Narcolepsy Extrovert to Introvert
Last updated: November 2023
I recently heard this analogy: An introvert wakes up in the morning with 5 coins, and every interaction takes a coin, and at the end of the day, they're depleted. An extrovert wakes up with no coins. With every interaction, they gain a coin, and by the end of the day, they feel rich.
I was an extrovert to the core
I have always considered myself to be an extrovert. Growing up, I was always the life of the party. My spirit was contagious. I had a lot of friends, and people liked to be around me. I thrived on the energy of crowds and human interaction. I was an extrovert to the core.
Has narcolepsy made you more of an introvert over time?
My world started shrinking
The initial symptoms were harmless; an unquenchable exhaustion seemed to lurk just beneath the surface. Recently, every new outing, every new conversation, every new social interaction with people not regularly in my circle has been laced with fear. Fear of acceptance and dreading having to explain my sleep disorders to others... it is exhausting.
My world started shrinking. The disorder, which had initially crept up subtly, now dictated my routines and lifestyle. It began stealing away my life as an extrovert.
Lately, I find myself being pushed to withdraw, to retreat into a shell. I feel myself transforming into a person I barely recognize — an introvert. Well, what I see as an introvert, anyway.
A battle I'm willing to fight
Narcolepsy has not only disrupted my sleep; it has forced me into solitude. The transition is painful and emotional, and I wish it would just stop. I've mourned the loss of my old self, wrestled with the guilt of unfulfilled promises and canceled plans, and struggled with the anxiety of meeting people and the worry of what they would think of my new, quieter self.
Yet, through this is emotion. I have began to value the quiet, the calm, the space to think and breathe. My extroverted past will always hold a special place in my heart. I've learned to embrace the quieter present. Life with narcolepsy has been a constant battle, a balance between managing my condition and living my life to the fullest. Yet, it is a battle I am willing to fight, a challenge I am prepared to accept.
Learning to love this version of myself
Today, I am not the life of the party; I am the calm in the storm. I am not the first one on the dance floor; I am not the girl who used to thrive in crowds. I am being molded into someone new by the unforeseen hands of narcolepsy. I want to learn to love this version of myself.
And though my journey has been marred by loss and change, it is also a testament to adaptation, resilience, and the human capacity for growth in the face of adversity.
Finding peace in solitude
Am I an introvert now, or am I still an extrovert, just boxed in by narcolepsy? Perhaps I am something in between. Perhaps I will find the greatest degree of acceptance and happiness in the middle — where I accept the changes narcolepsy has forced in my life, embrace the spaces where I can be 100 percent me, and gather up coins from interacting with those I care about and have peace in the increasing moments of solitude.
Have you found yourself becoming more introverted as your narcolepsy journey progresses? What has been your solution? Are you fighting to keep up with your more outgoing days or embracing the changes?
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