcolepsy. I was so distant from my own emotions, I didn’t actually have a lot of opinions about things. I was okay with whatever happened. This neutrality prevented me from feeling those emotions that might trigger cataplexy, one of the lesser-known symptoms of Type 2 Narcolepsy.

What is Cataplexy

Cataplexy is defined as sudden loss of muscle tone when experiencing a strong emotion. I always said I had very mild cataplexy, because it mostly affected my hands and occasionally my knees. As I discovered more and more about my emotions, I saw how I was avoiding them. I realized it wasn’t just that I had mild symptoms, I also had mild emotions.

emotions with narcolepsy
Image of a photo in the Städel Museum, Frankfurt Germany

Why numb emotions with narcolepsy?

While it seems like this is a reliable coping mechanism, it doesn’t allow one to experience much of life. There was no way to numb the lower vibrational emotions without numbing the higher ones. So while I experienced less shock, embarrassment, and sadness, I also experienced less joy, love, and peace.

While I was avoiding my emotions, I felt rather useless on Earth. I often wrote in my journal about how I didn’t feel like I belonged here, and how I would rather not exist. These journal entries go back into my childhood and early adolescence. Over time, those feelings developed into depression and suicidal thoughts. And eventually, lead me to attempt to end my own life on various occasions.

Allowing emotions with narcolepsy

I have been doing mindset work for years around emotions and negative thoughts. But just last week I found myself coming up against a challenge. I am STILL struggling to be 100% myself. I haven’t completely let go of my need to please others, and to “fit in”. Although I logically know the value of the whole range of emotions, I am not energetically allowing them.

emotions with narcolepsy
Me enjoying fall leaves

Part of me was convinced that since I have overcome certain struggles, like depression and anxiety, I am somehow above those emotions. I can use mindfulness to cultivate joy in any moment. But that doesn’t mean that I will never have anxiety or fear.
I learned that I avoid taking actions that might trigger those lower vibrational emotions. That meant that I was staying in my comfort zone more often than not. Comfort is not in my top values, nor is safety. So I was sacrificing being in congruence with my values of freedom and adventure, in order to avoid feeling these emotions. This incongruence causes dissonance of its own that I have had to come to terms with. There is no avoiding emotions.

Energetically escaping emotions

There are situations that I cannot avoid that naturally create anxiety or fear as well. Since I can’t avoid the situations, my clever mind has found ways to energetically escape those sensations.

What does that mean exactly? Basically, our bodies have a physical aspect and an energetic aspect. I call the energetic part an energy body, spirit, soul, higher self, and so forth. I believe this energy body is the eternal part of me. It will live on when my body dies, and it chose to come to Earth when I was born. The energy body is the part of me that made sure I survived when I attempted to end my life.

emotions with narcolepsy
Study for the Grimace of Tenderness by Victor Man, reminds me of the separation between energy and body, also from the Städel Museum

So for a long time, I have known that when I feel powerful emotions in my body, I have the urge to energetically move out of my body. I don’t enjoy the physical sensations that come with experiencing an emotion. Dissociation is an escape mechanism that I learned as an infant. If you have ever had an out-of-body experience, you know what I’m talking about.

This method of avoiding emotions is counterproductive with narcolepsy. I believe that when I energetically leave my body, that is when the symptom of cataplexy is strongest. My muscles and nervous system don’t communicate as clearly when the energetic body is not present inside the physical.

How can I be more in touch with my emotions?

I am practicing staying in my body and still experiencing the full range of emotions. When I experience physical sensations of emotions like fear or anxiety, I reassure my body. “Hey its okay, we are fine.” I try to use science to tell my body what is happening so it doesn’t freak out. I am still struggling with judging my own emotions. I hear my mind saying, “You shouldn’t be anxious right now.” But the fact is, I do get anxious. So I am working on accepting it and allowing myself to experience it fully.

Right now I am working with my body as a team instead of fighting against it. In the future, I hope to feel as though me my energy body and my physical body are one. The trinity, mind, body, and soul united.

Kayla Dhankhar AKA kaylamdouglas smiling and walking on a bridge in Frankfurt Germany

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