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Is a Career With Idiopathic Hypersomnia Possible?

Throughout my life, I went through a bunch of career changes before I was even diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia (IH).

As a kid, my dream job was to be a veterinarian; then I found out I'm allergic to everything but ducks, so I scrapped that. Then I wanted to be a chef, which I had to drop because I actually can’t stand being super hot, and kitchens get HOT!

By high school (2018), I settled on being a golf coach since I loved helping people and teaching golf. Although, after doing a few business classes in college, I realized I didn't want to run any kind of business and love not being in charge.

Has IH limited what I can do?

A lot of people tend to ask me if being diagnosed with idiopathic hypersomnia has limited what jobs I can do. Personally, has it limited me from getting into careers I already had an interest in? No. Has it limited me from having careers I had no interest in? Yes. I wouldn't consider being a truck driver since being diagnosed, but it was never a job I thought of doing in the first place. Even then, I know people with narcolepsy or IH that work a variety of jobs!

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Staying awake at my job

In my current position, I work part-time, which is around 2-3 days a week. For now, this has been doable for me because I have days in between as a break, but I have dozed at my desk before when my job is super slow and I don't have much to do.

Getting up and walking around usually helps me wake up a bit before the next dozing spell. Thankfully I am also allowed to read at my job, which also helps keep me awake at times.

Sleeping through a shift

Have I told my job about my condition? At first, I didn’t disclose my IH since I felt like my idiopathic hypersomnia didn't affect my work. Then, I was forced to disclose after sleeping through an extra shift that I signed up for!

I was so ashamed that I had slept through all my alarms and missed my shift. Thankfully, my supervisor was understanding after I explained my condition, but I did get a warning for missing my shift and for recently dozing off at the desk.

I got more callbacks when I did not disclose

Considering this, people have also asked me if I disclose my disability when looking for jobs. While I have no evidence of interviewers being biased, I would say to not disclose until after getting the position! People are not legally allowed to discriminate against people with disabilities, but I still feel that people have an inert bias. Giving hiring employers a reason to be biased before they even meet you might hurt in the long run.

I also feel that it gives hiring managers an excuse to pass on people when they disclose earlier and they can avoid discrimination laws by saying, "It wasn’t a good fit," instead of specifying that they didn’t hire someone due to a disability. Personally, I got more callbacks when I did not self-disclose my disability or bring it up during the interview process.

If your job search is lengthy, it's not you

Additionally, I think that the hiring landscape as of 2023 is horrible. So, I might have also been passed on for positions due to other reasons not related to my idiopathic hypersomnia. It was not easy to find a job, and I applied for 6 or 7 months, doing interviews almost every few weeks before landing my current position. I was close to taking a break from job searching.

I realize that our current job landscape in the USA is not the best, and there are a lot of people also looking for jobs at the moment, which might have contributed to my job search taking so long. So, if you have idiopathic hypersomnia and the job searching seems difficult, try switching up what you're doing, such as updating a resume or cover letter! And don’t take it too hard if you are spending forever finding something; it's more than likely not you!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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