Meet Our Advocate - Christina Christensen
At Narcolepsy.Sleep-Disorders.net, we are thankful for our amazing advocates who share their experiences of living with narcolepsy. In our advocate spotlight interview series, we get to know our advocates better and find out why spreading awareness of narcolepsy is so important to them.
What is one thing you would like to share with the community?
You are not alone! For so long, I thought I was the only one dealing with constant tiredness which led to stress, anxiety and hopelessness. After finding there are others who experience very similar symptoms to mine and understanding my diagnosis a bit more by research and speaking amongst others with narcolepsy, I started to feel accepted and understood.
What does advocacy mean to you?
Advocacy means supporting others by effectively communicating medical situations. Advocacy is giving a voice to those who may not be comfortable yet in speaking on behalf of their condition. It is understanding, listening, educating and being a light and resource to many, especially those who feel alone. Being an advocate on narcolepsy, in particular, is very important to me and I want to continue to lift others who may feel robbed of their energy.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were first diagnosed with narcolepsy?
I wish for understanding and to be taken seriously when I was diagnosed. I was not sure what narcolepsy truly was when I was diagnosed so when I started to tell the closest people to me what the results of my sleep study were, I expected support but in return, I received laughter, jokes, and denial of my diagnosis. I hadn't seen any movies or tv shows where they mocked narcolepsy, so I was left confused on why this was such a joke. This is why advocacy has become so important to me; I never want someone else to receive the same response after they tell their loved ones they've been diagnosed with a crippling sleep disorder.
What brings you the most joy (especially when you’re feeling down)?
My children! They give me energy even when my organs feel like they're breaking down from tiredness. They give me the strength to get out of bed and be there for them. I want them to know their mom worked hard and didn't let her diagnosis get the best of her.
Where do you find support?
It is genuinely hard finding support from those closest to me. No matter how many times I tell my family and friends about narcolepsy or complain about my excessive daytime sleepiness, deep down I think they still believe part of me is lazy. I don't blame them, though, it is hard to understand something they do not suffer from, especially when they cannot see my brain fog, tired and sleep paralysis from the outside. I find support from those with narcolepsy. I feel incredibly close and relate so much to them. Everyone I meet with narcolepsy absolutely understands the struggle and I feel our personalities click so well, too!
What is the last show you watched that you enjoyed?
Bridgerton for the 6th time in a row - oops!
What is one meal you could eat for the rest of your life?
Breakfast food for LIFE! Eggs, bacon, pancakes, hashbrowns - delicious!
What is your favorite quote or saying?
"I am still learning" - Michelangelo
Do you relate to Christina's narcolepsy experience? Say hello to Christina in the comments below!
Do any of your family and/or friends also have narcolepsy?